Select Germplasm, Hybrids and Precision Placement
"Hybrids have to go through two years of that testing for us to feel confident we can write a prescription," said Rhylander. "The testing tells us how the hybrid responds to a poor environment as well as a good one. It gives us better knowledge about the science of our seed, which is what IFS is all about."
FieldScripts is about more than just the seed. How the seed is handled and positioned in the soil is a key component and the reason Monsanto acquired Precision Planting. Since the mid 1990s, Precision Planting had been at the forefront of fine-tuning seed placement. That included precise depth, seed to soil contact and spacing. It also included the ability to change seeding rates rapidly and accurately.
"Precision Planting had the equipment that could help us deliver on the Integrated Farming Systems platform," said Rhylander. "We don't intend to compete with implement manufacturers—our intent is to partner with them. However, Precision Planting had great science and technology that, with our ownership, will let us go where we want with planting platforms in the future."
MULTIPLE RETAILERS INVOLVED
Where FieldScripts is going in the immediate future is to roughly 140 growers across the Corn Belt. The 46 participating dealers include independent seed dealers and full-service ag retailers with seed sales divisions of every kind. Knowledge about Precision Planting tools ranged from Brand's lack of familiarity to nine who were Precision Planting dealers as well as seedsmen.
"We are trying to get every kind of dealer, from independents to co-ops to retailers with Helena and CPS," said Rhylander. "We want to make sure farmers have a choice of retailers offering FieldScripts."
Each dealer was charged with finding up to three farmers who either had the required equipment components or were willing to buy them. The farmers also had to be willing to share in-depth information on trial fields. Dealers took part in two training sessions, the first an overview of the program and the information needed. A second session in February involved data analysis, hybrid selection and data transfer.
"We asked them to work with their farmers to provide—field boundaries, two years of yield data, soil tests on 2 1/2-acre grids,” said Rhylander. "Once they submitted that information and we analyzed it, we recommended four to five hybrids that would fit the field."
What is clear about FieldScripts is there is no shortcut. The detailed information gathered makes each field unique as to how the different hybrids react under the various environments presented by each field. With the aid of specially developed algorithms, hybrid recommendations and a variable rate planting prescription is developed for each field.