Every farmer knows the importance that nitrogen plays in producing a healthy corn crop. However, determining the optimal rate of nitrogen that should be applied to a field while protecting the environment from the negative impacts of nutrient pollution remains a challenge for the agricultural industry. Two precision ag companies, Agronomic Technology Corp and SST Software, have partnered together to offer the farming community a more efficient solution for sustainable nitrogen use.
"Nitrogen is challenging to manage because it is highly mobile and reactive to numerous environmental factors," states Steven Sibulkin, CEO, Agronomic Corp. "A large percent of the nitrogen applied to a field that is intended for plant uptake can easily be lost to the atmosphere or infiltrate the water supply. This translates into wasted product application, a loss of yield potential, and environmental pollution."
In recent years, scientists have become more concerned with the environmental impacts of farming practices on water quality. Across the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, hypoxic zones are becoming more pronounced. Hypoxia is a condition of low oxygen levels often caused by toxic algae blooms. The depletion of oxygen creates 'dead zones' that may result in fish kills and disrupt other aquatic life. Nitrogen, along with phosphorus, are two main contributors of hypoxia outbreaks.
Economically, nitrogen optimization plays an important role in a farming operation's bottom line. Increases in land costs coupled with low commodity prices have hurt farming profitability, leading growers to become more focused on ways to optimize nitrogen applications so as to provide maximum benefits to the plant while minimizing input costs and environmental impact. Enter Adapt-N.
Adapt-N is Agronomic Technology Corp's advanced nitrogen modeling and recommendation software. Developed out of years of research at Cornell University, Adapt N takes into account numerous agronomic variables tied to a farm field, such as soil types, nutrient levels, past crops, planting date and more. Then, the modeling software applies local climate conditions such as rainfall and temperature to create a daily simulation model of how the nitrogen levels have changed across a field and how the changes affect expected yield and profit.
Adapt-N is now integrating with the agX Platform, developed by SST Software, to make their modeling and analysis services readily available to more growers and agronomists. SST Software was one of the first companies in what is commonly referred to as 'precision farming' and today manages geospatial farm data on over 100 million acres. Coupled with GPS, SST's software applications allow farmers and ag service providers to site-specifically collect, analyze, and manage data on their farm fields. A popular application of these services is to derive management zones from geospatial analysis and then vary the rate of applied fertilizer to the zones accordingly.
"Our clientele has been using variable rate technologies for fertilizer applications since the mid-1990's," explains Matt Waits, CEO, SST Software. "However, the complexity of the nitrogen cycle and how it is in a constant state of flux has always made managing nitrogen difficult. The adaptive approach of managing nitrogen offered within the Adapt-N product integrates the vital component climate variability into the equation. Our clients are excited about accessing this advanced analysis solution via the agX Store."
The agX Store is the product ordering portal that is accessible in applications that are part of the agX Platform. This new platform is a solution for overcoming the fragmentation problem that exists between different farming software systems, which in turn, creates a productivity bottleneck when adopting new precision ag offerings.
"Depending on the growth stage of the crop," states Scott Cogdill, an Iowa farmer, "agronomists will scout between 500 to 1500 acres a day. They simply do not have time to manually re-enter and manage the data collected on every field into separate, incompatible software systems. They need to collect the data once, then seamlessly send it to their software system of choice with a click of a button."
The agX Platform will allow any precision farming application that is agX compliant to order an Adapt-N recommendation from the agX Store. agX then seamlessly feeds Adapt-N the required data layers needed to perform the nitrogen analysis. When the Adapt-N analysis is complete, the new nitrogen recommendation map will seamlessly flow back into the farmer's and agronomist's agX compliant software applications. Because the agX Store also allows the company whose software application originates the order to receive a percentage of the order revenue, it encourages the various precision ag software apps to promote the use of best-in-class products.
"The conversation about 'growing more with less' requires that experts are equipped with the best solutions, fueled by the most salient data, and provided access whenever and wherever those solutions are needed. The agX Platform brings this to life," remarks Sibulkin. "In the case of Adapt-N, it means that best-in-class nitrogen recommendations that are proven to improve financial and environmental performance are just one step away for growers and their trusted advisors."