For more than 25 years, yield monitors have helped farmers and retailers analyze in-field performance and plan for the next year. But new technologies are driving data-based decisions with much shorter turnaround times. Real-time ag technologies are here and now, and one of those is the R7 Field Forecasting Tool from WinField United.
AgPro readers voted the R7 Field Forecasting Tool (FFT) as the 2017 New Product of the Year, in the 11th year of the contest.
Runner-up: Valley Irrigation Icon Series of control panels
Honorable mention: Spensa Technologies Z-Trap
“The R7 Field Forecasting Tool uses high-powered modeling for more precise and efficient management of nitrogen, potassium and water and brings that together with the on-the-ground knowledge of the ag retailer,” says Joel Wipperfurth with WinField United. He says 2017 was the pilot year for the R7 FFT. Twenty-two ag retail organizations used the tool on more than 100,000 acres.
In-Season Decision Aid. “One analogy is to think of this tool in the context of playing poker,” Wipperfurth offers. “You get to see the first card before you place the bet. And likewise, for farmers to continue to grow profitable yields, they will have to delay input decisions. So it’s great to see the first card—as the season progresses—and really great to see the second card as well—making the input decision right before you need to pull the trigger.”
WinField United collaborated with ag technology leader iTK in the development of the R7 FFT. The model includes simulations of growth stages; leaf growth; biomass production; and water, nitrogen and potassium uptake. The model is coupled with weather and soil models that predict the amounts of available nitrogen, potassium and water in the root zone. Hybrid information can also be included.
Throughout the growing season, the model is adjusted by measuring the nitrogen and potassium leaf contents of a tissue sample and inputting observed dates of growth stages to improve predictions.
“We are continuing to grow the model and drive insights from the data we gather with Answer Plots and tissue samples and then bring them together to make a decision in-season,” Wipperfurth explains.
Royce Carlson, precision ag lead at Arrowwood Prairie Co-op in North Dakota, shares three takeaways from his team’s use of the R7 FFT. He reports the tool is very effective for those growers who are looking for the tools needed to make better in-season management decisions and boost yields. For nitrogen sidedressing applications, Carlson reports acres doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 based on R7 FFT data for best times and rates to apply nitrogen. Additionally, offering the R7 FFT gave Arrowwood another way to differentiate itself to customers in the services it offers.
At Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, agronomy specialist Trevor Smith says the R7 FFT helps his team partner with growers for greater efficiency in their applied inputs.
“The tool provides a way for a farmer to take a closer look at each field and different aspects of that field—water management, nitrogen management, potassium management—and follow that throughout the season from planting to harvest,” Smith says. “The feedback we’ve received is that it’s challenged the traditional ways we’ve done things in the past, particularly with nitrogen.”
Farmer Addison Yarbro says that in using the R7 FFT, his farm was able to lower its overall nitrogen rates and reduce its irrigation amounts.
“We see this tool as a way to push our irrigated corn,” Yarbro says. “We can monitor what the growing crop was actually using. It surprised me how accurate the system was, and we watered less because of that.”