As technology continues to evolve and improve, farmers’ ability to detect changes in the field gives them more avenues to manage those changes.
“With planters and applicators that can change by the row and by the foot across the field, we can manage tighter areas in the field with management zones,” says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist and owner of CropTech Consulting Inc. “We’re able to do high-resolution farming.”
Ferrie, a long-time proponent of zone management, says he is finally hearing discussions at grower meetings on the topic. “Farmers are asking ‘Why are we grid testing when the spatial data layers don’t respond by grid?
Why do the masses support sampling by the grid?’”
Because, until recently, that was farmers’ best option.
“When I soil sampled at the co-op years ago, we would zig-zag through the field and take samples. Then, we went to grid sampling where we could get better repeatability,” Ferrie recalls.
He notes that the good thing with grids was farmers could know the fertility readings at each GPS point, but they couldn’t tell what was 330-feet away in any direction.
“You had to decide what to apply between those GPS points, and you had to guess because you didn’t know the soil pH, phosphorus levels or organic matter levels,” Ferrie says.
Today, farmers don’t have to guess about what their soils need or don’t need.
“With zone management we can just look at our layers of data. The field will talk to us and tell us how it should be managed,” he says.
Listen to this edition of the Boots In The Field Report to learn more about zone management and how it can improve your farming practices, nutrient management and yield outcomes.