Summer 2017 Crop Tour Update

Plots in fields across the Midwest are up and growing as the 2017 AGCO Crop Tour program gets under way with participating growers and AGCO dealerships.

By Marilyn Cummins

“In our second year of the Crop Tour program, we’re looking forward to what we can learn together to be more efficient and increase yields, so that growers can improve their bottom line,” says Darren Goebel, director of global commercial crop care at AGCO. “That’s what this is all about—how do we help growers be more successful?”

To that end, the Crop Tour plots are designed to answer questions that are important to growers. “Right now, our product specialists are monitoring emergence and other agronomic characteristics in the side-by-side trials,” Goebel says. “In plots where we are evaluating in-season nitrogen application in corn, the AirMax 180 RoGator® units are ready to roll.”

The Crop Tour includes 11 locations across the Midwest where AGCO product specialists are working with AGCO dealers and growers to conduct trials and demonstrations. In this issue of Performance Agronomy, we’ll hear from Justin Remus, senior product specialist in charge of the trials at New Ulm and Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.

Justin Remus has both practical and educational agronomic experience. For starters, he grew up on the family farm near Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, where he still farms today with his father and younger brother. Remus studied agronomy and precision agriculture at South Dakota State University, received an associates of applied science degree from Lake Area Technical Institute in diesel technology and a bachelor of science in business marketing from Rasmussen College. For AGCO, he covers southern Minnesota and eastern Iowa, calling on Ziegler Ag Equipment, the AGCO dealership sponsoring AGCO Crop Tour activities in Minnesota. Justin has helped design the Crop Tour test plot protocols and recently obtained his remote pilot certification so he can monitor the plots with a UAV throughout the 2017 season. Here’s what Justin told us about Crop Tour activity in Minnesota:

“Many of the protocols for the 2017 Crop Tour come from everyday questions we get asked by growers across North America. We created different in-field tests to validate or disprove scenarios most important to growers. This year, across all the Crop Tour locations, we’re taking an in-depth look at high-speed seedbed preparation and high-speed planting, as well as in-season nutrient timing during the corn growth cycle.

“In 2016, our focus was on seed-to-seed spacing, downforce control and planting depth, which revealed just how much impact misplaced seeds and doubles have on emergence of the crop, plus a wealth of other insights that growers can apply directly to improve in-field production. In 2017, we will repeat those planting comparisons, but one of our new high-speed tests is set up to identify any differences in accuracy and yield at a range of speeds between 5 and 10 mph, using the Precision Planting® SpeedTube seed delivery system on 9800VE Series White Planters matched with a Challenger® MT700 Series track tractor.

“At the same New Ulm plot site, we’re researching the soybean side of the rotation to answer some interesting questions. What are the results when you plant soybeans early—at the same time corn is being planted? What are the efficiencies of using a Sunflower 9830NT high-speed air drill for two functions?

“Just as we did last year, we’ll show growers how to check poor-producing areas of their own fields by looking at emergence, root strength, seeding depth and more to diagnose if better planting settings could help next year’s crop. We at AGCO also learn from every discovery. I’ll be flying a Solo AGCO Edition UAV over the plots to collect weekly NDVI images to measure plant health, weed pressure and to inform nutrient placement and timing during the most crucial growing stages.

“I hope growers will attend the August field days at a Crop Tour location near them to see for themselves how the tests turn out and how they can apply the results to their own farming operations. They also can go through training in the Planter Technology Institute mobile center that Precision Planting will have on-site at the field days.”