• Agriculture Technology
  • Sep 05, 2018

Cotton Farmers Weave Tech Into Their Operations

Two men in cotton field using a tablet to monitor crop health
A number of farmers are seeding their cotton crops more efficiently, targeting applications more precisely and gauging plant growth more effectively with ag technology. Here are some of the ways you can leverage tech to help optimize your cotton crop.
Variable-rate prescriptions
With variable-rate seeding, as well as variable-rate fertilizer and plant growth regulator (PGR) applications, you can apply inputs only where and when they are needed, saving time and money. Some cotton farmers are also using variable-rate defoliation applications to target only those plants that haven’t dropped their leaves.
One farmer I work with near Lubbock, Texas, grows both irrigated and dryland cotton. In the past, he’s had to plant his irrigated cotton first, then make another trip across the field to plant the dryland cotton. He seeded them at different rates and didn’t have the capability to change rates during planting.

Now, he uses ag tech to enable variable-rate seeding, which allows him to plant seamlessly between fields in a single pass. He reports this saves him about five days of planting and has netted him almost an additional half a bale per acre in yield, because he can get on the sprayer faster, control his irrigation better and manage his resources more effectively.
Management zones
R7® Tool satellite imagery enables you to pinpoint areas of good and poor plant health, map out zones and apply inputs accordingly. For example, an area of healthy plants and good yield potential will probably warrant either more fertilizer or more PGRs to keep plants at an optimal height. On the other hand, stressed areas could allow you to cut down on seeding rates to give these plants more room to spread out and retain bolls.  
Plant growth evaluation
Early-season vigor in cotton may mean weeds in the field. Late-season vigor usually means rapid growth of cotton plants, which might signal the need for a PGR to slow growth and help plants retain fruit. Using the R7® Field Monitoring Tool along with performing vigilant scouting helps keep accurate tabs on healthy plant growth versus weed outbreaks.
Saving money is at the top of most farmers’ to-do lists. Putting those dollars where they are needed on the right acre will continue to be key to protecting yield and quality potential in your cotton crop, as well as optimizing ROI. Talk with your trusted advisor about making technology work for you and your cotton crop.
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