Prescription Basics: Build a Variable-Rate Plan
Map management zonesThe simplest way to develop a seeding prescription is by using yield maps to identify different management zones. The R7® Yield Potential Maps are a good starting point to do that. You can build up to 12 different management zones in the R7 prescription builder based on Yield Potential Maps.
Manage planting populationsOnce you’ve set your management zones, it’s time to create a prescription for planting populations within each zone. If you’d normally plant an average population of 30,000 plants per acre and want to stay true to that overall field average, you can start by dropping populations on less productive acres. While it varies by field, I typically recommend incrementally increasing population by 1,000 to 2,000 plants per acre as you move from lower productivity zones to higher ones. In the example below, the highest productivity zone is set for 32,000 plants per acre, or 2,000 plants per acre above my pre-established average planting population for the field.
Match fertilizerAfter your planting prescription is created, you can plan a variable-rate nitrogen prescription to help alleviate nitrogen deficiencies in specific areas. When you use prescriptions for seeding rates, it’s critical that you also adjust your fertilization program to account for the varying number of plants within each zone. If you don’t, you’ll be overfertilizing less productive zones while your most productive acres won’t have the nutrition they need to support those extra plants.
Similar to the planting population prescription, I’d recommend increasing nitrogen incrementally from the lowest productivity acres to the most productive acres. The map below shows a range of 70 pounds per acre of applied nitrogen from the lowest- to the highest-yielding zones.
If you’re planning an in-season application of nitrogen, you can use imagery to adjust your prescription depending on what’s happening in your field. For example, if there are areas of your field that are severely drought-stricken and yield potential will be limited, you might skip in-season nitrogen applications on those acres and instead put those extra nitrogen units on areas that have better yield potential. Variable-rate technology allows you to make those changes pretty easily so that you get the most from your input dollars based on in-season field conditions.
Measure progressBuilding prescriptions isn’t an exact science. That’s why you need to place check strips or blocks in your field to help you evaluate and tweak your management zones. When you add a check strip, make sure it covers all your management zones so you have a reliable point of reference to compare each variable-rate yield against the standard check yield.
Make the most of your dollarsPrescription-building tools and variable-rate technology are designed to help you capitalize on your most productive acres and to help you boost the potential of your least productive acres. Doing so helps you maximize productivity potential on every acre, which improves overall yield averages. Variable-rate management can give you peace of mind that you’ve done everything you can to make the most of each dollar you spend.
For more information about using the R7 Tool to build variable-rate prescriptions, talk with your locally owned and operated WinField United retailer.
© 2019 WinField United. R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.
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