• Agriculture Technology

Tech on Wheat: Nitrogen Management Case Study

Many farmers today are taking advantage of ag tech tools to optimize yields with corn and soybeans. Whether using prescription maps to accurately drop the right amount of seeds per acre or consulting in-season imagery to develop variable rate fertilizer recommendations, tech tools have demonstrated ease of use and accuracy with corn and soybeans. But farmers are also increasingly adopting tech with crops like winter wheat.  
Applying nitrogen on wheat using a variable rate method can increase yields compared to a blanket rate application approach. Here are two ways to apply nitrogen on wheat using the R7® Tool:
1. In-season-imagery to determine nitrogen needs and placement
In-season-imagery (ISI) is a current snapshot of crop growing conditions in the field. Because growing conditions change from year to year, nitrogen needs will change as well. A recent ISI can help create management zones to correctly place nitrogen in the field based on needs in the current year. You can then create nitrogen rate plans for each zone by working with your local advisor or with nitrogen models created by state universities or other ag tech tools.

Figure 1: In-season image of winter wheat from the R7® Tool.
Figure 1: In-season image of winter wheat from the R7® Tool.

2. Using yield potential maps to determine nitrogen management zonesYield potential maps (YPM) are satellite images taken during peak biomass that highly correlate with yield in the field. Typically, YPMs are used in conjunction with ISI, but if cloudy weather conditions prevent images from being captured, YPMs alone can create management zones to apply nitrogen using a variable rate approach. With this method, you can develop management zones based on yield potential and apply nitrogen based on a yield goal.

Figure 2: Yield Potential Map of winter wheat from the R7® Tool.
Figure 2: Yield Potential Map of winter wheat from the R7® Tool.

Efficient placement can positively impact operating expense
As winter wheat prices continue to decline from record levels, we need to be more efficient when using nitrogen, which accounts for a large part of a farm’s operating expense. By using the R7® Tool in conjunction with your trusted advisor, you can optimize return on investment by applying nitrogen on wheat in the right place, at the right rate.
To learn more about using technology on your wheat this year, reach out to your local WinField® United retailer.

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