I hope you all had a great Christmas and Happy New Year! Although I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, I do like to use this time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the future. In order to learn and improve, I need to know what worked, what didn’t, and WHY. As a farmer, this past year was certainly a disappointing one for us, as we were unable to get most of our acres planted due to the incredibly wet spring. That being said, because of some enabling technology, we found ourselves in a fairly decent position and will live to fight another day. As most of you know, we use the AirScout aerial imagery to drive our nitrogen program. Because of this imagery and what it has enabled, we do not apply anything ahead of the planter. Therefore, when the time came around to pull the plug on the 2019 planting season, the choice was very clear for us since we had zero dollars invested at that point. Although we didn’t need the imagery, the Hagie, or the Y-drops this year, just having them and utilizing our Hindsight Program enabled us to save nitrogen costs because we did not apply anything.
As you look back at the past year, think about if you could have back all of the nitrogen that was applied in those drowned out areas that didn’t produce anything, or you could have moved it to those areas that actually needed it. This is what our Hindsight program is all about, and it doesn’t even need to increase yield to save you a tremendous amount of money. It’s all about what it enables.
While going through some old pictures, I ran across this photo taken on our farm by International Harvester back when my Grandpa bought his first “combine.” Just think of the things this equipment enabled us farmers to accomplish over the years!
In just a few weeks, Precision Planting, 360 Yield Center, and Bottom Line Solutions (Morton, IL) will be hosting their winter conferences and open houses in central Illinois (and some streamed elsewhere throughout the country), and I encourage you all to attend. All of these companies have tremendous tools and services that enable us to think — and farm –differently. By using these tools in conjunction with AirScout imagery, our Hindsight Nitrogen Program comes alive. Remember that it’s usually a combination of things that come together to make something great!
If you need help understanding how all of these components play together, please reach out to me, and continue to follow my newsletters. We are working now to put together as much training information as possible and hope to have it available soon. When it comes down to it, enabling change is what the equipment manufacturers and we at AirScout strive to do. New gadgets will always continue to come our way, but it is up to us to build prescriptions that make these gadgets work. This is where there is simply no substitute for good, reliable imagery. Without it, it is more difficult to adjust to each growing season.
The images above are from a corn field we were able to plant on June 6th. The left is the thermal from July 19th, and the center is the visual from the same day. At this time there was plenty of nitrogen available to the plants across the entire field, but the thermal image revealed significant areas of stress. The image on the right is the yield map, which correlates nearly exactly with the thermal. Water (in this case, too much) will ALWAYS be the biggest driver to yield impact. This is why our Hindsight Program is so important, and why we need to adapt to each year differently.
We are currently enrolling acres for the 2020 growing season. For everyone who signs up before March 15th, we are extending our 2019 pricing ($7.00/acre) for the complete package which includes 10-14 flights starting in April, and all the software tools to create zones, build prescriptions, and estimate yields. Please let us know as soon as possible if you need assistance getting enrolled, as we will need to start planning flight routes and prepare our airplanes very soon.
Thanks again for spending time with me, and maybe I’ll see you at one of the winter meetings. Stay warm!!