Veritas Research Results 2014

2014 Delta Plot Results Summary

Introduction:
Veritas has partnered with Delta Power Equipment since 2011 to conduct a field demonstration site to evaluate various technological offerings on modern farm equipment on both agronomic and economic responses in corn and soybeans. The site selected is close to Forest, ON and is considered to be a fairly heavy soil type. Each year, employees and customers from both companies are encouraged to put forth ideas for testing. The plot is set up for tours and the public is encouraged to either tour the site on their own or contact either company for a guided tour.

Soybean Results for 2014:
Veritas began experimenting with variable rate (VR) planting of soybeans in 2013 and it was decided that this would be the focus of the soybean portion of the plot for 2014. The site was planted with a VR capable planter (hydraulic driven) in 15” row spacing. The variety selected was considered a “bush” type plant. 4 management zones were created based off of previous year’s yield data. There were 6 treatments replicated 3 times (the average yield is in brackets following each treatment):

  • 165 ksds/ac flat rate (49.65 bus/ac)
  • 185 ksds/ac flat rate (51.79 bus/ac)
  • 205 ksds/ac flat rate (53.33 bus/ac)
  • 225 ksds/ac flat rate (53.39 bus/ac)

VR #1 where the higher yield potential management zones had the lower populations and the lower yield potential management zones had the higher populations (the average population across the plot was 193 ksds/ac). The idea being, to minimize white mould while enhancing emergence and plant count in the tougher areas. (52.75 bus/ac)

VR #2 where the opposite approach was taken from VR #1. The higher yield potential management zones received the higher population and the lower yield potential management zones receive the lower populations (the average population across the plot was 197 ksds/ac). (51.78 bus/ac).

There was some white mould observed in treatments #3, #4, #5 & #6. The economic responses were from highest to lowest: #3, #5, #4, #2, #6, #1. Although VR planting was not the highest economic return, it was a close second and the data would suggest that if we had used an even higher planting rate in the least productive zone that the VR would have been the most economical. These results are interesting as many growers are extremely concerned about white mould after 2014 and are planning on significantly reducing their planting populations for soybeans. There is no doubt that white mould can be a devastating disease, but the potential for lower yield if white mould is not a repeat problem in 2015 also needs to be considered.

Corn Results for 2014:
The plot layout for the corn portion of our plot was designed to examine the value of variable rate seeding, nitrogen timing (preplant, side dressing at 5 leaf stage and side dressing at 10 leaf stage with “Y-drop”) and 2 different approaches on variable rate nitrogen (VRN). The two VRN approaches were:

a) the GreenSeeker optical sensor and
b) predetermined management zones similar to variable rate planting.

Due to the number of variables being tested, we were not able to create the same number of replications as we did with the soybeans. The nitrogen source in all cases was 28% UAN.

Amount of N at various timing

Yield (bus/ac) at Population

30 ksds/ac

32 ksds/ac

34 ksds/ac

VRS

Preplant

5 leaf sidedressing

10 leaf Y-drop

180 lbs

0 lbs

0 lbs

142.66

144.89

132.38

148.80

45 lbs

45 lbs

90 lbs

137.71

144.52

132.86

144.66

90 lbs

90 lbs

0 lbs

140.66

45 lbs

VRN Management Zone#1

90 lbs

149.92

45 lbs

VRN Management Zone #2

90 lbs

149.61

45 lbs

0 lbs

VRN Greenseeker

138.66

149.24

141.30

138.27

*VRN management zone style #1 had 75 lbs of actual N applied as side dressing @ 5 leaf stage in the low productive area, 90 lbs in the medium productive area and 105 lbs in the high productive area.
**VRN management zone style #3 had 75 lbs of actual N applied as side dressing @ 5 leaf stage in the low productive area, 105 lbs in the medium productive area and 90 lbs in the high productive area.

When viewing the above data, it is important to remember that each treatment was only done once and there were no additional replications, which limits the quality of any conclusions that can be drawn. However, Veritas does a lot of additional testing in fields across South-Western Ontario and those results do reinforce some of the results from these trials.

The most consistent result from this trial is that corn populations and yield outcomes are extremely sensitive to populations which are just too high. In this particular field, populations of 32,000 and at times 30,000 were better than 34,000. Higher than necessary populations not only drive up seed costs, they can also place a hybrid into a soil situation that is not capable of meeting its needs. Many modern hybrids are tested in ideal growing conditions with above average fertility. This is not the case in many commercial fields and therefore when populations exceed the ideal range, yield loss can happen very quickly. In our variable rate seeding work with Veritas clients we have seen and learned from this and have incorporated it into our prescription principles.

Variable Rate Nitrogen and nitrogen timing is a very popular topic in the agricultural community, from both an economic efficiency and environmental viewpoint. This interest has led to extensive testing to try to determine ideal timing, rates, and application technology by many local farmers and interested parties. Our experience at Veritas has indicated that at this point, it is impossible to draw a conclusion about what is the best system. Yes, real time nitrogen requirement determination would be ideal, but at this point there are not enough data points to design the ideal algorithm. It will be interesting to see how this area of research develops in the future.

Planting Overlap Results:
Delta Power Equipment was one of the first equipment companies that were determined to add an economic return on investment (ROI) piece to their precision agriculture equipment. The first area of interest was on overlap control. Since 2011 (for corn and 2013 for soybeans), the plot has had an overlap trial where part of the field is double planted with 2 passes that are 90o to each other to simulate the area of the headland where overlap occurs. The purpose was to determine if the only economic aspect for automatic overlap control was seed savings or if there was a yield drag as well. The plot area in question is hand harvested to ensure accurate results. Below is the graph demonstrating the net economic impact (seed savings plus yield loss) for each acre of overlap for all years of this trial:

Headland Management:
Depending on the size/shape of a field and the size of planting equipment, it is possible to have 10% to 40% of a field as headlands. This year, a trial was proposed to be included in this site to determine:
a) how much yield loss occurred in headlands for both crops (soybeans and corn)
b) would it be possible to alleviate any potential yield loss by utilizing technology to plant the headlands last instead of first.

To ensure accurate measurements, this trial was hand harvested.
Corn: 12% yield loss due to headland, however planting headlands last actually doubled the loss.
Soybeans: 16% yield loss due to headland, planting headlands last reduced the loss to 13.5% but that is not very significant.

Overall, the headland management trial did demonstrate there would be value in determining the best way to minimize the lost yield potential in a significant part of fields.

Summary and Discussion:
Thanks to the dedication of Delta Power Equipment, 2014 was the 4th year of a successful partnership in developing and executing a very interesting demonstration plot that supplied great insight into potential solutions for increasing yield. Variable rate planted soybeans have received a lot of attention and the results from this site would suggest that this approach has the potential to increase soybean yields provided that suitable populations are selected for the various management zones. Corn continues to offer lots of opportunities to understand what management practices will maximize production in both variable rate populations and variable rate nitrogen. The perfect combination has not yet been determined but 2015 will allow for another year of refining and testing concepts/theories. If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see tested, do not hesitate in contacting the Technology & Innovation group at Delta Power Equipment or Veritas Farm Management.