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Soil prep tools top Illinois farmer's tech wish list

Jeff Caldwell 09/30/2010 @ 9:40am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

What technology has worked and what hasn't for Aaron Steffen? The Cropsey, Illinois, farmer and crop adviser said this week that this year's growing conditions proved the mettle of of a few tech tools, namely when it comes to soil conditions and fertility.

"My yield monitor tells me where I really do need tile, and especially to evaluate my current yield going along," Steffen says, adding that a program he used this year was impressive in how it showed him how his nitrogen variation affected yields.

"With tie-up in the stalks, even adding N improved the yield, but I can't tell you if it was the answer," he adds.


Tech tools this year and next 

Aaron Steffen, a Cropsey, Illinois corn/soybean farmer and area crop adviser, says the nitrogen application technology he used this year was hit-and-miss, while his yield monitor was the best performer in his tech toolbox, especially during corn harvest. (video by Mike McGinnis).


One thing that Steffen's still up in the air about is sidedressing. But, it was a tough year in his area to evaluate his sidedressed N applications. "Sidedressing extra N this year worked in some cases and not in others," he says. "Timely rains in July and August would have made all the difference in the world."

Looking ahead, Steffen says he hopes to bring along a 20/20 Precision Planting unit to his planter in the next year. Add to that wish list more soil fertility testing, especially with current cost trends.

"With overlaps this year, especially on the farms with a lot of point rows, [a 20/20 Precision Planting unit] would have paid a lot of dividends," Steffen says. "This year, a lot of guys will want to consider soil testing because of the mere fact that, with fertility costs going up, it will justify that $5 to $7 an acre to find out what you really need to go on those fields."

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