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Crop roundup: soil analysis

Kacey Birchmier Updated: 02/24/2014 @ 11:48am Agronomy & Conservation Editor for Successful Farming and Agriculture.com. I grew up on a fourth-generation farm in central Iowa. Follow me on twitter - @KaceyBirchmier.

A new collaboration promises the ability for growers to more accurately plan, place, and manage nitrogen applications on a real-time basis; growers will have more corn hybrid choices for 2014; U.S. soybean crop-quality survey shows less regional variation in protein levels; and a new fungicide receives EPA registration for disease control in rice.

DuPont Pioneer, University of Missouri, and USDA-ARS announce collaboration to increase grower productivity and sustainability
In a three-year exclusive agreement, DuPont, the University of Missouri, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) have announced an innovative new collaboration to pool soil-mapping resources, predictive technologies, and expertise to help growers more sustainably improve crop yields through better nitrogen application management and other field input planning.

The public-private effort aims to enhance sustainable crop production through field and crop modeling that targets the specific soil, climatic, watershed, and production conditions within producers’ fields with real-time information.
The enhanced soil maps build on public soil survey data and will support Decision Agriculture Services provided by DuPont to help crop producers make timely decisions to more sustainably improve yields and per-acre income. Soil analysis procedures will better identify unique land areas called Environmental Response Units (ERUs). These ERUs can then be used to develop a variety of management zones. A Pioneer adviser will assist growers in tailoring input and management plans to fit their goals of the best possible per-acre yield.
This University of Missouri and USDA-ARS collaboration will provide improved soil mapping resolution.
“DuPont Pioneer has long been dedicated to providing our customers with products and services that bring the greatest value to each acre through sustainable field management,” said Paul E. Schickler, president, DuPont Pioneer. “This public-private collaboration with Missouri and USDA-ARS takes that effort to a higher level, helping growers increase yields while being better stewards of the environment. We are building these tools in the U.S., but intend to expand Decision Services offerings into other international markets over time.”
“Management decisions strongly depend on how crops respond to the soil and landscape,” said Brent Myers, agronomist, University of Missouri. “Public soil maps are very valuable, but we can now track differences in fields at a much higher resolution than previously available. ERUs identify smaller areas within fields that can be similarly managed. This collaboration provides opportunities for connecting innovative soil and landscape science with decision-making for millions of acres in the U.S.”
While nitrogen is one of the most important crop inputs, it is also among the most complex and uncertain aspects of modern agricultural production. In addition to being susceptible to environmental losses, its effectiveness is impacted by soil type and day-by-day weather conditions.
By using high-resolution elevation data and landscape watershed information, producers will have a tool to help them better determine water and nitrogen movement on the section and county levels. Together with soil and productivity information, growers can more accurately plan, place, and manage nitrogen applications on a real-time basis.

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