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Diving Deep into Agronomy

Precision Planting and Golden Harvest Host Agronomy Days in Pontiac, Illinois.

Invitations for field days and farm tours keep mounting as summer comes to a close, but during Golden Harvest and Precision Planting’s Agronomy Days, topics tied to crop development are carefully curated to make the most of farmers’ valuable time.

Stephanie Smith, agronomist at Golden Harvest, says this first-year event is indicative of internal goals to increase agronomy support to farmers by about 30% over the next several years.

“Pairing with Precision Planting works great for us because they’re an equipment manufacturer. They help get the job done. We’re a seed company that, by utilizing our genetics, we're helping farmers in season to maximize their yield potential. It (Agronomy Days) gives growers a holistic view of their growing season to make this year the best that we possibly can with the conditions we have,” says Smith.

Precision Technology Institute Farm in Pontiac, Illinois

Effects of Delayed Planting

Farmers who attended Agronomy Days planted in April, the second week of May, or the first week of June under wet conditions, causing compaction in the fields.

While many farmers worked the ground to smooth it out, Smith explains, “We didn't shatter that compaction layer, which can keep our crops from getting water and nutrients and a full rooting system to develop. So in the fall, tillage and cover crops are going to be needed to fracture and shatter that compaction layer that we have.”

Without proper management this fall and beyond, the effect of compaction on the soil can last for eight or more years, even with the typical freeze/thaw cycles.

“The level of compaction we have this year is just not going to be able to touch the amount of damage we've done in a lot of these fields,” says Smith.

Stephanie Smith, Golden Harvest Agronomist

Residue Management

In addition to tillage and cover crops, residue management will be key this fall.

A minimally tilled field would ideally have 6-inch-long to 8-inch-long pieces of nutrient residue, which are the right size so as not to float or blow away. Anything bigger, or with fewer entry points, will take microbes longer to break down, keeping nutrients away from the crop when it needs them most.

Shorter nutrient residue, around 2 inches to 3 inches long, do have more points of entry, but when it rains and washes away, fertility is lost – in particular, phosphorous and potassium.

Jason Webster Precision Planting Investigates Soybean Roots
Jason Webster, Precision Planting Agronomist

Technology in Fields

Golden Harvest Agronomist Ryan Dunsbergen highlighted the value of E-Luminate, the company’s digital ag platform that launched last August.

E-Luminate combines 10+ years’ worth of weather and agronomic data to give balanced recommendations for hybrids on a field-by-field basis.

Dunsbergen says, “I want to emphasize the word tool. E-Luminate is never a replacement for you on the farm. It is to stimulate discussion on the options: mature hybrids, patterns, etc.”

Power of Partnership

While reflecting on the week of Agronomy Days, Stephanie Smith comments, “It's great for Golden Harvest, because Precision Planting is actually testing our hybrids under certain practices. So now we have information on our hybrid that we may not have been able to get, as our research sites aren't set up to test the furrow jet, etc. It expands our understanding of our hybrids better so we can relay that to growers. I think the genetics in the marketplace are so different, and Precision Planting – getting that database on how these different genetic backgrounds perform – can better help its customers with recommendations on downforce and seeding rates.”

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