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The future of in-furrow applications

As Jason Orr stood looking across his field, the downed corn was evidence something had gone terribly wrong.

“In July 2019, I had a rootworm problem on about 20 acres,” Orr recalls. “It was complete devastation.”

Since there was no mapping done on the damaged field, it was difficult to pinpoint the cause as weather related, a mechanical failure, or a product issue. 

Defining the Problem

Even though the corn had been in the ground for about three months, the spring of 2019 was a wet one, and crop growth was delayed. When it went down on July 2, corn was at the V10 stage, and Orr says there wasn’t as large of a root mass to combat the rootworm pressure.

The Iowa farmer had also taken stalks off of the field the year before. “One thought was that the rootworm beetles had migrated to this area and laid their eggs because the dirt was warmer later in the fall,” he says.

Between Orr and his father, Jim, they raise a little over 4,000 acres of corn, and apply 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of Aztec 4.67 on their corn-on-corn acres annually to control corn rootworm. While the SmartBox system Orr uses is fairly accurate, he felt it wasn’t giving him the data he needed. 

“For a product that costs over $20 per acre, I need more information on where and how much is being applied,” he says.

If he had a Smart Integrated Multi-Product Prescription Application System (SIMPAS), Orr thought, he would at least have a coverage map to know if the downed corn was primarily a rate issue. 

Prescriptive Solution

SIMPAS is a multiproduct variable-rate system that starts with prescriptions developed by an agronomist, which are location-specific for fields with known problems. SIMPAS automatically loads product information into a farmer’s as-applied software system by reading the SmartCartridge container’s RFID SmartTag. Based on the prescriptions loaded into the system, the system applies only what is needed.

“SIMPAS is similar to the way a printer applies ink from multiple color cartridges,” explains Cory Ritter, sales support technician for SIMPAS. “It uses software to control where multiple products are applied throughout a field.”

In spring 2020, Orr planted 1,500 acres with SIMPAS on his Case IH 1250 planter. He applied Aztec 4.67, Counter 20G, and a granular zinc product. 

Because he has a lot of soil variability, with 17 different soil types in one field alone, Orr says having the ability to variable-rate multiple products with one system to treat trouble spots is huge. 

“I’ve got a 75-acre field that has a nematode problem, but it only affects about 10 of those acres,” he says. “I used treated seed to combat the problem, but I had to use it across the whole field. SIMPAS lets me solely treat the affected acres.”

Since users are not locked into buying certain products, Orr believes “the opportunities are endless on the different products we’ll be able to apply in-furrow in the future.”

SIMPAS is expected to be commercially available for the 2021 planting season.

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