Development of management zones concentrates nutrients in appropriate areas – AgriNews

SYCOMORE, Ill. – Jay Riddell’s goal is to equalize the cost per bushel for growing corn or soybeans across an entire field.

“Our goal is not to maximize yield or reduce inputs because in areas where we know we can grow 300 bushels of corn, I expect to spend more per acre on that area of ​​the field,” said Riddell who grows corn and soybeans on approximately 2,500 acres.

“I want my cost per bushel across all areas of the field to be the same,” he said during a presentation at the Better Beans event hosted by the Illinois Soybean Association in Sycamore. “That’s what I consider a success.”

Riddell farms near Sparland and his family has been raising Hereford cattle since 1916.

“We’re three miles from the Illinois River and we have a lot of Class A soils through to wooded soils,” he said. “I also farm near Putnam and this farm has good black sand all the way to blow sand and there is irrigation.”

All of Riddell’s acres are strip-tilled and he is also developing management zones for his fields.

“We try to strip-till in the fall and we run a little in the spring,” said Riddell, who also does custom strip-till. “We’re trying to get the strip-till rig on 6,000 acres a year and this fall it’s done 5,000 acres.”

To start the process of developing management zones, Riddell gives each field a yield goal.

“We’ve had yield monitors for a long time, so we have 15 to 20 years of yield history,” he said. “We use soil types and variables like where there are pattern tiles or irrigation.”

Each management area of ​​a field is assigned a percentage.

“If the field goal is 250 bushels and another zone is 80% of that, then the yield goal for that zone is 200 bushels,” Riddell said.

“I work with Progressive Ag Services for our advice and they help me with prescriptions, setting up management areas and processing data,” he said.

“We engage in our soil testing, tissue testing, aerial applications, and planting cover crops. We try to handle the rest of the work, including the spraying, and we apply the dry fertilizer through the strip tillage platform. »

This machine has two compartments of 6 tons.

“Potash is in one compartment and DAP and elemental sulfur are a mixture in the other compartment,” Riddell said. “We mix the products from the two compartments as we go through the field.”

Riddell works with seed dealers of several different brands.

“We’re talking about the hybrids that they think will respond well to our management system,” he said. “I give Progressive the numbers and they give me a prescription for each strain for each area.”

Checks are carried out in most Riddell fields with a standard population.

“Then we can see if we’re doing a good job setting up the management areas and if the seed companies have done a good job on the population,” Riddell said.

“When we started this we were at 34,500 people,” he said. “One thing I didn’t expect was that when we lowered that number to 28,000 or 29,000 in the poorer areas, the maize yield went up.”

Riddell typically plants all of its soybeans before the corn.

“We tend to push the early side and last year we started planting beans on April 5,” he said. “I think that’s why we’ve grown some really good beans.”

Cover crops are sown just behind the combine.

“I want the cover crops to rise, then I take them out,” Riddell said.

Every farmer should have a reason to plant cover crops, the farmer said.

“Our reason is mainly to build organic material and with strip-till and rolling soil we can have some erosion on our strip,” Riddell said. “When it’s hot, thawing and we get 1 inch of rain, our hope for the rye is to protect the strips. Our goal has never been to increase yield or reduce chemicals.

“After planting, my dad is right behind me spraying,” he said. “We apply 35 units of nitrogen with the sprayer, hopefully before the corn emerges. This didn’t happen last year because the crop was pretty cold when we planted corn, so we ended up applying nitrogen alongside it.

Riddell dresses the cornfields with anhydrous.

“I like the availability of nitrogen later in the season,” he said. “It also gives us a chance to see what the grow year is, what the stand is, and then Progressive Ag will do the prescription about 48 hours before we get dressed.”

Soil testing can be difficult when fertilizer is applied in bands, Riddell said.

“We run the tiller bar in strips nine inches deep, so we drop all of our seven-inch dry fertilizer,” he said. “Our soil tests are getting ugly, so we do a lot more tissue tests and let the plant tell us what it needs.”

Tissue testing guides Riddell for fertilizer application for the following year.

“We are trying to feed next year’s crop,” he said.

Tissue tests are taken from the same location in the field three times a year for corn and once a year for soybeans.

“We think that’s the best indicator of fertility we put in the fields,” Riddell said.

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