A New Trick

A New Trick from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

Here at Central Valley Ag, we have some core values that we live by, two of them are Constant Innovation and Lifelong Learning. The past few weeks Keith and I have been talking a lot about the challenges variability causes in your operation and what we are currently doing about it. Our Advanced Cropping System Specials are as good as it gets in this industry at creating agronomically solid VRT solutions. On a skill set scale those solutions are the equivalent of juggling bowling pins while riding a unicycle, but being true to our core values we need to learn from what we know to be innovative and continue to lead our industry into a new frontier. We are going to do that by learning to juggle something new that will be the equivalent of juggling chainsaws instead of bowling pins.

First the learning part; from what we have discussed in the last month or so, soil variability is our biggest foe next to weather. Mostly because it has the greatest impact on hybrid response, from how root architecture is going to affect nutrient and water intake; to how the soil type, structure, and organic matter amount and composition will affect the nutrient release and water holding capacities. This is where we have been spending the better part of the past two decades or so mastering through intensive soil sampling, EC Mapping, hybrid selections and mostly varying seed and nutrient rate to match variability. The thing is we know a simple fact and your Field Sales Agronomist is better trained at this than anyone, NO hybrid is great for ALL soil types and situations. Through that learning, we needed to find a way to bring the skills of our ACS team and the hybrid knowledge of the FSA’s together to deliver you more value. That solution has been hard to develop because the technology wasn’t there yet, until now…


Alas here is where the constant innovation part comes in, and coincidently the juggling chainsaws part. Recently we made a decision as a group does embark on something new, bold and honestly a bit frightening at times and upgrade our plot planter “Eleanor” to a multi-hybrid planter. This update is kind of cool when you think about it and is the new frontier in planter technology, and she will still have all the capabilities when it comes to singulation, spacing, and downforce that she has had for the past two years. The intent is to take this planter and go do some multi-hybrid trials in all regions of CVA country, so we can learn from them on how to make these complicated prescriptions work for you.

Untitled-2This new initiative is where all the components of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) converge in agronomy. To make these more complex prescriptions perform to your and our standards, we are going to have to master the relationship between hybrid and its surroundings. Your local FSAs have spent hours training to understand the art of placing a hybrid to a particular situation based on its individual characteristics. Merging that artful understanding with the science and math that our ACS specialist have spent years crafting and mastering will give us the power to place the right hybrid at the right population a higher percentage of the time. And if you remember what I said about the Chaos Theory, the more variables that we understand, we start to narrow the range of outcomes.

But only through technology and engineering can we begin to deliver on promises made by that merger of art and science. So that’s why we are building this planter because the equipment manufacturers are moving that way and the only way we can help you capitalize on that value is by mastering an emerging technology before it becomes an accepted one.