In Flux, Part II

ReachOut: In Flux Part II from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

Two weeks ago, I wrote about yield—how we start with an educated estimate but can then sharpen the accuracy of that estimate as information comes in throughout the season.  In just a few weeks time, we’ll get the first of that information as you scout your fields and evaluate your plant stand.  So the sharpening begins…

What I’m about to talk about today isn’t the brain child of the great Mike Zwingman, but rather the outcome of some laborious and useful work on the part of an implement manufacturer and a university—nonetheless, it’s a nifty little number that means a lot to our understanding of this season’s potential yield:

Friends, I present to you the NESP: the Net Effect of Stand Percentage.

We’ve been doing stand counts for years, yes?  Through such work, we learn how many plants are in our fields.  Great.  The problem with this is that it’s just a number.  It’s quantitative, but not qualitative.  And numbers don’t mean a whole heck of a lot without context.

So enter the NESP to lend you some qualitative information about your field and some context to your stand count.

Here’s a golf analogy: two guys step into a tee box and both drive their respective balls a respectable 240 yards.  Guy #1 is me.  My ball ends up 30 feet off the fairway and behind a tree.  Guy #2 is an unnamed fellow CVA employee and much better golfer—his ball ends up just six feet off the dead center of the fairway.

Who would you rather be?  Guy #2, right?  But you couldn’t have known that if the only piece of information you were given is that both guys made 240 yard drives.  The greatly preferable situation of Guy #2 only comes into focus with context.

That’s the difference between stand counts and the NESP.  Whereas a stand count is really just a number, the NESP tells you how close or far off you are from your destination.

So what exactly is this magical number?  Here it is, in all its mathematical glory:

NESP = total plant population – late emerging plants – poorly spaced plants

total plant population


It’s not rocket science.  It’s not even calculus.  But there’s a whopping amount of information to be gained from this stat.  For starters, it provides the context I lauded above: x plants came up, but so what?  Secondly, we know from research and lots of experience that late emerging plants and poorly spaced plants affect yield outcomes to different degrees, so knowing those numbers will help you decide how to move forward to achieve a realistic and maximally profitable yield.  Thirdly, the information will help you evaluate your planter and planting performance (always a relevant topic!).

Lastly, the NESP is the first lens we’re offered in the season through which to see our ultimate yield more clearly, which as you’ll remember is important to using our resources and inputs most effectively and efficiently.

The magic of math, right?