The VRN Sidedress Decision?

The VRN Sidedress Decision from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Keith Byerly

by Keith Byerly

Last week, I talked about how Y-Drops from 360 Yield Center fill a niche that we may have this year. And as I reflected on the conversation we started, it occurred to me that while we set up the “how” of Nitrogen placement, I never went into a discussion about the rates that we could/should be applying, and how the prescriptions fit in. I did discuss VRN a couple of months ago, but the conversation feels more real now and warrants a couple of minutes of our time.

Choosing the proper rate for Nitrogen is no easy task. As Mike Zwingman has mentioned on Twitter and in his weekly Reachout, deriving a Nitrogen rate at its simplest form is a guess. At its best, it takes a complex dataset that includes soil tests, tissue tests, and Nitrogen models to make a more informed decision. As we work towards making the best decision that we can, inevitably, I think we must consider if employing a prescription into the process makes agronomic sense.

Even though we have gotten several curve balls thrown our way this season that doesn’t mean we abandon ship either. Variable rate Nitrogen makes a lot of sense for us in many ways. If our plan from the beginning was to use our Variable Rate Yield Goals to build the basis of a Nitrogen plan for the season then, by all means, we should stick with the plan. If VR Nitrogen wasn’t your plan at the beginning of this season, then let’s evaluate if it is right for you. First, did you develop a seeding plan based on historical yield information? If so that is a great start. If not, are you varying your other nutrient inputs intensively with a grid or zone sampling program? If you are, then that is a great enhancement to your yield goals to build N rates around. If not, then I don’t think that VRN is going to be a good solution for you this season.

Now, I know that I take every opportunity that I can to talk about the merits of Precision Ag. But I hope that it always comes out in my message that we need to make sure that Variable Rate decisions are based sound Agronomics, and planning. And to be perfectly honest, the last thing I want to see somebody do is just go out and apply a product variable rate just because we can. Especially at this point in the season. So, if you have the background work done with the things I’ve talked about, it’s not too late to develop a VRN plan for 2017. Even if you weren’t planning on VRN this season, or you thought that you had all of your Nitrogen applied, and now through investigation and testing you have determined otherwise, it doesn’t mean the door is shut. We can still build a plan utilizing the tools at hand.

It doesn’t matter if you are going to be using liquid or dry fertilizer, we can still develop a plan. If you are doing it on your own, the ACS equipment team can set your machine up for VR application if it is not today. If CVA is doing your application, most of our side dress rigs that apply Nitrogen can do it in VR form. Most of the time we don’t cut our total application, we just reallocate the product to where we can get the most bang for our buck. So if Nitrogen application is on your mind right now, evaluate where we are. Test and verify need, use the models to project usage, fine tune the yield goals with the Net Effective Stand Percentage, and then determine how to apply. If VRN passes all of those tests, let our ACS Regional Managers help you get prescriptions ready to roll, and then let’s execute.