Corn School: Doing the math on multi-hybrid variable rate planting

Many Ontario corn fields have high levels of variability; soil profiles can change from sand to highly productive loam in a matter of footsteps.

One way to tackle this variability is to identify management zones in the field and plant multiple hybrids at variable rates. In this episode of RealAgriculture Corn School, we catch up with Pride Seeds market agronomist Aaron Stevanus to review findings from the company’s 2017 precision agriculture plot research.

Last summer on Corn School, Stevanus explained the difference between a ‘fixed’ and ‘flex’ corn hybrid and how they can help optimize yield in low and high production zones across the field. In this video, Stevanus takes a closer look at the results of the multi-hybrid variable rate trial that contained those fixed and flex hybrids.

The test field produced a record yield. Excellent growing conditions, including ample moisture, helped even the sandy zones of the field to perform well. But even under near-ideal growing conditions, plots with multi-hybrid, variable rate management still delivered a 5.5 bu/ac yield advantage. Stevanus believes the yield benefit would be significantly higher in years with more stressful growing conditions.

In the video, Stevanus also shares some math on the potential payback for growers who invest in multi-hybrid, variable rate management at a 5.5 bu/ac yield advantage. In this scenario, growers who purchase a 12-row variable rate planter would need to plant 1,022 acres in one year to pay for the investment. He notes that smaller growers could consider a three-year scenario where they plant 354 acres per year.

“After that, even at 5.5 bushels, you’re making money,” says Stevanus.

Click here for more Corn School episodes.



Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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