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There’s an app for 300-bushel corn

By Staff | Aug 23, 2013

MONSANTO AGRONOMIST Jim Cisco points out the new corn root worm traits available to farmers when buying seed.



MASON CITY – For farmers who now own an I-pad, they are one-third of the way there.

For those who have been thinking about buying an I-pad, this will probably give them a reason to buy one.

For those farmers who have been thinking that buying an I-pad is not for them, the following may be a glimpse into future that has an I-pad in it.

Monsanto introduced to farmers on Aug. 8 its latest innovation titled Field Script, part of Monsanto’s Integrated Farming Systems.

Approximately 50 farmers attended the Mason City at North Iowa Area Community College where Dave Rhylander, of Monsanto, provided specific information about Field Script, part of Monsanto’s program to reach a corn yield goal of 300 bushels per acre.

Field Script has been tested by 150 farmers and 42 retailers in 800 fields, Rhylander said. It will be available in 2014 in the DeKalb seed line and sold by dealers trained in the program.

Rhylander said Field Script will match a hybrid and a plant population to a field much like a physician will “write a prescription” based on information the physician has obtained from the patient.

Field Script has the ability to adjust plant population every 10 meters in increments of 500 seeds.

For farmers wanting to use Field Script on their fields, they need to furnish Monsanto with a minimum of two years of yield data, soil test information using a grid sampling every three acres, and basic field management information.

This information is used to create an algorithm using 20 different layers of data that include organic matter, CEC, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

CEC, or Cation Exchange Capacity, is a calculated value that is an estimate of the soils ability to attract, retain, and exchange positive-charged elements. It is reported in millequivalents per 100 grams of soil.

Once written, the Field Script is moved to a Field View equipped I-pad, then to Precision Planting’s Seed Sense and to the third component, Precision Planting’s Row Flow.

Rhylander said that to equip a 24-row planter to take advantage of Field Script would cost $12,000 to $14,000.

Rhylander showed a slide that when planting by soil type, population would be 33,000 seeds in the lower yielding areas of the field and 36,000 seeds in the more productive soil types.

When planting under normalized yield conditions, planting rate in the same field would be broken down further from 31,000 seeds on the low side, 34,000 for medium productivity, and 37,000 on the most productive soil type.

Field Script is able to respond to changing conditions in this field starting at 32,000 seeds, then increasing population according to productivity in increments of 500 seeds per acre, reaching a maximum population of 38,000 seeds where the field is most productive.

Early results using Field Script showed a yield increase of 5 to 10 bushels an acre, said Rhylander.

The Field Script includes a provision for creating a check strip to evaluate Field Script at harvest.

Rhylander said Field Script can be re-written in five minutes to reflect changing conditions such as the recent adverse spring planting.

In addition to the three components needed to use Field Script, farmers will be paying a tech fee of $8 to $12 an acre and that will be charged on a per field basis, not added to the price of a bag of seed.

One unidentified farmer asked what Monsanto would do with the yield information after computing through the Field Script program..

Rhylander said there will be a confidentiality agreement written between the farmer and Monsanto, stating the yield data would not be shared with anyone else, much like a confidentiality agreement between a doctor and a patient.

Rhylander said Field Script users during its testing were impressed with its simplicity and ease of use.

Those farmers, who had tried Field Script on a few of their fields, planned to use Field Script on all their acres next year.

CRW advances

Monsanto’s regional agronomist, Jim Cisco, spoke on Monsanto’s advancement in corn root worm control.

Root worm is an increasing problem with performance inquiries averaging 150 annually in the U.S. before 2011 and 271 in Iowa alone in 2012.

Cisco identified warning signs for root worm when three to five years of continuous corn, reliance on a single resistance trait, observed areas of lodging, high population of beetles, and problems in a neighboring field.

Cisco said the best root worm control is still planting soybeans for a year.

For maximum root worm control, Cisco said farmers should create a five-year plan for all fields that includes a rotation of soybeans with the different resistance traits from year to year.

Monsanto has developed a root worm control that is a bio-pesticide, different from GMO, called RNAi. It stands for interference RNA.

RNAi is highly specific for the target pest, he said.

The root worm cannot sense its presence in the seed and continues to feed on the seed until it dies.

Jim Cisco said RNAi results in nearly zero percent adult corn root worm emergence.

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