9 min read

The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 8

Always read and follow label directions.


The Most Asked Question This Week

How is the wheat? We don’t know. If someone asks you, tell them this, and to stop worrying. If really interested, they can dig up some plants and put them in the window and watch them grow. Which they will. But we still have not gotten in to the wheat killing weather. Growers in Ohio are asking the same question. The researchers there are giving out the same answer.

Red Clover Management

I asked agronomists what their thoughts are to get the most out of red clover. Here are Adam Garniss’ (CCA ON) thoughts. He is a Dekalb dealer and farms in the Wingham area.

Clipping makes the most sense to keep weeds from going to seed and should be a more common practice. I’m also considering a pass with a graminicide to take out volunteer wheat in the swath, because clover suffered there last year (if straw sits for a week it’s pointless because clover will be significantly set back anyways)

Everyone says to leave clover late, as it will double (the amount of) the roots in Oct, etc..... I’ve found it gets really hard to find good spray days in late Oct, and the work gets piled up. Now granted I am in the snowbelt, but I’m much happier getting the job done in early to mid Oct, so that I can do any tillage necessary in good time. Clover can also be really difficult to till, and the earlier you spray, it’ll dry up better and become easier to work. A nice thick stand of double cut clover is a beautiful sight, but can be a nightmare regardless the type of tillage tool, so single cut works better for many guys.

Lastly, I’m not sure what you are trying to accomplish by discing clover right after harvest. I doubt it would kill the clover, but it sure wouldn’t do it any favors! If you have a good catch of double cut clover on heavier ground, you are pretty much stuck with the plow. Single cut gives you more flexibility on tillage. If any one has another idea as how to handle fields not worked, last fall let us know.

Where Fall Tillage did not Occur

I checked my notes and the last time we had a really wet harvest, and tillage did not occur in the fall, no till was a bit of a disappointment on heavier soils. If you are in this situation consider some type of spring tillage before planting corn on soybean ground. For lighter silt loam soils, no tillage is needed. But on the heavier soils consider a high-speed disc. There are other tools that can go fast and shallow. The key is to go fast and shallow and leave no lumps. If you normally use some type of conservation tillage on corn stalks in the fall before planting soybeans, consider using the same tool in the spring. What about adding nitrogen to help break down corn stalks? Really not going to work. It has been tried many times. Generally, the weather is too cold to have any affect.

Latest Nitrogen Research on Corn

I have been reading every research article I can find to see if we learned anything from the last two years to help us get a better handle on N rates for corn. My conclusion is that we are no smarter now than two years ago. There are some who believe adding nitrogen late will increase yields. I believe that if you add nitrogen late in the season, you are doing it so you can get the same yield with less nitrogen. Rather than try to get more yield with more nitrogen. Typically it is water, not nitrogen, which is limiting. If you use a soil test for nitrogen, that seems to help fine tune nitrogen rates. I read a great article from the mid-west where they sampled hundreds of acres and tried their predictive tools. Their results were based on using the “corn stalk N test in the fall” to see if they got the right rate. Their conclusion was they needed to do more research. About the best I read is that newer hybrids are more efficient nitrogen users. With the new equipment, we have the ability to do our own N trials, try one this growing season and see what type of response you get.

Where Does Nitrogen Fertilizer Come From?

Briefly. The first product of nitrogen production is anhydrous ammonia, NH3. NH3 is made from natural gas, water, and air. The nitrogen is taken from the air. Air is 78% nitrogen. The natural gas is the source of H+. Natural gas also supplies heat and is the source of energy to compress the air. Anhydrous is the source product for Urea and ammonium nitrate. Urea and ammonium nitrate are mixed with water to produce 32% liquid N. This is typically shipped to places like Hamilton. At Hamilton, water is added to produce 28% N, which is less likely to salt out than 32% under cold conditions. Anhydrous is also mixed with phosphate to produce Mono-ammonium Phosphate (MAP) or Di-ammonium Phosphate (DAP). Historically, the price of anhydrous is tied to the price of natural gas.

Figure 1 - Yara Basic Soil Plant Nutrition Manual - Nitrogen Process

With Alfalfa Yield is not Everything

Below is a summary of forage analysis as reported By Dan Undersander University of Wisconsin

Dr Dan Undersander and his staff developed the Wisconsin milk calculator. This calculator puts a value on the forage quality by taking the different components of a sample and extrapolating how much milk should be produced by that forage. The summary of his forage samples over 1 year showed a big range in the quality of forage submitted to their lab.

Table 1: Average and normal ranges for farmer alfalfa/grass forage samples.

There is a lot you can do to make sure your forage is closer to the maximum. What is your analysis?

A Brief Summary of Various technology platforms on the market.

I was asked by one member in the fall to do an overview of the various precision Ag platforms on the market. Here is an overview of what is available. For this issue I will focus on those that do data management.

Regardless of which one you chose to use, there are three questions every user should ask;

1) Who has access to my farm’s data? Do I own it, or does someone else?

2) If I decide to discontinue using this service, how do I or can I get my data off the platform?

3) How do I share my data with my service providers? (Agronomist, retailer, seed supplier)

If there is one here that was missed that you would like to see, send a note and will share an opinion at a later date.

Affinity Compass

Compass is branded as an “all-in-one” solution. This software package has grain inventory management, COP/budgeting analysis, GIS, scouting and field reporting capabilities. This platform also has an accounting module. Growers own the data and are able to share it with others that are part of their farm eco-system (i.e. crop consultants, inputs retailer, etc.).

AgLeader Agfiniti

Agfiniti is Agleader’s answer to Fieldview. It will seamlessly stream data to your cloud (Agfiniti) account from Agleader’s Incommand monitors (unclear on whether the iPad present). Older monitors such as the Integra or Versa may function as well, but require a separate license. Data can be viewed via iPad in the field during scouting or equipment operation.

The data within Agfiniti can be easily transferred to another licensee (i.e. Agronomist or Retailer) within the Agfiniti ecosystem, or that account’s SMS desktop software. You are able to view any applications made with your AgLeader monitor and conduct multi-year analysis or other detailed analysis. Agfiniti also offers prescription writing capabilities. As far as I can tell, there is no weather or imagery data associated with this program.

AgLeader SMS

SMS is high powered desktop software commonly used by producers, retailers and crop consultants to manage farm data. It can work with almost any GIS data type and export prescriptions to any rate controller. The software must be used on a PC based computer and can be a bit cumbersome to learn. One benefit of SMS is that all data is stored in a raw format.

Climate Fieldview (Bayer)

This platform is predominately a “gatherer” of field information and presents it in an easy to view format. This can be through uploading material manually, or via data “pucks” that pull information off your equipment monitor, and then send information to your iPad. This system is colour blind when it comes to recording application data.

Additional benefits can include field imagery via satellite or drone, weather data and simple data analysis. Fieldview can also generate simple prescriptions for a rate controller. APIs (application programming interface) are coming to allow seamless integration of data from other sources (i.e. soil lab data).

Corteva Encirca (formerly DowDupont)

Encirca is predominately a crop management tool. There are multiple service levels with this platform. Commonality across all service packages includes; field planning and data management, weather, variable-rate seeding scripts, and satellite imagery. Other service packages also offers crop health indexing, nitrogen and fertility management/recs and advance seed scripts. If you are a Pioneer seed customer, you may have access to parts of this platform as part of your seed order.

Farmer’s Edge FarmCommand

FarmCommand is a data aggregation platform. Data can be manually uploaded or through the use of “CanPlugs”, which stream data from your equipment monitor. There are several packages available to growers, all of which start with satellite imagery up to, and including local weather data via a weather station and VR prescriptions. FarmCommand also has ability to view machine data (engine hours, etc.), soil moisture probe monitoring, and limited data analytics. Newer features include pest and nitrogen modelling. If you decide to purse this option; ask who owns the data, if you can export it and ability to share it with others on your operation (i.e. ag retailer, seed supplier or crop consultant).

John Deere Operations Centre

John Deere’s web based data management solution and will eventually replace the former Apex desktop software system. A few features of Operations Centre. If you are running newer equipment, data will stream seamlessly into Operations Centre from your John Deere monitor. Data management in the software is capable of year to year comparisons and as applied data. A few ag management providers are integrated into Operations Centre via APIs. Limited functionality to generate prescriptions, but enough to get your feet wet. Expect to see more in the future. Lastly, you can grant back door access to your account to service providers, so that they can access or upload data (various permission levels available).

Trimble Ag Software

Trimble offers three packages for farm customers, Farmer Starter, Farmer Fit and Farmer Pro. The desktop software is built off of Farmworks, while the tablet or smartphone applications are built off of the Agri-Trend scouting application. There is also a cloud based web application for generating prescriptions and managing data.

This is one of the most comprehensive data management packages, as it could be as simple as tracking crops by field boundary and yield/seeding dates by field, to full-fledged financial management and grain contract/inventory tracking. All packages offer some form of weather data, with the most advanced package offering crop health imagery.

AgExpert Field (Farm Credit Canada)

Best characterization for this product is that it is a farm dashboard. It provides you with the ability to digitize your farm cropping records so that you can keep track of important details such as field locations, cost of production, activities/cropping history, grain inventory/sales, etc.  Premium feature enables access to phone support and in-season imagery. One benefit of this software is it can be used on any device, and you can share information with other service providers. It is not a GIS tool.

Nutrien Ag Solutions

Nutrient Ag Solutions (formerly Crop Production Services) currently does not have a retail presence in Ontario, but expect to see their platform used by other Ag retailers in Ontario. Limited information available at this time.


Formerly the SST Ag software business, there are a number of different platforms; AgX, FarmRite, Sirrus and Summit.  AgX is the data platform, FarmRite is an advanced analytics system, Sirrus is an iPad app for in-field management, and lastly Summit is the desktop software. Mainly geared to consultants and ag retail.

Xarvio (BASF)

The Xarvio platform was acquired by BASF in 2018. This was a divesture as part of Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto. This platform has a number of scouting, imagery and crop growth tools. The most interesting tools are the pest ID app and Zone Spray. Zone spray generates an on/off spraying prescription for flowering canola. Using satellite imagery they are able to determine the best yielding areas of the field. Expect to see more from this platform as they continue to build and develop their digital farming tools.

"In business, the only truly sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to learn and adapt faster than your competition."

- Danny Klinefelter