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Browsing Category Precision Farming

Overcoming Stagnating Yield Needs to Start With Producers

For the past three decades, potato yields in Eastern Canada have been falling worryingly behind those of other regions. In New Brunswick, average yields have gone up just 1.4 cwt/acre per year since the early 1980s, compared to about 4 cwt/acre in Alberta and Manitoba and at least that high in the U.S. In order to remain competitive in today’s global market, eastern Canadian producers need to offset their rapidly increasing input…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Low Investment, High Return Makes Yield Mapping Easy Math

With among the highest input costs and some of the greatest potential returns of any field crop, potatoes offer the biggest bang for one’s yield mapping and precision management buck. Yield maps are not just an intellectual exercise in raw data; they actually map dollars and cents. A yield map breaks a field into visible areas of higher and lower productivity. Looking closely at each area, a grower can start to figure…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Variable Rate Potato Production = More $ in Your Pocket

Yield- and soil-map based variable rate (VR) seeding and fertilizer management is gaining popularity in cereal, corn and oilseed crops. So far, it hasn’t earned as much traction in potato fields, both because many planters are not set up for VR tech adoption and because few potato growers monitor yield at harvest, a necessary step in VR input management. But, major changes are just around the corner. Today’s yield mapping and planting…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Technology and Innovation Starting to Solve Seeding Depth Challenges

Planting potatoes at a consistent depth is an important factor in achieving uniform crop emergence. Uniform emergence leads to improved crop input efficacy throughout the season and more consistent crop maturity at harvest. But, achieving consistent depth is often easier said than done: soil variation, areas of compaction, different moisture levels, and changing planter weight all make uniform seed placement challenging. Current planter technologies do a reasonable job in dealing with this…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

From Field-to-Storage-to-Field

Tracking seed potatoes is the way of the future. Advanced harvest and storage mapping technology now allows accurate-to-the-truckload tracking of potatoes from where they were grown in a field to exactly where they are stored in a bin. The technology’s on-farm potential is huge: detailed, automated information capture supports more informed agronomic decision making, better storage management, enhanced bio-security, and more. But, tracking field-to-storage is just the beginning. Tracking product from seed…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Field and Storage Mapping on the Vander Zaag Farm

Ontario potato farmers Kate and Peter Vander Zaag were among the first to adopt potato yield monitoring and, more recently, field-to-storage load tracking and mapping. Tech-savvy producers who prioritize quality, the Vander Zaags believe capturing quality information is key to growing better potatoes. I sat down with Kate to hear her perspective. Bill: What made you first consider yield monitoring? Kate: When we started seeing yield maps for grain, we thought immediately…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Field to Storage Traceability

A Benefit to Customers and Producers Alike Many agricultural producers are worried about consumers’, packer/processors’ and governments’ demands for increasingly strict, detailed traceability of agricultural products and production practices. Farmers are justifiably proud of the safe, high-quality, nutritious food they produce. Many are both offended by and resistant to the idea that they should have to track, trace, prove and transparently show their products’ production and movement histories, and are concerned that traceability…

Yield Monitoring: Once You Give it a Try, You’ll Never Look Back

If anything is going to convince a grower to give a new technology a try, it’s positive feedback from other growers. So consider this: in all my years working with producers, I have never yet had a single customer who, after seeing their yield monitoring data for the first time, said: ‘That’s not interesting. I don’t need to see any more.’ Growers always want to see more because yield maps are instantly…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

The Nuts and Bolts of Yield Monitoring Technology

Given how important and detailed the data is they provide, you wouldn’t be the first person to assume that potato yield monitors must be confusingly complicated and inaccessibly high-tech. The reality is just the opposite. Root crop yield monitors consist of very few components. With a little patience and some basic wrenching skills, a complete system is quite easy to set-up and calibrate in surprisingly little time. But before you race out,…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

A Whole New Reality for Yield Monitoring

If you’re firmly against yield monitoring and think it’ll never have a place in your potato fields, I understand. Twenty years ago when yield monitors first made big waves in agriculture, they didn’t offer much benefit to potato farmers. While the monitors churned out reams of data, most farmers were unsure how to translate that data into useful information. Analysis programs seemed to be designed more for statisticians and computer scientists than…

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