The three-tier program features packages — named Discover, Evaluation, and Analysis — designed to provide solutions for farmers with beginner, intermediate and advanced-level precision ag needs.
Their entry-level option features the basics of precision ag and allows growers to “dip a toe” into the waters of farm technology. It’s a season-long program designed for producers who want to learn how agronomy technology can help provide information to make better crop management decisions. A combination of soil and tissue samples show what is happening in the field and enables Southern States to work with growers to improve performance.
“The Discovery program is designed to show growers what the basic agronomy technologies can do for their operation, but not overwhelm them with loads of information,” said Dave Swain, Southern States’ manager of precision ag. “This package keeps it simple and allows a grower to learn more about how agronomy technology can provide information to make better crop management decisions.”
During the growing season, an agronomist completes in-field observations to identify differences in soil type, compaction, water-holding capacity, etc., that may be impacting yield.
In-season tissue samples are also taken at points corresponding to the initial soil samples that give a better understanding of the nutrients available to the crop, and if there are any deficiencies.
The Evaluation program is a longer-term, more refined approach that establishes a baseline for crop management programs and systematically monitors and evaluates crop progress throughout the growing season. The two-to-three year package starts with two-and-a-half acre soil samples in year one and adds in-season satellite imagery to the Discovery program services.
Years two and three rely upon production sampling that includes soil sampling, in-season tissue sampling and visual evaluation of three specific points within 50-acre zones to spot-check and evaluate nutrient levels and ensure fertility recommendations are accomplishing the desired goals.
Their most comprehensive package combines the Discovery and Analysis programs and adds compaction samples and more data to the mix. This intense management program adds a postseason evaluation that includes performance outlined by seed variety, crop protection treatments and soil type. Southern States also processes as-applied data, which enables the customer to have a digitized record-keeping of any and all applications of seed, nutrients, and crop protection products.
All three packages begin with a preseason evaluation and planning by geo-referencing soil samples to determine the right nutrient plan for the field to maximize potential from the beginning. Once the season starts, a Southern States Agronomist completes on-site analysis, including tissue samples and in-season soil samples to verify crop health, respond to current conditions, and determine if other factors are limiting the potential yield of the crop.
A postseason evaluation uses yield data and maps that show the final production results.
“The data provides insights on changes we can implement the following season to continually improve crop performance,” Swain noted.
Southern States operates its precision ag services on over 2 million acres of land and has won a number of precision ag awards, including the 2014 and 2015 ARA Precision Impact Awards and The Fertilizer Institute’s 2016 4R Retail Advocate award.
For more information about their precision ag services, visit southernstates.com/precision.
Southern States is a Richmond, Va.-based farm supply and service cooperative, established in 1923, which now has more than 200,000 farmer-members. As one of the nation's largest agricultural cooperatives, it provides a wide range of farm inputs, including fertilizer, seed, livestock feed, pet food, animal health supplies and petroleum products, as well as other items for the farm and home. The cooperative serves its members and non-member customers through 1,200 retail outlets in 23 states.