Dr. Ray Asebedo is a former assistant professor of precision agriculture at Kansas State University and consultant for Topcon Agriculture. He focuses on the development of agronomic algorithms and IoT to enable farmers to utilize optical sensor technologies for nutrient management in corn, soybeans and wheat.

Today, Asebedo offers a tip on working with an agronomist to identify and improve nitrogen deficiencies.

There's a lot of good agronomists in the field that utilize algorithms they've developed themselves, to interpret what they see as crop stress. And so they start to look at what's the severity of the crop stress and make a determination.

Then they start to decide, will this severity of crop stress impact yield? And then, of course, as all agronomists are called to the field to do this, create a prescription for the farmer to resolve that stress observed.

There is so much focus being on nitrogen (N) these days because there is extreme variability observed from year-to-year, and depending on soil type and being extremely costly nowadays, it’s one of the primary areas of focus for a lot of agronomists and the optical sensors that have been developed.

So this leads to what I call the agronomist nitrogen recommendation algorithm. There are steps agronomists should utilize in order to assess whether or not your field is experiencing nitrogen stress, and if a recommendation should be made.

So let's go through this is a step-by-step approach. If I was in the field with you scouting, one of the first things I would do is inquire about the average grain yield you have observed in this field from year to year.

What is your current yield goal? Why is that? Well, if we think about it, final grain yield is the end result of all the interactions observed between crop, soil and weather. And so by asking these questions and knowing the answers, you  know your fields. You can understand what kind of yields you're getting.

And as reliable data that I'm getting from you, this really helps me, as an agronomist, to calibrate for the yield behavioral changes that are observed across your farm, across your fields, and then be able to assess what are the impacts of the variety of weather conditions in response to soil?
Then what did I do, as we're walking around is I utilize remote sensing through my own vision, our own human optical sensors, and start to make the determination, ‘Do I visually see nitrogen stress occurring right now?’

Then after that, I start to consider the soil type, soil textural changes, soil test analysis data — if available throughout this field — in combination with local weather patterns and heavy precipitation. What this does is helps me as an agronomist to determine the nitrogen loss characteristics for your field.

Hear more from Dr. Ray Asebedo in our Strip-Till Farmer podcast series, sponsored by Topcon Agriculture.