What’s Gary Wagner up to now?
February 2, 2004
Gary Wagner, Crookston, Minn. - who farms in partnership with two brothers - has used precision farming tools since the mid 1990s, and he teaches a course on the topic at the University of Minnesota, Crookston.
He has been featured in the Dakota Farmer and national farm magazines and newspapers and has made presentations to farmers in other countries about precision agriculture.
Some of the new things he is doing with precision ag technology include:
- Ditch management. Wagner has begun increasing seeding rates and fertilizer rates in and adjacent to surface ditches. Ditches made up 20% of the surface area on many fields and yields have consistently run 10 to 20% lower in the ditches than the field average, even when water did not run in the ditch during the season. He attributes this to ditch maintenance - pulling soil from the bottom of the ditch and throwing it out on top of the soil adjacent to the ditch.
- Sugarbeet canopy mapping. Wagner is measuring nitrogen (N) levels in the sugarbeet canopy with ground equipment rather than remote sensing. Wagner put a GreenSeeker on the front of his sugarbeet topper this year to measure N levels. The device calculates the amount of N in the crop, based on the shade of green in the plant leaves. It takes many more measurements than remote sensing equipment.
Wagner found the extra readings made a significant difference in recommendations. In one field, using satellite images resulted in no differences in N application rates. But the GreenSeeker showed more N available in the south half of the field than the north half. It enabled him to cut N rates on the southern half of the field.