#06-120

Complete

Date Full Report Received

02/08/2008

Date Abstract Report Received

02/08/2008

Investigation

Institution:
Primary Investigator:
Co-Investigators: James Leverich

Precision Agriculture Technologies are here to stay as more combines, applicators, and tractors are equipped with GPS receivers, steering systems and data recording systems. These technologies offer producers and researchers a whole new set of tools to do their work. In this research project we have been using the technology to improve manure management and demonstrate how to use the technology to implement on-farm research. There is a steep learning curve for this technology, but it appears we can use the technology to effectively manage manure nutrients more precisely on swine and dairy farms. This will minimize the over and/or under application of nutrients and allow producers to accurately measure and record the application of nutrients. After this information is recorded, we can then develop more precise application prescriptions so as to improve the efficiency of the manure and other nutrients being applied. This will also provide a permanent record of nutrient application which may be useful in situations where liability for producer’s actions are challenged. Producers who have attended our educational programs have been very interested in this technology and are interested in implementing it on their farms. We are also studying whether manure placement relative to the crop row has any significant effect on yield and/or manure utilization. The first year’s results show no distinct advantage to injecting either dairy or swine manure under the row versus between the rows. However, broadcasting swine manure rather than injecting it significantly reduced yields, thus it is important to inject swine manure and/or work it into the soil. This is likely due to loss of volatile nitrogen in the swine manure and hence a nitrogen shortage for the crop. In our second year of data we did see some benefit to placing manure under the corn rows rather than placing the manure between the rows. This may be because it was easier for the corn plants to access the nutrients when they were placed closer to the row, during periods of dry weather. Precision Agriculture Equipment definitely makes on-farm research easier to conduct and record field operations. Laying out plots and replication of plots is much easier to accomplish with the assistance of steering systems. Data collection and measurement is also enhanced with the ability to measure and record information with monitors in tractors and combines. The adoption of these technologies on swine and dairy farms will allow producers to refine their management through better measurement and recording of information. This improved management should also result in and improve farm profitability.