In this blog, I will introduce Bill Copeland of Precision Ag Services – an Ag Leader dealer in Wauseon, Ohio. This guest blog will be a two part series where Bill discusses his experience with the Ag Leader OptRx® crop sensors and nitrogen management. Bill is no stranger to crop’s nitogen needs and has used numerous methods throughout the years. Here are his findings:
I’ve been in the agriculture business for 35 years and throughout that time, I’ve always made nitrogen recommendations based on yield potential, With the onslaught of new technology, I’ve discovered that the way I’d made nitrogen recommendations in the past wasn’t the most effective way. To my surprise, for most of those 35 years I’ve actually been doing it wrong!
Forty years ago, I was hired to conduct nitrogen yield trials. Instead of conducting only flat rate trials like everyone else, we let the grower tell us what he wanted to test. Most of what we discovered through these trials was inconclusive, except for one nitrogen application method, the Ag Leader OptRx®.
OptRx crop sensors measure real-time infrared data on your crop’s health and apply nitrogen based on your crop’s specific needs. In the years we’ve used OptRx, it’s consistently performed positively each year, even against the drought of 2012 and the excessive moisture of 2015.
To get a better picture of the results we’ve achieved throughout the years with OptRx, let’s take a look at the per-acre value OptRx added year-over-year on many replicated plots:
- In 2012, OptRx added $12.10/acre
- In 2013, OptRx added $12.75/acre
- In 2014, OptRx added $17.20/acre
- In 2015, OptRx added $16.03/acre
* All based on current corn price and nitrogen cost at the time of the test.
The True Savings of OptRx
The use of OptRx results in major costs-savings and higher gross profits. Based on historical data, we save an average of 30 pounds of N per acre. For 500 acres of corn, that tallies up to 26.78 tons of 28%, or $9.373. For the state of Michigan, savings 120,000 tons of 28%, or 2,400 truckloads – that would result in a grand total of $42,000,000 in cost savings!
With OptRx, you not only save on costs but you also save valuable time. Overall, the OptRx leads to more acres per fill, reducing application time significantly. Assuming it takes 15 minutes to fill a 1000 gallon tank, on 500 acres of corn that tallies up to 13.39 hours using OptRx – a full workday per season!
All nitrogen releases hydrogen that acidifies the soil. Every pound of 28% nitrogen requires 4 pounds of lime to displace the hydrogen and raise the pH. 500 acres of corn requires 30 tons of lime per year. Again using Michigan, it would save 134,000 tons of lime.
Since we just finished talking about nitrogen and lime savings, think about all those truckloads of both nitrogen and lime that are unnecessarily shipped each year. Without these shipments, we’ve eliminated the associated fuel, time and equipment wear. As an added bonus, reducing the consumption of nitrogen may even bring the price down. Last but not least, the reduction of nitrogen application means less nitrates in our streams, lakes and drinking water.
Stay tuned for part two where Bill compares OptRx to a competitor’s nitrogen recommendation service.