Prescription | Swath Control
The Wappels strive to be early adopters of all new technologies as they become available to the farming industry. Staying on the technological cutting edge allows us to farm each individual acre to its maximum potential. We think of it like gardening on a large scale. Following are many examples of how advanced farming is put into action at Wappel Grain & Herb.
- GPS (Global Positions System)
- Used to pin-point vehicles location.
- RTK (Real-Time Kinematics) version used for sub-inch accuracy.
- Enables equipment to create field maps, application maps, yield maps, grid soil sampling areas, use prescription maps, run swath control and even drive without operator interaction.
- Field Maps
- A simple map that contains the borders and area of the field. Fields maps are necessary to use prescriptions and swath control properly. We can also track area worked, and area remaining.
- Application Maps
- Records the exact amount of product that has been applied to each area of the field.
- Yield Maps
- Shows the crop yield and moisture in exact areas of the field.
- Grid Soil Sampling
- Allows small 1-2 acre areas (as opposed to whole or half fields) to be sampled for greater accuracy when testing soil fertility.
- Assigned for a specific product in a specific field for automatic, on the go changes in application rates.
- Swath Control
- Controls equipment to minimize overlaps of all products.
- Auto Steer
- Used to automatically steer the equipment for greater efficiency, and lessen operator fatigue.
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Prescriptions for fields are set up in our office prior to entering the field. The Wappels use prescriptions to more accurately apply all products in the fields. They are set up to change application rate according to soil type, fertility, irrigation, drainage, topography, soil sampling results, and cropping history. Once the prescriptions are created and loaded into the equipment controller, they automatically control the application rate of the inputs. The prescriptions can also be overridden by the operator if field conditions have changed. Wappel Grain & Herb uses prescriptions with the following products.
- Lime, K-mag
- Allows us to lower the seeding rate on less productive soils, and raise the seeding rate on more productive or irrigated soils. Seeding rates may range from 18,000 seeds per acre to 40,000 seeds per acre in the same field.
- Prescription seeding rates are also beneficial in soybean fields. Droughty soils can be seeded at higher rates to maintain plant height.
- Prescriptions are used to back off application rate in more delicate soils, or areas with lower weed pressure.
- Used to automatically lower or stop application near critical areas such as streams, ponds, and residential sites.
- Certain areas may require higher rates such as irrigated acres.
- Droughty soils or environmentally sensitive areas are specified to not receive a fungicide application.
The ability to run prescriptions requires a large amount of capital and time, but in the end it provides an excellent return. The benefits are enjoyed by us along with landowners, and the environment. It allows Wappel Grain & Herb to maximize efficiency by applying exactly what is needed, where it is needed. Prescriptions help the environment by minimizing over application and conserving resources. In Northwest Indiana soil needs change drastically within the same field. Many fields range from near beach sand, to very productive dark soils, and almost always have a mucky area. We also have irrigation, numerous streams, wooded areas and other unique situations. With all things considered, prescription farming is a key technique in our operation, and will help us continue thrive.
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Swath control is similar to prescription farming, because it is automatically accomplished via GPS signal, helps control miss application, and is beneficial to the environment. It is used by controlling sprayer boom sections, fertilizer application and, seeding operations. Double application is simply eliminated using swath control by shutting the application sections off as they cross field areas that have already been applied. Swath Control working in conjunction with RTK GPS boasts sub inch accuracy, which is far better than the best operators can achieve. The Wappels use swath control on all of our product application equipment. Some examples are as follows;
- The booms are split into multiple sections, allowing a 120 foot spray pass to be controlled down to a few feet. This is needed to spray partial passes, and point rows.
- Our planters allow all rows to be controlled individually. The ability to control over application of seed on end rows and point rows is critical to seeding efficiency. The starter fertilizer is also controlled in the same way.
- Nitrogen Applicator
- Liquid nitrogen is applied similar to spraying and seeding. Our toolbars are divided into small sections in order to minimize overlap.
Swath control is an awesome tool. Not only does is it save money, time and frustrations, it also makes our fields look neat. When overlap of seed and nitrogen is eliminated, so is the potential of crop lodging. Overlap of pesticides may turn soils toxic, and increase run-off, which are all avoided with swath control. Initial investments of equipment and controllers are cleared quickly by saving products. With our many small and oddly shaped fields, we feel swath control is a must.
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