Feature Articles

National Soil Conservation Week Tributes New Farm Technology

April 18, 2008:

Highlighting new technologies to help conserve or improve soil structure is important for the April 21-26 National Soil Conservation Week.

Misener Farm Ltd. has relied on new technology to enhance their existing soil management practices. New technology allows for more accurate field records, reduced input and pesticide cost, and benefits to the environment.

"Crops and animal producers need long term soil quality goals" states Bob Misener.

New technology of precision tracking is advancing soil management to a new dimension. Misener use GPS to map and track field records such as drainage, N rate, and yield data. Their maps correlate with Real Time Kinematic (RTK) technology using satellite coordinates and a base station, to electronically steer their tractor to automatically guide their planter, sprayer, nutrient applicator and harvesting equipment.

The most recent addition the Miseners have adopted is a sprayer fitted with AIM Command which controls each nozzle to pulsate up to 600x/min creating a constant pressure, constant volume distribution of spray keeping the concentration accurate throughout the field. AcuBoom controlled by GPS shuts the boom on and off and Auto Boom sensors detect the crop canopy to maintain a constant boom height. Viper PRO mixes chemical directly into the nozzles instead of a pre tank mix. The sprayer also has Auto-steer to close nozzles to prevent overlap, saving 8-10% of chemical used (saving $5000/year on chemical costs). These new precision technologies, when combined, provide Miseners with soil and crop management solutions that save time and reduce the environmental impact.

Low compaction buggy exerts 8 PSI when fully loaded.
Low compaction buggy exerts 8 PSI when fully loaded.

Misener Farms Ltd. farm 3000 acres of Haldimand Clay near Caledonia. Miseners initially had areas of compacted soil, so they first focused on tile drainage. They have used GPS Mapping to keep an electronic record of their tile drainage locations, allows them to identify new drainage needs in each field, and precise drainage impacts on crop yields.

Long term, Misener Farms have focused on enhancing soil quality by reducing equipment compaction, reduced tillage, and crop rotation. They use GPS to record equipment paths in the field, and maintain goals for new equipment such as a grain buggy to exert 8 PSI (pounds per square inch) when fully loaded. As a comparison, a 6' medium build person will exert 8 PSI or a 1250 lbs adult horse will exert 25 PSI standing still. Long term, Misener Farms have focused on enhancing soil quality by reducing equipment compaction, reduced tillage, and crop rotation.

GPS controlled seeder valves allows precision application of seed.
GPS controlled seeder valves allows precision application of seed.

Rounding out their soil management strategy, the Miseners grow red clover (as a cover crop or for seed) and use manure to supply most of their Nitrogen (N) requirements. The red clover provides an average of 75-100 lbs N credit. Manure is also incorporated into the rotation in the form of pelleted sludge, since the Miseners have been working with a biosolid program for the past 15 years. Miseners use GPS mapping to identify variation in fertility requirements. Their records indicate greater yields, and now they apply ˝ the amount of N, than before they adopted the technology. Precision application of seed and inputs along with accurate records saves money while protecting the soil and water resources.

Story courtesy of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association