Variable rate application (VRA) is the method of applying varying rates of inputs in the appropriate zones within an individual field. The ultimate goals of VRA are:
- Maximize farm profitability
- Increase efficiencies in the application of crop inputs
- Ensure environmental safety and sustainability
The utilization of remote sensing, specifically aerial imagery, has shown to provide a positive economic impact on a per acre basis [Watermeier (2003), OSU (2002), and Seelan et al (2003)].
The management of in-season nitrogen application(s) is a critical component to land management. Mismanagement can result in yield loss and negative impacts to the environment. Given this importance, companies and individuals alike are turning toward aerial imagery as a means to develop nitrogen management zones and the corresponding VRA. The economical nitrogen rate can vary substantially within individual fields (Scharf et al, 2005). It is difficult to assess these differences in a timely manner without the use of remote sensing. An aerial image, when analyzed appropriately, can provide the agronomist with key insights on the crop. For example, the near-infrared (NIR) light reflecting off a nitrogen stressed corn crop is quite less than a non-nitrogen stressed crop (Schlemmer et al, 2005).
Once aerial images have been utilized to target scouting efforts, a VRA fertilization file can be created using precision agriculture software (ie Mapshots, SST, AgFleet, etc…)
Another application of aerial imagery for VRA is using the bare soil image to create zones to apply soil nutrients and/or amendments.
Whether you are looking at VR seeding, VRA for fertilization, or VRA for herbicide/fungicide and aerial image is the data layer to use to enable better management decisions and increase profitability.
To find out more about aerial imagery uses for VRA technology just drop us an email or call us direct at (319) 361-7868.