Corn growers and producers of other crops have been trying to vary their seeding rates, often with mixed results. To address that issue, Monsanto introduced its new Integrated Farming System at last year’s Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. This year, Monsanto was back at the Farm Progress Decatur, Ill., Show with an update on grower experiences with the first year of IFS or Field Scripts.
John Raines, global commercial lead for Monsanto’s Integrated Farming Systems, said 160 farmers used Field Scripts on more than 50,000 acres of corn in Minnesota and the “I” states – Iowa, Illinois and Indiana – in 2013. Judging from comments by farmers attending a Monsanto media event at the Farm Progress Show, most found the system less complicated than other variable rate technology.
“Most of my growers were surprised at how easy it was to use,” said Dustin Spears, a farmer and dealer for Asgrow and DeKalb in Lanark, Ill. “For the past few years, many of my growers have had questions about variable rate seeding. But there really hasn’t been anything on the market. This is the first new tool that’s been out there. It looks very promising.”
Farmers provide three pieces of information to their dealer – the border of the field to determine the A/B Line, a recent soil test to make sure of the soil fertility and the previous yield history to help understand any anomalies in the field. “We’ll take that and combine it with information we have including our global breeding program and send back to the farmer a field script that comes wirelessly to the farmer’s iPad that sits in the cab of the tractor,” says Raines. “The software talks to the controller in the planter and varies the seeding rate as it goes across the field.”
For now, Monsanto plans to offer the IFS to corn growers in the four Midwest states. As the system is field tested and Monsanto acquires the data necessary for providing field scripts for other areas and other crops, Monsanto plans to expand its offerings.