One of the reasons variable rate technology (VRT) is becoming even more advantageous to growers is its ability to help them maximize the use of high-priced starter fertilizer.

“Fertilizer prices continue to climb, and growers want to be sure they're applying the correct rate to each acre of their fields,” said Arnold Page from Agri-Inject, a manufacturer of fluid application systems.

“Changes in soil types, varying fertility conditions and hills that force speed changes are all challenges to reaching this goal.”

Agri-Inject's fertilizer injection system delivers a uniform stream of liquid through a network of small, flexible tubes. This micro-tube system uses a pump and precision controller to regulate the amount of liquid fertilizer flowing through the tubes and into the furrow. Flow is accurate and precise, every row gets the same amount of product.

“However, the controller we used to sell as part of the system was basically just a reader for a flow meter,” Page said.

“The grower would calibrate the system, but there was no variable rate. It was pumping the same gallons per minute no matter if you were headed straight, up or down a hill.”

The company switched to a variable rate technology (VRT) controller so that growers have the ability to fine-tune fertilizer applications on the fly and apply it precisely where it's needed based on soil tests and other information.

“The new controller has one of the fastest control processors available,” said SureFire Ag Systems' Blaine Ginther, who supplied the VRT controller.

“It's packaged with a pre-calibrated GPS speed sensor that, once a grower inputs his implement width, rate per hour and number of acres per hour he plans to cover, compensates for the change in ground speed throughout the field and results in a more precise injection rate.”

Components of the in-furrow application system include the main VRT controller in the cab, a GPS speed sensor magnetically attached outside the cab, a wire that connects the sensor to the flow meter, a pump, patented flow dividers and flexible, polypropylene micro tubing.

“Micro tubing is an incredibly precise way to apply fertilizer,” Ginther said. “By marrying it with the variable rate controller, the system is one of the most accurate ways of applying starter fertilizer. We guarantee we're going to be within 1 to 2 percent of the total application rate. That helps growers improve their nutrient management and optimize yields.”

An additional benefit to the system is that the flow meter and pump components may be mounted to a tower that bolts onto the grower's tool bar.

“I know a lot of growers who are also really good welders and can create some really innovative things,” Page said. “But that's not everyone. We're trying to make the installation of the system as simple as possible with a preassembled package.

“Bolt it on the tool bar, bring a supply line from the fertilizer tank to the system, hook up the wires and you're ready to go.”

For more information about the in-furrow application system, visit Agri-Inject.com or call (970) 848-5336.