Year-End Analysis of Growing Season Accounts for Impacting Variables in 2021
Advanced Agrilytics provides Agronomic Influence Analysis to help farmers assess crop performance
INDIANAPOLIS (December 7, 2021) – Changing weather conditions and plant disease challenges were just a small part of the impacts felt by many Midwestern corn and soybean growers throughout the 2021 growing season. As farmers reflect on this year, a review of the many influences that popped up in their fields can strengthen the understanding of performance in sub-acre environments.
“A look back to piece it all together can help us understand what we need to do differently and what we should continue to do,” says Erika Parker, precision agronomist in Illinois for Advanced Agrilytics. “Because we are in our customers’ fields all season long, we are able to look at harvest data, utilize the knowledge from boots on the ground and eyes in the field to go beyond what happened to why it happened.”
One of the tools utilized by Advanced Agrilytics experts to stitch together their thoughts, notes and observations on in-field performance is an Agronomic Influence Analysis; this approach uses a variety of data – not just yield performance – to analyze each area within a field. This report considers soil conditions and other agronomic factors at the sub-acre level, to help precision agronomists and farmers identify successes as well as opportunities for improvements for their entire enterprise.
Parker says that this kind of benchmark is proving to be essential across her region this year, given the variables that most farmers had to manage against in 2021.
“The planting season started off reasonably well in many places this year, but a lot of customers saw those conditions become more challenging with cooler and wetter weather as soybeans began to emerge,” says Parker. “Struggles at emergence and plant health throughout the season are important to understand and consider as we evaluate soybean yield results and make plans for 2022.”
Those changing conditions made a difference especially in early planted fields that had more residue, according to Parker. She says that her customers have been able to see the impact playout all season long, as they evaluated residue management strategies, planting date options, and herbicide programs in soybean fields.
“Soybeans are impacted by a lot of things we can’t see happening. Because of these factors, the value of fungicide, insecticide, and nematicide seed treatments can make a significant difference,” says Parker. “By the time we see impact from soil-borne pathogens it can be too late and there’s not a rescue tool available, so prevention through seed treatments can bring strong value.”
Corn fields experienced their own similar changing conditions this summer, according to Parker. In her territory across east-central Illinois, she says a lot of corn growers were in good shape until mid-summer rains made an impact.
“Early summer looked really good, but we turned a little drier than desired as the corn reached about waist-high, V10 or so, in many fields. You could start to see some drought pressure at that point, but then the rains came in a big way,” says Parker. “By the end of June, many of my customers experienced really big rains – somewhere between 4 to 10 inches at a time, and it was too much, too fast.”
Those heavy rains brought nitrogen loss challenges, where water-logged corn fields in Parker’s region began showing signs of denitrification and overall water stress.
“We saw variable rate nitrogen and variable rate nitrogen protectant really show benefits in my area,” says Parker. “I wish we had more of it out there this season, because it made a real difference this summer.”
Beyond weather, unanticipated disease issues plagued a lot of farms this year. Tar spot, typically a late-season fungal disease that infects and damages corn leaves, rolled through a wide portion of the eastern Corn Belt this summer and left a mark on many fields.
“Even in areas where we had seen tar spot previously, it came earlier than expected this year and that made a difference,” says Parker. “There was enough moisture to keep the disease thriving, all while the corn plant’s defenses were dwindling as it tried to fulfill its mission to complete grain fill.”
Fungicide applications helped mitigate significant yield loss in many fields, according to Parker. In some fields two applications proved to be beneficial, which is not typical across most of Illinois and neighboring corn-growing regions. By the time summer came to an end, most farmers could see the impact of tar spot in fields and one of the key influences seemed to be timing of the fungicide application.
With harvest wrapping up across the region, Parker says this kind of reflective assessment is critical to consider when making plans for the 2022 growing season. Knowing what conditions unfolded with each variety and hybrid, within each field, can help a farmer understand performance beyond the yield monitor.
“We have to use these season-long observations to build an apples-to-apples comparison looking at fertility, soil condition and crop inputs,” says Parker. “Each farmer manages differently, and the influences are different on each farm and within each acre, so we have to customize plans inside a toolbox of options that can bring stronger performance next year.”
Advanced Agrilytics is a team of precision agronomists throughout the Midwest that look to close the gap between data and on-farm application. The team works with farmers wherever they are in the growing season to make adjustments and plans moving forward. Farmers interested in speaking with Advanced Agrilytics should reach out at www.advancedagrilytics.com.
About Advanced Agrilytics
Advanced Agrilytics is an agronomic spatial solutions company that provides farmers with actionable, customized strategies to deliver sustainable outcomes based on environments within a field. The team’s hands-on approach combines field specific data with agronomic research to meet farmers at the cross-section of technology and a personal agronomist.