Julian Anschütz is junior manager on a 240ha traditional family farm in Griesbach, Germany, near the border with Austria and the Czech Republic. Sitting at his desk in the main house, he looks out over the farm with a view of some pigsties and roof-mounted solar panels.
In addition to arable farming and pig fattening, the family focuses on energy production from biogas and photovoltaics. As the last remaining full-time farm in the village, the Anschütz family works closely with the neighbouring part-time farms to grow maize for the biogas plant and feed grain for their fattening pigs. A district heating network heats 90 households in the village with the biogas plant, and recently the solar modules have been interconnected via a central control unit, which ensures that the electricity generated is used optimally, both internally and externally.
It is not only in energy generation that the Anschütz rely on innovative concepts. For fertilising and spraying, they started using steering systems for optimal tracking 10 years ago. Now, all tractors, except for an older John Deere 6320 used as a farm tractor, are equipped with the AutoTrac steering system, the John Deere Display and JDLink, and they are also connected to the John Deere Operations Centre.
Experiment Precision Farming
In recent years, they have attempted to use site-specific applications, but they have not met with resounding success. When spring 2023 came around, precision farming expert Daniel Kessler from the John Deere dealer Hans Völk approached Julian and asked whether he would be interested in an experiment with xarvio and the John Deere Operations Centre. He said yes. Together they decided to use the xarvio Field Manager for fungicide treatment in wheat and then selected some suitable fields.
A John Deere 6R 215 and an M 944i sprayer were used for fungicide application.
The trials with xarvio and the John Deere Operations Centre were carried out on this field, right next to the farm.
To do this, the field data first had to be entered into the xarvio Field Manager. This has an interface for the John Deere Operations Centre and uses various data sources to calculate crop condition and growth stage. Based on this data, the Field Manager recommends when to apply fungicides and growth regulators via the xarvio app or desktop version. It also suggests a suitable product, gives a weather forecast for the next few days and an optimal time for treatment.
Digital model versus personal experience
During the first fungicide treatment, Julian’s personal assessment and the xarvio Field Manager recommendations fell on exactly the same day. In the second, he decided to treat the crop one to two weeks later than the xarvio recommendation. He attributes his decision to the very dry spring weather. Even if the recommendation does not exactly match his observations, he still appreciates it. He then simply manually enters the treatment time and application rate into the system and uses the biomass maps that xarvio calculates from satellite data to create a map for variable rate fungicide application.
Biomass map from xarvio.
Application map in the John Deere Operations Centre.
Actual output volumes from the John Deere Operations Centre.
xarvio Field Manager and John Deere Operations Centre – The procedure in practice
In practice, Julian creates the application map in the xarvio Field Manager using the biomass maps and then sends it to the John Deere Operations Centre on the computer. After reviewing and checking the data, a work order is then created, which is forwarded directly to the display in the John Deere tractor’s cab via JDLink. At the beginning, there was a small problem with the work order, but this was quickly solved with the help of a precision farming expert from John Deere. The second time, it worked smoothly right from the start. There is Wi-Fi on the farm so in the time it takes to send the data from the office to start the tractor in the yard the whole transfer is complete. With a good mobile network, the transfer works just as quickly via mobile data. After completing the application in the field, Julian can see in the John Deere Operations Centre exactly where and how much product was applied.
The result: Healthy crops
So how has Julian’s experience been with the xarvio-supported variable rate fungicide treatment in wheat? “The crops are all healthy,” he says Julian. “There was no area where too much or too little was applied, and we’ve seen no damage to the plants.” In addition, he has also found that variable rate spraying based on the biomass map saves on fungicides overall. Due to the high humidity in spring, there was a high threat of disease, so Julian was very careful with his applications and has still saved around 10% of the sprays.