Precision FarmingHealthy wheat with less fungi­cides

In addi­tion to arable farming and fattening pigs, the Anschütz family relies on energy produc­tion from biogas and photo­voltaics, and provides heat to 90 house­holds through a heating network. Networks also play a big role in the family’s farm manage­ment: Their trac­tors are equipped with the Auto­Trac steering system, the John Deere Display and JDLink, all connected to the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center. For a crop protec­tion agent trial, the Oper­a­tions Center was addi­tion­ally connected with xarvio from BASF.

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.

Julian Anschütz

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.

View of the John Deere Oper­a­tions Centre display during fungi­cide spraying.

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.

Anschütz busi­ness:

110 ha

22 ha
sugar beet

85 ha
winter wheat

fattening pigs

11 ha

15 ha

max. 1,3 MW
Biogas plant

house­holds on heating network, Solar photo­voltaics