Saving costs and operating sustainably. Combining these two goals can become a real challenge for agricultural businesses. Nevertheless, there are certain tasks and applications where the two can be successfully combined – equally benefiting both the farm income and the environment. As we all know, sustainability has not only an ecological dimension, but also an economic one. In many cases, finding the right balance between ecology and economy can ensure that business needs as well as environmental requirements are met. For farmers, financial stability is crucial to ensure the future of their business. At the same time, they need to make every effort to preserve
Key technology: Precision farming
A key technology for sustainable operation is precision farming. The core feature of precision farming is a targeted, small-scale, and site-specific cultivation and management of the crops by taking differences in the soil and yield capacity within a field into account. Cultivation and the use of inputs like seed, fertilizer and chemicals is precisely adjust to the site-specific conditions. Optimising the use of inputs means higher gross margins for the farmer and lower discharges to the environment.
The implementation of precision agriculture requires sophisticated information and communication technologies as well as modern machinery for site-specific seeding, fertilisation, and crop protection. An important prerequisite for most site-specific farming applications is to know exactly where you are in the field. The second one is Section Control, which during spraying, fertilizing, and seeding automatically turns on and off individual boom sections, nozzles or seeding units. The third one is having a tool, that can manage data and machines. John Deere started working on practical solutions more than 20 years ago.
Machine steering and data analyis support through the John Deere Operations Center
The smart machines generate control signals for the individual application rates using prescription maps provided by the John Deere Operations Center. The cloud-based system provides various functions to help farmers set up, plan, review and analyse their data so they can make informed decisions. For example, they can upload satellite images, drone footage and yield maps to the platform to create prescription maps based on this information.
One strength of the John Deere Operations Center is its openness. Additional software solutions from third-party providers can be connected connected to the platform. xarvio® Digital Farming Solutions from BASF is one of them. Through such collaborations John Deere combines its expertise in connecting and precisely operating machines with the agronomic knowledge from xarvio®. Its digital agronomic knowledge and decision support help farmers optimize and automate crop production while promoting more sustainable agriculture by reducing environmental impact.
With xarvio® FIELD MANAGER farmers can create field-specific prescription maps with variable rates for seeds, fertilizer, crop protection chemicals and growth regulators. The prescription maps are based on satellite imaging of biomass and historical data from 25 years of agronomic modelling. In addition, xarvio® FIELD MANAGER can provide agronomic advice on chemicals to use and when is the best time for their application. Currently it can be used for eight different crops: Winter and spring barley, winter wheat, winter rye, winter rapeseed, potatoes, sugar beets and corn. The compatibility with the John Deere Operations Center and John Deere display significantly simplifies the precise use of inputs.
From seeding to harvest – xarvio FIELD MANAGER provides agrononic advice to farmers who want to optimise their field work.
Caspar von Hammerstein, product manager at BASF
Caspar von Hammerstein is the Global Product Manager for the xarvio® FIELD MANAGER. He presents the digital tool: “With the intuitive system, the farmer can significantly improve and optimize his arable farming. It supports him throughout the whole season, from seeding to harvesting. The FIELD MANAGER provides the farmer with seeding maps, recommendations on when to fertilize, and strategy suggestions for fungicide applications, among other things. Using the risk status displayed and the weather data from the FIELD MANAGER, farmers can then make their decision.”
While xarvio® FIELD MANAGER provides a lot of agronomic decision support and data which can be easily transferred to the John Deere Operations Center, the Operations Center is still required to control machines like drills, sprayers, or fertiliser spreaders. The John Deere Operations Center can be used free of charge, while the license for the xarvio® Pro variant costs 200 euros per company and year. The Premium version with advanced functions comes at a cost of 500 euros per year. Already from the recommendations that the xarvio® FIELD MANAGER offers, farmers can expect increased yields and cost savings. According to the product manager, this investment quickly pays off: “Even if the farmer doesn’t have precision farming machinery, the decision support features alone can already increase gross margin by 31 euros per hectare. With the variable rate application, they can enjoy an additional 27 euros.”
Caspar von Hammerstein highlights the fact that the xarvio® FIELD MANAGER promotes sustainability in several ways: “Variable rate application and the right application require fewer crop protection chemicals bringing us closer to the more general goal of a significant reduction of these inputs. The economic aspect of sustainability is also addressed. The farmer saves money but doesn’t suffer from a reduced yield.”
Good experiences since 2015
Rémi Minart runs a 700ha arable farm in the Oise department in northern France. He cultivates 300 hectares of wheat, as well as sugar beets and potatoes on a larger scale. The farmer has been working with xarvio® since 2015. He uses the system primarily to optimize the schedule for growth regulators and to apply fungicides as needed based on disease forecasts. For both tasks, biomass maps provide him with additional guidance. The R41 series with 50i self-propelled sprayer from John Deere ensures that the fungicides and growth regulators are applied to the specific field zones. The intelligent ExactApply spray nozzle control system ensures precise application of the crop protection chemicals.
Rémi Minart considers the main benefit of xarvio® to be the reduction in workload. “It affords us the opportunity to run the farm the way we want to, even during busy times,” he explains. One feature he finds practical is the xarvio® app on his smartphone, which he can use to send biomass maps to the John Deere Operations Center, for example. He uses it daily. There are no compatibility issues between the John Deere Operations Center, xarvio® and the machinery. “There is a solid connection between the systems,” Rémi Minart emphasizes.