Valuable Maps for High-Value Crops

Published July 24, 2012 16:03

Veris Technologies was in its first year of production when Dr. Jim Yager, owner of Impact Marketing Enterprises, Inc. in Fresno CA saw a demonstration of a Veris 3100. Dr. Yager purchased serial #6, the first Veris unit sold west of the Rocky Mountains.With a solid agronomic background that includes a Ph.D in Agronomy and more than two decades with DuPont, where he led several research initiatives, Jim started his company to connect proven agronomic principles to new GPS-based technologies. Impact Marketing surveys and samples many permanent crops such as: almonds, cherries, citrus, grapes, nectarines, peaches, walnuts, and high density oil olives. They also consult on open ground such as: alfalfa, cotton, tomatoes, wheat, and permanent crop redevelopment. In most of these permanent crops, Jim reports that “you can see the cumulative affects that soil textures and associated irrigation practices have on the crop growth, size, vigor, and yield/quality as you conduct the survey.” He quickly learned that yield data without soil data was almost impossible to interpret. “Once you have the Veris data separating out soil zonal differences, and deep core samples to define chemistry and texture, only then does yield data make sense. I’ve seen the yield difference between sandy loam and loamy sand to be as much as $4000/A”. Jim finds that it is not uncommon to find the best, most productive soils with tree survival problems because of over-watering heavy poorly drained soil, which creates a micro-environment for root and soil-borne diseases.

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Impact Marketing services include Veris surveying, directed deep core sampling, data analysis, and customized crop management plans and prescriptions for variable input of seed, plants, amendments, fertilizer, and water. Jim reports, “The savings of the first year of soil amendments pays for the cost of the mapping and then the same EC maps can be used year after year. I have some customers where we have continued to refine prescriptions each year for 12 years, using the same original survey.” How many acres has his company mapped with their 14 year-old Veris? He says he’s not sure, perhaps more than 100,000. “I haven’t kept track, but I do know that I’m on my 7th set of coulter blades!”

Jim notes there is a resurgence of interest in USDA soil survey maps done in the mid-1900’s, now that they can be quickly accessed. Jim warns, “Once you start putting Veris EC data on an old soil survey map, you quickly understand how limited those old surveys are. Bad data is worse than no data--if you do variable rate application using a map that does not truly represent a field, you have added more variability.”

Looking to the future, Jim points out “we have to use new technologies to get more output from existing farming land with less input. The Veris cart is a tool that can help us do both but you need to make sure you maximize the tool and data you get from it.” He encourages service providers to offer services that help farmers apply information developed from a Veris survey and deep core sampling. “Learning your soils is the starting point. Then you have all sorts of variable rate opportunities for fertilizers, soil amendments, seeding/planting, compost/manures, irrigation, moisture monitoring, crop sensors, yield monitoring, and quality monitoring."

High Dpi11998: Jim Yager with his new Veris 3100

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