Problem Solver in the Land of Lincoln


Published August 09, 2016 18:40

Josh Glendenning started Soil Werx, a drainage and precision ag business in 2015 with one goal in mind: solve grower problems. His area near Byron IL has a wide range of soils, from poorly drained heavy clays to sand. Pattern tiling designs and corn population prescriptions that miss the true soil variability are far from ideal. That’s why he bought a Veris MSP3 shortly after opening the new business.

“We have clay soils with sand underneath and sandy spots over clay. With Veris maps we can do the right thing on every part of the field.” Josh is part of a 5,000 acre family farm and immediately set out to make Veris maps on their own land. “Growers trust our advice,” he says, “because we test new technologies on our farm.”

The biggest surprise so far? Soil variability.

“Soil varies even more than we suspected. My 80-year-old grandpa who knows the farm well said the maps made sense but was surprised at the detailed variations captured by the sensors.”

Growers in the area had been trying to use soil surveys for their seeding prescription maps, but with limited success.

“Those maps are just not accurate” says Josh. “Without a precise soil map the planter would be putting 40,000 seeds on a sandy spot and way underpopulating areas of high producing soil. Some growers have lots of data layers to manage—grid sample maps, yield maps, elevation-- but what they need is a base layer, a foundation. A precise Veris soil map is that key layer that’s been missing.”

In addition to variable seed prescriptions, Josh sees value in variable applications of nitrogen.

“There are areas in most fields that have 80-100 lbs of free N coming from the organic matter and a few feet away sandy soils that produce very little N and have a hard time holding what’s applied. It’s foolish and short-sighted to treat those the same.” In addition to the payoff for doing things right, which Josh admits is difficult to quantify considering year to year weather anomalies, hybrid and other variables, “There is simply the confidence that you are doing things right. Managing each soil the best way you know how gives growers peace of mind, at the end of the day.”

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