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Drones help Pioneer farmers to estimate yields
Precision farming has become even more precise with Pioneer using drones to help farmers add more value to their products.
“We began using drones this season and they provide us with many advantages in various aspect,” says De Bruyn Myburgh, Pioneer’s Agriculturalist for Natal and part of the Eastern Cape.
“One of the advantages is taking NDVI images (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) of the crops on our experimental plots. This gives one a very accurate indication of how the plant performs physiologically and how green and healthy the plant really is. We use this as a criterion to measure the different varieties against themselves as one can then readily spot the deficiencies and improvements.”
Pioneer also uses drones to very accurately determine plant population.
“Previously, a farmer counted the plants in different spots in his land and then used formula to calculate the plant population,” says De Bruyn. “Now, the drones take photographs of the canopy of the whole land and our software can then calculate the plant population more accurately.”
Plant according to potential with Ag-Studio
Pioneer’s fundis believe there are three things that have to work together to gain an optimal yield: The correct cultivar has to be planted in the correct soil type at the correct plant population. “The manner in which to attain this, is to utilise technology, precision farming methods and high technology farming inputs,” says De Bruyn.
“We at Pioneer are very excited about the future and we wish to grow with young farmers and businesses who harness this technology so that, together, we can climb a growth curve.” Pioneer put their words into action and began testing varieties by planting them on specific soils at the correct plant population on their experimental plots. This is also known as the DAT (Digital Agronomy Trials) which were started four years ago and are also being used effectively for training.
Together with this, they collected all the possible digital information with the aid of soil class, planter and combine harvester charts. With this information they could process all data to share it in a usable format. Pioneer’s aim is to provide the information collected in this manner as a service to farmers. “We use an American programme, Ag-Studio, and combined forces with John Deere, who made their “My John Deere platform” and “JD-Link data base” available to us.
We can gain access to a farmer’s data, if he agrees by e-mail, in the JD-Link cloud and integrate it with our data. In this way we shall be able to establish which of our cultivars will perform the best on his farm. This will be in the format of an adjustable precision chart scale which he will be able to use together with his variable rate planter to plant the best population for the soil potential of each block. This programme will ensure more accuracy and create a win-win situation for all parties.
This season, Pioneer has two leaders in their new yellow maize series, both developed for dryland conditions, but they will also perform well under irrigation.
“The P1513R is RoundupReady, but is also available as GM-free. It contains the same genetics with only the GM technology added,” says De Bruyn.
“P1513 is well-adapted all over, but performs better in the eastern than in the western production areas. We want to use this variety to replace the famous H-series or the H54YR and the H56 because of its newer genetics and improved yields.”
The P1513 variety also carries a blight resistant gene to cope in regions where the rust pressure is high. It falls in the fast-growing class with a CRR (Comparative Relative Ripeness) of 115 days and needs 140 days to become physiologically ripe. It is a single-eared hybrid with high flex potential (varying number of cob rows), which means it may have more rows on the cob if growing conditions are favourable.
“This year, we have seen that there can be between 18 and 22 rows on the cob. The length of the cob varies according to the variation in plant population and growing conditions,” says De Bruyn.
“The experiments also indicated how earlier and later planting dates, and more and less moisture, can influence the cob length.”
Pioneer’s P2367 is the other new yellow hybrid in the medium growing class. “The P2432R has always been our favourite in the medium growing class, but we were seriously looking for a cultivar with basic genetics, especially for the Highveld region, where farmers are more inclined to plant GM-free maize,” De Bruyn says.
“P2367 has a CRR of 123 days and needs 155 days to become physiologically ripe. It is also a leafy hybrid, although it has good resistance against leaf diseases. I have cut some silage experiments of it this year and the material quantity is good. We are now only waiting for the quality analysis. This variety will perform well in the East where farmers want a combined silage and grain hybrid.”
Johan Kock, product agriculturalist in the West, says: “P2927WYR is one of our first additions that has come via the IMPAK system. This newcomer should be planted as early as possible, as it is a medium to long grower with a CRR of 129 days. It has a very high yield potential in all the production areas and really shows excellent flex (varying number of rows) on the first cob, with the potential of producing a second cob.”
In high potential regions with a high water table, it can yield between 7 and 13 t/ha. In the harder, drier Western regions, it also shows stable growth and will not disappoint. The P2865WBR is a new cultivar that will complement the above mentioned P2927WYR when planted together. “The P2865WBR already has the Mon89034 double gene, which gives reasonable protection against worm pressure,” says Johan.
“It’s CRR is 128 days and it is regarded as an all-rounder that will give excellent yields in low as well as high potential regions. It shows strong prolificacy, and easily produce two fully-developed ears. In spite of difficult production conditions during the past number of seasons, these two cultivars together still produced excellent grain quality. So, to make a recommendation for the Western farmers: Plant these two cultivars together as a package.”
The P2842W is a well-adapted cultivar in the East as well as the West. “It has the ‘camel gene’ which offers resistance against drought conditions,” says Johan.
“In the Western production areas, where it can really become dry and difficult, forcing farmers to plant low populations in wide rows, this is the cultivar to grow. It can also be planted as part of the above-mentioned packages.”
P1517W is Pioneer’s racing horse. “It has a CRR of 115 days, making this cultivar unique because it grows so fast. It is normally planted under irrigation and is, in fact, our top irrigation cultivar,” says Johan.
“It is presently also available in a WYR stacked gene version and can be planted at plant populations of 90 000 in any row configuration – from 75 mm tot 90 mm (3 feet). It grows fast and gives excellent yields but, like a typical maize belt cultivar with American genetics, it wants to be managed like a thoroughbred racehorse. It demands high input fertilisation, the correct amount of water, and fine-tuned disease management. If you do it right, the payback may double the input!”
Pioneer offers more than just seed! Call 066-475-8703 or 012-683-5721, or send an email message to email@example.com for more information.