Area-specific maize sowing increases yields
Tiller Jens Hinrichs from Böddenstedt in Lower Saxony cultivates 175 hectares of maize for the biogas plant. Cultivating maize in the Uelzen area is a challenge considering the sandy soils with low water storage capacity and with annual precipitation of approximately 630 millimetres. This was the stimulus for Hinrichs to take an intensive look at new technological options: With support from AGRAVIS NetFarming GmbH and AGRAVIS Technik Heide-Altmark GmbH, Uelzen branch, the farmer has tested area-specific maize sowing for the first time.
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Maize has been planted in specific sub-areas, on his approximately 20 hectares of agricultural land with a Fendt 514 Vario, fitted with a Fendt VarioGuide control system, as well as a Horsch Maestro airplanter. For this purpose Jan Carl Habermann, from AGRAVIS NetFarming GmbH, and Meiko Witte from AGRAVIS Technik-Niederlassung in Uelzen have created a management zone card of the area in advance using area-specific influencing factors such as yield potential, water supply of soil, seed properties, climatic parameters, and the operation manager's experiences using the NetFarming portal. All information has been taken into account and is illustrated in a sowing map. Transmission of the application card to the Vario guide system in the tractor means that the seed is planted in correspondence with the relevant sub-area.
Small difference, great effect
Using traditional sowing techniques Jens Hinrichs harvests nine grains of seed per square metre. The area-specific method has calculated an average seed dose of 9.6 grains of seed per square metre for the entire area. "Whilst the difference does not initially sound spectacular, it does have a great effect", explains Jan Carl Habermann. Depending on the yield zone – five different zones are identified in advance – between 8 and 11 grains of seed are planted per square metre. In areas with less yield a lower seeding rate can be used to achieve a greater fresh mass yield. In high-yielding areas, yield can still be increased considerably by increasing the number of seeds planted within them.
Precision Farming for greater efficiency
Jens Hinrichs pursues the objective of following Precision Farming to use his resources more efficiently. "With this first attempt I can make a direct comparison on my own areas whether another distance between grains, as well as area-specific application, can exploit yield potentials better than at present. I am very interested in the results in autumn." Jan Carl Habermann and Meiko Witte are both convinced that the harvest will confirm the benefits of area-specific land use. "This difference in sowing is very clearly mirrored by a yield increase of ten per cent on average. If investigating dry matter, starch, and energy yield, then the difference compared to conventional sowing could be larger still."