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Understanding Factors That Limit Yield in Corn R.L. (Bob) Nielsen Agronomy Dept., Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150 ph. (765) 494-4802 Internet: rnielsen@purdue.edu http://www.agry.purdue.edu/agronomy/ext/corn/talks/ylf/ Precision Farming: Excitement!

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understanding factors that limit yield in corn

Understanding Factors That Limit Yield in Corn

R.L. (Bob) NielsenAgronomy Dept.,Purdue UniversityWest Lafayette, IN 47907-1150ph. (765) 494-4802Internet:rnielsen@purdue.edu

http://www.agry.purdue.edu/agronomy/ext/corn/talks/ylf/

precision farming excitement
Precision Farming: Excitement!
  • Color maps are fun to look at!
  • Yield monitors are fun to look at!
  • Hi-tech wizardry is fun to buy and vendors love to sell it to you!
  • Landlords are impressed!
  • Finally, maybe we can finally identify and correct those problem areas in our fields once and for all!

Purdue University Agronomy Department

precision farming tools
Precision Farming: Tools
  • The tools to manage cropland on a site-specific basis are here or are being developed rapidly
    • Yield monitors
    • Grid soil sampling
    • Variable rate applicators & seeders
    • Portable GPS data recorders
    • Software to ‘massage’ the data

Purdue University Agronomy Department

success with pf technology
Success With PF Technology
  • Will depend on your ability to identify and manage those yield limiting factors that are most important in each field.
    • Yield maps alone are not sufficient.
    • Yield maps can clue you in on where to spend your diagnostic efforts.
    • Proactive, intentional season-long crop monitoring will be important.

Purdue University Agronomy Department

yield limiting factors ylfs
Yield Limiting Factors (YLFs)
  • Crop yields are influenced by vast array of yield limiting factors (YLF)
    • Some influence yield directly
    • Some interact with others to influence yield
    • Some occur every year, others do not
    • Some influence different crops differently
    • Weather interacts with most of them

Purdue University Agronomy Department

major categories of yield limiting factors
Major Categories of Yield-Limiting Factors
  • Weather Stress
  • Pest Pressures
  • Soil Characteristics
  • Management Practices of...
    • Farmer
    • Consultant
    • Applicator

Purdue University Agronomy Department

ylf categories weather stress
YLF Categories:Weather Stress...

Purdue University Agronomy Department

bragging rights for top u s corn yields
Bragging Rights For Top U.S. Corn Yields?
  • Which states regularly take top honors for state average corn yields?
    • Surely, the answer must lie within the major CornBelt states? Yes or no?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

bragging rights for top u s corn yields 1997
Bragging Rights For Top U.S. Corn Yields, 1997

USDA est’s as of Nov 1

Purdue University Agronomy Department

bragging rights for top u s corn yields 199710
Bragging Rights For Top U.S. Corn Yields, 1997

USDA est’s as of Nov 1

Purdue University Agronomy Department

basis for high corn yields
Basis for High Corn Yields?
  • Many days of high light intensity
    • Little rain
    • Few cloudy days
    • Little haze
  • Warm days + cool nights
    • Less night respiration >>> less dry matter loss

Purdue University Agronomy Department

ylf categories pest pressures
YLF Categories:Pest Pressures...

Purdue University Agronomy Department

ylf categories soil characteristics
YLF Categories:Soil Characteristics...

Purdue University Agronomy Department

e b white farmer poet writer
E.B. White, farmer-poet-writer...

“A good farmer is nothing more or less than a handy man with a sense of humus.”

Purdue University Agronomy Department

ylf categories management practices
YLF Categories:Management Practices...

Purdue University Agronomy Department

cultural practices
Cultural Practices...

Purdue University Agronomy Department

which ylfs are most important
Which YLFs Are Most Important?

Last year?

This field?

Next year?

That field?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

perennial yield limiting factors
‘Perennial’ Yield Limiting Factors
  • Some yield limiting factors occur every year
    • Soil fertility or pH patterns
    • Soil drainage patterns
    • Patterns of perennial weed growth
  • These can be identified or attacked with site-specific technology

Purdue University Agronomy Department

sporadic yield limiting factors
‘Sporadic’ Yield Limiting Factors
  • Other yield limiting factors occur sporadically over the years...
    • Diseases & insects, even fertility problems are greatly dependent on weather
  • Site-specific technology can help identify these sporadic problems when they occur, but not necessarily prevent their reoccurrence

Purdue University Agronomy Department

identifying ylfs is difficult
Identifying YLFs Is Difficult
  • Requires season-long monitoring
    • Includes both field observations and crop diagnostics
    • For precision farming, will require monitoring on site-specific basis

Purdue University Agronomy Department

identifying ylfs is difficult21
Identifying YLFs Is Difficult
  • Requires season-long monitoring
  • Requires good note-taking skills
    • You think you’ve got reams of data from the yield monitor now? Wait until you receive the data from season-long site-specific crop monitoring!

Purdue University Agronomy Department

identifying ylfs is difficult22
Identifying YLFs Is Difficult
  • Requires season-long monitoring
  • Requires good note-taking skills
  • Requires good agronomic skills
    • Esp. crop diagnostic skills
    • Ability to integrate layers of agronomic information and relate to yield

Purdue University Agronomy Department

field observations crop diagnostics
Field Observations & Crop Diagnostics
  • Do your homework!
    • Educate yourself.
      • Meetings, seminars, demo. plots
      • Publications, books, magazines, video
      • CD-ROM programs
        • Purdue’s Corn Diagnostics CD
      • World Wide Web
        • Corn Growers Guidebook

http://www.agry.purdue.edu/agronomy/ext/corn/

Purdue University Agronomy Department

field observations crop diagnostics24
Field Observations & Crop Diagnostics
  • Do your homework!
  • Use “hired gun” expertise
    • Professional crop consultants
    • Industry agronomists
    • County Extension educators
    • University specialists

Purdue University Agronomy Department

field observations crop diagnostics25
Field Observations & Crop Diagnostics
  • Do your homework!
  • Use “hired gun” expertise
  • Identify and diagnose crop problems as early as you can, not at the end of the season!
    • Postmortem diagnoses are difficult, if not impossible!

Purdue University Agronomy Department

examples of field observations planting to emergence
Examples of Field Observations:Planting to Emergence...
  • Uneven or poor stand establishment
    • Hybrid weaknesses?
    • Seed zone stresses?
    • Insect damage?
    • Disease damage?
    • Planter problems?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

examples of field observations emergence to knee high
Examples of Field Observations:Emergence to Knee-High...
  • Uneven plant growth?
    • Soil tilth, pests?
  • Poor plant color or vigor?
    • Hybrid, fertility?
  • Poor weed control?
    • Herbicide appl’n?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

examples of field observations knee high to tasseling
Examples of Field Observations:Knee-High to Tasseling...
  • Poor or uneven plant growth?
    • Nutrient deficiencies?
    • Soil tilth?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

examples of field observations tasseling silking
Examples of Field Observations:Tasseling & Silking...
  • Uneven pollination success?
    • Heat/moisture stress?
    • Insect pests?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

examples of field observations tasseling to maturity
Examples of Field Observations:Tasseling to Maturity...
  • Aborted kernels or malformed ears?
    • Nutrient deficiencies?
    • Excessive plant populations?
    • Leaf disease(s)
    • Drought stress

Purdue University Agronomy Department

examples of field observations maturity to harvest
Examples of Field Observations:Maturity to Harvest...
  • Root and stalk rots?
    • Hybrid weaknesses?
    • Excessive plant population?
    • Nutrient deficiencies?
    • Earlier defoliation?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

examples of field observations harvest
Examples of Field Observations:Harvest...
  • Yield variability across field?
    • Role of yield monitors
  • Excessive harvest losses?
    • Hybrid weaknesses?
    • Combine adjustments?
    • Grain moisture or harvest date?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

beware of the hazards of correlations
Beware of theHazards of Correlations
  • As you gather more and more information about potential YLFs, be aware that apparent relationships with yield may simply be random chance events…...

Purdue University Agronomy Department

ex of hazardous correlation
Ex. of Hazardous Correlation
  • Every single person who ate asparagus prior to 1865 is now dead, therefore…..
  • Eating asparagus is hazardous to your health!

Purdue University Agronomy Department

real life example 1
Real-Life Example #1

“That patch of foxtail sure cut the yield of those soybeans.”

Maybe that area of the field was also a low spot that ponded last spring, killed off some of the soybean stand, and the foxtail took advantage of the extra sunlight.

So, stand loss rather than foxtail could have been the real culprit.

Purdue University Agronomy Department

real life example 2
Real-Life Example #2

“My best yields came from an area with twice Purdue’s recommended soil K levels.”

Occurred during 1995 drought. Best yielding area was also low, poorly drained area of field.

So, maybe the yield response was more due to soil moisture availability differences than to soil potassium levels?

Purdue University Agronomy Department

without season long monitoring yield map interpretation can be very difficult
Without Season-Long Monitoring, Yield Map Interpretation Can Be Very Difficult

DrainageSoil typeInsectDiseaseFertilityPrev. cropVarietyCompactionetc.

Source: Pioneer Hi-Bred Int’lhttp://www.pioneer.com/xweb/usa/txt/restech/precision/i971219.htm

Purdue University Agronomy Department

my advice
My Advice?
  • Hire a good agronomist to be your Sherlock Holmes!
  • You’ll need the season-long expertise to help with the Precision Farming puzzle.

Purdue University Agronomy Department

precision farming challenge
Precision Farming: Challenge
  • It may be that we’ll only be able to fine-tune our crop production to a limited extent with site-specific technology
    • Identify and correct perennial yield limiting factors such as soil fertility, pH, drainage
    • Identify and attack certain sporadic yield limiting factors ‘on the go’
      • e.g., developing pest or disease problems

Purdue University Agronomy Department

precision farming challenge40
Precision Farming: Challenge
  • But, we may be limited when trying to site-specifically manage those yield limiting factors that interact heavily with seasonal weather patterns
    • At least, until we can better predict next year’s weather!

Purdue University Agronomy Department

let s remember
Let’s Remember...

“Farming is a kind of continual miracle wrought by the hand of God.”

  • -- Benjamin Franklin

Purdue Agriculture

Purdue University Agronomy Department

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