Precision farming strategies and technology have become an integral part of managing crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat, but are edible bean growers using it effectively in dry bean crops?
Dave Louwagie, producer and field marketer for Hensall Co-op in Dublin, Ontario, doesn’t think so. In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Edible Bean School, Louwagie explains that compared to other row crops, the acres of edible beans managed with precision techniques are very small.
Return on precision management, however, is highest in dry beans, notes Louwagie. “Edibles are a high-value crop, so the impact is significant, especially on highly productive soils and in the best productive areas of the field.” He points out that variable-rate planting offers the best yield compared to corn and soybeans, with corn offering the lowest yield.
Much of the effectiveness comes from reduced seeding rates, which are adjusted according to management zones. The ability to target seeding rates also helps control disease by better managing plant populations and reducing canopy conditions that contribute to disease. When it comes to fungicides, crop imaging is an excellent tool for targeting fungicide application in the crop while reducing overall use of disease control products. All of this helps to increase yields, especially in high-producing areas of the field, adds Louwagie.
In the video, Louwagie also explains why more growers aren’t employing precision agriculture on their edible acres. Many growers cite equipment issues, delays and costs for the lack of adoption, but again he points out that the return on that investment is better in edible beans. (The story continues after the video.)
The interview concludes with an overview of Hensall Co-op’s Sustainable Agronomic Precision Program (SAPP). The program is designed to help growers incorporate precision agriculture into their edible bean management. It’s a small program, notes Louwagie (2,000 acres), but it really helps growers understand how drones, NDVI maps, management zones, vegetative indexes, variable rate seeding and targeted fungicides can have an impact on profitability,
“Yields go up, costs go down. The rewards are great,” says Louwagie.
Click here for more Edible Bean School videos.