Farmer-inventor Gregg Sauder is back at the helm of his own company.
The new venture is called 360 Yield Center, focusing on ways to push corn and soybean yields to all-time highs.
Now Sauder is looking at ways to make nitrogen more efficient and boost yields with mid-season applications. The first new product is the redesigned 360 Y-Drop. The original Y-Drop came out several years ago. It attached to a spray boom to allow for late-season nitrogen application in standing corn. Sauder has taken that concept and bolstered the application system for increased durability.
The company also added an optional chemical application component to Y-Drop. Just above the nitrogen dispenser is a new module called 360 Undercover. Four spray nozzles with two separate attachment points allow the operator to hit crops with a shot of fungicide and insecticide simultaneously with late-season nitrogen.
Undercover is also adjustable. It moves up and down so growers can set it for different heights of corn. At the lowest setting, it can apply chemicals in soybean fields. Since canopy penetration is a challenge with soybeans, Undercover should offer a significant boost in fungicide efficacy.
On-demand soil test
Anyone who’s heard Sauder speak knows he’s obsessive about nitrogen. He wants to know how much is left for the crop at all times. He also wants to know if it’s moving. With 360 SoilScan, Sauder has a way to answer all of these questions – in a matter of minutes, rather than days.
SoilScan is a portable soil lab system that can render a soil nitrate analysis in five minutes. All it takes is two tablespoons of soil from a probe.
Sauder thinks back to heavy rain events from past seasons. Last year, he received a call from a Minnesota grower whose farm was bombarded with 17 inches of rain in just two days. His question to Sauder – how do I know if I have any nitrogen left?
With SoilScan, growers have the ability to see how much N is left in the tank after a big rain event. Also, by pulling samples at 12 inches and 24 inches, Sauder notes it will show N movement.
Right now, SoilScan will only evaluate soil nitrate content. In the future, Sauder hopes to add pH, potassium, ammonium and sulfur to the list.
Jim Hedges, 360 Yield Center director of sales, notes the SoilScan retails for $6,500.
Making better decisions
Lastly, a product called 360 Commander is a web-based tool that evaluates various aspects of the farm. It breaks fields into management zones based on elevation. Its unique crop model evaluates the soil, seed and weather. From here, it displays the limiting factor and shows the grower what needs to change to bring the field back to the optimum yield level.
“If we don’t understand what the limiting factor is, we’re going to end up wasting inputs,” says Tim Sauder, director of product development.
In a mock growing season, Tim Sauder describes a scenario where the Commander may help decision-making. In the fall, 150 pounds of N were applied as anhydrous ammonia. Around V3, the grower comes back with 50 pounds of N via sidedress. A week after sidedress, a massive rain event swept through and washed that last 50 pounds down the tile lines.
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The 360 Commander has a "Solver" function to assess the crop’s limiting factor at each step. Solver did not recommend 50 pounds of N at V3. For one, the crop still had enough N. Using SoilScan, the farmer in the mock growing season is able to verify this. Also, Commander’s weather function saw the potential for a significant rain event.
Instead, Commander recommended holding off until V8 for that last pass of nitrogen. The corn plant really won’t utilize that last shot of N until about V7-V8, which can be applied using Y-Drop.
Commander retails for $7.50 per acre.
– Flint is editor of sister publication Prairie Farmer