Deere system improves N efficiency

For more than 170 years, John Deere has developed innovative equipment and technology to help producers become more efficient and profitable in their operations. Now with the advancement of precision farming technology, digital mapping, and variable rate systems; John Deere introduces the new OptiGro System for corn and wheat to help optimize yields while improving use-efficiency of nitrogen and other inputs.

“We've already developed this technology for mapping and identifying variability in cotton,” says John Mann, vice-president, strategic marketing, John Deere Agri-Services. “And now this field-proven system will help growers improve efficiency of inputs in corn and wheat. The OptiGro system helps to maximize nitrogen investments in corn, helping to put nitrogen only where it is needed at the optimal time to efficiently nourish the corn plants. This means that a producer can optimize corn yields while saving on fertilizer costs.”

Research in seven states over the past four years has shown that corn plants indicate nitrogen needs throughout the growing stage. Using the OptiGro system to identify those needs in season could save growers between $5 and $20 dollars per acre in nitrogen costs.

“Not only that, the OptiGro system reduces overall costs, optimizes yields, and helps growers minimize the chance for nitrogen runoff,” says Mann. “The system is a useful tool in helping to better manage fertilizer and it ultimately helps growers become more efficient with overall inputs in their fields.”

For wheat, the OptiGro system provides reliable information to help growers decide the value of applying additional inputs at the green-up stage in winter wheat. The system guides the producer on where to invest inputs, including nitrogen, to maximize wheat yields while reducing the overall costs of the inputs. It also shows populations of wild oats and downy brome (cheatgrass) for more effective spot treatment of weeds.

“The whole system starts when the grower contacts an authorized reseller such as an ag retailer, qualified John Deere dealer, or crop consultant,” explains Mann. “The agronomic adviser then helps to set field boundaries and to order special imagery through the Internet.”

Digital photographs from an airplane (aerial imagery) are then taken of the corn and wheat fields and information is relayed back to the agronomic adviser online. Special software, the OptiGro Zone Maker program, translates the images into management zones with similar plant characteristics, based on reflected light.

“The advisor then checks the zones and scouts the fields to determine crop needs and writes a prescription for each zone. The digital information can then be captured and shared with an applicator with variable-rate capabilities to apply the product,” Mann says.

The OptiGro program is an exciting new system that helps the producer better analyze crop needs and more efficiently prescribe solutions for nitrogen requirements, inputs, or weed problems.

For more information, visit the Web site at or contact an authorized OptiGro reseller.

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