The 2017 Innovation Grant Program is well underway, with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) investing more than $250,000 in 23 farmer-led projects focused on conservation. Throughout the summer we will be highlighting ongoing projects focused on how to better manage nitrogen and protect water quality.
Previously we looked at the work of Brian Ahrens, who took a new approach to nitrogen application. Next up is Jason Louks, who combined his application of fertilizer with a new approach to applying fungicide – all at a variable rate.
Louks started applying his fertilizer with a banding system and saddle bags on either side of his tractor to pull his sidedress bar with. For his fungicide, he made his own boom mount that was located on the front of the tractor, making it not only visible during application, but also had an adjustable height depending on the row.
The result was cutting his fungicide by one third due to application being banded on the corn row as well as the ability to adjust the height as needed to only spray the top of the corn rows, not the ground.
Louks wasn’t done, however. He also had the idea to combine this operation with his fertilizer application, allowing him to accomplish both on the same path.
Starting with a nitrogen level test to map out his field based on fertilizer needs, Louks then outfitted his rig with equipment to sidedress nitrogen at the ground level while fungicide is applied at the top. He used a variable rate nozzle that applied nitrogen based on the prescription gained from the soil test.
With the accuracy and variable rate application, Louks cut his nitrogen use in half.
Furthermore, Louks will be testing this setup on a variety of scenarios, including land with manure, land without manure, and corn on corn and bean on bean rotations.
“Anything you can save when applying a chemical, this really helps not only the environment, but also our bottom line,” Louks said.