U of I Students attend Precision Ag Day at Blair Farms, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau. Putnam photo
Kendrick--In cooperation with the University of Idaho,
PineCreek Precision hosted an Agricultural Field Day on Tuesday at the Robert Blair farm outside of Kendrick, Idaho.
Blair knows what he is talking about having been named Precision Farmer of the Year in 2009. Blair gave the attentive students a PowerPoint presentation in the farm shop covering several topics including weed and insect control and herbicide resistant weeds through precision agriculture.
Blair owns PineCreek Precision, a company that specializes in all aspects of precision agriculture, he told the students that “to remain profitable in this day and age, farmers have to cut costs on the input side because 'there's very little control over the markets.'
Blair states that cutting input costs and keeping yields up can be done with satellite guidance systems and variable rate applicators. Using satellites to guide tractors can reduce overlap in field operations by 3 to 5 percent thus saving on fertilizer, seeds and chemicals and on the environment.
"Variable rate application technology can save fertilizer by applying more fertilizer in the productive areas of the field and eliminating wasted fertilizer in less productive areas of the field," said Blair. "Flow rates vary based on where the machine is in the field thus applying fertilizer and chemical where needed, not uniformly over the entire field. Shallow, lower yielding soils cannot utilize as much fertilizer as the deeper and higher yielding soils, so uniform fertilizer applications over an entire field can result in wasted product and crop damage."
Blair showed students that variable rate applicators can put chemicals where the weeds are. Since weeds tend to grow in patches, it makes sense to spray the patches and not the entire field.
Blair uses an unmanned aerial system (UAS) to analyze his fields. The UAS he uses is called the CropCam. A high resolution camera is mounted on what looks like a model airplane that has an 8-foot wingspan and 4-foot length. The plane is programmed to fly a pattern over the field and can cover about 640 acres in 25 minutes.