There’s a difference between new technology that becomes a useful tool and new technology that’s just a toy. The difference is largely in the practical application of what any given technology makes possible. Exhibit A: the smartphone — great and powerful technology, but likely also overwhelmingly used to share silly cat videos and status updates.
When it comes to farming, technology must do one or more of the following in order to deliver a return on investment: save you time, save you money, deliver more yield or make your job safer and easier. A hand-held unit that tells you a relative “greeness” rating to your crop will do which of the above? Well, that depends on when you use it and what you do with the data it provides.
In this Corn School episode, Manitoba Agriculture’s soil extension specialist John Heard leads a demonstration on using various technologies — from the $1,500 SPAD meter, to a $99 app, and on to the hand-held GreenSeeker — to gauge nitrogen management of the crop. One of the key points that Heard, joined by Marla Riekman, MAFRD, and Karin Rose of the Manitoba Corn Growers Association, makes is that none of these technologies are useful unless you’re comparing an N-rich strip to the rest of the field, and, even then, there are some less techie ways to compare the same thing (that’s in the video too!).
As Heard says in the video, for those interested in using the GreenSeeker, there are correlating N-application data sets for not just corn, but also wheat and canola, and that information can be found here.
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