"Using AeroInfo to map out damaged acres has allowed us to Rx spray and plant particular fields with obvious savings. We have been able to cut our input cost on specific acres that we know will not produce a crop." - Shane Suggs, PCF Farms
PCF Farms had a problem – a milo field with several areas of inorganic acreage. These areas are easily visible in the image above on the right side of the field as gray, bare ground. These inorganic areas are the result of salt water spills during oil drilling more than 70 years ago. Literally nothing will grow in these areas, as evidenced by the closeup picture below.
PCF knew for years that these areas existed and that they were throwing money away applying costly inputs (fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide, seed) to the dead areas. Although their sprayer and planter were set up for variable rate applications, they didn't have the data to input into their implement monitors to control the rates. That's where AeroInfo came in.
IF IT’S DEAD, TURN IT OFF
With the milo up and growing, AeroInfo flew the field with our drone, using both our multi-spectral and visual cameras. More than 800 images were collected and stitched together to produce a geo-referenced base map with extremely accurate longitudinal and latitudinal points for the dead areas. The base map was then converted to a management zone map using Agrisoft SMS.
Working with the producers, we refined the management zone map to target the dead areas. The idea was simple: if the land is dead, turn the implement off. With a color legend applied to the map (as seen below), green indicates the implement is on, red indicates the implement is off.
Next, AeroInfo wrote a precision ag prescription for a pre-plant fertilizer and herbicide application. In this instance, PCF Farms wanted 30 gallons per acre applied to the organic areas (shown in green), and 0 gallons per acre applied to the inorganic areas (shown in red). The final step was to transfer the prescription file to PCF’s sprayer. Below is the "as applied" map generated from the John Deer Analyzer after the field was sprayed in March 2018. The spray application tracks consistently with the prescription map above.
BOTTOM LINE RESULTS - $1783 SAVINGS
With aerial data provided by the drone, AeroInfo was able to identify and remove 31.7 dead acres from production, or about 17% of the 192-acre field. Comparing the March 2018 AeroInfo prescription application to PCF’s application in 2017, PCF eliminated 1035 gallons of spray resulting in a $1,783 savings in this one fertilizer/herbicide application alone.
For PCF Farms, this was just the beginning. A one-time investment in actionable drone data produced multiple returns. The same AeroInfo drone data and prescription map that were used for spraying were also used for planting the milo with the principle “if it’s dead, turn it off.” The same prescription will be used throughout the rest of the growing season, adjusting the rates for pesticide treatments and herbicide treatments as PCF requests. Between the initial application, planting and future treatments, the savings for this one field alone could be as much as $3000.
UP NEXT: INCREASED REVENUES
Now that PCF Farms has the field prescription and the ability to accurately manage inputs, they are considering planting cotton in that field next season for the first time in years. Planting cotton over milo would increase their gross revenue $480 per acre or $76,800 for the 160 farmable acres.
How much money could you be saving in input costs?
How much more revenue could you be making in increased yield?
Contact AeroInfo today to find out.