Brian Lutz

Transforming Field Data Into Meaningful Insights

The future of farming will be driven not just by better technologies, but by better understanding how to combine these in smarter and ever more efficient ways. This is where digital farming comes into play.

With Climate FieldView™ the Climate Corporation developed the industry’s leading digital agricultural platform that offers farmers a comprehensive and connected suite of digital tools. Farmers gain a deeper understanding of their fields and can optimize management decisions quickly and efficiently. This helps growers reach their yield potential, while minimizing excessive application of crop inputs. Food production will have to increase by 50% to feed the planet in 2050 according to U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Further, according to a review article published in 2013, food demand is expected to increase anywhere between 59% to 98% by 2050. This increasing demand will shape agricultural markets in ways we have not seen before. Farmers worldwide will need to increase crop production, either by increasing the amount of agricultural land to grow crops or by enhancing productivity on existing agricultural land (Source).

While this sounds like a difficult task, the past several decades have shown that innovation and technological advancements can help increase agricultural productivity remarkably. However, past intensification of agricultural production systems has resulted in high costs for the environment through soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, eutrophication and climate change. To maintain the functionality and sustainability of our ecosystems we must meet the increasing demand for more food while simultaneously decreasing our environmental footprint.

Brian Lutz, Yield Analytics and Fertility Lead, The Climate Corporation
Brian Lutz, Yield Analytics and Fertility Lead, The Climate Corporation
Brian Lutz,
Yield Analytics and Fertility Lead, The Climate Corporation

The rise in global agricultural output has been driven by technologies and solutions such as hybrid corn, biotech plant traits, the mechanization of planting and harvesting capabilities and the proliferation of fertilizers. However, the future of farming will be driven not just by better technologies, but by better understanding how to combine the many technologies that already exist. This is the role of digital farming, and a key part of the mission of The Climate Corporation:

Mission Climate Corporation
Mission Climate Corporation
Figure 2: Mission Climate Corporation

Farmers make an average of 40 decisions each year that impact harvest potential and business returns. Digital farming brings increased precision to crop production by supporting these key farm management decisions with data-driven insights. Combining seamless field data collection with advanced agronomic modeling and local weather monitoring, FieldView gives farmers a better understanding of the value of different practices and products allows farmers to more quickly and efficiently optimize management decisions  maximizing the productivity of each acre and optimizing sustainability.

FieldView Plus offers tools to analyze and compare crop performances. Farmers can assess how different varieties performed on different soil types and under different management practices. Farmers can even run small trials to identify the best seed varieties and management practices across each. The ability to test seed performances on their farms helps growers to more quickly and efficiently keep pace with seed advances and ensures they maintain high levels of productivity. Further, having access to aggregated grower data also allows The Climate Corporation to better understand and optimize the product portfolio Bayer can offer to customers by providing performance data across millions of acres of real-world growing conditions.

Growers can also conduct similar experiments with fertilizers, seed treatment, in-season crop protection, tillage, cover cropping and more  helping them to measure and understand the factors that improve productivity while minimizing their environmental impacts.

Advanced models developed by Climate’s robust and industry leading R&D are contributing to sustainability. Offered through the FieldViewplatform, models generate prescriptive recommendations to growers on key management practices such as seeding and nitrogen fertilization rates. With these offerings growers do not need to conduct experiments to identify the best solutions for their farm. Instead, Climate’s proprietary models are used to generate specific prescriptions for each of their fields that allow planters and fertilizer equipment to precisely apply the recommended amount of seed and nitrogen to each acre.

From a sustainability perspective, improving nitrogen management has many benefits. Not only is nitrogen one of the most costly inputs to crop production, it is also one of the most inefficiently used  with only about a third of nitrogen applied to cereals recovered in the harvested grain (Ruan and Johnson 1999). Much of the remaining nitrogen can be lost from fields in a variety of ways. Leaching from soils allows nitrogen to enter waterways, causing widespread eutrophication that can result in ecological damage like the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Further, nitrogen fertilizer can be lost to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide  a greenhouse gas about 300 times more potent than CO2, and also an ozone depleting substance.

The Climate Corporation is currently developing a broader suite of advanced models to add to the FieldViewPro lineup. These include seed placement (choosing the best seed hybrid/variety for each field), models to predict disease pressure and inform crop protection decisions and an expanded offering for fertilizer recommendations (including soil phosphorus and potassium).

Our overall goal is to support growers reaching their yield potential while minimizing the use of excessive crop inputs and reducing environmental impacts.

*Climate FieldView is currently available in North America, Brazil, and Europe. Availability of FieldViewPrime, FieldViewPro, and FieldViewPrime and services, vary upon location.

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