If you’re OK with sharing your data for research purposes, Decisive Farming is looking for malt barley growers across Western Canada interested in growing this year’s crop with variable rate technology.
The Alberta-based company, providing a wide range of agronomic and farm management services, is actually offering a first-of-a-kind program to pay producers $4 per acre for their data when they sign up for their variable rate technology services (Optimize RX) on their malt barley acres.
Producers get to keep and market what is hopefully high quality malt barley, and Decisive Farming gets to include the production and marketing data in an aggregate data base they’ve been building for several years as part of their field scale malt barley research. And just to allay concerns — none of the producer data or other information collected is marketed or shared with third party interests, all privacy is protected by Decisive Farming.
Variable rate technology, for seeding, fertilizer and other crop inputs, is seen as a valuable tool for producers looking to produce malt barley, says Remi Schmaltz, CEO of Decisive Farming. “It is all about finding that balance of managing inputs to produce not only a high yielding crop, but also the quality characteristic malting companies are looking for,” he says. “Producers are looking for the formula to optimize yields, but keep protein low. If producers are spending $100 to $200 per acre on inputs are they getting optimum value for that cost?”
Schmaltz points to one example of an Optimize RX subscriber who realized a 48 per cent increase in profitability on his malt barley over other non-VRT producers not only because he was able to produce the desired lower protein barley, with higher kernel plumpness, but yields were higher too.
The Decisive Farming program is open to any producers in Western Canada planning to grow malt barley this season who haven’t used variable rate technology on the fields where they will be growing malt. Decisive Farming is offering the program to the first 15,000 acres enrolled this year, with an early April deadline. And if you happen to miss this growing season there is always 2019.
As part of the Optimize RX program, Decisive Farming will collect satellite imagery of the field(s) to create management zones, complete soil testing for the various production zones within the fields, develop both seeding and fertilizer variable rate prescriptions for the field, provide field and technical support to make sure your variable rate equipment is fully compatible with the VRT prescription, and even follow up with yield analysis.
In return Decisive Farming will have access to production data and marketing information to add to their overall database. The database is an aggregate of all information collected and doesn’t identify individual farms.
“There are many good farmers producing high quality malt barley crops,” says Schmaltz. “But there is always a challenge of managing inputs to balance objectives for yield and quality factors. The experience with VRT can be of value to both new and established growers of malt barley in targeting or fine tuning their inputs to get the most of each of the variable soil types within a field.”
For more information on the malt barley program visit the Decisive Farming website or call Blaine Calkins at (780) 512-8531.