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The Value of Stand Count: When Replant Decisions are on the Line, Accuracy Counts

Making the decision to replant is one of the most difficult that a grower can face, with costly consequences that can impact an entire season of profits.

For generations, growers have relied on manual stand count methods to inform replant decisions, but data gathered manually has challenges – difficult and time consuming to collect, limited in scope and prone to errors. Additionally, manual stand count doesn’t always reveal the full story, as issues are typically non-uniform in a field.

Many agronomists and growers have discovered the value technology can bring to the process. Users of FieldAgent, from Sentera, can use the stand count analytic to easily gather whole-field, acre-by-acre data with 97 percent accuracy, saving time and resources. Covering up to 700 acres per hour, drones collect data and images efficiently for a comprehensive view, mapping every acre of a field. Live-view maps offer a real-time look at what’s happening, with more in-depth views available within FieldAgent that allow users to see RGB imagery depicted by the stand count.

Making Informed Decisions

Armed with a solid and accurate understanding of stand count, growers can make holistic and solid replant decisions. This evaluation should include:
• Determining the cause of the sparse stand
• Determining the yield potential of the sparse stand
• Estimating the expected gross revenue from the sparse stand
• Estimating the cost to replant
• Estimating the yield potential and gross revenue from a replanted stand
• Calculating whether replanting will pay for itself

FieldAgent and the stand count analytic enable improved financial analysis for the weighty replant decision that can yield profit per acre impacts that vary significantly by the level of stand weakness, cost to replant, and time of replant. The financial analysis will determine whether replanting is required to maximize profit per acre for any field zone that exhibits weak stand.

                            

        FieldAgent Stand Count Analytic                                          Field Agent Stand Count RGB image

Dollars and Sense: The Value of Getting it Right

Every grower facing the difficult decision to replant fears two outcomes the most: 1) Not replanting when they should. 2) Replanting when they shouldn’t. Getting it right can make or break a season, with critical decisions requiring thorough and accurate information to ensure the best possible return on investment.

Let’s examine the impact of not replanting when you should. Profits can take a hit in excess of $50/acre for moderate stand conditions, and in excess of $100/acre for very weak stand conditions. Below are a few representative examples of differences in profit per acre by weak stand count holding plant date constant at 4/15, target population at 32,000/acre, replant date at 5/24, price per bu at $4.50, and target yield at 180 bu/acre:

Stand Count Profit improvement if replanted
13,000 $135/acre
17,000 $58/acre
20,000 $12/acre

 

Next, let’s look at the impact of replanting when you shouldn’t. The typical cost per acre to replant is in the ballpark of $50/acre which represents the impact ceiling of making this error.

The Sentera solution (Drone + Sensor + FieldAgent + Stand Count Analytic) is an investment of approximately $6,000. Identifying an incremental 60 acres of low stand, providing an average return upwards of $100/acre, will achieve an immediate return on the Sentera cash investment.


Written by Joe Dunsmore, Chief Strategy Officer, Sentera & Andrew Tucker Ph.D., Associate Professor of Agronomy, Fort Hays State University

Click here for more information about FieldAgent’s Stand Count Analytics Tool.

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