Every grower knows the value of stand count data in making replant decisions. But understanding stand count can also reveal critical insights about uniform emergence and plant spacing — both of which can have a substantial effect on yield potential.

Even when stand count numbers are good, non-uniform corn emergence can reduce yield potential by as much as 10 percent. Similarly, non-uniform plant spacing — even when at the desired stand count — can reduce yield potential by as much as 5 percent.

Agronomists and growers have traditionally relied on manual stand count methods to identify emergence and spacing issues, but data gathered manually is time-consuming, prone to errors and doesn’t present a holistic view of what’s really happening as things can look very different from acre to acre.

Many agronomists and growers have turned to FieldAgent® from Sentera to overcome the limitations of manual scouting. Using the full solution, which includes a drone, sensor, FieldAgent and the stand count analytic, users can 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.

When Uniformity Becomes an Issue

Uniformity of plant spacing is often expressed as the coefficient of variation (CoV), which is simply the standard deviation of plant spacing divided by the average distance between the plants. For example, if the CoV was 44 percent, the result would cause a reduction in yield potential. CoVs of 30 or 40% or higher can have significant yield impacts. A CoV of less than 20 percent is considered ideal for corn.

Better Data, Better Decisions

While the replant decision typically offers the strongest use case for FieldAgent stand count analytics, RGB imagery related to uniformity of spacing and emergence can help growers make better decisions.

FieldAgent RBG imagery can drive targeted ground-truthing that can help inform a full understanding of potential yield loss due to uniformity of emergence or spacing issues. It can help agronomists and growers:

  1. Gain an early indication of yield potential
  2. Make prescriptive and precise decisions related to inputs
  3. Develop a strong factual basis for claim dispute resolution relative to seed and/or planter performance issues.

Written in partnership with Andrew Tucker Ph.D., Associate Professor of Agronomy, Fort Hays State University