One area where Dr. Ray Asebedo sees potential is with crop protection. “One of the things that always bothered me when we were having a great looking crop and our nutrient management program was being managed to a T, is somebody would always forget to apply some fungicide when weather conditions were conducive for disease pressure,” he says. “Then we would have some serious issues.”
In one sensing study, Asebedo evaluated ear-size differences pulled in different spots of a corn field, based on different fungicide test strips in corn. He also evaluated kernel depth, and the physiological development and grain fill from R1 stage, to maturity and up to abscission, or black layer stage.
“I can't stress enough the importance of sustaining photosynthetic capacity all the way through to black layer,” Asebedo says. “When we start looking at this, utilizing NDVI or our NDRE, seeing what we can't see with the human eye, there is still a considerable amount of photosynthetic activity that was taking place where we applied our strips of fungicide in comparison to where we didn’t make an application.”
The end result revealed as much as a 40 bushel difference in corn yields — 220 to 260 bushels per acre — based on where fungicide was and wasn’t applied.
“At the time, the farmer whose field this belonged to, was completely happy with their 220 bushel yield,” Asebedo says. “It was right on par with what they normally do. They thought they were doing great until we actually started utilizing our optical sensor technologies to determine if they were optimizing productivity across the entire field.