Optimal Acre

The Heart of the Decision

The Optimal Acre Program was created out of our core belief in “Shared growth. Shared success.” MKC believes every producer can and should benefit from utilizing all or parts of Optimal Acre on their farm immediately. We understand historically it has been very expensive to get into precision agriculture. The Optimal Acre Program has lowered the barrier to entry by spreading the cost of the program out over four years. The cost then is $3.75/ac per acre per year for four years for Optimal Acre, which incorporates the farmer’s yield data into the program. We also have our Optimal Acre Lite option priced at $3.25/ac per year if the farmer doesn’t utilize yield data. Enroll by November 1, 2020 to receive a $0.25/acre discount off the first year. 

At the core of Optimal Acre is 2.5-acre grid sampling. The program provides a baseline of what a field or farms underlying soil fertility is. Once we know the underlying fertility, we can make customized fertility prescriptions to bring the soil fertility to a level best suited for growing crops.

Beyond the grid sampling, Optimal Acre provides the ability to do variable rate nitrogen management, variable rate seeding, access to satellite imagery, analysis of yield data and incorporation of yield data into the soil fertility recommendations, making them the most accurate recommendations available.

Yield Potential Zones

One approach to apply precision agriculture to optimize crop production and environmental quality is identifying management zones.

This is the second step in the MKC Optimal Acre program because no field yields the same everywhere.

  • An electromagnetic sled is used to map the topography and variability of the soil’s water holding capacity, which is one of the most consistent factors for yield. If available, your yield data can also be incorporated to aid in the zone creation process.

  • Once yield goals are determined, MKC can create variable rate seeding and nitrogen prescriptions to optimize the yield for the low, average and high-yield zones

Fertilizer and Lime Applied Through Variable Rate Technology

With the cost of inputs, it is becoming more and more important to properly manage the application of fertilizer and lime. One way to do this is through the use of Variable Rate Technology (VRT) to apply varying amounts of fertilizer across a field according to the needs of the crop.

  • A great start to the Optimal Acre Program for any producer.
  • Variable rate fertilizer prescriptions are created from GPS grid soil sampling for several key nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, sulfur and lime for pH and others.
  • MKC provides both a build and a maintenance VRT recommendation to create a field-specific fertilizer program.
  • You can optimize your input costs by applying more product where the soil nutrients are deficient and applying either less or none where they are sufficient.

Managing Every. Last. Drop.

Good irrigation water management will increase yields, improve crop quality, conserve water, save energy, decrease fertilizer requirements, and reduce non‐point source pollution.  Using soil moisture measurements is one of the best and simplest ways to get feedback to help make improved water management decisions.

  • Utilizing the electromagnetic sled data, MKC can create variable rate water prescriptions to better optimize our irrigation passes by simply speeding up or slowing down the pivot.
  • Many pivots today are capable of variable rate irrigation (VRI). Older pivots can be economically converted with minimal add-on equipment to be capable of VRI.
  • In addition to VRI, the Optimal Acre Program offers soil moisture probes, an important gauge which goes great with VRI. The data is sent via the web to your computer or mobile device allowing you to login and view an easy-to-read dashboard. No more wasted trips to the field to see if it rained! Utilizing the electromagnetic sled data, MKC can create variable rate water prescriptions to better optimize our irrigation passes by simply speeding up or slowing down the pivot.

Conventional vs Variable Rate

In the fall 2014, MKC pulled a typical composite sample on a field for a grower. After reviewing the soil test results with an MKC field marketer, the grower decided to pursue a grid sample on the field. The composite sample showed a pH of 5.2 but the grid samples revealed the pH was anywhere from 5.0 to 7.9. The composite sample showed a phosphorus level of 24ppm while the grids revealed it to be anywhere from 17 to 60ppm. These sample results display the common variability on most fields that are far from the ideal pH range of 6.5 and 30-35ppm phosphorus for most crops.

On the lime alone, comparing the recommendations between the composite sample and the grid sample would have resulted in only 3% of the acres receiving the correct application rate of lime. The grid results also showed 11 acres of the field did not need lime applied which saved the grower $1,105.50. Ultimately, the savings paid for the grid sample testing. Similar savings and results were found with the VRT phosphorus application.

Click to listen to Troy Walker on AgPro discussing the Optimal Acre Program.



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