Using Variable Rate Application for Applying Fertilizer for Corn and Soybeans

The use of precision agriculture technologies has greatly improved the management of soil fertility. One of these is the variable rate technology (VRT) for variable rate application (VRA).


What is variable rate application?

In precision agriculture, VRA is focused on the automated application of chemicals, fertilizers, seeds, and other materials to a given field or landscape. The amount of materials applied is based on data collected using GPS, maps, and sensors.


How to apply fertilizer for corn and soybeans using variable rate application

Fertilizer application can be completely automated with the right variable rate application technology. Many recommend using variable rate fertilization based on dense grid sampling, where a field is subdivided into a systematic arrangement of usually 2.5 to 4.4 acres of small areas or cells.


There are several steps involved in applying fertilizer using VRA. All of which involve using multiple layers of collected data to apply an algorithm that will give the desired fertilizers rates for each area in a field.


Set management zones

Allow the collected data such as, soil test, yield history, soil type in each field to determine the management zones for fertilizer application. If an area is always higher yielding then create a zone and allow more fertilizer to replace the yields. This also works in areas that are lower yielding by allowing to lower the amount of fertilizer used.


Variable rate application allows you to dictate precisely which machine should apply specific material to which zones and at what rate. This is a great tool in the arsenal to achieve most profitable application rates of fertilizer. It is also a must to prevent over fertilization and potential contamination to vital waterways.


Decide between sensors and maps for variable rate application

The choice will depend on the type of variable rate application technology used. If a map of a landscape is generated and input into the system before any activities are carried out, map-based VRA is the ideal solution.


When sensors are integrated into VRA technology, sensor-based VRA is the obvious choice. What is great about this technology is that it automatically detects the health of a crop and makes a decision based on that data. For example, if it senses that the corn is in need of nitrogen, it will apply the material required.


Set data that needs to be collected

If you choose sensor-based VRA, you need to specify what type of data the sensors should collect. If you choose map-based VRA, you need to specify what sort of data or imagery will be used in the mapping.


Some of the important data that should be collected for fertilizer application are the type of crop, soil test,  yield history, applied crop protection, climate information, and the fertilizers applied.


What are the benefits of variable rate application?


-Save on chemicals and fertilizers because the amount is pre-determined prior to application and controlled over a specific area.

-Increase potential yield due to more efficient fertilization and spraying. The amount of fertilizer applied is based on the actual needs of crops.

-Protects the environment from excess spraying of chemicals or fertilization.

-Promotes sustainable efficient farming practices.


Choose Variable Rate Application

Done right, VRA will ensure a healthy realized yield and bountiful harvest. It also cuts down the amount of effort you need to invest in fertilizing crops and testing the soil and saves costs at the same time. So next growing season, consider using variable rate application with Precision Agronomics.




Precision Agronomics is located at 9438 West SR 28 in West Lebanon, IN and is proud to serve: Marshfield, Johnsonville, Foster, Stone Bluff, Bismarck, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today for more information!


variable rate application for corn and soybeans



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1848 West Dixie Bee Rd
Covington, IN 47932
PHONE: (800) SOIL - 130

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