MSU Agriculture Innovations: Focus on Precision Technology That Pays

Walk-Ins are welcome to join the event. Please join us at 3750 N. College Road, Lansing, MI 48910. 

In 2019, MSU Agriculture Innovation Day will “Focus on Precision Technology That Pays.” Experts will detail how implementing technology that aids in decision-making can improve yields, increase profit margins and reduce environmental impacts.

The free event, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 26, 2019, at MSU University Farms in Lansing, Michigan, features nine field-based sessions focused on specific issues and includes lunch.

Smart Ag: Where Is It Going?

Making data-based decisions to improve the farm’s bottom line is advancing at a rapid pace with improvements in technology. Data collected from various points of production agriculture come together as important components in the smart use of technology. This session explores the definition of “Smart Ag” and how every session featured during Agriculture Innovation Day represents important components of smart technology use in production agriculture. Participants will learn how smart agriculture can improve production, boost the farm’s bottom line and even help protect the environment. Participants will leave with an understanding of smart ag and whether investing in it is right for their farming operations.

There's an Ag App for That

With thousands of apps available for mobile devices that help manage nearly every aspect of an agricultural operation, farmers want to know which ones are worth their time. In this session, participants will learn about several top-rated applications and see a real-time demonstration of a field-based application. Presenters will share recommendations on several useful, free apps as well as fee-based ones available for both iOS and Android devices. 

Precision Soil Sampling: Every Farm Needs It!

Several options are available for precision soil sampling, and farmers often wonder which will work best for their operations. This session explores proper technology and protocol of soil sampling fields for precision agriculture. Participants will learn how accurate soil sampling and GPS equipment aid in assessing soil fertility levels, how grid size affects fertility maps and how fertility management zones help farmers to follow soil fertility plans that allow for precise variable rate applications of nutrients.

Remote Sensing With Drones

Well-timed overhead bird’s-eye view pictures can be useful, but the true power of drone imagery comes from the combination of multi-spectral images and analytics to turn pictures into information that drives decision-making. Participants will learn how drones compare to other options, including airplane and satellite-based imagery services. While the best platform ultimately depends on goals, requirements and scale, drones have the advantages of being able to collect detailed images on short notice and without interference from cloud cover. Presenters will discuss various ways to access the technology, from doing it all yourself to outsourcing all or part of the job to local and online service providers.

Planter Calibration: Seed Placement Pays

Proper uniform seed placement in a crop stand is one of the most important factors determining yield and profitability. While advances in planter technology have given producers tools to improve seed placement, management is still key. This session looks at seed placement, discusses the fate of seeds not planted uniformly and presents steps producers can take to improve placement, yield and the bottom line. Participants will be able to see the impact of plant spacing on crops recently emerging following wheat and crops planted in the spring. 

The Art and Science of Writing a Variable Rate Seeding Prescription

Precision GPS systems and variable rate seeding (VRS[AP1] [TM2] ) planters give growers access to more data than ever before, but knowing which data is needed to maximize profitability can be confusing. Growers can use multi-year harvest data, grid-based soil sampling and elevation data to create a custom planting prescription with several products available on the market. Participants will learn how to evaluate various data layers, exploring which data layers should be used to create prescriptions. Presenters will give live on-screen demonstrations creating management zones using various commercially available platforms and later show the results as they walk field demo plots planted to variable and fixed seeding rates to evaluate agronomic response to seeding rates.

Yield Monitor Data and Proper Calibration: A Four-Step Process

When yield monitor data is used to make management decisions, it is critical to identify high- and low-yielding areas of each field. Determining yield rates is not possible without proper calibration of the mass flow sensor, moisture sensor, distance measurement and vibration calibration of a yield monitor. Presenters will demonstrate how yield monitors work and how to use them for developing accurate yield maps, especially when using them for variable rate nutrient application, creation of management zones and other uses. Participants will learn how to calibrate a monitor at four flow rates and how improper calibration could over- or under-estimate yield.

Feeding Crops with Sensor-Based Variable Rate Nitrogen Technology

Variable Rate Nitrogen Application (VRA-N) is a management approach for applying the correct amount of nitrogen in the right place based on spatial variability across the field. Real-time sensor-based VRA-N adjusts the application rate on the go, based on reflected light from crop foliage at sidedress time. Improvements in sensor-based VRA-N have convinced many corn growers to apply nitrogen based on this technology rather than utilizing traditional techniques to feed the crop. Presenters will evaluate and compare the economics and effectiveness of on-farm, real-time VRA-N with single-rate applications based on grid soil sampling, crop yield potential, pre-sidedress nitrogen test (PSNT) results[AP3] [TM4] , in-field chlorophyll readings and other best practices. Participants will have an opportunity to interact with the VRA technology, learn about the economics and accuracy of VRA-N versus single-rate applications, and take home practical recommendations for implementing VRA-N technologies.  

Using the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool when Applying Manure: Environment and Economics

Manure is a good source of nutrients for crops and it is important for farms to focus on ways to reuse this valuable resource for crop production. With better planning of manure nutrient applications, farmers can protect the environment and reduce the use of commercial fertilizers while saving money. The Michigan EnviroImpact tool shows daily runoff risk across Michigan using National Weather Service data about precipitation, soil moisture, temperature and landscape characteristics. Presenters will discuss how the tool works and how farmers can use this information as a decision-support tool to effectively plan short-term manure application.

For detailed session descriptions, visit or contact Ron Bates at


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more information contact ANR Event Services at or 517-884-7089