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DuPont strikes deal with MU on soil research, data


Linda Geist
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185

Published: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014

Story source:

Brent Myers, 573-882-4257

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension  researchers and USDA scientists on the MU campus are collaborating with DuPont Pioneer to pool soil data, expertise and other resources to help grain farmers improve yields and reduce costs.

Extension corn specialist Brent Myers said researchers at MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources are collaborating on precision agriculture projects with Pioneer’s seed corn division. They developed high-resolution soil maps that will provide information producers can use to make better management decisions that lead to larger profits.

Researchers will build upon public soil survey data from USDA to identify unique land areas called environmental response units (ERUs). Myers has led development of methodology and software that identifies the ERUs, which are typically much smaller than current soil map units.

“Management decisions strongly depend on how crops respond to the soil and landscape,” said Myers. “Public soil maps are very valuable, but we can now track differences in fields at a much higher resolution than previously available. ERUs identify smaller areas within fields that can be similarly managed. This collaboration provides opportunities for connecting innovative soil and landscape science with decision-making for millions of acres in the United States.”

Myers said the soil data also will aid research on seeding rates, hybrid selection and nitrogen management. The research includes test plots at MU’s Bradford Research Center and on-farm trials during the three-year project.

DuPont will integrate the information into its growing line of data services to help farmers decide what types and amounts of seed, fertilizer and other services to use.

“It’s a great way for us to make an impact,” Myers said. “This will reach a lot of farmers and helps us to extend our science and research into the field on a very large scale. It will help them to be more profitable and be better stewards of land and water resources, especially when it comes to nitrogen management.”

With commodity prices softening in recent years, the need to control input costs has spurred seed companies to seek research-based, data-driven solutions. Precise, consistent information can help them customize plans for their farms.