In the spring of 2020, Trevor tried Decisive Farming by TELUS Agriculture’s variable rate (VR) program, Optimize RX®, on roughly 2,500 acres. It was then that he had an “a-ha” moment: after having a highly detailed irrigation report with extensive soil testing and soil zone maps completed on a few pieces of land, Trevor had Decisive Farming prepare VR maps for that same land. “You could lay the maps on top of one another, and they’re almost identical,” Trevor says, “That’s when you know, there’s something to this.”
It turns out Trevor was right — his VR canola in 2020 was some of the best canola he’s ever grown, despite facing challenges throughout the growing season. “It was probably the most even, and matured the quickest.” That uniformity and days to maturity is highly valuable in the Peace Country, where the entire season is focused on getting the combine into the field as quickly as possible to stay ahead of fall frosts.
Based upon the returns Trevor saw in 2020, he increased his variable rate acres to 10,000 for the 2021 crop year and, as a result, has seen both agronomic and economic benefits.
“We’ve seen savings on both extremes. On a really dry year you’re seeing value, and on a really wet or good year you’re still seeing value.”
Every acre gets what it needs
Trevor says his land has a lot of variability, with some fields having seven or eight zones. When using flat rate, Trevor would apply the same rate of fertilizer on all zones, across multiple fields and, sometimes, across an area of several thousand acres. With Optimize RX, Trevor says “we are down to every acre getting what it needs instead of too much or not enough. We put more fertilizer on our non-VR acres by a substantial amount, and they don’t look any better.”
That translated into big savings this spring. Trevor saved nearly 600 tons of fertilizer on those 10,000 Optimize RX acres. “It doesn’t take much at $1,000, $1,200 fertilizer prices to get back the [investment] for the variable-rate.”
“At the end of the day, it’s putting what you need, not what you think you need, and put it in the rights spots, too”
“It’s the service you get after that matters.”
Trevor admits that he had reservations in adopting new (VR) technology onto his farm.“I was scared how much extra hassle it would be, and it ended up being the opposite.” Trevor says. Decisive Farming’s Territory Manager Allison La Liberté worked closely with Trevor and his crew to ensure everything went smoothly. “Everyone was a bit leery; some of the guys that never had to do [VR] the year before were a little intimidated but by the first hour or so, they realized how simple it was going to be,” Trevor says. “I was probably the most surprised. Honestly, the whole thing was about how little hiccups there were.”
Trevor acknowledges that Allison’s support was a key part of his successful adoption of VR. Allison kept things running smoothly by training operators and was on-farm to do test runs in the spring. When asked how he would describe Decisive Farming’s service, Trevor replied, “top notch” and shared that “the guys are already asking when the harvest meal is going to be. [It’s] the little things that everybody appreciates.”
Full farm Optimize RX for 2022
Based on his success in his first two seasons, Trevor will use Optimize RX variable-rate across all 26,000 acres on his farm in 2022.
When asked if he would recommend Decisive Farming to others, Trevor says “Definitely. It pays. I’m not somebody that does something that doesn’t pay.”