“SWAT MAPS have changed my opinion on variable rate,” says Tyler Kessler, an independent agronomist and founder of Kessler AgVentures. Kessler provides agronomy and variable rate SWAT MAPS services to producers in the region south of Regina, SK.
“When we begin a SWAT MAPS variable rate program, we start with a map that accurately defines the soil. This gives us a great foundation to begin looking at the soil differently – we collect samples and then we can analyze different areasof the field.” Kessler remarks that SWAT (Soil, Water, and Topography) MAPS depict how different areas of the field have varying elevations and topographies, and organic matter (OM) goes along with that. “High and dry areas have low OM, but as you move to the midslopes there is higher organic matter and water flows through those areas to the depressions in the field.”
Salinity has been one of the primary challenges for his clients, Kessler says. “SWAT MAPS define the saline areas very precisely. The benefit of SWAT MAPS in salinity is the low-hanging fruit.”
Kessler notes that the majority of Saskatchewan farmland is highly deficient in phosphate, so he is working with his clients to build up phosphate in the soil. He also discusses how the region he works inis prone to flooding. “In our heavy Regina plain topography, it is quite level, and we get areas that are prone to flooding. The elevation data incorporated into the SWAT MAP defines those areas very well. Once we actually look into soil sampling these regions, it is really evident where the nutrients are sitting and what areas of the field we need to address.”
When asked what he sees as the biggest benefit of using SWAT MAPS, Kessler mentions cost efficiencies in areas ofthe field where you don’t need the excess (whether it be fertilizer, seed, etc.). “There are several things my clients and I look for, but the biggest one is how we can maximize fertility in areas that can utilize it and then pulling back in saline areas or in depressions that are loaded with nutrients already. We don’t need to flat rate these areas.”
This is a parcel of land that was brand new to one of Kessler’s clients. “By mapping the land right away before it was planted the first season, we had a huge advantage in the knowledge that we gained from creating the SWAT MAP and taking the soil samples. It likely put us four years ahead in comparison to farming it for the year and then setting up a plan for variable rate after that.” Kessler remarks that this tactic very quickly set up the grower to be successful.
Kessler also mentions a very interesting capability he has found that SWAT MAPS has is in situations when a farmer is interested in purchasing land that is traditionally thought of as poor quality, lesser value land. “When we have SWAT MAPS in our toolbox, clients are able to bid on land they would not traditionally bid on due to its limitations (saline or other poor-quality areas). SWAT MAPS can help us make that land more profitable since they are not spending $70, $80, or $100/ac of fertilizer on the entire field - we can map it and identify the poor areas to make the less desired land more profitable.”
If you are looking to get your farm mapped with SWAT MAPS, you can contact Tyler Kessler here. If you are interested in becoming a SWAT MAPS consultant, please contact email@example.com or visit swatmaps.com.