As the global population increases, so does the demand for fuel, food and fiber.
“Now and in the future, farmers will need to do more with less,” said Dawn Refsell of Valent U.S.A. “The research we’re conducting helps with water efficiency, crop production and crop protection to help farmers conserve resources while maximizing their crops.”
Some of that research is occurring at the new Valent Midwest Agricultural Research Center near Champaign, Illinois. Opened earlier this summer, the 77-acre site is dedicated to large-scale testing of pesticides and biologicals for agriculture, seed protection and professional use.
“Our primary focus is on crop protection and crop production,” Refsell said. “The discovery work at this facility is Midwest driven – centering on products used in this part of the country.”
A Zimmatic® 9500L lateral move system with GPS guidance irrigates dozens of test plots with corn, soybeans, alfalfa, canola and pumpkins.
“We chose the lateral system because, like most research plots, ours is square. The lateral provides the consistency we need,” Refsell said. “We also like the ease of use. This system is very straightforward so one person can easily manage it. That’s important, because we don’t have a large crew here.”
“Every plot is geo-tagged, so with GPS guidance and variable rate irrigation, we’re able to irrigate with pinpoint accuracy,” Refsell said. “With approximately 80 trials going on at one time, it’s very important for us to be able to control where we’re watering and how much water we’re applying.”
The diverse research conducted at the facility includes pest management, such as how too little or too much water can affect herbicide performance. Researchers also will be looking at how the company’s products can help prevent moisture and nutrient stresses.
“It’s important that we know how our products perform in the field,” Refsell said. “This new facility and the technology that we’re using will help us respond to the challenges faced by the farmers of today and in the future.”