Expanding innovative practices
25 August 2022 News from the Company
This season, EkoNiva has doubled the percentage of fields sown at a variable rate. The technology is now used in seven more regions: Kaluga, Ryazan, Kursk and Novosibirsk oblasts, Altai area and the Republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan – all in all, 15,000 ha.
Variable rate seeding was first tested by EkoNiva in the Black Soil region in 2018 on maize, which is a strategically important crop for milk producers.
‘EkoNivaAgro-Levoberezhnoye, Voronezh oblast, was a pioneer in applying the cutting‑edge farming technologies. The location was chosen for the experiment because it had state‑of‑the‑art seed drills, a fleet of harvesters equipped with yield sensors and a large herd. It was necessary for the farm to increase silage production, in the first place by enhancing plant growing efficiency’, says Sergey Kapustin, Precision Farming Director. ‘Later, as the fleet was further upgraded, it became possible to employ variable rate sowing for cereals and pulses.’
The experimental stage in the Black Soil Region was finished in 2011 after a careful study of the response of maize to the new method. This season, all maize in the regional enterprise of EkoNiva has been sown at a variable rate depending on the soil fertility in different areas of the fields.
Based on the positive experience in Voronezh, EkoNiva is currently expanding the practice to other regions. Last year, the technology was applied on 6,500 ha, of which 4,500 ha was sown with maize and the rest – with winter and spring wheat.
‘Farming operations of EkoNiva are located in different climate zones: from Siberia to St. Petersburg. The recommendations we have developed for the Central Black Soil region do not always work in other areas. For example, the strategy we used in Voronezh proved ineffective for Kaluga oblast. We had to reconsider our approach, try a wider range of application rates and continue analyzing yields and financial parameters’, comments Sergey Kapustin.
‘In Novosibirsk oblast, on the contrary, the method worked very well. We sowed around 600 ha of maize for silage at a variable rate saving seeds and boosting the yield. We develop precision farming in new regions from scratch. Experiments usually take from three to four years. Our specialists monitor the performance of crops in dry and wet years, develop guidelines for the region and include variable rate sowing into the regular production process after completion of the study.’
This year, EkoNiva has tested variable rate seeding for spring barley, sunflower, oil flax and sugar beet.
'In 2023, we are planning to use variable rate seeding for all of our soya beans. The experiment has been very successful: seed consumption has gone down 25% – from 80,000 seeds/ha to 60,000 seeds/ha – while the yield has risen significantly.’