Crop Establishment Mapping

11.05.18 12:38 PM
Identifying the variation in the establishment is a powerful first step in actively managing a crop. If you are interested in precision agriculture and are growing corn, cotton, canola or other high-value crops you have come to the right place.


Establishment surveys, crop stand mapping, crop emergence checks, or whatever it is called in your part of the agricultural industry, is a critical first step to understanding the potential of a crop.

There are many and varied ways to conduct emergence surveys, only one method offers to count every single plant in your paddock. That method uses sensors and sophisticated software. In the case of the picture below, the sensor was mounted on a StevTech drone and counted every single little corn plant in the paddock.

corn establishment


No matter how much money (water, nitrogen etc) you throw at a crop nothing is going to increase the number of plants in a crop once it is fully established. You’ve got what you’ve got.

Within a few weeks of planting an establishment survey can be conducted by StevTech. This service should be conducted at the same time you would ordinarily conduct a physical emergence inspection. Depending on the sub-sector of agriculture you are in, an emergence scan could allow you to do the following (and probably much more):

1. Replant weak areas. For cotton, in particular, this is a well known and powerful way to increase yield if emergence has not been uniformly good. If you have planted and then experience a mixed emergence due to a cold snap or trying to get it in too early – a StevTech drone scan will give you the data (including the spatial data for your planter) to replant exactly to the parameters you want.

Cotton planting

2. Treat different areas of your crop… differently. If selective replanting is not an option, an emergence scan gives you the option to treat the different zones in your paddock according to the numbers of plants present. For example, you may not want to throw the same amount of nitrogen at a poorly established area as you would at the best-established zones in your crop. Save your money and use it elsewhere. StevTech can facilitate the application of variable rates of whatever input you desire (in conjunction with the agronomist responsible for the paddock) based off an emergence scan or other multi-spectral scans as required (see image below).


3. Contract plan with more certainty. Particularly in horticulture an exact figure of the number of plants that have established within your crop will give you increased certainty when negotiating contracts for your produce. The data will become more powerful with time as attrition trends (plant loss across the season) gain statistical confidence.


To put all this in context, I am not an agronomist so don’t take from this article any agronomic solutions to your emergence problems – talk to your agronomist about that.

As a former military officer of 20 years, I am however an expert in making decisions. I know what constitutes good information for decision making. An exact number of plants that have emerged and being able to zone your paddock into areas of relative emergence strikes me as fantastic information to base your decisions on.

The data is immediately useable. StevTech is partnered with Chesterfield Australia for the delivery of drone services. This means that any data collected by StevTech can be readily used within your MyJohnDeere Account. StevTech works will all other brands as well, so rest assure you will not be getting a pretty picture from StevTech, you will be getting readily useable data that can be integrated into your current farming model.

With the data sorted, now you just have to back yourself and make the decisions. To start the process please contact StevTech.