This grid map shows the application rates for the Koepke farm, which in many areas are zero.

It takes many steps to find the right rate

Galen Koepke farms in Ottawa County on the banks of the Portage River just a few miles from Lake Erie.

A television crew was at Koepke’s farm within a few hours after the news broke after the Toledo water crisis in 2014. Since then, all agriculture in the watershed has been the subject of great water quality scrutiny, but Koepke is under a microscope.

In many ways, though, Koepke welcomes the attention because he knows he is doing things right according to the 4Rs with his farming practices. This has not always been easy, however, particularly for one 34-acre field that borders the Portage River. For many years, he had farmed and carefully managed the 20-acre field and then around 20 years ago he purchased a neighboring 14-acre field and combined them.

“On that 14 acres they had two large layer operations with a total of around 100,000 chickens and they had spread all the manure on that field for many years. When we bought it and soil tested, we found that the phosphorus was off the charts. It is a relatively sandy soil and it is prone to flooding,” Koepke said. “I think there is probably enough phosphorus on that field to finish out my farming career. We double-checked to make sure that there was no mistake made.”

Doug Uher is the seed and precision specialist for Luckey Farmers, Inc. Cooperative who works with Koepke on the challenging field.

“I pulled a soil sample that I think was 1,200 pounds of phosphorus. I told Galen that I didn’t think this was correct, as this was one of the first years we were doing grid soil sampling. When the next results

Doug Uher and Galen Koepke stand on Koepke’s farm near the Portage River.
Doug Uher and Galen Koepke stand on Koepke’s farm near the Portage River.

came back, we found samples higher than 1,200 — it turns out that 1,200 was the average on the 34-acre field. There was only one spot on the east edge of the field that actually needed phosphorus. I told him he wouldn’t need to apply phosphorus for the rest of his life,” Uher said. “Because this field is located right by a river, it is more of a risk environmentally. We haven’t applied P in 16 years on most of that field.”

The systematic sampling was a crucial part of coming up with a prescription for the right rate in the portion of that field with a legacy of poultry manure — zero. Koepke very clearly understands the value of the right rate in terms of the environment and water quality, but he also understands the economic benefits.

“There are a lot of different soil types from black sandy loam to heavy clay in that field. On the part that we owned before, the soil tests are still calling for phosphorus applications, which makes the variable rate applications really shine,” Koepke said. “With the soil testing we try to do each field every third year and we use prescriptive maps with Luckey Farmers. They do the samples and then I meet with my agronomist and we plan the application accordingly. When we dropped it to 0 P it didn’t change the yields any and it saves money.”

Along with using the right rate, Koepke has implemented numerous conservation practices farm-wide to minimize the environmental impact of his farm. He has a corn-soybean-wheat rotation in many of his predominantly no-till fields, but wheat does not work well in the river bottom fields because of flooding problems. He has also dramatically expanded the use of cover crops in recent years.

The Portage River borders some of Koepke’s farm just a few miles from Lake Erie.
The Portage River borders some of Koepke’s farm just a few miles from Lake Erie.

“I plant soybeans into cereal rye and in my wheat ground I have been using a mixture of oats and tillage radish,” he said. “We can’t plant wheat in our river bottom ground because of the flooding so we aerial seeded oats into the corn this year. We have been using cover crops there for three or four years now. This year I will have a cover crop on all of my acres.”

His work with the Luckey Farmers has allowed him to take his environmental emphasis to the next level.

“As individual farmers we can’t afford the right equipment for the job that Luckey Farmers has,” he said. “I have a vested interest in protecting the environment here. I get my drinking water from the lake too and this helps me to do a better job.”

Luckey Farmers starts the process of developing the right rate of fertilizer long before the actual application with soil sampling. Though there are multiple ways to strategically and consistently take soil samples, each with pros and cons, Luckey Farmers has stuck with sampling on 2.5-acre grids.

“We do 2.5-acre grids but we work with a consulting firm that does it on yield zones. That can be a chicken or the egg thing. Did that part of the field yield 120 bushels because it was fertilized for 120 bushels or because that’s the maximum yield potential for the soil type? We want to come up with the right rate based on numerous factors. When we grid sample now we fertilize based on what is there not what may be there in yield, so I am still a grid guy. In my opinion that is the way to go,” Uher said. “If you base it on soil types, they usually won’t match your yield map because yields can vary over the same soil type. In fields where yields match the soil types then zone sampling works, but that does not happen often. I think in the future it may be a combination of all three things: fertility, yield and soil types. I do

The auto-probe is mounted on an ATV and it is operated by push button.
The auto-probe is mounted on an ATV and it is operated by push button.

know the days of the right rate of 400 pounds of 4-10-46 are not here anymore. Why would a farmer want to over fertilize? We want farmers to make money so we want to put the right rate down.”

Within the grid sampling system, the next step is getting consistent and accurate soil samples.

“This last year we purchased two auto-probes that are pre-determined on soil sampling depth. It is all I-pad based and it geo-references where you pull it. You take a picture of the barcode on the bag holding the sample and that is then geo-referenced. That takes out any room for paperwork error. The traceability and accuracy of the soil samples is a really tight window now. Part of the issue we used to get when we sent an intern out to get soil samples is when it hasn’t rained for three months you can get inaccurate results because the soil was hard. This is much more accurate and repeatable,” Uher said. “That is new this year. We try to do it about the same date every year for each field. We either sample right after wheat or in the fall. We don’t like to sample in the spring. In the spring you can find different levels so that is our last resort for taking soil samples. We target anything going to corn in the fall.”

After developing the sampling plan with the farmer, the samples must be carefully collected and handled.

“The guy pulling the soil sample gets a text describing the job and he’ll go out to the field. The auto-probe is mounted on an ATV and it is operated by push button. Everything is on an I-pad and it really takes out the human error component. On a general soil sample the sampler finds random samples. On the grid, the spots are pre-determined where the probes need to be. We go back and sample the same spots where we sampled before to get a handle on what is happening over time. If it is in a bad location — headland or in a low area or swale — it can be moved. They also need to stay off the rows where fertilizer applications may have been made,” Uher said. “We work with A&L Great Lakes labs in Ft. Wayne. With our new software the results go from the lab to the software company that puts it in and I get an email that says it is ready for precision. It is all automated. Then I go in and put in the crop, yield goals and type of fertilizer used and it tells me a prescription for the field.”

Each of those factors is also important for determining the right rate, particularly the yield.

“You need realistic yields to get the right rate. Many guys have yield goals that are two low for today’s genetics, but I also have guys tell me they want 240 bushels every year,” Uher said. “We are working to do a better job of overlaying fertility with yields. We don’t want a rate for 200-bushel corn in a part of the field that yielded 120 bushels. Yield data is going to be a bigger part of the right rate in the future.”

Uher’s plans for the application include details like the location of the field entrance and numerous types of environmentally sensitive areas. Once an accurate and realistic rate prescription has been developed, it must then be properly applied.

“We create a file that can be uploaded to the application machine. We put it on a flash drive so the applicator will know to apply it like we have it drawn up. We develop the right rate based on our computer model and we make the application based on that,” Uher said. “The applicator then provides an ‘as applied’ map to show exactly how he drove to match everything up. It is a 70-foot boom so I match up with application grids as closely as we can. We are getting a lot better with automation. Now we are starting to do all of it wirelessly.”

In addition, the equipment must all be accurately calibrated to get the right rate on the field.

“We calibrate all of our equipment twice a year and every load that goes out we are spot-checking to seeing if it’s right,” he said. “If we know we are supposed to put on 1,000 pounds and we are 20 pounds off we’ll be able to tell.”

The technology is evolving and improving quickly but keeping up with the changes can be a challenge.

“A lot of the software we use is not based on agriculture and we have to adapt everything,” Uher said. “We have to find what works and what doesn’t and it can be a learning process.”

The end result of this long process, though, is a very valuable right rate.

“In most instances one of two things will happen when guys start with grid soil sampling and variable rate application — his yields with either go up or his fertilizer application will go down,” Uher said. “There is a misconception that when guys get more precision they put less fertilizer on, but that is not always the case. In some cases the grid soil sampling leads to recommendations for fertility that are actually higher and they see a nice yield bump. In the end it has to be profitable for the farmer for it to work.”

This ongoing evolution at Luckey Farmers fits right in with their certification through the 4R Nutrient Steward Certification Program.

“We have always tried to do the right thing but now we have it in black and white. Now we have a standard where we are held accountable to make sure we are doing the right thing,” Uher said. “The certification process really helped us with traceability and it forced us to do a better job with the paperwork. Before if we were asked ‘Do you have a soil sample from four years ago?’ ‘Well yes. But where’s it at?’ We have done a good job of keeping track of what phosphorus levels have done in the fields, for example, and if we see an outlier we know something isn’t right. This certification makes us keep track of things better and helps us to do a better job for our customers.”

The right rate component of the 4Rs is crucial for farm profitability and environmental stewardship, but finding it depends on a long chain of the right people and the right equipment used in the right way, Uher said.

“Did we sample right? Was the equipment calibrated right?  There are a lot of moving parts with the right rate from getting the right soil sample to getting the fertilizer applied.”

For more, visit


Check Also

Pastures for Profit series starts in January

This year between January and March in 2021, the Pastures for Profit curriculum will be …


  1. Your article is great and rewarding

  2. I read a lot of stuff and I found that the way of writing to clarifying that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and like to come again in the future .

  3. Great Work your articles really amazing helpful for all of us, feel free to check my site for amazing health tips.

  4. Hulu Login is your key to access the US’s most preferred streaming service. Because of incredible and unmatched TV shows, videos and movies, the streaming service portal is engaging more and more people in it. If you too wish to enroll for this service, Start the process of Hulu Login in the following manner.

  5. Hey….
    I’m Ruby I Read Your Blog This Is a Amazing
    Artical.i’ts a Very Helpful Artical Thanks
    For Posting This Artical.

  6. Keep all the maps and software in your Garmin device updated with Garmin Express Update. We can transfer all needful essentials to other Garmin device. Garmin software update keeps checking the latest available updates for maps and software. Get Garmin life time map update or call +1-888-309-0939 for instant help from Garmin GPS experts.

  7. Dear author, you have shared very informative information with us through your article. this information is very useful for me and you are doing amazing work keep it up. I want also to share something with you. Thank you so much for sharing this and I wish you all the best for the upcoming article.

  8. Great Information sharing .. I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us Amazing info. Fantastic post. I appreciate this post.

  9. McAfee Internet Security Software right now has an extra component for insurance. The component is a piece of the McAfee Total Protection 2020 item, and it attempts to shield information on gadgets from unapproved Get to

  10. Global Volute Pumps Market is projected to witness growth at robust CAGR during 2018-2023 owing to its applications where large quantities of water flow is handled and is most suitable for sea water application. Based on type, the market has been segmented into Metallic Pumps and Concrete Pumps.

  11. This is a very informative post & helpful for all of us, feel free to check my site for healthcare tips.

  12. At first, launch a web browser and navigate to In there, click the Sign-in option and then click Create account. After that, you have to fill in details like your name, email address, and create a strong password for your account. Then, choose a PIN for Roku channel authorization. Moreover, select your mode of payment. It can be either the Paypal method of the Credit card method. Once after completing this, you can click the Continue option. And thus, you have finished creating your roku tv account.

    You can contact our professional expert squad by dialing the toll-free number +1-844-839-1180 to get to know more detailed info about Roku Account Setup.

  13. Great site!

  14. You can create a good video about steps to find the right rate. I think it would be more clearly in video. Now it popular to post such video on tiktok. If you don’t have friends on tiktok, you can buy tiktok likes here. But if you have the great video, you don’t need to buy likes.

  15. AOL offers a range of integrated products and properties including communication tools, services and subscription packages. offcial site is official website of AOL, here you will find solutions for your all types of AOL products.

  16. Microsoft Office or simply Office ( is an exceptionally effective and efficient suite of Software Applications. This Software Suite offers a well-integrated fleet of various Productivity Tools. These cutting-edge tools are designed specifically for automating the time-consuming, labour-intensive manual office work. It extends a wide range of purpose-specific tools like Word,OneNote, Excell, Outlook, Powerpoint, etc.

  17. I am very confused about my account. Why is this error taking place? I don’t have ideas about the roadrunner webmail login problem, hence I seek for expert’s guidance.

  18. This lightning-fast, dependable and fully secure web-based communication solution is extremely versatile, efficient and user-friendly. Earlier it was a part of Time Warner Cable’s Internet Service. However, now, Spectrum Services offer access to Roadrunner Login Account. In other words, you need a Spectrum User Account for creating and using a Roadrunner Login Account.

  19. MyNetgear account is an ultimate portal for managing all your Netgear products. Using this single account, you can access all your Netgear Apps, for instance, Meural, Orbi, Nighthawk, and Netgear Insight. Along with this, you can perform multiple other functions from this single platform.

  20. You can speed up your games without sacrificing security and performance. It allows you to enhance your gaming experience by blocking popups and other annoying interruptions.

  21. office setup has consistently been over the product business that has cleared its way through to the Hardware business as well. Microsoft is currently ready to make gadgets that can really incorporate the product they are making despite the fact that they never wanted to do as such however have effectively had the option to do it for the convivence of their clients. Microsoft isn’t simply shaking the Productivity advertise but at the same time is giving its hand a shot other programming classifications as well.

  22. Roadrunner Email, also known as Spectrum email, is a no-cost email service that has gained immense popularity in recent years. In past years, Time Warner Cable, an internet service provider, has offered this service to millions of users around the globe. But later, Spectrum of Charter Communication has overtaken the service.

  23. SBCGlobal is an eminent emailing server provider in America. This service came up from the merger of Yahoo and ATT but now it is fully owned, controlled, and run by ATT itself. This emailing platform holds a prominent place in the user’s personal as well as professional life since the time it came into existence. Now, this email service has discontinued.

  24. The world keeps on changing fast and so do the roads. Every single day, a new road, bridge, or underpass gets built. This generates the need of knowing the exact route so as to enjoy a smooth and hassle-free driving experience. Considering this, Navman provides profound GPS devices that are built with splendid technology and features.

  25. Mcafee is an antivirus that provides protection to your device from various online threats. Mcafee’s account login will help you to use various features. You first have to start with the Mcafee login process for getting access to all the information regarding your Mcafee account. The login is simple as well as an easy process.

  26. To set up your Roku device, you will need a wireless or wired internet connection at your place. To enter Roku link code, you will have to use the smartphone or computer through hence to receive and locate the Roku Activation code,you will have to perform the set of operations.

  27. To get the printout, you need to dothe first time HP OfficeJet 5255 setup to connect it to your device over the WiFi network. The HP OfficeJet 5255 is an all-in-one printer that supports mobile printing technology.

  28. Follow steps to get back HP DeskJet 3830 hard reset. The most effective method to fix hp 3830 disconnected … Keep the printer off for a few couple of moments to reboot appropriately to fix bugs.

  29. Garmin Support Center is the place you will discover answers to as often as possible posed inquiries and assets to help with the entirety of your Garmin items. Garmin express iPhone

  30. In today’s competitive world it is very important to acquire new skills in the right way. Similarly, Salesforce is a booming technology & very hot job creator as well. Thus, it becomes very essential for aspirants to learn salesforce the best way possible in order to perform effectively.

    AlmaMate is a leading Salesforce training institute with more than 10- year experience in Training & we have been dedicatedly working on Salesforce training for the last 9 years. We are considered as the best Salesforce training institute in the market with more than 20000 professionals trained over the years.

  31. For a long time, payment services have been playing their role, services are one of the boons from the technology when it comes to conveying the money, Cash App Login and any kind of messages, either it is official or personal, in all sectors can be sent or received through it. The importance of transaction apps is in every domain. Login into Cash App, have simple steps to go with. Connect with the experts.

  32., go to the play store and search this app. Once you find it click on the download button and afterward install it. In case if you are facing any of the problems, connect with the experts to ask the query related to the, and they will be up to you in a few minutes.

  33. The way that Salesforce jobs so regularly get yell outs like these is characteristic of the astonishing open door they present, and plainly, Salesforce advancement particularly is a solid decision at this moment. We should investigate a portion of the reasons why Salesforce Developer is such an incredible profession choice.
    Admin | Developer | Lightning
    ✅ Learn Live From Experts
    ✅ Projects
    ✅ Certification Assistance
    ✅ Full-time Access to E-learning Content | WhatsApp: 9315269123

  34. Remember, though, to do your research and figure out which domain names are in demand. Thanks

  35. It’s very easy to search out out any matter on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this best article at this site. This is an incredible article. I am pretty much pleased with your work. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  36. Are you feeling any kind of difficulty in the Arlo pro login? Connect with the team of experts, and technicians, who are available round the clock, For your assistance. We, assure you to provide the best answer, with guaranteed solution, so why too late, connect with us now, call us on the toll-free number, to ask about Arlo Netgear login.

  37. Aol app for windows 10, can be directly going on the web browser and then search for it then, install it in any of the versions of the windows. Aol mail app for android is for all kinds of smartphones, so it can be downloaded from the play store, then get downloaded.

  38. I visit everyday some web pages and sites to read articles, but this blog gives feature based content.

  39. Thanks I really found this website eventually. Really informative and inoperative, Thanks for the post and effort! Please keep sharing more such blog.

  40. Grab the latest TomTom Map update for free? GPS Contact Number, is one of the leading name in the industry of map updates and services. Just free to dial our 24*7 toll-free numbers to get more information.

  41. Really informative and inoperative, Thanks for the post and effort! Please keep sharing more such blog. Visit Us:-

  42. This is very Amazing and Very Informative blog we get a lot of information from this blog we really appreciate your team work keep it up and keep posting such an informative blog. Know about Garmin Express Update.

  43. Thanks for the post and effort! Please keep sharing more such blog. Visit Us:-

  44. Wow What A Nice And Great Article, Thank You So Much for Giving Us Such a Nice & Helpful Information, please keep writing and publishing these types of helpful articles

  45. Arlo app for Pc from the play store of your device, once, it will get downloaded then the process of installation will will take a few minutes. After, doing this you will be in a different universe of best features. Download the Arlo app the best home security cameras are coming under the group of Arlo. they have so many advanced qualities, that has admired by most of the people all over the globe. The camera is 100% wireless.

  46. I am a technically proficient professional, having several years of extensive technical experience and expertise of solving different types of technical problems related to Garmin device. If you do not want a paid map update and need a free update, Garmin has added you here.

  47. Your blog is awesome and incredible all information is very informative i love the way you have describe it thank you and keep doing good work.

  48. This error is usually known as a correspondence error while clients are chipping away at the Epson printer.
    Our expert colleague has disclosed strides to fix Epson Printer Error Code W-61 with proper steps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *