Learn more about SWAT Maps: https://www.swatmaps.com/
Fieldwalker Agronomy: https://fieldwalker.ca/
Jonathan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZRAgri
Today’s episode is all about precision agriculture, so if you’re into agronomy and variable rate technology, or what our guest would prefer to call optimal rate technology, you’re in for a real treat. If these terms are new to you, at a basic level we are talking about technology that is being used to understand the variability of a field so that the precise (hence the name precision) amounts of a given seed, fertilizer, or other input can be applied in a way that maximizes the crop response, and of course, overall profitability. Plants don’t grow by the acre, they grow on an individual basis and may respond differently based on site-specific factors. For more on precision ag, find these previous FoA episodes: 256, 244, 243, 218, 211, 200, 196, 179, 175, 108, 25.
Today’s episode is part of a series I’m doing called the Tech-Enabled Advisor. These are episodes I’m releasing once per month with the intention of better understanding agtech through the lense of the buyers and users rather than just the entrepreneurs or investors. We’ve done four of these so far: 255, 259, 264, and 269, and from what I’ve been hearing the reception has been excellent.
Joining me on today’s episode to talk about precision ag is Jonathan Zettler, who is an agronomist and the founder of Fieldwalker Agronomy Limited, a private crop consultancy in Minto, Ontario. After 17 seasons in ag retail, Jonathan launched the company to provide “profitable, actionable advice” to farmer customers.
To make sure we hear from different types of guests on this Tech-Enabled Advisor series, I’ve asked various agtech companies to partner with me on these episodes. For today’s episode, I’m fortunate to be partnering with Croptmistic Technology, the creators of SWAT Maps. Some of you may remember Croptimistic from my interview with company president Cory Willness last year in episode 211, or the separate podcast I do in partnership with them called SWAT Agronomy. Jonathan at FieldWalker was the first provider to test and start offering SWAT Maps in Eastern Canada.
For a brief refresher on SWAT Maps, SWAT stands for soil, water, and topography. These maps are high resolution soil foundation maps used to execute variable rate fertilizer, seed, soil amendment, herbicide, and precision water management. Instead of just using imagery of vegetation, also known as NDVI imagery, SWAT Maps takes an integrated soil-based approach that starts with RTK or LIDAR elevation, soil color sensors, and electrical conductivity. Then they use that data to build more useful layers: topography models, water flow paths, normalized EC layers, and soil organic matter. With a patented process and proprietary software tools, layers are modeled into a single encompassing map that depicts soil properties, water influences, and topography of the field. Croptimistic Technology is the company that created SWAT Maps and they partner with companies like Jonathan’s to implement the technology and combine it with local agronomic advice. Learn more about them at SWATMaps.com.
In today’s episode, Jonathan and I discuss the evolution of precision agriculture adoption in his area of Ontario. How he is building his agronomy business using SWAT Maps as part of his foundation. His agronomy tech stack, what tool he still would like to see created, and why tech will never fully replace the agronomist. Oh, and why he prefers the term “optimal rate” over the term “variable rate”.