Two cloud-based nutrient management and variable-rate seeding prescription development services introduced in 2012 hint at a future where sophisticated farm-specific decision aids will be a mouse click away.

United Soils Inc. (unitedsoilsinc.com) designed i-F.A.R.M. to bring sophisticated crop nutrient management tools to any Internet-connected computer. The open-platform program’s tools allow the importation of soil test data from any soil test laboratory, and yield data from major yield monitor brands. Web-based tools then manipulate data to develop downloadable fertilizer prescriptions based on soil fertility, nutrient removal from the previous crop, yield goals, fertilizer prices and other management factors. The i-F.A.R.M. program is available through participating fertilizer dealers, often as part of a service package, or by direct subscription for $400 to $600 annually, plus a per-acre controller file creation fee.

The R7 Tool from Winfield Solutions (winfield.com), the seed and crop protection products arm of Land O’Lakes, harnesses the power of industrial-strength computers and software to bring a Web-based precision planning tool to the farm. The tool, which was rolled out to Winfield retailers in the fall of 2011, allows farmers without extensive yield and grid soil sampling records to get a start in variable-rate seeding and fertility. It crunches data harvested from multiple years of satellite images to identify management zones, assist in building variable-rate seeding and fertilizer prescriptions, and identify top genetics. The R7 Tool is available from Winfield Solutions retailers.