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Ag tag team

CHERYL TEVIS 01/11/2011 @ 3:00pm Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

Their corn and soybeans were nearly in the bin when John Ryan and his sons – Shawn, 43, and Tom, 35 – took time out for a postharvest huddle. The Springfield, Minnesota, farmers reviewed the past crop year and planned ahead for 2011.

Thanks to good weather and adequate storage, the 2009 harvest was timely. “We can store 75% of our production,” John says. “It’s a big asset so we can keep going and eliminate elevator waits. It’s also good for marketing flexibility. Our five-year plan may include more bins.”

He adds, “We can move grain, blend it, and load it into semis in five minutes. We’re talking about adding a third semi.”

Shawn handles machinery and maintenance and is hands-on in day-to-day operations as well as planting and harvesting. Tom is a master agronomy advisor for Winfield Solutions in Brooten, Minnesota. He farms on weekends and applies his expertise to fertilizer, seed, and marketing decisions on the farm.

John’s wife, Pat, is in charge of employee payroll and worker’s compensation. She is a tax assistant at United Farm Credit in Redwood Falls.

They have one full-time employee and another who splits his time between the farm and the hog barns.

One major decision made during their meeting was to resume management of their 700-head farrow-to-wean hog operation. For the past three years, they’ve leased their hog buildings. “Most companies want 2,500 head,” John says. “But I think we’ll be able to get a contract.”

Technology Tops Discussion

Technology was a continuing topic of discussion. “We’re going more technology-driven,” John says. Tom is driving the push to field mapping and fertilizer prescriptions, assisted by Shawn. They’re in the process of upgrading equipment to Ag Leader’s Integra and Edge.

“We’re going for top yield and maximizing production off our acres,” Shawn says. After harvest, he rode his ATV in the fields, marking intakes. “I’m mapping all of them in the computer,” he says.

They’re also pursuing ways to use precision ag for manure application. “We want to tie it into the whole system,” John says. “We’re not quite there.”

Tom is working with NRCS on a comprehensive nutrient management plan.

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