How farmers are reducing inputs without losing yield
As input prices soar, Matt Miles, Kelly Garrett, and Kevin Matthews are making adjustments to their equipment and nutrient programs in order to reduce their input use without sacrificing the quality of their 2022 crop.
MATT MILES - MCGEHEE, ARKANSAS
Matt Miles is a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.
I hope everyone had a great holiday season. We need to all try our best to take a little downtime each year to just get our thoughts together ... being around friends and family is always refreshing for us at Miles Farms.
We’re spending a lot of our time collecting 2021 field data. The shortage of supplies and the increasing costs mean we need to make sure that every one of our inputs has a positive ROI in 2022 or we won’t be using it.
Although we’ll definitely continue to test different products this season, we are being more cautious in 2022. Hopefully, crop prices will continue to rise so we can offset the huge rise in input costs.
At the same time, we’re running all of our equipment through the shop for annual maintenance and repairs before it gets real busy with planting later next month. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has been our motto in the shop this year since soaring costs and lack of availability are making everything a challenge.
One thing is for sure: This year should make everyone better at planning their season.
KELLY GARRETT - ARION, IOWA
A fifth-generation farmer, Kelly Garrett farms corn, soybeans, and winter wheat in western Iowa.
Our chemical program has been switched several times already this year as we’ve struggled to source some of the products we planned to utilize. We finally have our program set now. The components are ordered and making their way into the shop every week. As soon as we find something we plan to use at any point this season, we’re ordering it and getting it into the shop for storage as fast as possible.
We had a load of Ethos insecticide delivered the other day for our double stack corn (corn on corn), and we’re no longer purchasing triple stack with rootworm protection. Our double stack corn will have Ethos since it outperformed the triple-stack option. Ethos was 18 bushels better when it was applied in-furrow. We’re spending less on corn seed and having better yields by applying Ethos.
After talking with Kevin and his experience with fertilizer in the 2×2 on soybeans, we’re going to run some trials this year on our soybeans. We have trials lined up with Nachurs, Agroliquid, and Spraytec. We are excited to see what a 2×2 application on beans will do for us.
So now we’re installing the Closer’s 2×2 system from Integrated Ag Solutions on one of our skip row planters for soybeans. We are also installing Yetter’s 2940 trash wheels on the planter. The wheels have a flatter pitch than the ones we currently have on there. The flatter pitch prevents the wheels from throwing trash residue so far. The old ones would throw the residue so far that they’d end up plugging the skip rows on our 15-inch planter. Our goal is to improve the seed bed and reduce our soybean populations.
KEVIN MATTHEWS - EAST BEND, NORTH CAROLINA
Kevin and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville.
Winter finally arrived, and the snow cover took us out of the field in North Carolina. It’s meeting season and we really enjoy learning from other agricultural professionals. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to attend events in your area as well as outside your area if possible. It’s amazing what you can learn from farmers that work the land in other parts of the country.
XtremeAg will be heading to New Orleans in March to attend the Commodity Classic. We are looking forward to meeting old and new friends.
The high input prices this year have us thinking of every possible way to generate positive ROI on every aspect of the farm. It’s important to look at areas that you may not always think of as being able to add to revenue. For example, one way to equalize the high cost of fertilizer might be to invest in technology that results in more efficient fertilizer banding with the planter. We are installing the SelectShot system on our planter this year to see if we can reduce input costs and fill time in the field. We’ll also use our Y-Drops more for in-season applications as they have proven to cut our expenses in the past and and grow an excellent crop.
The types of fertilizer you buy will make a huge difference as well. For example, we’ve found that using ortho fertilizers from companies like AgroLiquids, Nachurs, and others will deliver on efficiency and cost, and yield when used properly.
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