Conservation is a priority for John Traub, who farms in the Indian Creek Watershed in east central Illinois. He's not afraid to try new strategies, including planting cover crops. But so far, they have not provided the benefits he knows other farmers have seen from the practice. "We struggled with tillage radishes and turnips as cover crops. It was difficult to get them established early enough. Even flying seed in did not work," says the Fairbury, Ill., corn and soybean farmer. "You need early growth. Our season is just too short."
Heather Oden says today’s female generation can benefit from being part of what has been a predominantly male industry. “Today’s production agriculture creates opportunities for women that we did not have before. Sometimes I stand out in a meeting because I am a female. That gives me a platform to educate other farmers about my role on the farm."
Competition from weeds up to 4 inches only minimally affected nutrient acquisition by soybeans, while competition from weeds 8 inches or taller negatively affected acquisition. Soybean yields and grain oil content were reduced.
Kyle Brase has been double-cropping soybeans after wheat as long as he has been farming. The fifth-generation grower from Edwardsville, Ill., says it can be more profitable than growing corn. Dramatically lower commodity prices give the planting rotation better return potential than just planting corn or single-crop soybeans.
Grant Noland encourages farmers to always add a personal touch when communicating with their landlords. “What you are doing on the farm is information they want and need, but they also want a look inside how your family operates and what makes your family tick. A little trivia can generate a buzz and attract new opportunities.”
It’s not at all clear how farmers would react if food companies are mandated to label their foods’ biotech status. Nor is it clear how food companies might change their product/marketing efforts beyond label wording.
Soybean yield contest winners spill secrets about what they do to garner record yields, including: variety selection, good start to the cropping season, fertility (including micronutrients) and scouting.
Aaron Lee has a simple, 1-page form he checks at least weekly for a quick glance of his farm's financial situation. The Salem, Ind., fifth-generation corn and soybean farmer at Cornerstone Family Farms, says the "financial dashboard" keeps the farm on track, especially in today's tightening margin environment.
Terry Aukes knows his soybean seed. He evaluates soybean seed both personally as a farmer and professionally as seed department manager at Farmers Elevator Cooperative, in Larchwood, Iowa. “Match your choices to your toughest areas, and extract what you can in yield," he says. "There is so much germplasm available to consider, and your choice should help you maximize each field's return on investment. There is so much yield variability, even among similar maturities.”
Marion Calmer has done independent, on-farm research for nearly 30 years. With more than 300 research plots on his farm, the Alpha, Ill., corn and soybean farmer has tested – and continues to test – practices to break through his soybean-yield barrier. Five have risen to the top. “You can't improve on things you don't measure,” he says.
It came as no surprise to Tim Mundorf last fall that many post-harvest corn stalk test samples contained high levels of nitrogen (N). The field representative for Midwest Laboratories in Omaha, Neb., says dry weather and poor yields are reminders of how much N can go unused by corn plants in a drought. The lesson to be learned is that you should test under all conditions as part of a long-term, successful N management plan.
A fresh look at preplant soybean management strategies may offer more yield potential. The top two student teams in last year's Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) yield challenge harvested a few more bushels by stressing root health and amending the soil.
Global changes in 2050 may come more quickly and urgently and expand exponentially. That's the assessment of Scott Aughenbaugh, fellow, Seven Revolutions Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C. Agriculture could play a pivotal role within what he calls the seven drivers of change, he says.
If you’ve gotten into the habit of using foliar fungicides in corn simply to boost plant health and yields, you may want to reconsider. Research by Midwest university crop specialists confirms disease risk conditions should be the overriding reason to evaluate the costs and benefits associated with any corn fungicide applications.