Roy Wendte, a farmer from Altamont, Ill., remembers the first spreadsheet program, Visicalc, from 1982. His University of Illinois master's thesis at that time focused on crop-production software. He’s built his own spreadsheets ever since then for budgets, crop production and yield analysis. “I don’t know how a producer could track of all of the farm data without spreadsheets’ immense time savings and analysis of 'what if' scenarios,” he says.
The recent drought in half a century was a reminder that market moves in all directions make it prudent to arm your business to ride through any price scenario. Efficient use of data has bullet-proofed Nick Frey’s farm business. "Data make you a better farm manager," says the fifth-generation farmer with WCI Family Farms in Linden, Ind. Frey attributes his knack for using data effectively to his Purdue farm management degree.
The latest findings in Fred Below's 25-year research quest to achieve a consistent 300-bu. corn crop focus on a combo of precision fertility and racehorse hybrids."We also have developed a way to identify these so-called racehorse hybrids that respond to high-yield management," says the University of Illinois plant physiologist. How to move your corn yields towards 300 bu., according to Below.
Nick Constant decided to try foliar micronutrient applications on the family's corn and soybeans five years ago after seeing company field trials near their Williamsville, Ill., farm show that they might pick up a few bushels.
Just as E15 finally cleared federal regulatory hurdles, the confluence of no blender tax credits, high corn prices and widespread drought has put the ethanol market in jeopardy. And questions abound regarding possible government changes to the current Renewable Fuel Standard.
All good things come to an end. To prepare for the eventual end of commodity grain glory days, your best move may be to run the numbers through available decision-making tools and evaluate options to reduce high-rent hangovers.
Not all farm-management decisions can be labeled as low cost and high reward. But Andrew Bowman from Oneida, IL, believes that crop scouting is one practice that can. He has confirmed the economic benefits on his own family farm, and now shares his passion and skill for crop scouting with other area farmers through Bowman Crop Assure LLC.
Market watchers often debate how the commodity markets must "buy" corn or soybean acres in any given year. In fact, price relationships may shift some last-minute acreage plans. But when you take into consideration all that goes into production, yield is the rotation trump card.