"We've found you can use most herbicides with fall seeded cereal rye with very few problems, but when you get into annual ryegrass, legumes or forage radishes, you start seeing more limitations."
-- Bill Curran, weed scientist, Penn State University
Herbicide application accuracy and efficacy is easy. All you have to do is follow the rules of right tip, right pressure, right speed, right rate and right application conditions. Fail on any one rule and you may face a costly re-spray or even lose control for the season.
West-central Wisconsin farmer Carl Oberholtzer has made no-till work. It's been a learning experience that has helped him maintain soil organic matter, with hopes of growing it as he incorporates cover crops.
New biological products for the soil have entered the market at an unprecedented rate. However, product claims are now running into input budget reality. How does a farmer justify these new products with low crop prices?
In 2015, Chad Hornsby planted about 300 acres to soybeans with the now off-patent Roundup Ready trait, known as RR1. "I can use the money I save on seed to help fight pigweed," says Hornsby, who could have saved seed and replanted it this spring, but didn't. "I'll buy new certified seed again this year."
The decision to let land go or hold off on a needed purchase is never easy, but a clear view of the bottom line and everything that gets you there can help. Using risk-management, profitability and planning software tool GrainBridge, a Missouri farm has improved its overall business view.
"I think we've gotten away from IPM," says Iowa farmer Blake Crawford. "For my customers, integrated traits in hybrids are the No. 1 option as they are easy to use and affordable versus scouting and using IPM, and give good control of most problem pests."
Conventional (non-GMO) seed planting is on the rise, even as grain price premiums fade away. Tight margins and profit-making opportunities are driving the trend. Scott Apple started his transition to conventional corn when commodity prices were still at an all-time high, and he didn't do it to capture premiums.
Marty Derks is on a mission to maximize corn and soybean yields in a harsh climate. Twin-row planting combined with precise seed placement are enabling higher planting rates in corn and lower rates in soybeans.
With the installation of an 18-acre pond in mid-December 2014, eastern Iowa grower Jim Sladek married the pattern drainage and irrigation. By April 1, the pond was full, ready and waiting for use by center pivots. Ninety-five percent of its water came from drain tile.
Tying conservation practices to federal crop insurance rules and rates requires turning field experience into public policy, and that requires data. AGree, a collaborative effort founded and funded by nine of the world's leading foundations committed to food and agriculture, is attempting to make that connection.
Like any high-stakes card game, knowing when to hold or fold is vital to your farm business. That is especially true today for land leases – with input costs holding, crop prices folding and operators dangling from record high rents.