The National Farm Machinery Show turned 50 years old this year, and it continues to attract more than 300,000 farmers from across the nation and beyond. I spent some time at the show during the first two days, dodging and weaving in the crowded aisles over 27 acres of exhibits. Here is my first installment of items I found interesting.
Oh, the aroma of fresh-tilled soil. You know what I’m talking about — that amazing and wonderful odor given off as steel slices and turns dark that golden carpet of crop residue. That wonderful scent soured given what I saw on a Minnesota field this fall. Dark fields with little to no corn residue.
All that harvest windshield time you are logging is also valuable think time — especially given how commodity price changes have impacted your business plan. In this issue, we provide some nuggets to ponder while those long harvest hours grind away, safely we all hope.
Reports of more severe waterhemp infestation in Midwest soybean acres continue to roll in as we head into harvest, and that means more herbicide-tolerant weed seed going into the ground to cause larger future problems.
Matt Roberts, associate professor at Ohio State University, talks about marketing strategies for lower-priced corn. He says corn producers are going to have to be very tactical, as he doesn’t see the high corn prices coming back any time soon. Growers should focus on HTAs and maximize on-farm storage, he says.
Agriculture is becoming more and more distant, said David Kohl, professor emeritus, Virginia Tech University, when he spoke with CSD Editor Kurt Lawton at the Wyffels Hybrids Corn Strategies Conference at Wild Rose Farm, Inc., near Galesburg, Ill. “Anyone involved in the ag industry has to be an advocate; not only to other producers, but to the non-farm public,” he says.
David Kohl spoke with CSD Editor Kurt Lawton about the farmer as a CEO, noting that profitable businesses have good people. From allocating profits to working capital and cost of production, as well as lender relationships, Kohl says that being proactive and having the right people around you is going to be critical for success.
David Kohl, professor emeritus, Virginia Tech University, spoke that the Wyffels Hybrids Corn Strategies Conference at Wild Rose Farm, Inc., near Galesburg, Ill. Kohl stressed the importance of grain and livestock farmers knowing their cost of production in order to be successful.
Matt Roberts, associate professor at Ohio State University, spoke at the Wyffels Hybrids Corn Strategies conference in mid-July at the Wild Rose Farm near Galesburg, Ill. Here he talks about the uncertainty of the corn market and prices, adding that there is more uncertainty due to the possibility of corn being added back to livestock rations because of lower corn prices.
More than 50% of surveyed farmers want their local retailers to provide help to monitor soil health and changes related to cover crops. And, farmers also said they want their retailers to help them adjust their nutrient management plan to factor in the use of cover crops.
Difficult to control weeds – whether due to herbicide resistance or cut rates or too tall weed height/maturity or all of the above – must be taken very seriously and moved to the top of your agronomy to-do list for 2014.
Under comparable management, with and without cover crops, more than 500 farmers reported a yield gain of approximately 5% in 2013 after using cover crops. And this follows an average 10% yield hike among surveyed farmers in 2012 during drought conditions.
For more than 30 years I’ve been privileged to visit with hundreds if not a thousand farmers, and I’ve often marveled at their continued ingenuity – despite the computerization of everything. Many don’t fear change, they embrace it, and try to make it better in many cases.
With the continued rise of polarizing topics in this great country, research data clearly shows that skepticism about today’s food system continues to grow. The anti-GMO, factory farm activists have become adept at spreading their version of farming. Fortunately, groups like CommonGround are slowly beginning to calm the rhetoric, without using the fear, bad science and vitriol that these activists deploy.