We asked farmers which ag practices and ideas paid off for them in 2013. From narrow rows in corn to cover crops to nutrient management, growers sounded off about the new things they tried with success last year.

Bruce Rohwer, Paullina, Iowa

I’ve planted 15-inch-row beans for almost a decade, so I didn’t need much equipment to try 15-inch corn. I added corn meters on the front boxes of the planter and changed my corn head.

It’s been a learning experience. I planted no-till to save as much moisture as possible and that presented a challenge with 15-inch rows. The front trash whippers removed the residue but the rear trash whippers returned it.

The cleared back rows ended up planted into the strip where I had knifed in hog manure.

In a warmer year, the front row plants might have caught up, but 2013 was one of our coolest years to establish a crop, and I ended up with two different germination dates.

I still made normal yields so it wasn’t a disaster. It left me encouraged that 15s will do very well if I iron out the management bugs. I’ll try 15-inch rows again – I’ll plant from 36,000 to 50,000 per acre in 2014 to find the optimal population for 15 inch spacing.