During the recent Nutrient Master Classes in Nebraska and Iowa, sponsored by Wolf Trax and Corn+Soybean Digest, two passionate soil and agronomy researchers wowed the crowds with their prescriptions for achieving 300-bushel corn.
Tom McGraw, a soil guru who built Midwest Independent Soil Samplers into the largest soil sampling company in North America, was a pioneer in precision ag mapping. In his talk entitled “300-bushel corn,” he outlined his keys to hit this high yield mark:
· Be willing to change and improve.
· Make an investment in time and information.
· Profitable high yields depends on input prices, marketing skills, leverage, risk management and more.
· Water management is number one – drainage, irrigation.
· Stop compaction that robs yields – vertical tillage.
· Build soil health – OM, earthworms, cover crops, erosion control, manure.
· Geo-referenced zone soil sampling – electrical conductivity maps.
· Reduce crop stress with variable-rate irrigation.
· Create management productivity zones with independent yield goals.
· Vary seeding and nitrogen rates – electrical conductivity maps.
· Use biotech traits to reduce crop stress.
· Develop a nitrogen action plan for every field.
· Apply P & K as needed.
· Layer data for information analysis.
· Aggressive scouting for insects, diseases.
· Zinc and sulfur are important micronutrients.
· Residue management.
McGraw concluded his presentation by emphasizing the importance of the 4R nutrient stewardship (Right source, Right rate, Right time, Right place) and encouraged growers to always apply best management practices to achieve top yields.
To learn more, view his presentation (large pdf).