Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Tale Of Two Farms

My friend Darrell Smith at Farm Journal came up with a really interesting article this month.  I found it on Crop Talk one morning and thought it would make a great discussion piece.  All the production articles I've written talk about improving farms like the two in the example.

Darrell has been to our place and I've been on some of Ken Ferrie's farms he consults with.  I found a farm with the most beautiful soil you can imagine with black Flanigan Drummer soils.  It has a 199 bushel APH but the last time it hit that yield level was seven years ago.  Last year it averaged 45 bushels.  It's been a steady decline in yield ever since the last good yield.

The soil test readings make mine look sick, yet my yields are higher.  It shouldn't be that way.  So I took some spadefuls of soil home and did the Solvita test.  The soil was at the bottom of the chart, biologically dead.

That doesn't explain all the differences between Farm A and Farm B but it explains some of it.  I've not found many soils that wouldn't benefit from cover crops or a more diversified rotation.  Corn-soybean rotations are killing beautiful Midwest soils.  Add glyphosate and GMO to that mix and you find the prematurely dying crops I talk about.

With the soil test results I saw the first thing I would do is spread gypsum, plant a cover crop like cereal rye and no-till soybeans into most of it for two years.  Farmers are wanting to grow less corn now anyway because of the economic situation, so now would be a great time.  My best rotation is C-C-S-S-W to double crop beans or a longer season cover crop.  That alone has added 20-50 bushel corn yields to the farms I've worked with.

These ideas really work and are really catching on.  Though we may be talking only 10% if the farms because only the best farm managers know something is wrong, it's progress.  Again I ask my favorite question to you.

As you are combining this fall, what would be the best thing you could do to your farm or your soil to increase productivity and economic yields?

The answers are here, now how do we get them applied?

Ed Winkle


  1. Over the years I have found that even though all the numbers line up on the soil analysis like many think they should.
    The farmer has declining yields and the soils become less aerobic annually.
    so more of everything is recommended
    by most all the experts.
    more row. More seed treatments. Add a few apps of Foliar just to be sure ?
    more fungicide. Maybe three applications now ? More side dress.
    more NH3. Just MORE

    From my observations. And from visiting with these farmers.
    They were practicing an aggressive
    Yield program utilizing liquid row.
    Liquid planter fertilizer and nh3 and or liquid nitrogen fertilization.
    Eventually, maybe not in your life time.
    But eventually this will slowley catch up with you and you will realize that you have been on a high roller, High tech program to demise.
    In my opinion.
    Flush with yield robbing insects and plant diseases.
    That bring costley and time consuming treatments.
    Band aid treatments.

  2. Will Farmers profit ? $'s be in the farmers
    Pocket this winter.
    Many farmers harvesting and marketing their Corn crop this fall are wondering just that.
    Yes, they have already wrote the check's
    For their High tech, latest and best seed. As Ed continues to point out so well.
    They may have writen the check to fit the planter with all the bells and whistles like their farm magazine artical claimed they had to so they can spend 20 to 60 $ an acre for the yield & profit robbing row and pop up programs they were told. They just had to have.
    Some could never afford to tile or lime ?
    Heck. Why fret. Just 2 or 3 apps of foliar will do fine for you.
    Just buy it and write us the check.
    Now those $ are gone elsware
    This will be a long fall for many.
    And many are asking the question.
    What do I do for the 2014 season.
    This is a wake up call. I and Ed will both assure you.

    for the rest of the story.

    And at the same time there are some in most every state reporting record yields and record profits for themselves.
    Start with seed. How many $ acre does Eds method save ? Its a start.
    My clients have -0- expense in starter attachments nor liquid handling equipment. Look around. Add it up ?
    We also have no side dress expense. No insecticide or fungicide expens.
    Thats all $ s still in the ( farmers )
    Checking account.
    Look back. Look Hard.
    Where do you want your sales proceeds
    In Your pocket ?
    Or the dozens of sales guys dropping
    By all year long.
    Ask your spouse ?
    Where she wants those hard
    Earned $ in December
    louAnn wants them in Eds
    Farm account. I assure you.


  3. Thanks John for two of the best comments ever made on HyMark High Spots. LuAnn encouraged me to start this blog five years ago when I didn't even know what a blog was!

    It has become my invaluable daily inventory of what I am thinking, learning and sharing. You have added greatly to that, John, since we met a few years ago.

    You continue to show me the simplicity of raising profitable crops with lime and fertilizer. Band aids will always be band aids and a strong fertility program will never fail me. It sure didn't this year, the extra moisture kicked it into gear!

    Since I learned to love my dad and grandpa as a child, I always wanted to leave this earth a better place. With the great people God has sent me like you, I can see it in my later years of life.

    I encourage everyone to read these words written here throughout this winter and really ponder, what should I be doing on my farm?

    There are so many great points written here, I can't begin to talk about them but a good soil test followed by a tissue test and ACTION by the farmer with BASIC nutrients in good quantity is a great start.

    It is working for me.

    Ed Winkle

  4. I hope this is a Live Link.
    sorry about that Ed