Steve Yoch, Agronomy Sales, Plainview
firstname.lastname@example.org (507) 951-8251
“Why should we be satisfied with a 150-175 bushel average yield on corn or a 45-55 bushel average on soybeans?” This is what I wrote for the opening paragraph in the “What is Under Our Boots” 2004 newsletter article. I thought we should revisit what has changed in the past 13 years. Obviously the yield, but why?
Increased yield from our newer genetics are a big part of the increase, but not all of it. Improved tillage equipment and our recognition of the importance of proper seed placement using planters with more precise depth control and seed metering has increased our yield, but once again, not all of it. Our increased production is from multiple improvements over the past 13 years. Let’s take a look into soil fertility, a key component of our increased yields.
So, what has changed in soil fertility? Our fertilizer still comes in the familiar form of DAP, Potash, AMS, etc., but why have our yields greatly increased since 2004? Our understanding of “what is under our boots”, our field soil fertility testing, and the VRT recommendations and application, has changed dramatically over the past 13 years. We started grid sampling in the fall of 2003. Our first year of sampling was comprised of a handful of growers and less than 1000 acres. In 2017, we will have sampled thousands of acres. I strongly believe this type of sampling has been one of the greatest assets you as a grower have, as a tool in improving your yield.
Your sampled farm will never have “even” soil fertility test numbers from fence to fence. That is not the goal. Yes, we want to eliminate the “Very Low” and “Low” testing areas with corrective VRT spreading, but at the same time, we don’t always necessarily need all “Very High” tests either. Yields from varying soil types react differently to fertility levels. Different soil types need to be managed differently. Not all soil types react the same with applied fertilizer. Improvements in the past 13 years with grid sampling and comparing soil test levels with combine yield maps are better understood.
I know budgets are tight for the 2018 crop year, but we can’t budget-cut one of the most important aspects of what our goal is. Our goal to have the lowest cost per bushel produced. It rarely coincides with having the least amount of input spent on fertilizer. We need to support all of our improvements that we are utilizing with improved genetics and equipment over the past 13 years, with proper soil fertility. For those who are grid sampling on a 4 year rotation, continue that investment. For those who haven’t grid sampled, I encourage you to make the investment. The cost of sampling per year equals about 14 lbs. of Potash or 10 lbs. of DAP. Improved yields with proper fertilizer placement using VRT on your fields greatly outweighs the cost of sampling.
Visit with your All American Co-op Progressive Ag Center Agronomist to discuss and implement a plan to best utilize your fertilizer investment dollars. For those who have not worked with us in managing your soil fertility, please give us a try. We have experienced Agronomists backed by years of grid sampling experience and the ability to make the correct VRT fertilizer recommendations using our GrowMor precision software. Thank you for your continued business, and have a safe and productive 2017 harvest!