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Since becoming the sole operators of their family’s Homewood Farms in 2000, Dan Lane and his wife, Jennifer, have used precision practices and conservation tillage to significantly boost corn and soybean yields as well as overall farm income
In 2018, the 1800-plus acre operation located north of Columbus, Ohio, was part of an American Farmland Trust and local NRCS Conservation District study that showed the couple realized an overall $56 per acre boost in net income because of their adoption of soil health practices including strip-tillage, banding nutrients and, at that time, the introduction of cover crops into the rotation.
“I’ve gotten away from cover crops because we realized the residue was interfering with our corn emergence,” Lane says. “We need clean strips for top uniform emergence. We started using more humates to maintain and build organic matter and release tied-up nutrients.”
At the time of the study, Lane says average corn yields per acre had jumped from roughly 145-170 bushels per acre when his family was farming conventionally to 195-210 bushels per acre across the operation — and yields have gotten even better over the past 5 years.
“Up through the 1990s, we did little to build the soil. We did some soil testing, but we usually just applied the same fertilizer year after year. We were low in phosphorus and potassium,” he says. “Also, we ran a chisel plow over the entire operation every year and came back with two field-cultivator passes for both corn and soybeans.”