First Things First!

Before you start looking away from the farm to increase your income, consider sizing up your no-till expenses.

What should tillage and farming expenses have in common?

One word: conservation.

And nobody knows this better than Stanley Smock of Edinburgh, Ind.

This no-tiller has made great efforts to fight back in these tough economic times. Although he’s sold on the benefits of off-farm employment (such as painting and tree trimming) and the extra income it can produce, he believes no-tillers should first re-evaluate their current operations, and “get back to the basic economic principles of the farm as a business.”

How do you do that? It’s simple. Cut back in areas that aren’t necessary.

  • Don’t Overdo Nitrogen.

“I did three randomly replicated plots with two different hybrids and four different rates of nitrogen, 60, 90, 120, 150 pounds and a check,” he says. “The 90-pound rate was best. Of course, I’m in a corn-soybean and wheat rotation. If it was corn on corn, I’d probably need a minimum of 120 pounds.”

Conducting his own on-farm tests paid off for Smock. Not only did he discover he could trim nitrogen costs, but he also learned which corn, soybeans and wheat varieties yielded the best.

“I tested hybrids, Beck 8280 and Pioneer 33G26,” he says. “These flex-ear hybrids have the tendency to adapt to different conditions and produce multiple ears per stock. If there’s water and everything is just right, they’ll go ahead and stretch out and make a good corn crop. Even if there’s not a lot of water, which is our problem, they’ll still make corn.”

  • Don’t skimp

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