Battling Tough Times

Here are strategies I’ve used to weather hard times on my droughty Southern Indiana farm.

1. Limit or eliminate the use of phosphorus and potassium.

Keep pH and calcium levels up as well as micronutrient levels.

2. Inject starter fertilizer in a 2-by 2-inch pattern.

When sidedressing corn, inject fertilizer below the soil surface. Put down 25 percent of your nitrogen at planting time.

3. Reduce nitrogen rates.

Use 0.8 to 0.9 pounds of nitrogen per harvested bushel of corn. Nitrogen rates should be reduced only in a rotation environment.

4. Use no-till rotations.

By rotating corn after soybeans, you can expect a 10 to 40 bushel per acre yield increase as opposed to no-tilling corn after corn.

5. Run your own ongoing corn and soybeans hybrid test plots.

Don’t pick new varieties from just one year’s results. By conducting your own-farm test plots with the help of several seed companies, you will be one to two years ahead of the average farmer on new technology.

6. Use insecticide on first year no-till corn.

My test plots showed I needed it. Using the Smart Box is another way to make sure that we put on the exact amount of insecticide.

7. Call for quotes on chemical prices.

We’ve saved over 10 percent by spending some time on our fax machine and following up with phone conversations.

8. Use older equipment.

The key to making this work is being religious in doing maintenance and making frequent inspections to pinpoint repair needs before they occur. Pay special attention to bearings, chains, belts, tires and regular oil changes…

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