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When You ‘Measure To Manage,’ You Become More Profitable

Evaluating corn hybrids and soil testing for fertilizer needs can lead to big improvements in your bottom line.

With skyrocketing input prices like seed and fertilizer, it pays to measure your production and more closely manage your inputs. One of my favorite management slogans is, “Measure to manage.” Without measuring your inputs and yields, it’s really hard to manage to the highest level of profit.

In the past with lower input costs, we could afford to be a little less cautious with our input applications. But with input costs doubling and even tripling on fertilizer and seed, we need to fine-tune application rates and hybrid and variety selection.

Hybrid Selection.

Hybrid performance can vary substantially with different environments. It may pay to start evaluating hybrid performance on your farm, rather than relying solely on data from other locations. A 15-to 20-bushel yield swing could mean $50 to $100 more net income per acre.

Every year, we plant two or three corn hybrids from eight to 10 seed companies to measure how they perform on various soil types on our farm. With a yield monitor and a scale on the grain cart, it’s easy to measure performance. Hybrids should be replicated at least three times to ensure accurate performance results.

We split the planter in half and plant two hybrids. To be efficient, we set up plots so three replications of each hybrid use up nearly one unit of each hybrid.

We also use our guidance system to randomize the planting of these three replications across a field or group of fields. After planting these replications, we vacuum out…

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Leverich_jim

Jim Leverich

Jim Leverich no-tills near Sparta, Wis., and serves as an onfarm research coordinator for the University of Wisconsin.

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