A couple of weeks ago, I was able to attend the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. This particular expo is DakotaFest – indoors and on steroids. It covers 27 acres under roof and hosts everything from livestock equipment to the latest innovations in farm equipment. A common theme throughout the booths this year was precision application equipment. As we farmers try to cut costs without adversely affecting our bottom line, I am encouraged that there are so many innovative ways to improve our nutrient efficiencies. More effective use of our fixed inputs allows us to lower the overall cost of production per unit vs. just cutting costs in general.
Many exhibitors showcased tillage tools that increase residue breakdown while simultaneously reducing erosion. A huge concern of farmers across the United States is how to better hold the soil where we need it – in our fields. As we flew over the central Corn Belt, it was evident that wind erosion is occurring across a wide span of the country. I do understand that if no fall tillage was done in many areas of the Corn Belt, there would be no crop planted the next spring. It is painful to see soil erosion still occurring even though the dirty 30’s are long behind us and conservation tillage practices are commonplace. I have used “no-till” as a conservation practice for many years, but, in recent years, have adopted strip-tilling as a nutrient placement practice, therefore I do more ground work than a true no-till operation would.
Countless exhibits focused on precision application of seeds, chemicals, and fertilizer. Innovative products were displayed throughout the show. Case IH’s new high speed planter, which is a whole new planter built around Precision Planting parts, beefed up all of the components that might see added stress if there were to be a high speed interaction with a rock. John Deere added an upgrade to their older style planters to allow them to use Deere’s Exact-Emerge technology. Precision Planting has always been about upgrading your current planter, which is typically more economical than trading for new. If farmers aren’t buying new planters, they can still upgrade to the latest technology available through various attachments and products. In short, there are cost effective solutions out there for all planting issues.
Continuing to invest in technology and adopt new practices will enhance your bottom line. At the same time crop insurance can provide a measure of protection. While we are in the Multi-Peril Crop Insurance sign-up period with a March 15th deadline, cover as many costs as you can. We are in agriculture for the long haul, so be sure to make your crop insurance decisions based on your long term goals – even when the short term outlook seems to be a little scary. My experience tells me that when we least expect it, an opportunity can come along that will change the dynamics of the entire year, so have faith and stick to your plan.
Image Credit: Daniel X. O’Neil