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Academy for Higher Yields

August 24, 2013
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete
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Using an 8-acre demonstration plot, Farm Journal Field Agronomists Missy Bauer and Ken Ferrie led farmers through a nitrogen management breakout session to show the importance of timing, placement, product and environment.   

Farmers head to the field for lessons on how to finish strong before corn and soybean harvests

With the goal of helping farmers put more bushels in the bin, Farm Journal hosted its annual series of in-field Corn College and Soybean College events. Led by Farm Journal Field Agronomists Ken Ferrie and Missy Bauer, the agronomic training attracted almost 1,000 farmers from 28 states.

"Every year, our agendas are different and reflect the topics farmers are asking about," Ferrie explains. "This year, in particular, we focused on increasing the take-home value and spent more time answering questions."

Designed by Ferrie and Bauer, the two campuses—in Heyworth, Ill., and Coldwater, Mich.—model the Systems Approach. In addition to the Farm Journal Field Agronomists, agronomic coaches walk small groups of farmers through several breakout sessions.

The Illinois events, known as Corn College Advanced, are designed for returning Corn College attendees and farmers with a solid foundation in the Systems Approach.

"I’m impressed, the information is current, and I can take this home and use it on my farm," says Jerry Dunville from Slaughters, Ky., who has attended all six years of events.

Ferrie led four events in July—a one-day session for consultants/retailers, a one-day session for farmers, a two-day session for farmers and a new one-day Corn College Grad School.

"The curriculum focused on nitrogen management, soil health, disease management and herbicide application and resistance issues," he says.

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Attendees at Soybean College learned about the yield components of the plant during hands-on sessions in the field.

In the field, Ferrie and Bauer used an 8-acre nitrogen plot to illustrate the impact of timing, placement, product and environment with all treatments adding up to the same nitrogen rate.

"Because of the open format, this demonstration was relevant to every attendee, no matter what geography or environment they farm," Ferrie says.

In-field herbicide diagnostics gave farmers the opportunity to evaluate modes of action, application method and timing. To strengthen their disease detection skills, farmers participated in an exercise using live plants and the disease triangle. A combine clinic challenged farmers to rethink how they set up their combines to reduce losses. Purdue University’s Fred Whitford presented on how to safely extract equipment stuck in mud.

On July 17 during a live "AgriTalk" broadcast, Ferrie and Bauer shared insights on this year’s crop challenges. The next day, a live "U.S. Farm Report" Market Roundtable taping featured Farm Journal Economist Bob Utter­back, Mark Gold from Top Third Ag Marketing and Mike North from First Capitol Ag.

Closing out the Illinois events, Corn College Grad School was a first-time, private-pay event with no sponsors.

"We focused the entire day around our curriculum, and we limited the class size for smaller groups and more hands-on experience," Ferrie says.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - September 2013



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