Learning is vital to success. For a farmer, it takes drive, patience, continuing education and investing in today’s technologies to push yields.
“Each year, we try to implement one system to improve yields,” says Jerry Dunville, corn, soybean and wheat farmer from Slaughters, Ky. His progressive approach began more than eight years ago with small changes, which much to Dunville’s surprise, resulted in significant yield boosts. His first adoption of new technology started with his planter.
“We added a precision monitor to track and regulate singulation, spacing and down pressure,” Dunville says. “Once mastering the planter, we moved on and began using starter fertilizer, applying in-furrow and 2x2
[2" to side and 2" below surface].”
Adopting starter fertilizer began his journey of experimenting with different nitrogen timings and placements.
“Recently, I’ve been fine-tuning my nitrogen program,” Dunville says. “I’m considering cutting rates on the front end and using a dribble application at V10 or so to help finish out the ears.”
Dunville stays on top of new technologies and management practices by attending educational meetings throughout the year. He also plants plots on his farm to learn firsthand.
“I choose to be progressive in order to improve my bottom line,” he says. “It’s possible to achieve national yield or above with minimal management, but if you add new practices, use emerging technology and are efficient with inputs, you will harvest more bushels and put more money in your pocket.”
R.D. and Neal Wolheter, a father and son duo who farm corn and soybeans in Wolcottville, Ind., share Dunville’s go-getter philosophy.
“If you’re not going forward, you’re going backward,” Neal says. “We are driven to learn about new technology in order to stay a step ahead.”
The Wolheters currently use zone management and variable-rate seeding and fertilizer, with some applications through fertigation. R.D. says their goal is to implement new technology centered around improving overall efficiency while being cost effective. He reminds farmers not every new technology on the market is right for your operation or fits your goals.
“One of the best investments we have ever made are auto shutoffs,” R.D. says. “We farm many irregular shaped fields, and this has allowed us to save on seed and chemical costs while reducing our overhead costs.”
To keep up with technology, Neal suggests starting out slow to learn how each piece of new equipment works and what it means for your operation. From there, build up year by year.
“We are never satisfied with the results,” Neal says. “We want to do more in less time, while improving yields, efficiency and profitability.”