***Editor’s Note: The following viewer reaction is in response to the April 27-28, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…
#1: This is in response to your comments on farmers setting their own prices. It is evident from your comments that you are a crop farmer and not a livestock or dairy farmer. Not once in my 20 years of farming have I been able to go to the livestock sale barn or to the milk plant and tell them I want x amount for my product. We take what we get and go on about our business. Livestock farming, like crop farming, has the advantage of being able to hold their product until prices are "right" for selling. However, dairy farming, there is no holding product. You sell no matter what the price/cwt. As for other big business, they do set their own prices as well, they figure what they have in a product and then inflate the end price to the consumer several times, thus they are then able to give rebates, cash back, discounts, etc. Most of the time I would say they are still recouping the money they have invested in that product. —Michelle Wright, Wright Dairy, Cabool, Mo.
#2: Hello John, I have farmed 950 acres in north central Oklahoma for 13 years…been no tilling for the last 3 years. The first ten years I watched flash floods cut and erode my topsoil away. In 2009 it started raining in September (wheat planting time) and ended late October. By the time I was finished fixing broken terraces and pulling the soil out of the creeks it was November. Luckily, I got it all planted before the insurance due date on December 1st. That was my first reality check. Tillage destroys organic matter and soil structure. When the soil temperature hits 100 degrees the soil life that holds our soils together starts to die. Six months ago was the second big reality check. I was the first farmer in my town to get a row crop field test on my farms. Scientists say when your soil organic matter (s.o.m.) gets below 1.7% it is classified as pre desert, below 1.0% s.o.m. is desert. I have farms that are less than 1% and a couple around 0.5%. S.o.m. is the most important and neglected part of farming. What I have learned: 1. It will take 10 to 20 years to get back above the pre-desert classification. Slow process. It is easier to save the soil than it build it back. 2. I will never know it all. Not even the smartest soil scientist knows every aspect of the soil. What happens in the soil is truly God’s gift to the world (that 99% of the world does not care about. But they should). Soil organic matter is what makes soil more or less productive than another. It holds water and nutrients from leaching and evaporating. Hold and cleans the chemicals and fertilizers before entering the streams and ground water. My backyard has never been tilled or over-grazed. The s.o.m. test came back at 4.8%. I am 35 years old now. I could live two lifetimes and never increase my fields back to what they were. But my friend has been rotational no tilling for 7 years. He had 82 bushel per acre wheat field last year. His field s.o.m. was 1.4%. The Oklahoma average is less than 30 bushel. And I don't think it coincidental that the s.o.m. and the red on the drought monitor map coincide. Farmers who have lots of s.o.m. take it for granted when it rains but will know what I am talking about when it is almost gone and dries out again. Thank you and your crew for what you do. Keep learning and teaching. We are listening. —Chris Kroll
#3: John, It seems that the best tillage type, from what I’ve seen is strip till. You can also do banded fertilizer to get the nutrients just where you need them. —Les Odgers, Arizona
#4: Love the show, I watch it every week. I wanted to thank you for the piece on the Auburn Oaks. It means a lot to students, alumni and fans to be featured on your show. —Gregory Resmondo, Auburn University '14
#5: I watch U.S. Farm Report every week and pay attention to John Phipps and Mike Hoffman, meteorologist. I like the new graphics that Mike Hoffman used today. I also like the Al Pell segment on market conditions, but I am still learning the jargon. John Phipps is the best—double his salary! —Ann Morrison, St. Louis, Mo.