How farmers are reducing their inputs without losing yield

As input prices soar, Matt Miles, Kelly Garrett and Kevin Matthews are adjusting their equipment and nutrient programs to reduce their input use without sacrificing the quality of their 2022 crop.

MATT MILES – MCGEHEE, ARKANSAS

Matt Miles is a fourth-generation farmer from southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.

I hope everyone had a good holiday season. We all need to do our best to take a little time out each year to just collect our thoughts…being surrounded by friends and family is always refreshing for us at Miles Farms.

We spend a lot of time collecting 2021 field data. Scarcity of supplies and rising costs mean we need to make sure each of our inputs has a positive ROI in 2022 or we won’t be using it not.

Although we will certainly continue to test different products this season, we will be more cautious in 2022. Hopefully crop prices will continue to rise so that we can offset the huge increase in input costs.




Matt Miles Gear in the Farm Shop

Photo credit: Xtreme Ag

At the same time, we are running all our equipment through the workshop for annual maintenance and repairs before it gets really busy with planting later next month. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has been our motto in the store this year, as soaring costs and lack of availability make everything a challenge.

One thing is certain: this year should allow everyone to better plan their season.

KELLY GARRETT – ARION, IOWA

A fifth-generation farmer, Kelly Garrett grows corn, soybeans and winter wheat in western Iowa.

Our chemical program has already been changed several times this year as we have had difficulty finding some of the chemicals we had planned to use. We finally have our schedule set now. Components are ordered and arrive in store weekly. As soon as we find something that we plan to use anytime this season, we order it and put it in the store to put away as quickly as possible.

We received a load of Ethos insecticide the other day for our double stack corn (corn on corn), and we no longer buy triple stack with rootworm protection. Our double stack corn will have Ethos since it outperformed the triple stack option. Ethos was 18 bushels better when applied in-furrow. We spend less on maize seeds and get better yields by applying Ethos.

After talking with Kevin and his experience with the fertilizer in the 2×2 on soybeans, we are going to do trials this year on our soybeans. We have ongoing trials with Nachurs, Agroliquid and Spraytec. We’re excited to see what a 2×2 bean app will do for us.




Kelly Garrett planter in the shop

Photo credit: Xtreme Ag

So now we are installing Closer’s 2×2 system from Integrated Ag Solutions on one of our skipped row soybean planters. We also fit Yetter’s 2940 trash wheels to the planter. The wheels have a flatter pitch than the ones we currently have there. The flatter pitch keeps the wheels from throwing up trash residue so far. The old ones threw the residue so far that it ended up clogging the skipped rows of our 15-inch drill. Our goal is to improve the seedbed and reduce our soybean populations.




Planter in the shop

Photo credit: Xtreme Ag

KEVIN MATTHEWS – EAST BEND, NORTH CAROLINA

Kevin and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc. and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville.

Winter has finally arrived and snow cover has taken us out of the field in North Carolina. It’s meeting season and we really like to learn from other agricultural professionals. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to attend events in your area as well as outside your area if possible. It’s amazing what you can learn from farmers working the land in other parts of the country.




John Deere tractor in the snow

Photo credit: Xtreme Ag

XtremeAg will be heading to New Orleans in March to attend the Commodity Classic. We look forward to meeting old and new friends.

High input prices this year have us thinking about all the possible ways to generate a positive return on investment on all aspects of the farm. It’s important to look at areas that you may not always think of as adding to revenue. For example, one way to even out the high cost of fertilizer might be to invest in technology that results in a more efficient fertilizer band with the drill. We are installing the SelectShot system on our planter this year to see if we can reduce input costs and fill time in the field. We will also be using our Y-Drops more for in-season applications as they have proven to reduce our expenses in the past and produce a great crop.

The types of fertilizers you buy will also make a huge difference. For example, we have found that using ortho fertilizers from companies like AgroLiquids, Nachurs and others will provide efficiency, cost and yield when used correctly.




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