Innovations in the Field

Sponsored by BASF

Welcome to the 2017 BASF Innovations in the Field. This yearlong program is designed to showcase four progressive farmers and their use of technology and agronomic practices to enhance their return on investment and profit potential. Check back each week for new blogs and videos from the farmers as they share their experiences and crop management decisions throughout the growing season. Here is a brief overview of our four participants.

J.C. Henrekin

Deer Grove, Illinois

JC Henrekin

Blog Entry #1: February 20, 2017

Gains and Losses

2017 has started off way above normal in this part of the world, temperature wise anyway! After a very mild and dry January, February is following the exact same cycle. Mid 60's in February have me a little bit concerned about what this summer may bring….

The past couple of months of mild weather have allowed us to get some brush cutting around field edges and timber edges underway, a necessary but thankless job in an effort to reduce the shading effect on the outer crop rows as well as making it easier to farm along. We also have most of our seed in the shed and are putting the finishing touches to this year's crop plans. Along with Corn and Soybeans, we also raise Seed Corn as well. Working with the Seed Company on those different inbred characteristics, we are using seed scripts to vary the populations similar to how we manage our regular corn scripts. Factoring in the Yield histories, Soils data, elevation, etc…. The Seed Company has seen a nice bump in yield locally comparing the script fields to the static ones. As with our regular corn scripts, it has been interesting to see how the quality of the data behind the decisions continues to get better every year!

Speaking of technology, we recently updated our Phantom 2 drone to the Phantom 4, and holy cow! I had used the Phantom 2 for 4 years and it worked great, but like so many "electronics" these days, the advancements in the Phantom 4 have made for much easier flying! The improved batteries have really enabled longer flight times, and will be very nice for covering more acres at a time this season. Not counting the dozens of other improvements and for ½ the price of the original one we bought 4 years ago!

Last season we again saw a very nice response to our fungicide applications across most varieties. So we took advantage of the rebate offer and locked in our Headline Amp and Priaxor gallons at the end of January. While we can count on this upcoming season being different than 2016, we have consistently had a positive return on investment, every year we have applied the products. Seeing improvement of the stalk quality and overall plant health was an added bonus.

I recently attended 2 different land auctions in the area. Both auctions consisted of 8 tracts of ground on each. Neither farm had much "non-tillable" and was pretty level with only a few gently rolling hills. The first consisted of 700 acres with the tracts varying from 53ac to 158ac in size. All were class "C" soils with the average productivity index at 109. I was among the majority in underestimating the outcome….the overall average price ended at $8950/ac.! The second sale two weeks later and about twenty miles from the first also did very well! It had a total of 520ac ranging in tract size from 14ac to 160ac. This farm was also considered class "C" soils, with a slightly better average productivity index of 115. The overall average price ended at $7503/ac. The majority of the buyers were farmers, however there were a couple tracts on each that were bought by investors. I underestimated both farms! It was a good chance to see where the land values are holding on a local basis and will make the balance sheet look good!

On a darker note, we lost a good friend and neighbor the beginning of February due to an on-farm accident. He was working on a dump trailer and put too much confidence in the cylinder and didn't put blocks on the dump, and was crushed. He will be missed by all who knew him! So as we continue to get busy with the upcoming season, let's not forget how important it is too take the extra time to do things safely!