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.

Mike & Mitch House

Atlanta, Indiana

Mike and Mitch House

Blog Entry #11: December 11, 2017

Final Thoughts On A Challenging Year

Hello again from Central Indiana. Winter is here, we are expecting our first accumulating snow tomorrow. We are settling in after doing some fall tillage and field maintenance. We don't till much, mostly vertical tillage on corn stalks. We have been doing some surface-water work creating waterways with a pan to move water out of wet holes.

This blog marks the end of our year-long journey with you. As a recap, our operation produces commodity corn, seed beans and seed wheat. We are about 50/50 corn/soybeans. Over the course of this year, we were involved in several new practices and field trials. These included a new corn planter fitted with in-furrow row-starter, new spraying practices with Engenia dicamba tank mixes, and some fungicide trials on both corn and beans. We would like to use this final blog to summarize these Innovations in the Field and to add our two cents, for what it's worth.

Our corn yields were all over the place with the average yield ending up much better than we anticipated. Planting timing had a lot to do with this. As you recall, we planted the majority of our corn crop and then received a whopping 8+ inches of rain over a week or so. Early corn that survived performed very well and produced the best yields–especially if treated with a foliar fungicide. We are becoming fervent believers in the benefit of fungicide on corn. It definitely paid for itself this year plus some bushels. We replanted a large number of acres, some twice. This was a gamble and added the extra hurdle of dealing with mixed moisture during harvest, but we think we made the right decision. When compared to one field that we plowed under and replanted, the early crop with replant yielded better. I would say these decisions must be made on a year-to-year basis though. The other corn trial that we ran was BASF Xanthion fungicide mixed in-furrow with row starter. This trial showed strong results at the stand-count stage as the crop with Xanthion emerged earlier and healthier. However, we did not notice a yield benefit.

Our bean crop yielded 5 bushels lower than 2016, but did very well given the wet spring. This year, we grew 100% Xtend dicamba seed beans. We used BASF Engenia dicamba as a tool to control marestail and waterhemp where needed. At this point, it appears we are seeing great results from the safe use of dicamba in our region. It definitely took care of our weed problem for this growing season. We will have to wait and see what the fields look like in the spring. We decided to do a fall spraying trial this year on 1,000 acres–mostly on corn stalks, but we also sprayed half of a bean field as well. We sprayed a mixture of dicamba and 2,4-D with the goal of controlling some of the fall-germinated marestail and to get a jump on any other weeds that are out there. This is becoming a popular program in our region, but only time will tell.

With that said, we are excited to be settling in to winter after a roller coaster of a crop year. Our side business, Farmstead Ironworks, is back in full swing filling orders for rustic industrial light fixtures. We have been working on some large commercial orders including lighting for a new restaurant in Lubbock, Texas.

We would like to thank you all for following along with us this year. God bless!

Blog Entry #10: November 7, 2017


Harvest is at a standstill in central Indiana. We received 3 inches of rain last weekend. We are 90% done with beans and 95% done with corn. The corn we have left is going to the local elevator, where lines have not been too long yet. All the recent rain has given us time to clean up around the grain bins and start the tedious process of cleaning the dryer.

We have started our wood boiler that heats our shop, office, and a house on the property. Typically in the winter we spend time cleaning up fencerows and around woods. The trees that have fallen supply us with plenty of wood for the winter. We enjoy using wood as a source of heat rather than it going to waste.

Harvest started off slow with a radiator in a semi that had to be replaced, and then a sickle bar on a head that snapped in two. All in all things have gone fairly smooth; just need some dry weather to finish. Yields have been anywhere from 160 to 270 bushels on corn and beans have fared well with higher than normal yields.

With our side business, Farmstead Ironworks, jobs have started to stack up. We have been receiving a lot of custom light fixture requests including some commercial projects that should keep us busy for most of the winter.

Blog Entry #9: October 6, 2017


Harvest came in full swing on September 25th here on the farm. We had a nice stretch of dry weather the last couple of weeks and were able to shell a few hundred acres of corn and cut two varieties of seed beans. It was a busy, productive kick off, but we received 2 inches of rain Oct. 5 and are off for the weekend. I would have to say that we needed some rain, just not that much.


Yields have been surprising, in a good way. With such a wet, frustrating spring planting, we didn't know what to expect. We knew the early planted corn had nearly perfect growing conditions, and yields are beginning to show that. We have one hybrid making some of the best corn we have seen in a few years. Some of the trouble with the corn harvest so far has been shelling into patches of replant. These patches are much wetter than the rest of the field and are driving up moisture in some of the truckloads, making the drying process difficult.


What beans we have cut have been good for our region. Again, yields have been surprising when considering the spring. Conditions have been very dry in the bean field, with some moisture readings coming out of the field below 10%. We feel this is too dry, and are happy to see a rain on them.

Other than that, we are making plans to spray a mixture of dicamba/2,4-D on some of our acres this fall in hopes to control marestail and waterhemp.

That's it for now. Hope to have some more yield reports in a month.

Blog Entry #8: September 4, 2017

Harvest Preparations

Howdy! We have spent the last month finalizing harvest preparations with combines, headers and our grain system. August is also a good time for us to haul big straw bales to local construction projects with the dry, warm weather.

We also recently purchased our first drone for farm scouting and have been able to identify some of the issues out in the field that we thought were there but couldn't see. It's amazing what a bird's eye perspective has to tell. For example, we found some wind damage that we didn't know existed.

Drone shots of wind damage


Drone shots of wind damage


Other exciting news around the farm is that we are beginning to collect harvest samples from some of our field studies. If you remember, we did a side-by-side study of BASF Xanthion fungicide/biological during corn planting. In the spring, our BASF rep flagged emergence daily and the results at that time showed Xanthion at a competitive advantage. The corn emerged faster and had a better all-around stand/population.

After collecting ears from one study, the results are inconclusive. This might be due the fact the field was completely flooded and has mixed soil types. We have another identical study in a better location yet to harvest. With that said, the study showed interesting results. There were more ears per acre with Xanthion, but the ears were much smaller in comparison. See the pics below.

Talking with BASF rep about stude.


Shows all ears harvested. Notice four groups (Emergence day 1, 2, 3, 4) with two rows of ears each. Larger ears are non-Xanthion, smaller are with Xanthion.


Close up of one group to show difference in ears


The biggest challenge around here has been deciding when to begin harvest. We will start shelling corn first this year and typically begin mid-September. We aim to start when moisture is 27% or so. This year, with all of the replanting, it's going to be a balancing act between finding dry enough corn and harvesting before lodging occurs. We don't want to start too early and grind up the wet replant spots, but we also don't want to shell corn on Christmas.

Our earliest variety bean crop is at least two weeks away. We usually get a good start on the corn before switching to beans, but this may be a challenge this fall.

Hopefully next time we blog, there will be dust flying!


Grant & Nick

Blog Entry #7: August 3, 2017

Dog Days Of Summer

Greetings again from Indiana. We have finally made it to the dog days of summer. County fair season is in full swing and we have some free time to start checking jobs off the long to-do list around the farm.

Wheat harvest ended up being average with normal yields for our farm and good test weight. The doublecrop beans we planted after the wheat have struggled to make a stand due to, yet again, a heavy rain after planting. But we were able to get some much needed ditching completed in the wheat field. We typically plant wheat on fields that we know have drainage needs so we can get our local ditching crew out here during their summer down time. Around here, drainage is invaluable. Though it makes for a rough harvest jumping over lateral ditch lines, it’s more than worth it.

Despite the wet planting season that we have been grumbling about for the last few months, the corn stand that we have has had excellent growing conditions with lots of heat units and timely inch rains. A big decision that we had to make was if and where to apply fungicide on the corn. It’s hard to throw extra money at an uncertain crop so we chose the fields that showed the greatest yield potential and decided to leave the rest alone. We ended up spraying a few hundred acres and are waiting on a plane to spray one more field that was planted after the heavy spring rain. Other than that, ears seem to be well-pollenated and are beginning to fill out nicely. We figure they have plenty of moisture to finish to their yield potential at this point. You have to look on the bright side of a rainy spring!

Ears filling out and showing yield potential


Our soybean fields are beginning to explode in growth. We are in the process of applying fungicide and insecticide to our entire bean crop. Insect pressure seems minimal, but we have seen adding insecticide helps the fungicide work so it can’t hurt as an inexpensive additive. As we drive across the field, it seems the BASF Engenia dicamba application has proven its benefits thus far. Fields are clean, and the resistant weed pressure appears to be subdued. Some evidence for this showed in one of the last fields we sprayed where we left Engenia out of the tank mix. The field is adjacent to another field that was sprayed the same day with Engenia. In the field without Engenia there are a good number of weeds shooting up out of the canopy all across the field.

To follow up on our barn that fell this spring from a tornado, we have finally had time to begin some projects with the reclaimed siding and timbers. We have a stack of unique mantle-sized beams that we have started to clean and finish. Our next step is to work on marketing through our online shop at It’s interesting to see this old barn come full circle as we honor its heritage through some fine reclaimed houseware products. Mitch has also been experimenting with a butcher block countertop made from 2x8 timbers ripped and planed into 1x2 pieces. It is coming together beautifully!

Stack of Reclaimed Mantles


Reclaimed Timber Butcher Block Detail


Lastly, we had a chance to put the GoPro to use in the Pacific Ocean off of British Columbia as we fished the salmon run in late July. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was a much-needed break from the farm!


Blog Entry #6: July 6, 2017

No Time To Rest

The month of June was one for the record books around here. During a month when the pace typically slows down a bit after planting and before wheat harvest, we didn't find much time to rest. Replanting corn and beans kept us on our toes between more heavy rains in early June…hay was fit for baling…and our winter wheat was ready earlier than usual. As we prepared for wheat harvest, weed pressure in our bean fields called for spraying as well. That's farming for you–expect the unexpected.

In general, our crops are faring well compared to a lot of the region. Rain has been the biggest obstacle this spring in central Indiana with many farmers having trouble getting water off of places it has never been before. Some of our replanted corn and beans got drowned out twice! While driving around the local counties, we can see there will be a lot of fields lucky to produce a crop. Some of our corn showed first tassels this week, and our beans seem to be healthy, as long as they can keep their feet dry.

The biggest task the past couple of weeks has been the wheat and straw harvest. If you have never been involved in a wheat harvest, it's typically frustrating to say the least. And, it ALWAYS falls around the 4th of July here in central Indiana. When our wheat showed signs of being dry and ready, we began our sequence of daily afternoon test samples, which are always wetter than anticipated (we grow wheat for seed and the plant requires moisture under 14.2%). We continue sampling until, finally, one afternoon the grain dries enough to begin cutting. This year we were able to get half of our acres cut before a rain, but then we had wet straw to deal with. This is the pattern that begins to form–cut a little wheat, bale a little straw, wait for dry weather, repeat. Then, hopefully, plant double-crop beans in a timely manner. We often find ourselves planting while we are still picking up bales.


Fresh straw bales


Mike welding broken home-made bale spears late one evening


Other than that, the only exciting news is that we sprayed a few bean fields that were showing early marestail pressure with BASF's dicamba product Engenia. We tank mixed the Engenia with Roundup PowerMax and some adjuvants. It's still too early to tell, but it seems the marestail are curling and drying out. We will keep you updated on the results.

Until Next time,

Grant and Nick

Blog Entry #5: June 5, 2017

Weathering The Storm

Since our last blog, we received several more inches of rain and difficult weather. Fields and waterways filled with water and after the initial 4 inches of rainfall we received another 4 inches shortly after and had extremely cold nights. This was obviously difficult for any crop to overcome. Now that it has finally dried out we were able to finish planting corn and beans, and corn for the second and third time in places.

Replanting and spraying in the same field.


Due to the extreme rainfall we were able to work on taking the barn down that we lost from strong winds last month and salvaging wood from it. We found that some of the siding was redwood and tried our best to keep every board. We were also able to keep most of the beams and are going to market them as Fireplace Mantles at Farmstead Ironworks on Etsy.

White oak barn beams.


We also were able to pick up new bin sheets and supplies from Brock Grain Bins in Milford, Indiana, and should be able to replace the bent sheets with new. We have been working to replace the barn we lost, on rainy days we have been hauling stone and preparing the building site. We're trying to get it ready to use before wheat harvest so we have room to store straw. Side-dressing is our next task on the farm, weather looks promising for that. We will keep you updated on our progress. This has been an interesting year and we are trying to make the most of it.

Blog Entry #4: May 1, 2017

Weather Disruptions

By Nick Roudebush & Grant House

Spring greetings from House Family Farms! We've had a productive and eventful couple of weeks here in Central Indiana. To summarize, we finished up our pre-plant anhydrous and burndown programs, planted almost all of our corn, and had a tornado hit the farm, followed by 4+ inches of rain on top of our freshly-planted fields. Needless to say, it has been interesting.

For our burndown program this spring, we used the BASF Zidua PRO tank mixed with 2 ,4-D and Glyphosate among other chemicals. Our bean fields for this year, which are no-till, saw a great deal of early weed pressure due to warm February and March weather. Some fields were as green as we've seen them in recent years- full of chickweed, yellow-top, and other common early weeds. The Zidua PRO seems to have smoked the weeds for now, but what we are really counting on is the residual weed control that the product offers as we typically don't start planting beans until the corn is in the ground and the ground is fit. Check out this video for a glimpse of the weed pressure we were spraying.

VIDEO: Weed Control


We were blessed with a nice window of warm dry weather and were able to plant nearly our entire corn crop over the last couple of weeks. We were eager to work the kinks out of our new planter and row-starter outfit (which were plentiful). One topic of interest on our farm related to the corn crop thus far is our trial of the BASF product Xanthion, which is an in-furrow fungicide and biological intended to promote early seedling vigor. Our local BASF representative has been performing some studies of the product side-by-side with a control. The results have been quite impressive so far. Early on, the group with Xanthion showed a faster germination and root development progress (see pic below). Then, upon studying emergence to date, we had a field that showed a population of 23,000 emerged plants per acre with Xanthion vs. 7,500 emerged without (see pic below). That sure says something. Getting them out of the ground can be one of the biggest struggles, especially with 4+ inches of rain on top! We look forward to seeing how this study progresses.

Xanthion on left and Control on right at germination.


We held our own emergence study, with blue flags marking emerged plants.


Lastly, we spent the last few days assessing damage from a tornado that hit our farm directly. Last Wednesday, as we were planting our last field of corn, a tornado developed right on top of us and hit portions of our farm. It was very dry that day, so the funnel cloud quickly developed into a spinning wall of dust. Mike was in the corn planter and experience the tornado first-hand (actually witnessing the eye of the storm from the tractor cab!). We experienced damage to a straw barn (total destruction), a grain bin, and lots of roofs and trees around the area. (See pics below of straw barn and grain bin damage). We are grateful that the storm wasn't worse than it was and that nobody got hurt in the area. Now, we are just dealing with the 4+ inches of rain on our freshly planted crop- we are crossing our fingers and waiting to see how emergence fares.

Our haybarn is a total loss after the tornado.


Our grain bins also sustained damage in the storm.


Blog Entry #3: April 3, 2017

March Madness

By Nick Roudebush & Grant House

Another rainy week in Indiana — just in time to watch some good basketball! This month's weather has been as unpredictable as our tournament brackets. Luckily it rained this week, because it has been hard to resist an early start on field work even though we knew it would probably be premature. This was one of those months when we spent a lot of time in the seat of a semi. Markets were up for a bit, so we had a couple of corn contracts with the local bio refinery to fulfill, and the seed companies we grow for were ready to treat our bean varieties. We are pleased to have most of beans hauled out going into planting, with some corn leftover to market this summer.

Our local BASF representative stopped by for a chat this last week and we decided it's definitely time to start spraying burn down here in Central Indiana. Dandelions are popping up in the yard and we've been seeing some 6-8" marestail around. So, as soon as it dries out we will be at full throttle.

The biggest news on the farm this month was the approval of tank-mixed dicamba chemistry. This year we are growing 100% dicamba soybeans for seed and have been anxiously awaiting this news. We received a newsletter from BASF outlining all of the acceptable Engenia tank-mix recipes. Looking at the list, it seems like most farms should still be able to use a version of their standard local spray blends with the new BASF product. We don't necessarily intend to spray every acre with Engenia, but are excited to have the tool in our back pocket if we see the same resistant weed pressure we saw last year. I think we all know that the challenges with this new chemistry will be related to drift. Testing accurate wind speed will be a must. In the next couple of weeks, we are planning to outfit our sprayer boom with new stainless steel plumbing (replacing saggy poly plumbing) in hopes of being able to clean out more effectively. New dicamba-rated sprayer nozzles are also in the works. We look forward to seeing how this all plays out.

Other than that, we have been using our free time to work on new lighting projects for Farmstead Ironworks. We recently secured a new project in a historic building in downtown Peru, Indiana. The soon-to-be office space will have exposed brick, barn wood wall treatments, farmhouse conference tables, and our rustic industrial light fixtures. It seems like the nostalgia of rural America is flooding the design world these days. We love having the opportunity to bring the farm into the city with projects like these. Hopefully we will have some seed in the ground next month!


Blog Entry #2: March 7, 2017

Blast from the Past

As most of you probably know, this February had some unseasonably warm days. We found ourselves itching to get out in the fields and bust up some dirt. As temperatures neared 70 degrees, we were able to get out and trim tree lines, chisel where we cleared fence rows last fall and even had a day to try out a new (used) field cultivator. We worked some chiseled end rows with it and the soil was fairly mellow and dry- it sure felt like spring weather.

Other than that things have been slow as we have been gearing up for planting. We have most of our maintenance completed, and have been receiving shipments of seed. We have hauled quite a bit of corn to Poet Biorefining in Alexandria, Indiana, as we were able to take advantage of a few days with climbs in the market.

With a slower February we thought we would feature some antique equipment that we still use on our farm. With today's large scale, fast paced farming, some days it's nice to slow down and remember how far we have come. One of the grain systems we still have in operation is a 1954 Meyer bucket elevator. The previous generations used it for storing whole ear corn for cattle feed. At some point the slats were taken off the side of the crib and were replaced with solid wood. Since we grow seed beans, there are times we need extra space for storage, and with a capacity of around 20,000 bushels, the elevator comes in handy. Here's a video of the complex unloading process for one side of the elevator.

VIDEO: The House farm's modified antique elevator unloads grain.


A look at the motor that runs the antique grain elevator at House Farms.


Grant points out where grain is loaded into the elevator.


These decorative lights in the loft of the antique elevator have provided inspiration for some of our Farmstead Ironworks products.


We also employ an old (once restored) John Deere 4010. Over the years this tractor was our work horse tending to cattle and field work. Today we still use this tractor for baling hay and straw, running the wood splitter, and hauling the occasional wagon. We recently had this tractor in the shop alongside a modern 4 wheel drive tractor. It's easy to see how far the farming world has evolved and to appreciate where we have come from.


This tractor was produced from 1960 to 1963 by John Deere, and we've still got it running around House Farms.


Blog Entry #1: February 7, 2017

Gearing Up As Winter Wanes

By Grant House & Nick Roudebush

Greetings from central Indiana! We are Grant House and Nick Roudebush with House Family Farms- a multi-generation grain farm. This is the first of many blogs from our farm as we share our journey with you through the 2017 crop season.

This winter we have been working through some new equipment, seed and chemical decisions. The last few weeks we have been outfitting our John Deere 1775 NT corn planter. We have decided to apply row starter and fungicide in the furrow. One of the bigger challenges was integrating the Xanthion (in furrow fungicide) into the system. We built a custom mounting plate and brackets for the required tanks, pumps, and metering devices. Our row starter will blend with the Xanthion after the main pump and will be distributed through a John Blue fertilizer monitoring system.

Xanthion tank mounted rear of planter
Xanthion tank mounted rear of planter

Xanthion tank and metering system
Xanthion tank and metering system

John Blue fertilizer monitoring system
John Blue fertilizer monitoring system

Another issue of discussion has been the control of waterhemp and marestail on our farm. We have decided to grow all extend soybeans for seed and are anxiously awaiting final decisions based on chemical approval.

One way that we offset our down time, especially in the winter months, is through our side business Farmstead Ironworks. We opened our online shop last January that specializes in rustic industrial light fixtures. This first year has been a wild ride; we have shipped lights to nearly every state in the country. Something we both never dreamed would happen. Keeping up with demands during planting and harvest required "burning the midnight oil" and working in our shop way before the crack of dawn. You can visit our shop at

Farmstead Ironworks rustic industrial chandelier
Farmstead Ironworks rustic industrial chandelier

We are looking forward to sharing our month-to-month journey with you all.

Thanks, Nick and Grant