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.
Wow! What an interesting growing season this has been so far. As a farmer, I feel it is my "duty" to complain about the weather⁙too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, etc. Mother Nature has been making it real easy to "complain!"
As with a vast majority of the Corn Belt, northern Illinois has had its share of rough weather. It was cold and wet most of the planting season, on to the hot and dry throughout most of the post herbicide application season. It has been a humbling lesson in water management; one week we are cutting drainage paths to remove standing water off our crop, and 10 days later after a week of mid-90 degree temps, we have every irrigator running like it was late July.
While I don't believe we were dry enough on the vast majority of acres to require irrigation this early, it was the sand hills, the late planted farms, preemergence herbicide and side-dressed nitrogen laying on dry ground, that justified the watering. The weekend of June 10-11, I'm pretty sure every Irrigator in our area was running, only to be followed with 3 inches of rain five days later. Needless to say we are wet again.
With all of that being said, I am very pleased with how our corn and soybeans look at the moment. Our crop is behind last year by a week or so, but it looks unbelievably good. I bought my own sprayer seven years ago, and while there are plusses and minuses to doing your own spraying, it offers a front row seat to see every acre you farm. Except for a couple of late planted seed corn fields, all of our post spraying is finished.
This year with the heavy rains, I wasn't able to get as much preemergence herbicide down on our soybean acres as I would have liked. It was noticeable when it came to post spraying too. I was very impressed with the performance of the Dicamba-tolerant soybean program, especially on the larger seeded broadleaves like giant ragweed.
Our next couple of weeks will consist of putting on our last pass of nitrogen with the 360 Y-Drop system. It has been a huge plus for our operation over the past couple of years. We are able to adjust our final nitrogen rate to match the plants' needs with the available or remaining N by taking into account the weather leading up to application. Tissue samples will help finalize the amount needed.
Our High School Trap Team finished the year strong by going to the State Shoot the first weekend in June. The team proudly brought home the 2nd place in Conference Trophy as well as three of the boys making the "All State Team". I'm not sure who learned more this first season, the kids, or us as coaches. It was a great experience and I'm already looking forward to next year's team.