This post first ran on Precision Pays on February 15. Special thanks to Cindy Zimmerman for the story and the wonderful interviews!
Growers want to hear what other growers have to say, so the grower panel was most popular at the two FS Green Plan Solutions Pursuit of Maximum Yields (POMY) events in Iowa and Illinois over the last two weeks. The growers on the panel were Phillip Hartke (left) and Steve Sondgeroth, both from Illinois.
Phil is a crop and livestock producer from Teutopolis who got involved in pursuing maximum yields at the start of the program about three years ago. “Historically, we’ve tried different things as they come down the pike through the FS System, so we were more than glad to participate,” Phil said, noting that his interest was piqued when his crop specialist talked to him about multiple applications of nitrogen. “We were already applying nitrogen in the fall then we came back in the spring and applied with a little anhydrous,” he said. “We went with two more applications of nitrogen, one with our chemicals and then another time with urea with Agrotain in it. So we did four applications of nitrogen and I think that’s been key to feeding that plant as it grows.”
That has helped him get a 189.5 bushel five-year average yield, about 35 bushels an acre better than the county average. “We’re in livestock so 65-70% of the corn we raise goes to the hog operation and with the extra yield that gives me more to sell in the market,” Phil says. “I like to have that cash flow.”
Click here to listen to Cindy's interview with Phil.
Steve Sondgeroth grows corn and soybeans in Vero County Illinois and 2011 was the first year he participated in the Pursuit of Maximum Yield program, specifically on his soybean crop. For him, it was all about removing stress. “Pursuit of maximum yield means just that and I just pulled out all the stops,” he said. “I think I hit the home run this year. My soybeans averaged 82.4 bushels an acre.”
Steve says some of the things he did were a little outside the box. “I have not inoculated soybeans since I was a little boy, but this year I did,” he said. “I wanted to make sure we had plenty of rhizobia bacteria to increase the nitrogen fixing.”
What really excites Steve about the POMY program is how it allows farmers to share practices that work with each other. “It’s most unusual in the sense that there is real openness and willingness to share ideas,” he said. “There’s not too many businesses that I know of where you actually share the information that is most vital to your operation.”
Click here to listen to Cindy's interview with Steve.