New Year's resolutions aren't just for those who are overweight, sedentary or struggling to break a bad habit. Farmers can resolve to avoid poor management practices or implement better production techniques in 2013.
Purdue University crop, livestock and agricultural economics specialists shared their top three farmer resolutions for the year ahead. Those resolutions, and specialist comments about them, are:
Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist
- Resolve to improve hybrid decision-making. "Look for hybrids that not only have high yield potential but also a demonstrated ability to consistently achieve that potential across a wide range of growing conditions, because you cannot predict what 2013 will bring in terms of weather."
- Resolve to spend more time in the fields with the crops. "This will help you better identify the yield influencing factors most important to your farming operation. Then work with your advisor(s) to develop strategies to begin managing those factors."
- Resolve to work toward improving the overall efficiency of your nitrogen management program. "Take steps to reduce the risks of N loss, such as leaching, denitrification and volatilization."
Shaun Casteel, Extension soybean specialist
- Resolve to read the variety tag. "Seed size varies from year to year. The drought conditions - timing and duration - have impacted seed size - small and large - germination and vigor. Your planter settings and seeding rates need to be adjusted accordingly."
- Resolve to take stand counts. "Plant populations of 100,000 to 120,000 plants per acre optimize return in investment. Early season stand counts provide the opportunity to verify your seeding rates and emergence potential. You will also be scouting the field for pressures of weeds and pests."
- Resolve to harvest grain above 13 percent moisture. "We are losing out on a portion of our yield when we harvest below 13 percent. Note that this might mean having to set the combine multiple times based on the toughness of the stem and ease of pod threshing. You will gain yield in water weight and reduce the losses due to dry grain and header loss."
Keith Johnson, Extension forage specialist
- Resolve to sample soils for nutrient levels. "Follow through with the addition of limestone and fertilizer recommended by the test. The application of a blended fertilizer like 12-12-12 and calling this your fertilizer program is not a wise decision."
- Resolve to scout fields. "Do this weekly to determine the well being of the growing forages. Evaluate grazing pressure, presence of pests - weeds, insects and disease - and possible nutrient deficiency symptoms."
- Resolve to evaluate the possibility of grazing corn residues in the early fall. "This can reduce feed cost substantially for beef and sheep producers."