“When I started in the early 90s, manure was kind of a bad word,” Larry said. “You just got rid of it. Now it’s an asset that we can use to our advantage, and we can spread it better, too. We’ll cover 50-60% of our acres with manure every year, and we’ve started trying to hit more acres just to get more of the biological aspects out of the manure, which in turn enhances what the commercial fertilizer brings.”
In pursuit of better fertility, last year Larry also invested in a SoilWarrior strip-till machine, which allows him to variable rate apply fertility close to the seed. While he’s still tweaking a few things, he makes multiple passes with the two-tank implement to precision-apply phosphorus, potash, sulfur, zinc, boron, and manganese in the strip. With the planter pass, Larry is applying additional liquid fertility, as well as naturals in the furrow, and he’s upgraded the planter with ExactEmerge drives and hydraulic downforce to try to be more precise with seed placement and spacing.
“Production is going up, and we’re taking our populations down,” Larry said. “We’re trying to get to 10 bushels per 1000 plants on the corn side. Back 10 years ago, we might have been 35,000 to 36,000 on irrigated corn. We still do some at 34,000, but now we’re planting at 30,000 to 32,000 without seeing much decrease in yield – actually, yields have gone up. On the soybean side, we’ve changed the most. We used to plant 160,000 to 165,000. Now, we’re down to 110,000 and still producing great yields.”