The Rezniceks continue to upgrade technology and refine their farming practices. Specifically, the way the operation treats soil is the most significant change that has come over the past couple of decades. They noticed the huge amount of variability in production from field to field and wanted to determine the causes of that variation.
“When you’re out in the field, and you see differences, you want to know why this crop is doing better in this area versus another, or why is standability better over here versus over there,” Randy said. “I was always curious about it and trying to learn more.”
Back in the mid-90s, the tools to start answering those questions emerged, and they pushed for the early adoption of variable rate fertility and yield mapping technology. Today, the whole farm is on a rotation where each field is sampled on 2.5-acre grids every four years. They look closely at micronutrients in addition to the traditional macronutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
“In the last 10 years, we have been focusing more on balance,” Randy said. “It’s a longer-term process and challenging to get your fertility in balance, getting base saturations corrected, and micros in line. It takes time and money.”
As their focus has changed with fertility, so have application methods and tillage practices. The 2022 season was extremely dry in northeastern Nebraska, likely the driest it’s been in Randy’s entire farming career. Back when he was getting his start, every field was turned completely black every year. Now, they run a mixture of conventional, strip-till, and no-till depending on the crop planted next and the soil types within individual fields. This shift to reduced tillage has allowed them to reap the benefits of increased soil moisture while giving the option to incorporate fertility closer to the seed zone.
“When we started sampling, we had very low organic matter levels, and I’m sure it’s from all the tillage practices from the way we used to operate,” Randy said. “I realize hybrids and practices have also changed, but back in the 70s, we would have done a lot of tillage before planting in a dry year like this one. I think the change in farming practices and applying fertility for soil balance has made a significant difference.”