Precision efficiencies aren’t just for row crops

Written by Ernie Verslues on .

In a perfect year, when I sit down to write this column for the June/July issue of Today’s Farmer, I can provide a retrospective on the spring planting season. Perfect years are rare, though, and as planting seasons go, 2022 brought many challenges.

Reviewing the May 23 edition of MFA’s In-Season Insights newslet­ter—a weekly email delivered to Crop-Trak Complete customers—I got ground-truthing for what I had seen in the countryside during the compacted planting season.

In the newsletter, MFA crop con­sultants reported that, in a short seven days, what had been stalled planting progress turned into an impressive and successful game of catch-up. Once they could roll un­impeded, corn planters across MFA territory finished the job at pace.

Thank you for allowing MFA to serve you in that busy season. And a special thanks to MFA employees who put in long hours to make it happen.

This planting season reminded us that we can’t count on favorable weather, but good planning can minimize our exposure to chal­lenging environments. For MFA, planning means having the people, assets and farming inputs in place to deliver on customer needs.

It also means leveraging technol­ogy that brings additional efficiency to equipment, labor and the materials we deliver. Whether that’s staging fertilizer, employing new dispatch software, or working with you on plans for precision nutrient management, each specific aspect builds toward a better whole.

Planning and attention to effi­ciency isn’t just a row-crop strategy. It is a critical aspect of producing pasture and forage, too.

Managing grass is an ongoing and longer-term process, of course. And progress in the pasture and forage world may not be measured with the same day-by-day reporting we see for row crops.

But some of the same ideas I mentioned about being prepared for the challenges in row-crop planting can be applied to both MFA and our customers. The right products in the right place at the right time can make a difference.

No one needs to be remind­ed that market-price success for row-crop operations can indicate challenges on the way for livestock producers. That’s one more signal to seek the benefits of improved efficiency.

In the pages of this magazine, we regularly publish success stories from throughout MFA’s trade area that highlight the gains precision management can bring to livestock and forage operations. Many of those articles have featured beef producers who enroll pasture and forage acres in Nutri-Track, a program that grew its reputation in the row-crop world.

As with row-cropping, precision nutrient management on hay and pasture land brings the potential for more efficiency. More grass. More pounds per acre. That’s the goal for Nutri-Track in the forage setting.

And the tools are familiar: grid soil sampling, GPS mapping to develop management zones, and recommendations built to meet producer goals. All of it requires data and good measurement to understand where gains can come from and the return on investment.

Throughout its history, MFA has been driven to provide its members with valuable solutions across a full range of farming enterprises. Each year, it’s more clear that precision agriculture is a philosophy that can be applied to enhance those solutions. Row crop or livestock, the plans we make today will give us flexibility and a better chance at positive return in the future.

Finally, I would like to congrat­ulate MFA’s Lebanon Feed Mill for achieving the American Feed Industry Association’s top sustain­ability score. The award goes to facilities that prove best-in-class for manufac­turing practices, worker safety and safe, wholesome feed. The achieve­ment is a testament to the whole team at Lebanon and demonstrates MFA’s commitment to producing high-quality feed.