Growing our Generation: 4th generation in Fayette County

Wes and Brandi Montgomery are editors of the Feb. 13 Growing our Generation e-newsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.

Hello! We are Wes and Brandi Montgomery and we farm alongside Wes’ family in Fayette County. Our farm is Montcrest Farms and we are currently farming around 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans. We both attended Wilmington College where Wes earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture with an ag business concentration and Brandi earned a bachelor’s in agriculture with a concentration in agronomy. Wes farms full time and Brandi works off the farm as an office manager at Weade Law Office. We have a beautiful baby boy, Wiley, who is 3 months old and will be the 5th generation of Montcrest Farms. We are looking forward to raising our babies on the family farm and be surrounded by great friends in Farm Bureau. Wes has been very active in Farm Bureau. He has served as president of the Fayette County board, been on the state Policy Development Committee and most recently we were selected to serve on the state YAP Committee. Brandi is currently serving at the vice president on the county board and organization chair. She has worked hard in planning and executing our newest county event, Farm to Fork.

Precision pays

montcrestfieldIn today’s agriculture environment we hear a lot about precision agriculture. With so many technologies like GPS, Drones, and Variable rate; how are you supposed to know what is best for your operation? With today’s tighter margins in commodities we need to be ever vigilant of which technologies to invest in to improve the bottom line and keep us competitive for the years to come.

On our grain crop farming operation we have invested in technology and precision agriculture. That doesn’t necessarily mean the newest and shiniest equipment. My father and grandfather started by adopting grid soil sampling and variable rate technology (VRT) fertilizer application in the ‘90s. This is virtually a no brainer as the cost of grid sampling is often offset by the savings in VRT lime application alone. Along with the savings in fertilizer and lime, it also allows you to put the fertilizer in the parts of the field where it is actually needed. Placing nutrients where they are needed will quickly reduce costs and increase gross returns through higher yield, easily improving the bottom line.

Yield mapping during harvest is another technology we use today. On the surface these maps are virtually useless. Yes it is nice to see a pretty picture of your yield for the field and show you got 250 or 300 bushels of corn in this one spot, but that alone doesn’t give much value. Where these maps become useful is when you begin to integrate them into other operations and use them to make real decisions. By layering the maps you can create a multiyear yield analysis. These maps will help to show the areas of the field that are consistently the most productive and consistently under the average.

Fertilizer isn’t the only way to take advantage of variable rate technology. We also use it on our farm to plant our soybeans. We have reduced seed costs through lower plant populations maintaining or increasing yield. Zones are created using a combination of soil type and multiyear yield analysis. We have also seen healthier plants due to less crowding in low-lying productive soils.

Section control has been one of our best investments on our farm. We have it on our corn planter and sprayer. It has greatly reduced our overplant and overspray and improved yield. It is much nicer to harvest the end rows without the overplant and it stands unbelievably better. I would challenge you to compare your calculated planted acres to how many are actually in the field. I did this on our farm and found that in some of the “non-square” fields we have in our area, it was possible to be pushing 5 or even 10 percent overplant in corn on the worst fields. We paid for the retrofit kit on our planter over just a couple of years.

There are many more options out there to choose from, and these are just a few we have decided to implement into our operation. Drones seem to be the next thing coming but we have yet to see the value of them on our current farm. Just remember to look at the costs and returns each bring to your farming operation and put the money into the ones that will pay back the fastest.

Planning and planting

Our dog taking a peek at the chicks.

I have always enjoyed growing my own garden and having a small chicken coop on the farm for fresh eggs. Each year we sit down late winter to plan for the upcoming spring. This year is a little more special and a little more exciting, as our baby boy, Wiley, will be just the right age to begin solid foods over the summer. I have been researching Baby Led Weaning, so my fresh veggies from the garden will be perfect for him. I most definitely have him in mind this winter during our planning!

Planting a garden and raising chickens is so rewarding to me. I love to be able to plant a seed, watch it grow and then reap the benefits at dinner every evening over the summer. I encourage you to plant a garden this spring! If you have never had a garden before, just start small. Be sure that what you are planting is manageable; otherwise you may become overwhelmed in caring for the garden and let it go to waste. We have decided over the years to keep our garden fairly small. Staying small has allowed us to care for the garden more easily and produce just enough fruits and veggies for our family. We also have around 10-20 laying hens and we do share our eggs with our families.

I use a few different tools when it comes to planning our garden and our coop. When picking out what to plant in our garden my first resource is our local greenhouse. McClish’s Plants Plus provides most all of the seeds or starts that we need for our garden. They also have a great planting timeline on their website that I can refer to. I love that our local greenhouse is just right down the road and easily accessible all spring. I often times add things along the way! For other items that we cannot find at the McClish’s we use the Rupp Seeds catalogs. I personally LOVE catalogs. I love to flip through the pages, look at the photos and bookmark the items I want to purchase.

We use Meyer Hatchery in Polk, Ohio when ordering chicks. We have had all kinds of breeds of laying hens, from production hens to fancy birds. This year we are going to stick to the basics and order a few different breeds that are known to be outstanding layers and cold weather hardy. We want to be sure that we are choosing breeds that will lay well for us and be able to survive the cold winter temperatures.

I am looking forward to longer days, warmer weather and spring planting. We would love to hear from you…what are your baby’s favorite garden foods and what are your favorite chicken breeds?! Happy planning and happy planting!

Young Ag Professionals Winter Leadership Experience

yapexperience2017We are just wrapping up our trip to Pittsburgh where we attended the Young Farmers and Ranchers FUSION Conference. We have been fortunate enough to attend this conference two times, once by applying to attend through Ohio’s YAP program and this year by being on the state YAP Committee. We are so glad that we have gotten involved in Ohio’s Young Ag Professionals program through attending events like the Winter Leadership Conference, local YAP events and YF&R. We would highly recommend that you get involved as well! We have met other young people from the state that we will have lifelong friendships with as well as a network of other young professionals that we know we can reach out to anytime for advice or to bounce ideas around for our farming operation.

Being selected to serve on the committee has been a lot of fun. Last weekend we got to spend time with over 600 other young ag professionals, network, learn and be entertained. Go ahead and put the 2018 Winter Leadership Experience on your calendar, you won’t want to miss it!  Also, Ohio Young Ag Professionals has three great contests, the Discussion Meet, Excellence in Ag and Outstanding Young Farmer. Let us, or any other committee member know if you are interested in any of these contests! Now is a great time to become involved.

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This e-newsletter is brought to you by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals. Learn more about Farm Bureau membership, including a discounted category for those 18-24 years old.