Improving productivity, efficiency heading into this growing season

The warm weather forecasted for this week has made me realize that I need to get moving on some equipment repairs because haying season will be here before I know it. As I think about this upcoming growing season, I find myself reflecting on last season and what I could have done better or more efficiently. I am going to make a few changes this year to not only improve the productivity of our land with soil amendments, but I am also going to make myself more productive by handling the hay fewer times. My shoulder will thank me for these changes.

As you head into this growing season, I hope you are also thinking about what you can do to improve your productivity and efficiency. Given the tough market situations, those improvements may mean cutting some unnecessary expenses to become more profitable. Discussions about the success of a farm is most often expressed in bushels per acre, hundred weight of milk, or tons per acre. There is a sense of competitiveness that comes with trying to beat your neighbors in yield, but the focus should be on maximizing profit for your farm. It would be nice to get 250 bushel corn, but what would your fertilizer bill look like to achieve it?

You will hear us in Extension talk about soil testing over and over again for good reason – without recent soil tests you could very well be spreading money on your fields that is not needed. Fertilizer calculators are available to help you determine how much nitrogen to apply to maximize your profits. Ohio State University and other Midwestern states provide data to the Iowa State calculator found here.  This calculator uses the price you expect to be paid for your corn and the price you are paying for nitrogen to calculate the best amount of nitrogen to apply to maximize your profit, without going overboard and wasting time or money with excessive nitrogen application.

Fertilizer is just one way that you may be able to cut back on expenses, but see, seed treatments and pest programs should all be given a second look. If you are trying to kill marestail with glyphosate for the third year in a row without success, you may want to alter your weed control program. And the same can be said for many seed treatments. If you have questions about how or where to cut back, give me a call and I can help you with those decisions. Here’s to a profitable 2018 growing season!

Its not too late to register for  our annual Northeast Ohio Agronomy School on Wednesday at the Williamsfield Community Center. We have a great lineup of speakers covering a variety of topics, including weed control strategies, precision planting, soil compaction, soil health, finances and other information that may help you succeed in 2018. Pesticide applicator credits will be available for Pennsylvania and Ohio pesticide license holders who attend. Fertilizer applicator credits and Certified Crop Advisor credits will also be available. Cost for this all-day event is $15. To register, call 440.576.9008.

If you are thinking about taking the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s exam to get your pesticide applicators license, we will be offering a New Applicator Training session March 13 that will help you prepare for the test. We will cover everything you need to know for the CORE exam and will touch upon a few categories as well. Cost for this program is $35.

Pretty soon you will start to see those cute little fluff balls of chicks arrive in many farm stores and you may be tempted to bring one or a dozen home. If you want to learn more about raising chickens at home before you make the jump, OSU Extension in Trumbull County will be offering a Backyard Chicken Basics program March 14 at our office in Cortland. Tim McDermott, DVM, and I will be discussing how to choose chicken breeds, nutrition, zoning issues and many other topics that will help you raise a healthy flock. Cost for this program is $15.  To register, call 330.638.6783.

For information about gardening, the Master Gardener program, or any other program, call the OSU Trumbull County Extension office at 330.638.6783 or visit their website.

Submitted by Lee Beers,  an OSU Extension Educator, with the Trumbull County Extension office