JD Bethel, Champaign County

Growing our Generation: Preparing for the 2018 growing season

J.D. Bethel from Champaign County is the editor of the Feb. 26, 2018 Growing our Generationfeaturing insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.

Hello, my name is J.D. Bethel, and I work as an agronomist for Integrated Ag Services and live in Mechanicsburg with my wife, Wendy. I began working for Integrated Ag Services in November 2016 and work with farmers to create variable rate fertilizer and planting prescriptions, interpret soil test results and provide agronomic recommendations on a variety of crops. When time allows, I enjoy helping my parents on their corn and soybean farm in northern Madison County.

Watching your dollars and cents
Corn planterHigh input cost and low crop prices present several challenges for the 2018 growing season. Before we pull the planters out of the barn for #Plant18, it is a good idea to sit down and take an honest look at what it is going to cost to raise a crop in 2018. Ohio State University’s Farm Office has several spreadsheets that are useful for determining where exactly you are spending money each season. One cost that will vary significantly between farm operations is machinery cost. It is easy to forget the true cost of a planter or tillage tool while it is sitting in the barn, but should be included when determining whether or not you will make any money this year. Take a look at some of the crop budgeting spreadsheets, enter your own input cost amounts and determine if there are areas where your farm can become more efficient.

Selecting corn hybrids
corn in fieldBuying seed corn can be a difficult decision; there are dozens of seed companies, each with a dozen hybrids for you to choose from. One of my roles at Integrated Ag Services is to help farmers make informed decisions on which hybrids to plant on their farm by managing the IAS Yield Trials. It is a great way to see dozens of different hybrids (or soybean varieties) in the same locations and determine which hybrids are rising to the top. We have 21 test locations that are spread across Ohio and Indiana and our results are posted online. You are able to view multiple years’ worth of data and filter the results to dial in the relative maturity ranges that fit your location. Our goal is to find out which hybrids perform the best in our geography and relay that information as quickly as possible to you, the grower.

JD BethelOhio Farm Bureau’s AgriPOWER Institute is an interactive leadership program that promotes literacy in public policy and creates advocates for agriculture. The course programming includes learning how to interact with elected officials on the local, state and federal level. We have also had the opportunity to tour apple farms, a paper plant, and travel to Florida to learn about types of agriculture that are very different from the corn and soybean fields that I am familiar with at home. One aspect of the course that I have enjoyed the most is being able to network with 21 other Farm Bureau members that are excited about becoming more involved in Farm Bureau and their communities. I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and consider joining AgriPOWER X.  Applications are available online.

Here is a blog I wrote about my first session as a member of Class IX.

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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.