What did 2015 teach us? Well, for most of us, we were reminded that water is king. In 2012 we found out how much we needed it and in 2014 and 2015 (especially) we found out what too much of it can take. Some had record yields, some had average, and some were below average.
Ok, so what did we learn? Well, for each of us that will be different, but the opportunity to learn is the same for each of us. I am 47 years old this year and, if I am lucky, I have 25 or so more chances to learn and get it right. I'd like to get close at least a couple of times!
A few takeaways for us. These are not anything Earth shattering; more like lessons and reminders.
- Nitrogen is good. We had gone to all side-dress NH3 for the majority of our N needs and that bit us this year. We will be pre-planting a portion, side-dressing a portion, and testing with our Y-Drop on a small portion.
- Calcium is good; it appears. Maybe Calcium doesn't deserve all of the credit, but I believe our soils are softer and have better water infiltration than they did before we started to apply high Cal lime 6 or so years ago. That's why we did it, but it is still nice to see and feel the results.
- Tile is good. We took a 50-80 bushel hit where the tile stopped. Gotta keep burying plastic.
- Hydraulic Down Force control is good. It doesn't matter if it is Delta Force or the Ag Leader/Dawn system, it is a very useful tool with a great ROI.
- Hiniker's Nitro-Lert is good. We used it ourselves and we have over 70 customers using it as well. It is a solid, simple, independent, and color blind system that just works. If you apply NH3, I highly recommend you take a look at it. It is as close to a slam dunk as you can get. On a 15 knife bar, it only takes 850 bushels of $3.50 corn to break even. After that, it is money earned.
Well, now it is time to move on to #plant16. Hopefully some of what we all learned can be put to good use. Also, some of us hope we never see that much water again. Whatever the weather, we all must now figure out how to pencil out a return. The small things matter again. As they always have.