Trying something new can be intimidating. I do not care how adventurous you are, there is always at least a moment of hesitation. While trying someone else’s recipe for tater tot hotdish is much less intimidating than changing the way your farming operation does business, but in both the biggest challenge is changing your perspective from what you have always perceived is the only way to do things. That is what Kossuth County farmer Nancy Bormann told me, on Monday, when it came to their conservation practices on their farm.
Nancy Bormann and her husband Matt farm near Algona, Iowa and have been gradually implementing a cover crop program along with the practices found in the 4R Plus program. Nancy is also a certified crop adviser. She says they are looking at ways to save money, time, and land quality by trying different conservation practices.
Every conservation practice gives farmers different results in different fields. Bormann says their experimentation has led them to narrow down on what practices work best for their operation. For corn, they use strip-till practices and break their fertilizer application program into thirds. A third in the fall as they prepare for next year’s corn, a third is applied at planting, and the final segment is side dressed during the growing season. This way she says they have become more efficient with their nitrogen use, getting it to the plants when they are needing it and risking less runoff into the groundwater.
On their soybean acres, Bormann says they have the co-op spread their nutrients mixed with ryegrass seed so they can minimize the number of trips taken across the acres, thus reducing compaction.
Bormann says they have seen much less soil loss due to wind erosion over fields using conventional practices.
Nancy says that changing your mindset is honestly the toughest part of making the switch from conventional practices to more conservation-minded practices. You do not have to cannonball into the deep end right away. Nancy says that there is nothing wrong with trying new practices a little bit at a time.
The big question people tend to ask is how are these practices panning out for yield? How is this affecting their input costs? Bormann says they are pleased with the results they have seen. They have not seen any regression if anything they have seen progression.
To learn more about the Bormann farm near Algona or to learn more about 4R Plus strategies, visit the 4R Plus website.