FIELD NOTES CATCHES UP WITH FARMERS IN NEBRASKA, TEXAS

MARCH 2014

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(Posted Fri. Mar 21st, 2014)

 

Today, the National Corn Growers Association launched its fourth season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.

 

First, Field Notes caught up with a central Nebraska farmer first introduced last season, Andy Jobman. In addition to growing a wide variety of crops, including corn for chip production, and ranching, Jobman also helps other farmers through his work as a crop consultant.

 

Through his crop consulting work, Jobman plays a role in agriculture across his area by helping other farmers spot potential problems and improve the efficiency of their input use. Stressing that the role he plays is collaborative, he explains how a dialogue informed by agronomic knowledge and awareness of the newest advancements in production practices can help farmers grow more while using inputs in a targeted manner.

 

“As a crop consultant, I work with farmers throughout the year,” said Jobman. “Over the winter, we have been planning for this year’s crop and that starts with soil sampling. I take soil samples from each field and send them to a lab where they are tested for all of the nutrients we will need to manage our crops. The results show us exactly how much of each nutrient is already out in each field so that we can make targeted, informed choices about fertilizer and other applications.”

 

Jobman explained that this practice makes good business sense for farmers at the same time it ensures that they are acting as responsible stewards of the environment.

 

“Applying the correct amount of fertilizers, or any other chemical, makes sense for farmers as increasing application rates past those necessary does not lead to a better outcome on their farm,” he explained. “Not only is it wasteful in terms of resources, but it wastes money too. Farmers aim to act as good stewards of their land by being more efficient with resources, which makes economic sense too.”

 

On his farm, calfing season is already well underway. Noting that Nebraska is now the number one state for cattle on feed, he attributes that industry’s growth to the synergistic relationship livestock and ethanol enjoy there.

 

“Both the corn industry and the ethanol industry made it possible for Nebraska to become the number one cattle on feed state,” he said. “We call our situation “the golden triangle.” Corn goes into ethanol plants and comes out as fuel but, in addition to the fuel, a co-product called distillers’ grains is also produced. Distillers’ grains are a soft mash that livestock producers often use to improve the quality of their feed rations. The industries here complement one another so that corn goes for food, feed and fuel maximizing the usefulness of the crop more fully.”

 

To listen to the full interview, click here.

 

Next, another farmer from last season, Jay Beckhusen, provided an update from his Texas farm. About 50 miles from Austin, Beckhusen completed corn planting before much of the country has even begun.

 

“Around here, farmers have been planting corn since the middle to end of February,” he said. “I have been out checking it as recently as today. I have 100 percent emergence, and it’s about three to four inches tall. In our area, I would say that we are about 95 percent planted in terms of corn.”

 

To listen to the full interview, click here.

 

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Field Notes follows the growers who have opened their farms, families and communities up this year and meet the true faces of modern American agriculture.