Pay Attention

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Five things we'll be paying attention to on our farm in 2011.

Published on: December 29, 2010

Five things we’ll be paying attention to on our farm in 2011.  


I’ve been attending lots of farm meetings and workshops these days, like many farmers. We cover these regularly in our magazines, and we get ideas about stories that might be worth while down the road. But I’m also usually looking at what I might put into play around our place too.

Learning from the Extension folks and experts I’ve been listening to lately, here are five things we’ll be paying attention to around our place in 2011.

1)       Input costs – With soaring commodity prices and with fuel prices creeping upward, we all know that seed, fertilizer, fuel and oil, pesticides, repairs and services could easily follow the trend. Finding ways to utilize our inputs most effectively is a priority this year.

2)       Market prices – Commodity prices going into 2011 have been very good, indeed. We’ve been pricing some of our 2011 crop to take advantage of these record prices. My Dad would advise – “Don’t get greedy. If you see a profit, take it.” It shouldn’t be difficult to pull the trigger on some sales this year.

3)       Dirt under my fingernails – Many of the experts I respect most believe that if farmers pay attention to the soil on land that is cropped or grazed by livestock, everything else falls into place. Building soil organic matter through reduced tillage, cover crops, cereal grains, crop rotations and planned grazing pays big future dividends. Successful farmers always seem to know the details about their soil, not only fertility, but also trouble spots that can use extra TLC.

4)       Profit over yield – We’ve always ignored the yield claims we’ve heard from other farmers and worked more on our bottom line. We admire most the farmers who take the biggest paycheck home as net profit after harvest time.

5)       Family first – We want to continue to remember why we are out here on the farm. Our families are the greatest gifts in our lives and if we are too busy working to take time to be with our families, to laugh together, eat dinner together and work together side by side, then we are missing the point. We can’t forget the “family” part of the family farm.

These are the details we’ll be paying attention to around our place. What are some of the details you’ll be paying attention to on your farm in 2011?