Location. Location. Location. As growers prepare for the planting season, the National Corn Growers Association reminds them of the importance of relying on state and local crop information resources when making changes to operations.
Fortunately, producers have several resources available to them, including other area farmers, local U.S. Department of Agriculture offices, university extension offices, local agronomists and seed and chemical salesmen.
"In considering making changes to your farming practices, state and local crop consultants are a benefit in determining feasibility for your area," says Bill Chase, chairman of NCGA's Production and Stewardship team. "Everyone has their own plan of how to farm on their land, but it is important to utilize all the information possible when thinking about making a change to current practices."
Dr. Chad Lee, assistant extension professor of grain crops at the University of Kentucky, says nationwide publications or resources are not always an accurate source of information in applying methods to local practices.
"Some nationwide calculators, for example the nitrogen calculator found on USDA's Web site, do not account for local conditions and local sites, which dramatically affect nitrogen rates," says Lee, adding the USDA calculator is a good concept and the agency hopes to localize it in future updates. "Also, research done in northern Iowa or central Illinois may not apply to the South or even other parts of the Midwest. With agriculture, there's so much variation from location to location. You've got to have local conditions to compare things."
Lee says a core group of farmers contact the University of Kentucky each year for updates on planting conditions and research. This year, he says the university has had more farmers contacting the office for localized information on nitrogen application and soybean rust.
"Most farmers rely on personal experience, but more people have been coming to us on the issue of nitrogen because it's so expensive this year," Lee says. "They want to make a good decision on what to put down.
"Input costs are not dropping, and the margin for error is getting smaller and smaller. There is more demand for unbiased information and hopefully we're providing that."