What separates the highest yielding growers from the pack? It’s not marketing. According to the Hefty Brothers, it’s the agronomic practices that make the difference.
“What they are doing in yields and what they are doing with inputs – that is what is separating them,” said Brian Hefty.
Brian and Darren Hefty kicked off the 2017 Ag PhD Agronomy Workshop in Baltic, South Dakota today looking at their First Steps Soil Tests results. This past year the agronomists invited some of the highest yielding growers in the country to put in plots on Hefty Brothers’ farm and learned quite a few new approaches to improving soil quality from all the participants.
For example, Georgia grower Randy Dowdy, who is the current world soybean yield record holder with 171 bushels per acre, shared that liquid manganese chelate is better than dry manganese sulfate for quickly boosting Mn level in growing corn, and getting quicker and more even emergence. Virginia farmer David Hula, who won the world record corn yield in 2015 with 532.0271 bushel, focused on driving pH down to 6.3 quickly to make nutrients more available. He also advised feeding corn late to pack on test weight.
Here are a few key lessons from the Hefty Brothers First Steps Plots:
- Need to switch research planters- corn stand was subpar mainly to the planter.
- Existing soil fertility and soil health is more important than applied soil fertility in our heavy soils.
- Focus more on micronutrients.
- Use plant tissue analysis.
- Keep treating later in the season if necessary.
- Consider biologicals and plant growth hormones.
- Fertilizer timing and balance is more important than total quantity.