For decades, university ag economists told us, “Labor is expensive. Power is cheap.” So farmers substituted capital for labor. Now it’s time to substitute intelligence for capital.
February 9, 2022: By Jerry Carlson One of the cheapest places to find intelligent crop production research — free — is Beck’s Hybrids Practical Farm Research (PFR) reports. This seed company has invested in scientific-quality field trials since 2019. Many random-rep tests have been conducted in several locations three years in a row. When a product or practice achieves three years of consistent positive return on investment, Beck’s research team awards it a “proven” label.
The PFR introduction page (link above) says, “By evaluating hundreds of new management practices and inputs, we deliver unbiased agronomic data to help farmers make better decisions and increase profitability.”
An easy way to get familiar with the wealth of studies is to visit the introduction page and watch the brief video on ways to search for studies involving specific locations and crops which interest you. Or, open the Studies page directly at https://www.beckshybrids.com/pfresearch.
Here at Renewable Farming, we began conducting field trials in 2008. But with only 30 crop acres to work with, we’ve been limited. And our focus was narrow: proving how WakeUP enhances crop yield response to foliar and in-furrow nutrients.
Beck’s research with foliar-applied and biological products is consistent with what we’ve learned: Yield gains with corn and soybeans are typically 2 to 8 bu. per acre. No huge, see-from-the-cab yield surges. Thus it’s almost impossible to confirm slight yield differences on the farm with only a couple of strips — even with your GPS combine yield monitor. But a 3-bu. yield gain of $15 soybeans, for a cost of $5 to $8 per acre, drives an extra $37 to $40 per acre to your bottom line. On 500 or 1,000 acres, that adds up.
Our strategy with WakeUP: Use it to bump up response on three or four foliars and in-furrow products so the net gain is $50 to $80 per acre. Our studies indicate that if a foliar nutrient bumps up yield by 4 bu. per acre, including WakeUP in the solution amplifies the nutrient’s metabolic effectiveness by about 3 more bu. per acre.
Another excellent agronomic research source is Practical Farmers of Iowa. Visit their research page at this link. The roots of PFI trace back to 1985 and the Boone, IA farm of Dick and Sharon Thompson. When I was farming 500 acres in Iowa and Missouri in the early 1980s, I was a research cooperator for PFI. We recommend using PFI’s strip trial approach to achieve random-replicated, statistical rigor.
Today, the PFI mission has broadened and sounds much like our goal. PFI’s vision is: “An Iowa with healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities.”
Annual PFI gatherings and field days carry a “reunion” flavor, as longtime friends meet to share experience. Members include a wide range of farmers, from large row-crop operators to smaller, beginning farmers on acreages.
Vital Earth Resources of Texas produces a huge annual array of field trials with its flagship biostimulant, Vitazyme. Research Director Paul Syltie recently posted Vitazyme’s 2021 crop season summary, which covers trials with corn, wheat, soybeans and many fresh produce crops. Renewable Farming LLC has worked with Paul Syltie on several field trials. We market Vitazyme.
If you know of other credible research projects like these — please e-mail us!