There’s a saying that everyone wants to be an overcomer, but nobody really wants any challenges to overcome. While there are plenty of challenges in modern agriculture, ProfitProAG’s Winter Conference 2023 offered a wealth of knowledge to help you be an overcomer. 

“As Albert Einstein said, we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking that created these problems,” said Dr. Jim Ladlie, founder and CEO of ProfitProAG, which helps farmers work in harmony with nature get more from every bushel, every animal and every gallon of manure. “Just look at the way we test soil. It’s archaic and was designed to sell fertilizer. That’s why we’re looking at new solutions, from soil microbiome testing to the “Recipe for Success”.” 

Some of the farmers who attended the Winter Conference 2023 in Albert Lea expressed their frustration with conventional ag systems, which seem to give them just enough to keep them going one more year. “You have a lot of people telling you they’ve got the answers and what we’re talking about here at ProfitProAG can’t be done, but they are wrong,” Ladlie said. 

Here are 4 key takeaways from the Winter Conference that can help you be an overcomer: 

  1. Want an opportunity to cut your fertilizer bill, control erosion, boost soil health and reliance, and improve your crops’ ability to endure extreme weather conditions? It’s time to take a new look at carbon. “Carbon is a foundational building block of every nutrient in the soil and is essential for crop production,” Ladlie said. “Carbon must be managed properly, since it’s one of the most limiting resources in crop production. It comprises 45% of the plant’s weight. It takes 100 pounds to produce one bushel of corn and 40,000 pounds to produce 400 bushels.”
    Carbon plays many key roles in natural cycles that can enhance crop production. “Beneficial bacteria and fungi love plant-derived carbohydrates and need soft carbon sources like root exudates,” said Al Toops, chief agronomist with BTI Ag LLC. The microbes open nutrient pathways in the soil that enhance nutrient uptake into the plants. After the growing season, plant residue decomposition starts the cycle over again.
    Soil carbon is “black gold” on a farm. It’s also something that farmers can readily influence. Stored soil carbon is a bit like a bank account, Toops said. While certain farming practices allow farmers to grow this bank account, withdrawals come from soil erosion and other factors. “What’s in your carbon bank account?” Toops asked.
    When soil carbon is managed properly, it improves soil nutrient availability and plant nutrient uptake, controls soil compaction, improves soils’ and crops’ resilience to drought and extreme rainfall events, reduces soil erosion and water runoff, and potentially helps you lower your fertilizer bill.
    Managing carbon is crucial for long-term sustainability in agriculture, Ladlie noted. A variety of farming practices can help farmers reach this goal, including minimizing tillage and using cover crops, which help add organic matter to the soil and control soil erosion. Ladlie also recommends ProfitProAG’s three-phase Recipe for Success, which is tailored to your acres. https://profitproag.net/news/confused-about-carbon/ 
  2. So far in 2023, there’s a lot for farmers to manage, including high energy prices, soaring fertilizer costs, weather challenges and a potentially prolonged period of high interest rates. If it feels like the time to prepare for an uncertain future, that’s right.  “We’re reaching an inflection point in agriculture,” said Brian Dougherty, an Iowa State University Extension ag engineer who spoke at the Big Soil Health Event in Cedar Falls in December. “Survival depends on your ability to change, adapt and manage an evolving system. Prepare now for eminent energy and material constraints—and a fundamentally different economy.” Dougherty urges farmers to stop committing “fertilicide” and take steps towards regenerative agriculture. For the complete story, click here: https://profitproag.net/news/is-it-time-for-a-new-vision-for-agriculture/
  3. Put biologicals to the test, cut fertilizer bills with BeCrop. There’s a lot of buzz today about biologicals to boost crop yields, but can they really deliver on their promises? You don’t have to guess anymore, thanks to an advanced soil test that uses genomics to give you answers—and potentially slash your fertilizer bill. “There’s often a ‘snake oil’ side to biologicals, where the seller says, ‘Just trust me,’” said Al Toops, chief agronomist with BTI Ag LLC. “There’s a better way, thanks to advances in biological soil testing.” 
    Toops champions the BeCrop® Test, which sequences strains of DNA to determine what microbes are in your soil. Why does this matter? Beneficial microbes, especially mycorrhizal fungi, are essential in releasing valuable nutrients that are locked up in your soil to make them available to your crop. 
    It’s not enough just to have some beneficial microbes in your soil. They also need to be in balance. When they are out of balance, valuable nutrients will remain locked up in the soil, unavailable to plants. “Beneficial fungal species break down carbon residue and move it to the soil,” Toops explained. “This has to happen before the beneficial bacteria in the soil can release the nutrients to the plants.” 
    To learn more about how the BeCrop test can work for you, click here. https://profitproag.net/news/put-biologicals-to-the-test/
  4. Drones take spraying, dry spreading to the next level. When it’s time to spray or spread, how many times is it either too muddy to get into the field, or you can’t get a plane scheduled? What about getting cover crops seeded on time? Forget all that frustration. Things are looking up, thanks to today’s high-tech drones.
    These aerial workhorses can literally transcend the limitations of time and space for faster, more flexible in-field applications, from crop protection products and liquid foliar fertilizers to cover crop seeding. Jeramy Williams sees so much promise in drones’ potential to transform agriculture that he switched careers, launched a new business and is teaming up with ProfitProAG to help more farmers benefit from drone technology. 
    “Every year these drones get bigger and better,” said Williams, the founder and owner of American Drone in Wisconsin. “We’re just at the beginning of this potential.” 
    Williams, a licensed drone pilot, handled drone applications for Midwest ag clients throughout the summer of 2022. “I truly believe Jeramy’s on the leading edge of taking drone technology to the next level in agriculture,” said John Pernat, a Wisconsin farmer and sales rep for ProfitProAG, which has teamed up with American Drone on aerial applications throughout Wisconsin and the surrounding areas. To see how this drone technology can benefit your farm, click here. https://profitproag.net/crop/drones-take-to-next-level/

All these innovative solutions can help you find a new path forward to a more sustainable, productive farming operation. “We want to help you become an overcome,” Ladlie said. 

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