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Fewer Chemicals, Better Biology, Healthier Soil

Iowa Crop, Cattle Farm Benefits from the “Recipe for Success” 

In farming, one key decision can set a chain of events in motion. This domino effect worked in a good way when Bob Henderson’s sons attended the Iowa Power Farming Show in Des Moines a few years ago and heard about a product that makes manure easier to pump. 

 

“The solids in the bottom of our cattle manure pit made the manure tougher to pump,” says Bob Henderson, who farms with his sons Aaron, Andy and Adam near Albia in southern Iowa. “We had to add about 100,000 gallons of water—about 2 feet of water—in this 12-foot pit, so we could remove all  the manure.”

 

Not only was this a waste of water, but it was a big waste of time to haul all those extra loads. That’s why the Henderson boys took note when they heard about Manure Master Plus products from ProfitProAG. They were interested in Manure Master Plus–PA, which is designed to digest and liquify manure, while minimizing odor, reducing top crusting and bottom solids, and supporting soil health and  crop performance. 

 

“We were willing to try this, because we needed to make the manure easier to pump,” says Bob, whose family raises 1,600 acres of corn and soybeans, manages a 400-head cow herd and finishes 1,110 beef cattle a year. 

 

The Hendersons used Manure Master Plus–PA in the pit connected to their 500-head, monoslope cattle finishing barn, which they built in 2014. “The Manure Master digested the manure solids, which saves us from hauling a lot of extra loads,” says Bob, whose family also does some custom manure spreading. “We basically paid for the product with the labor and time savings.” 

 

This success with Manure Master Plus–PA motivated the Hendersons to look at other ProfitProAG products. “We’re focused on raising better crops,” says Bob, whose family homesteaded his family’s farm in the mid-1800s. “We’re always trying to find farming practices and products that are a little closer to nature, so we can use fewer chemicals and help the soil get back in shape with the right biology.” 

 

The “Recipe for Success” offers simplicity 

In their quest for continuous improvement, the Hendersons have been experimenting with 60-inch-row corn, with cover crops seeded in between. 

 

“We use a diverse seed mix, and the cover crops are good for grazing,” Bob says. “We’re also hoping the cover crops help with weed control so we can skip a herbicide pass.” 

 

The Hendersons are also working with ProfitProAG on a “Recipe for Success” that integrates solutions customized to their crop and livestock needs. Biologically treating manure is a key part of the “Recipe for Success” for their livestock operation. They also follow a specific “Recipe for Success” for their crop acres to control the controllables and boost their profit potential.

 

“Our “Recipe for Success” isn’t a cookie-cutter plan,” said Dr. Jim Ladlie, founder and CEO of ProfitProAG. “Each “Recipe for Success” is tailored to your acres, whether you raise corn, soybeans, small grains, forages or cover crops.”

 

Try the “Recipe for Success” if you want to: 

 

  • Build healthier soils, which produce healthier crops that nourish healthier livestock. 
  • Cut your fertilizer bill, thanks to nutrients that are made available from your crop residue. 
  • Boost your crops’ resilience and yield potential, no matter what Mother Nature brings. 
  • Eliminate multi-product mixing time and multi-package disposal with your custom rate-per-acre blends to the crops’ stages of production. 
  • Raise high-quality crops and livestock. 

 

The “Recipe for Success” includes three phases to help control the controllables:

 

  • Phase I Residue Management. This “second harvest” focused on efficient breakdown of crop residue to improve soil health and boost nutrient retention/availability, nitrogen fixation, water infiltration, and carbon release to feed the crop during the growing season, while reducing residual insect and disease pressure. The key benefit is improved nutrient cycling from the crop residue, which can help lower your fertilizer bill. “We used the residue management on about 100 acres in 2020,” Bob says. “It worked well, so we treated every acre in 2021.” 

 

  • Phase II At-Plant. Jump start your yield, and get your crop off to a strong start with early-season plant health and vigor. Biological seed coatings and the right starter package supply key nutrients to seedlings and enhance plant health all season-long. Establishing healthy plants below and above ground is critical to maximizing the crop’s genetic yield potential. “We apply starter fertilizer on our corn,” says Bob, who used the “Recipe for Success” in 2021 and plans to follow it again in 2022.  “We also use ProfitPro’s seed treatment.”

 

  • Phase III In-Season. Stay green to the finish! This phase helps mitigate plant stress, which is critical when the reproductive phase of yield development begins. Foliar application of nutrients, energy and stress-reducing technology builds resilience and uniformity in a crop-production system. The end result is increased seed numbers, weight and nutrient density in grains. Forages show improved nutrient content, energy, taste, storability and reduced mycotoxins. “We apply fertilizer and biologicals in-season when we apply herbicide,” Bob notes. In 2021, the Hendersons used fungicide on only a few acres. “It worked out fine,” says Bob, who adds that soybean yields were exceptional in his area in 2021. 

 

Putting soil to the test

As part of their “Recipe for Success,” the Hendersons are working with Dennis Klockenga,  a crops specialist with ProfitProAG, on soil tests and fertilizer recommendations. They’ve sent soil samples into Regen Ag Lab in Nebraska for a complete analysis. In addition, they are running the Haney Test on a few soil samples to analyze more of the soil biology.  

 

The Haney Test offers a complete soil test analysis similar to other soil tests but uses weaker acid extracts that mimic plant root exudates, unlike traditional soil tests that use strong acids. This will give a more accurate analysis of what is plant available. In addition, the Haney Test evaluates soil health indicators such soil respiration, water soluble organic carbon and nitrogen and the ratio between them. These tests will give us an idea of how active the soil biology in your fields. The more microbial activity the more that soil bound nutrients can be solubilized and made plant available.

 

“We’re comparing soil samples from areas where we’ve applied manure to samples from our fields with no manure,” Bob says. 

 

Test what works 

A holistic, science-based system like the “Recipe for Success” appeals to the Hendersons, who appreciate how ProfitProAG explains each step of the process. “I’ve been on this land my whole life and am still learning every day,” Bob says. “I like how the ProfitPro team helps you learn more.” 

 

The Hendersons encourage other farmers to try ProfitProAG’s “Recipe for Success.” It’s okay to start small, like they did when they experimented with the Manure Master system. “Try a few products, and see what works for you,” Bob says. “This year we’re going to use more test strips and check strips to fine-tune what works on our farm.” 

 

Let’s talk

If you’d like to have ProfitProAG develop a “Recipe for Success” for your farm’s specific needs, contact us for more details. Let’s work together to make farming more profitable and fun again.  

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