What’s coming down the pipeline to help farmers increase profitability? Biological farming has been getting a lot of attention lately — and for good reasons. Genetic technology and equipment innovations have made dramatic changes in farm management and profitability within a generation. Yet most farmers are still using the same fertilizers their fathers used. That’s where looking at soil nutrients comes in, says Bob Yanda, a 25-year biological farming industry veteran and Vice President of Development for Midwestern BioAg. Yanda explains how biological farming can improve your operation.
1. Custom Consulting
“Our approach for each farmer is custom,” says Yanda. “We look at their operation, ask questions, pull soil samples, analyze nutrient levels, look for problems, and learn about that farmer’s goals.”
“Then we put together recommendations for achieving those goals that involve traditional and biological solutions,” he says.
One of Yanda’s clients, Gary Manternach who farms near Monticello, Iowa, especially appreciates Yanda’s extensive knowledge.
“It’s so valuable to have a consultant with expertise, like Bob, who really understands soil,” says Manternach. “He explains the different interactions with elements in the soil, how one product impacts something else.”
A lot of the things I’m reading now in magazines sound like what Midwestern BioAg was saying 20 years ago about sulfur, calcium, tillage, cover crops, and biological interactions in the soil.”
2. New Farm Management Tools
Yanda’s recommendations help farmers expand their management toolbox.
Biological options focus on soil correction and crop fertilizer. These options may include recommendations on crop rotation, strip-till or no-till, cover crops, and application methods.
3. Improve Soil
According to Yanda, soil is the key in understanding biological farming practices. The company offers comprehensive soil sampling, which is different from the analysis provided by most labs.
“We are looking to build organic matter so that the soil can maintain nutrients and minerals,” Yanda says. “Soil correction products can also change the physical properties of the soil to balance its health.”
“It might be about using the right type of lime, or about where they haul their manure. It’s different for every farmer,” says Yanda.
Natural-based fertilizers enhance soil life and plant roots. “Looking at a different nitrogen source is often the ‘gateway’ to getting into biological farming,” says Yanda. “We go beyond N-P-K and test for minerals like manganese, sulfur, and boron.”
Manternach says he first got involved in biological farming with the intent of increasing yield and productivity. “We’d tried conventional approaches and we weren’t getting anywhere,” he says.
After starting with Midwestern BioAg dry fertilizer products, Manternach says the difference was clear. “We could see a change in our soil’s ability to hold water, and it’s improving all the time.”
4. Achieve Potential
Manternach says when they began using biological farming products, “We saw a change in our yields.”
“It’s because of the increased organic matter,” says Manternach.
“Farmers want more than increased yields” says Yanda. We look at, ‘What is their true potential?’ It’s about bottom line profitability more than yields.”
Yanda believes that good farming is doing the best you can with what you have to work with. He points to Manternach’s practice of twin row planting as another way to help plants — and acres — achieve their potential. “He can push the plant population without sacrificing use of sunlight and nutrients.”
5. Changing Soil, Changing Minds
According to Yanda, Manternach is a smart, open-minded farmer who wants to improve his operation and isn’t afraid to try new things.
But these days, biological farming is no longer considered unusual.
“Biological farming is becoming more and more mainstream,” says Manternach. “A lot of the things I’m reading now in magazines sound like what Midwestern BioAg was saying 20 years ago about sulfur, calcium, tillage, cover crops, and biological interactions in the soil.”
“If you’re interested in learning about biological farming, talk to a consultant at Midwestern BioAg,” Manternach says. “They’ve been in the biological farming business for 30 years. They’re really good at educating farmers so we can choose for ourselves.”