Cutting input costs and meeting customer demands for sustainability are top-of-mind issues for farmers. The good news is that these two objectives do not have to be in opposition to one another. In fact, implementing sustainable practices on the farm can help cut costs and contribute to profitability.
“It just goes hand-in-hand to be more efficient on our farms with the current lower commodity prices,” said Keith Kemp, Soy Checkoff farmer-leader from West Manchester, Ohio. “Those efficiencies today will make my farm more sustainable today and more profitable down the road.”
One sustainable practice farmers can use to cut costs is utilizing no-till.
“We managed things very closely when we got into no-till 30 years ago and we made sure we were completely ready as far as fertility, tile and getting compaction out of the soils,” Kemp said. “Once we got into no-till we got our worms, microbes and all the little critters working to digest a lot of the residue and put their own fertility in the ground so we didn’t have to use as much fertilizer as conventional farmers.”
Another practice is analyzing all of the data collected on the farm to only apply the inputs each crop needs.
“That data is the icing on the cake,” Kemp said. “There’s no overlapping whatsoever, we analyze all of our mapping and practice prescription, variable rate planting so that data makes us tremendously efficient on our farm.”
A prime example of that efficiency was when Kemp saved 21 bags of seed on 900 acres, which led to big savings and becoming more sustainable, something that many of U.S. soybean’s customers around the world are asking farmers to do.