By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo
Chris Weaver is a sixth-generation farmer from central Maryland who has put a focus upon soybean agronomic research. He is credited with growing 158-bushel soybeans and boosting farm yield averages to over 100 bushels. Weaver stopped in Ohio in July to share some tips with farmers, courtesy of Golden Harvest.
“We went from 60- to 70-bushel beans in 2010 when I took over, to over 100-bushels for an average on the farm. I had to overcome a bunch of hurdles to get my father and grandfather to understand not everything is a snake oil. It is a tough mindset to change everything we have been doing in the past. We had to change our thought process to increase the bean yield on the whole farm. We had to look at things differently. It is not about growing 158-bushel beans, it is increasing your farm average to increase your productivity to increase your ROI,” Weaver said. “The best silver bullet it is a four-letter word: work. It takes a lot of work and it is different for every farm. You have to soil sample. You have to tissue sample. You have to form relationships. You have to get the right nutrients on the plants and get less stress on the plant to equate to more yield.”
With a focus on work, the goal is to move out of complacency on the farm.
“We get complacent. If you do not understand your own soil samples or tissue samples, if you are not getting out and doing it, you are in trouble. That is the biggest change in what we are doing. Before we were taking information from our local agronomist. He’d tell us triple 19 at 300 pounds to the acre and that wasn’t getting us anywhere,” Weaver said. “I am smarter than those people. I know more. I had to do it. We get out and work and do all of this stuff. We experiment. We run a 225-acre research farm where we try different products. Just because you give me a product and it yields, does not mean we are going to use it next year. We do 3 years of rigorous testing. We have our own greenhouse where we test products in the wintertime. We have an on-farm laboratory where we diagnose products. We have companies that bring us low salt products, for example. We run them through a centrifuge and run diagnostics and find out they are not really low salt. They are 50-50 at a high price. Why do we want to put that out there in furrow and ruin our root zone for our bean plants?”
With so much work going on, it has been necessary to build a trustworthy, reliable team.
“It is not an ‘I’ it is a ‘we.’ There are seven of us on my team,” he said. “You need relationships with people and to make them part of your team. That has made us successful.”
Weaver gave a 4-hour presentation armed with a squirt gun in case of anyone dozing off. He covered products being used on his farm, fungicides, tissue samples, soil samples, and many other aspects of the operation. He specifically suggested the use of Smartfoil, a foliar applied biostimulant for optimal flowering in soybeans.
“I’m a farmer and I want to help farmers by letting them see what we have done,” Weaver said.