This month we meet Stephen Anderson, a 5th generation grower from Shelby County, Illinois. Stephen farms corn and soybeans with his father, uncle, and brother, and, as the oldest child, began helping out on the farm from the time he was tall enough to see over the steering wheel. Stephen has a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of Illinois.
“They have pictures of me sleeping in the back of the tractor much younger, but my dad remembers me running the ridge-scraper on our ridge-till corn when I was about 10,” he said.
Stephen became a partner on the farm while he was in college, and used to commute home on the weekends to work:
“It’s a big difference being able to be out on the farm daily instead of trying to drive home 3 hours on a Friday night and work all weekend. I’m very blessed to be able to do that.”
Nowadays, Stephen has his own farm, and finds Morning Farm Report™ to be a key component in managing his day-to-day operations:
“I read the Morning Farm Report™ email every day during the crop season just to get an idea of what fields we can work and if there are any unusual weather conditions the program has noted. I live about 10 miles from the farm, and I’m amazed by how different the rainfall can be in that distance. It might not have even rained at my house, and we might be rained out in the field.”
Stephen also finds Tractor Time to be helpful when coordinating among the different aspects of his operation. For example, his office is in one place, the shop is in another, and they have 3 major groupings of acreage, each about 10 miles from each other (with some fields in between). Tractor Time helps in planning where he can work, and when, depending on soil conditions.
Right now, Stephen is working on drainage improvements on his operation, because it is his biggest limiting factor in yields. After that, he says, comes Big Data - analyzing site-specific profitability per acre for all inputs and practices.
“I think the data and technology to do some of this analysis have been around for a long time, but it’s the science of putting it all together that continues to develop. In 10 years we won’t even think twice about it - it will just be the status quo. Just like grid soil samples,” he said.
Another area of concern that Stephen is focused on is managing his Nitrogen applications. The Advanced Nutrient Engine in Morning Farm Report™ shows growers how nutrients are being utilized by the crop based on weather and other agronomic conditions. With this information, growers can make fertility decisions based on ROI, potentially preventing over or under application.
“I think the nutrient tools will allow producers to put those dollar signs on the different nitrogen practices they are using to see how they pay off, especially in an environment of lower-priced commodities.”