April 5, 2012

The Tools to Increasing Yields

Do you know how many people will be on the planet by 2050? The answer to that question is 9 billion people! That is a lot people and a lot of mouths to feed. With this increase in population, it will mean that farmers will have to be able to produce more food with fewer resources. So how exactly will farmers be able to increase yields when they have limited resources available?

Back in March I attended Commodity Classic down in Nashville, Tennessee and had the opportunity to attend the “Doubling Yields in 20 Years or Less” learning session that was hosted by Brian and Darren Hefty. The Hefty brothers pointed out several ways that farmers can increase their yields starting now.

The first thing the Hefty brothers mentioned is that farmers must be committed to increasing their yields. Now, most farmers would say they are, but are they truly dedicated to increasing their yields? The reason why I ask this is because increasing yields doesn’t just happen by snapping their fingers. Farmers must be willing to take the time to study different traits that are available and also be willing to try different methods that may not be the “norm”. Farmers also must be willing to communicate with seed dealers, agronomists, and yes, even their neighbors. Farmers should be more willing to share their knowledge with others as well as being able to listen to what other farmers are doing.

Not only should farmers be taking the time to study different production methods, but they should also be willing to attend production seminars. Most seminars are only about a half day with some lasting a full day. These seminars can usually be found all over the state and are usually held by local extension agents along with different companies sharing their new products.

Increasing yields doesn’t only involve going to seminars and studying the different production methods that are available, but it also means that a farmer needs to spend more time out in the field scouting. Farmers should scout their fields more often to see if they are gaining the most out of their crop. Just because one area of a field looks great doesn’t mean that rest of it will turn out great as well. Even if a farmer thinks he is doing a good job scouting, there is a good chance he could do even more scouting. The better the farmer gets to know the field, the better idea they will have on what they need to change the following year.

 Along with everything I just stated the biggest thing that producers need to do is be willing to try new things, whether it is a different production method or investing in new technology. Most of the time, farmers won’t try something new because they are afraid they might not succeed at it. While it is true that failures will happen, we can’t let failures hold us back from trying new things. Instead of looking at it as a failure, look at it as a learning opportunity and try something different the next time. If farmers don’t learn from their mistakes, then increasing yields won’t happen. It is going to take risks and innovation to increase yields in the future and farmers must start taking the steps now.

A growing world population means more people, which means’ more food, which leads to increased production. If farmers use the tools I just suggested, they will be able to increase their yields and feed the ever growing world population. The tools are there and farmers must be willing to use them!

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