Dick Sloan, an Iowa farmer in Buchanan County, recently wrote to his local newspaper to bring attention to the portion of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy that provides tables that assist farmers in making nutrient management decisions. Table 2, for example, on page 6 of the strategy shows the potential impact of certain practices, like cover crops, on reducing nitrate loss and on corn yield based on literature review. Farmers can see which practices have been shown to be most effective. His article can be found at http://thegazette.com/2014/02/02/good-options-to-choose-from/. The document to which he refers – Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy – can be found online at http://www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/NRS2-130529.pdf.
Farmers are data hungry. I know because I moonlight as one. I get eight texts a day just to know what the grain markets are doing. What is my cost per acre? How fast did that group of pigs grow? These are the types of questions I and other farmers are asking themselves all the time. This fall I finally installed a GPS-enabled yield monitor in my combine. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Sure, much of what I was seeing I knew already. Some areas are good, some bad, and some are much better or worse than I ever expected. That real-time data gave me something to think about and will lead to management changes in the future.