Switching From a Dry Fertilizer Program to Liquid & Making It Profitable
12 May 2316 min 12 sec

Matt Miles admits, when it comes to his fertility program, he wasn’t an early adopter. “It was old school, it was easy…and easy isn’t always the best.” He’s seen the light with encouragement from his XtremeAg peers. He now uses frequent liquid fertilizer applications — in-furrow, via Y-drop, and over the top foliar. This from a farmer who relied on dry fertilizer and chicken litter only a few years ago. Matt and Layne Miles explain their fertility program evolution with Damian Mason on this episode of the Cutting The Curve Podcast.

This episode of the Cutting The Curve Podcast is presented by Advanced Drainage Systems

00:01 Welcome to extreme AGS cutting the curved podcast where you get a guaranteed return on investment of your time as we 00:10 cut your learning curve with the information. You can apply to your farming operation immediately extreme AG, 00:16 we've already made the mistakes so you don't have to managing. Your Farm's Water Resources is a critical component to a successful 00:25 and sustainable farming operation Advanced Drainage Systems helps Farmers, just like you increase their yields up to 30% with their technologically advanced 00:35 Water Management products visit ads pipe.com to see how they can keep your business flowing. 00:43 Now, here's your host Damien Mason. Hey there thanks for joining us an extreme ice cutting the curve talking about fertility change to talk about fertility budget. 00:52 We're talking about how you might make some wholesale changes to how you treat fertility and fertilizer applications on your farming 01:01 operation for bigger results or for tighter budgets or bigger bang for your buck. Got Matt and Lane miles McGee Arkansas on here kind of an interesting story. We 01:10 spoke about this at a couple of different live panel events that we've done. But if you didn't catch those you'll be interested to know probably the 01:19 biggest fertilizer changes amongst the extreme AG producers has happened at Miles Farms. Matt sort of 01:28 sheepishly admits. Hey, I guess I was not an early adopter in the old days. You know what I did. I went out there and put 01:34 out dry fertilizer on all my Acres. It was easy. It's what always worked spread out my labor and I've learned that 01:40 now there's a better way to get more efficient with your fertilizer. Location so I guess give me a little background on 01:46 that Matt and then we're gonna go to the Next Generation that's saying come on now. Let's keep let's keep 01:52 trying new stuff and reduce our fertilizer. So the way you did it is recently five years ago. It's kind of old school. Yeah. Yeah, I mean it was old school. It was easy, you know 02:01 and and easy not always the best but you know, I basically I guess I would say through extreme Ag and watching some 02:10 of the things that that my other the other guys that I'm in here with were doing, you know, I was doing it wrong, 02:16 you know from from planner set up all the way to fertility. Easy's not always best and and we've we've 02:23 converted over to liquid for the most part and that's something we'll talk about later on in this podcast, but we converted over to liquid feel like our yields have picked up and I 02:32 mean it's it's more trouble it takes a lot more equipment to do it, but I think in the end, we're happy with our bank account Lane one 02:41 of the reasons that your dad offered was. I've heard about the planting until I came to Media Arkansas. I didn't know there was a three-point attached hit planter. 02:51 I thought Planters got pulled not not hooked up. So one of the reasons that I think I heard offered was there's a lot of stuff going on at time of 03:00 planting and for that unit to be, you know on the hooked onto the back of a tractor not being pulled but on a 03:06 three point maybe that was one of the reasons limiting the number of things I had to happen at time of planning is that one 03:12 of the reasons you stayed away from a lot of liquid fertilizer at time planning. Oh, yeah, and and 03:18 most of mostly is, you know, we we adapted into the info but it was a lot harder for us to that into the 03:27 tuba to and be able to run our starters in the tuba too. And most of that is because of being three points. 03:33 We can't carry the gallon so everything's got to be carried on the tractor. So if you if you look at those guys in the midwest 03:39 or Chad over there in Alabama anybody that's not for irrigated. They're pulling their planner. There's tank strapped 03:45 everywhere. Some guys are pulling tank some some of them got them strapped all over their planners and we can't do that because we're stacked bold three-point hitch. 03:54 That's our biggest limiting fact limit limiting factor. I like it. So answer me this. 04:03 You made the change here a few years ago. You've been pushed Along by the by the influences of 04:09 our peers and extreme Ag and You then backed off on the amount of dry you still use dry because you want to keep base fertility up, right? So 04:18 you you now are any any hybrid if you will you mix you you have dry and then you do liquid, right? Well, yeah, we we do drop on 04:27 our own our p and K. Actually we do chicken litter poultry litter. So we put out a very limited amount of potassium. 04:36 Most of our P&K needs are met through the litter. So let's talk about nitrogen. So we went from all dry to all liquid. 04:47 And because it that's it's just more efficient. There's no question. It's more fishing. I knew that when I was you know, 04:53 before I changed but it was more trouble too efficient. It's more efficient to the plan. It's less efficient to the farmer, 04:59 you know, we can go out with a with Lane used to run. We had a big nice fratter truck. He ran it 100% of the time and he could get 800 to A 05:08 Thousand Acres a day and with a why drought machine we can get about three to 400 so, you know half the time you're getting fertilize out but what we've 05:17 learned is sometimes better to slow down slow down smell the roses. We're still worried about those hurricanes, but the crops already 05:26 planted now this year, we'll definitely be a hybrid because we started figuring up the difference in urea 05:32 nitrogen. And ammonia sulfate nitrogen versus uan 28005 was a comparison about 50 bucks an acre for the total crop less money 05:43 to use dry. Then it was to use Liquid. We feel like we're getting let's just say on the low side. We're getting 10 bushel an acre. 05:54 So six dollar coin, that's 60, so we're going to beat That by ten dollars. We figured out where the most efficient place 06:01 that the nitrogen needed to be used. To be liquid. So what we're doing is we're liquid pre-plant. And then we're dry on our first address. That's the 06:11 first address is the least most important application. We have you can you can screw that up and you still be okay because you you put 06:20 some out to begin with and you can correct it on the back end. Well, I like that. So the first that's 06:26 a lot of words. The first side dress is the least most important application of the season. Is that what I kind of hurt or us? Yes. 06:36 All right, you either got plenty out. When you start, you know, you're you're looking your modernist will teach you samples as usual look at the plants, but that middle application can 06:45 be repaired by the the third application or even the fourth, you know, if we do a pretty tassel so that one there is the one that can be the least most efficient. 06:55 So what we did is a hybrid we're going to save $25 an acre. and still get 07:01 the majority of it out liquid and we feel like that. We're not going to lose any yield if any maybe a couple of bushel. 07:09 So it's going to be a win-win on both sides. And one of the one of the biggest things with with our our first address is we don't add all 07:18 the what you would call the extras. Into with that side dress. So we're able to put with our second wide drop is why we call 07:26 it the most important important is we can correct any kind of nitrogen. We feel like we need to finish out the season 07:32 but we can also add in any of those extras whether or not we need a little bit more pee a little bit more K sulfur new charge 07:41 whatever we can add those into into that wide drop to keep, you know, keep going along the rest of the season because that's when the plant requires the most of it by the 07:53 time we put our last address on. Just past that is when the plant really starts pumping these nitrogen these nutrients into 08:01 itself to make that you know to make that feel that ear out. So Lanes 100% right with the liquid we're able to do additives that we can't do with dry. 08:11 And so that's where I say that that middle one there. We've already added the snake holes as people 08:17 call them our products. We think really work. Well pretty well out the Biologicals. All right, so you've done that in furrow. 08:24 Or use the Y drop stuff, right? All right, let's talk about one of the things here is on fertilizer budget. Okay, you use some stuff from 08:33 angular liquid. You put it in Furrow. You put it in the Y drop and we're talking about on corn. Yeah. So we we're using this we're we're doing how 08:42 many fertility applications are we talking about? And are you spending more money? So let's talk about how many applications and are you spending more money or by changing your 08:51 approach. Are you actually reducing fertility spend? How many fertility applications total? I mean we've got 09:01 three to four Nitrogen applications, depending we've been doing four, but we're trying to kind of reduce that and we do one two 09:12 at least two. micro type fertility applications over the top Folger. Okay, we're going underneath it with liquid. We're 09:23 going over the top of liquid both can be supplied by agric liquids on any of the products that a guy wants to use. Are you spending a bunch of so then 09:32 the next time the person is going to say, wait a minute man. I go out there just like Matt I put on a bunch of dry stuff 09:38 and then I put a little bit stuff in at time of planning and Furrow and then I'm done and I do find and I'll break the bank on fertility. Are you 09:47 breaking the bank and fertility? We're probably Breaking the Bank on fertility, but we're picking it up in in Roi with yields. Do we spend 09:55 more on our corn and other people? Around around local. Yes, but but we get that we feel like we get that money back. Now if 10:03 a hurricane comes through and blows it down there and way better shape we are but you can't look at the bat all 10:09 the time. You've got to look at I you've got a strive for the end goal and that's what we do most bushels. We 10:15 can for the least amount of money all we putting a lot of per acre coughs in our corn. Yes, but we're getting that return back on 10:21 it also, however, Well, it's not really high risk. It's only high risk. Like you said if your entire crop gets blown down by Hurricane every year and 10:30 you've had hurricane issues. You've had hurricane issues. You said in a previous recording like three of the last 10 years or something, but it wasn't 10:36 hurricane issues where you had a complete loss, right? No and you got also we got to realize with us. He is 10:42 like we're Chad Chad has a treat and I'm sure Kevin does also they have 10:48 to treat their dry land different Chad made 25 bushel an acre 60 bushel an acre on a dry land last year in a 10:54 normal year. He's going to make 150 to 170. So he can't risk that on a non-irrigated piece like we can because we're 100% irrigated. Yeah, 11:04 we have the water there. Yeah, you don't have any acre that isn't irrigated. So that's a non-factor your factor is. 11:12 When we talked to previously time of planting if you have a weather problem and then before you can get it harvested if a hurricane blows up from the Gulf, that's your it's 11:21 a dry summer. It don't matter your special irrigated so you can spend so you spend more but then like I said, that's the question I've had 11:30 the I've had the people ask me. Hey these guys you work with they get huge yields. But hell, they just blow it all you know, they're spinning for all that and you'd say no. Well. 11:39 Yeah, we're spending more than the guy down the road, but we're also getting a huge exponential return on that. 11:45 Yeah, man, we get that all the time as we're spending. You know, we're we're throwing the kitchen sink at it. We're doing this we're doing that. There's never anything. I would ever recommend to 11:54 a member non-member. I went to the AG community. if I didn't think you could pay for it now, is there some contest Fields out there that people 12:04 probably overspend on maybe but I'm of the camp that if I can't take that what I'm doing in that high yield plot and and 12:13 apply it to your neighbor down the road and he'll make money off of what's a used to doing it. Yeah, I can get a high yield. Who am I helping with that? What am I? What am 12:22 I what am i showing? So not that I don't try to get the high heels on apply. All right, but it's very important to our 12:28 farm and operation that the normal farmer which we want to be the normal farmer. We want everybody to be normal farmer, but then the regular 12:37 guy that don't want to spend too much money. I mean if I give you If you give me $100 and I give you a hundred and ten dollars 12:45 back. You'll do that every single day. Right? And that's only 10% 12:50 Yeah, that's only 10% return and the point you're making is you're not probably spending more dollars on fertility per bushel 12:56 you actually as the bushels go up your dollar a fertility your dollar spent on fertility per bushel harvested goes down right? Great Point. Yes, 13:05 but when you do it per bushel per bushel yield. I mean, I think we're probably in have the a better profit. Margin. I mean and almost sounds like bragging but 13:15 I mean it we're not out here throwing a bunch of products out here to try to make 250 bushel corn. Well, we we can't hardly make 250 Bush of corn 13:24 on a 4,000 acre average. We're that's our goal. You know three 25s are going on contest 250s our goal on 4,000 Acres 13:33 of operation. Lane get me out of here. You always looking at numbers. Is there anything in 2023 or looking ahead of 2024 because you're 13:42 already going with 2023 on fertility budget. All right, we talked about using agri-liquid stuff over the top and in Furrow, you're using litter that's become 13:51 very popular last couple of years when fertility when fertilizer commercial fertilizer expenses went up. Where's the 13:57 where's it go tomorrow? Where where does where does our Opera do differently? What do you do differently next year anything? 14:05 I mean it let all depends on you know price fertilizers like that. I mean if the price of liquid goes down to where we can match what we're making extra with 14:14 liquid, I mean, we would be all liquid again next year. So, I mean that all that's all price driven, honestly. 14:23 The economics of fertility budget. All right, I think we've got it and incidentally your usage of chicken litter. 14:31 Everybody got popular on Chicken Little two years ago. They get harder for you to even find it. Oh, yeah. Yeah, we 14:37 we've been doing it for 20 years and we're really set up with a great guy one of my best friends, but we couldn't get any extra last year. Yeah. The 14:46 sad part is today five years ago was cheaper than than synthetic fertilized today. It's his as expensive. If 14:55 not more expensive. These chicken Farmers have finally said, hey, we know you want it and what it's 15:01 gonna call, right? All right, interesting discussion on fertility. That's Matt miles and Lane miles McGee Arkansas stay tuned. 15:09 We'll be more about this always we're talking about how to to make bigger yields with same or reduced expenses or more importantly. It's not about total 15:18 expenses. It's about expense per bushel, which I think is what we're really hit on right there because these guys are spend a little bit more money by changing their stuff change their practices, 15:27 but the yields there to prove it and back it up and you are cost of fertility per bushel when bushels keep going up becomes less for bushel 15:36 harvested. So that's the big takeaway that I got till next time. I'm dami Mason. This is Extreme Ice cutting the curve that's a 15:42 rep for this episode of cutting the curve, but there's plenty more check out extremead.com where you 15:48 can find past episodes instructional videos and articles to help you squeeze more profit out of your farm cutting. The curve is brought 15:57 to you by Advanced Drainage Systems the leader in agriculture Water Management Solutions.

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