Episode 28: What is Soil Fertility and Why it's Important with Don Daniels
Soil fertility is critical for crop plant development and influences crop yield. As we get closer to planting season, we welcome Don Daniels, Senior Vice President of Feed, Grain, Sales and Marketing at Centerra Co-op, to the AgCredit Said It Podcast to discuss what soil fertility is and why it’s important for growers.
Here are Don’s tips for new farmers looking to start doing soil testing on their farms:
What is soil fertility?
“Soil fertility is a grocery store where the plant roots get their nutrients from,” says Don.
We either grow our food or go to the grocery store for things we can’t grow. Just as we need to go to the grocery, plant roots also need supplies to eat and grow, and they go to the soil to get those nutrients.
Why is soil fertility so important?
“We can’t control the weather, but we can control the environment that we plant that crop into,” says Don.
Knowing your soil conditions will give you insight into what’s happening under the surface. From there, you’ll be able to make better-informed decisions on hybrids and inputs.
“You always start with a soil test,” explains Don. “It gives you a snapshot in time of where your ‘grocery store’ is at when it comes to your nutrients and availability.”
Next, know what your goals are. “Some want to reach maximum performance, some want to reach maximum bushels, and some want to talk about maximum return on investment or some combination therein,” says Don.
What is the best type of soil testing?
Don recommends grid sampling in one-acre grids to get the best representative look at a field.
“When you look at a yield map, it doesn’t always line up with the soil type,” explains Don. “There are just so many different factors to consider, such as drainage, compaction zones, and varying organic levels.”
How often should a soil test be taken?
The general rule is every three to four years, says Don. But some growers are soil testing every year.
“Soil is a living thing,” explains Don. There’s going to be some fluidity to that.”
No matter how often, Don recommends soil sampling during the same timeframe of the year each time, preferably in the spring or the fall.
For example, “Some areas of the state were extremely dry in the summer, and if you pull a sample in a dry year, we know that your potassium levels, in particular, won’t show as high when it’s really dry,” says Don.
To learn more about soil fertility from Don, including insight into vomitoxin in corn, an outlook on input costs and supply, and how he experiments with cover crops, planting green, and more on his farm, listen to the full podcast episode.
Here’s a glance at this episode:
- [02:01] Don explains what soil fertility is and why it’s important for growers.
- [05:47] For a new farmer, Don shares what steps he suggests taking after starting with a soil test.
- [07:46] Don shares the type of soil testing he recommends for giving growers the best representative look at a field.
- [10:31] Don answers how often growers should do soil testing and why it’s beneficial to test during the same timeframe for each.
- [13:10] Don explains the steps that should be taken after soil testing and picking genetics.
- [15:15] Don explores some of the variables that unfortunately make the corn plant disease vomitoxin thrive.
- [20:35] Don gives his take on when it's best to start planting.
- [21:55] Regarding net margins, Don explains how your farm goals can influence input decisions.
- [28:51] Don leaves with some things he’s experimenting with on his farm, like cover crops, no-till, planting green and nitrogen trials.
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Guest Don Daniels
Don is the Senior Vice President of Feed, Grain, Sales and Marketing at Centerra Co-op. He has worked in the co-op ag retail space for 35 years, starting his career right after high school. He grew up on a small farm in Erie County, OH.
Host Matt Adams
Matt serves Paulding County as an account officer at AgCredit. He has worked in ag lending for over four years and previously worked in farm equipment sales for 11 years. He and his wife farm in northwest Ohio with their two daughters and son. His favorite part about AgCredit is the people. From the member-borrowers to the internal team at AgCredit, every day keeps getting better. Matt hopes to bring insights into ag lending and some laughs to the AgCredit Said It podcast.
Host Brenna Finnegan
Brenna has been an account officer serving Lorain, Huron and Erie Counties for four years. She’s worked in the agricultural industry for over 17 years with experience in livestock production, specialty crop production, seed production, and processing/distribution. She grew up on a small family farm raising row crops and cattle. She currently has her own herd of beef cattle that she breeds and sells as show stock calves for 4-H and FFA members. At AgCredit, Brenna enjoys being able to work directly with the local farmers and especially helping young farmers achieve something that they didn’t think they could.
Voiceover (00:08):Welcome to AgCredit Said It. In each episode, our hosts sit down with experts from all parts of the agriculture industry to bring you insights and must-have information on all things from farming to finances and everything in between.
Matt Adams (00:26):Welcome back to another great episode of AgCredit Said It. I am Matt Adams, an account officer with AgCredit, and here again with me is the one, the only…
Brenna Finnegan (00:36):Brenna Finnegan, also an account officer at AgCredit.
Matt Adams (00:40):Brenna, how are we doing today?
Brenna Finnegan (00:42):Good, you?
Matt Adams (00:43):I am excited as always. A lot of great information we always put out for these podcasts. How's the winter treating you? How are things on the family farm?
Brenna Finnegan (00:52):Good. My parents are in Florida, so everything's still running smoothly.
Matt Adams (00:57):Under Brenna's control. It always runs smoothly, right?
Brenna Finnegan (01:01):Doubtful.
Matt Adams (01:04):Well, we got a great topic today, Brenna. We're getting closer to planting season, soil fertility and everything that that entails. And we are meeting today with Don Daniels. He is the senior VP for grain, sales and marketing with Centerra Co-op and, Brenna, why don't you go ahead and let's get started.
Brenna Finnegan (01:27):All right. Thank you, Don, for joining us. Go ahead and introduce yourself to everybody.
Don Daniels (01:32):So, I'm Don Daniels. I'm the senior vice president feed, grain, sales and marketing at Centerra Co-op. I've been in the ag co-op, ag retail space for 35 years now. Started right out of high school, at Landmark over at Clarksville, which is now part of Sunrise.
Brenna Finnegan (01:49):He was our agronomist when we were younger, so…
Matt Adams (01:53):Good, long history there, huh?
Brenna Finnegan (01:55):Oh, yes.
Don Daniels (01:56):There is. I grew up on a small farm in the southeast corner of Erie County in Florence Township.
Matt Adams (02:01):So, with your time in the industry, Don, you've probably seen a ton of changes come through. One of the big topics we want to touch on today is soil fertility, and I know there are probably going to be some rabbit holes in different avenues we're going to go through on this one. A lot of great information, but kick it off here. Let's talk a little about soil fertility and really the importance of that, what we're looking at as crop producers.
Don Daniels (02:28):So, as I look at soil fertility and try to put it in some very plain terms that a lot of people will understand is to think of it as a grocery store, where the plant roots are going to go to get their supplies to eat and grow just like we do as humans. We either grow our own food or those things that we don't grow, we go to the grocery store and get it and those plant roots are going to the soil to get that. And that's where your soil fertility is all located in that.
(02:57):So, the soil is a living thing. There are a lot of microorganisms and all that taking place underneath there. And you hear a lot about that today and soil health and regenerative soils and all of that. So, in a nutshell, that's what I think, soil fertility is just a grocery store where the plant roots get their nutrients from.
Brenna Finnegan (03:17):So, why is it so important for farmers these days to know what's going on in their fields as the season's going on?
Don Daniels (03:29):So, there are a thousand variables that take place as that crop's growing, and you have to manage that. And a lot of the things that I'd like to do with... I still have a couple of producers that I take care of their accounts with and try to control what we can control, we can't control the weather, but we can control the environment that we plant that crop into. So, the number one factor in raising a good crop is soil conditions at planting. So, we spend a lot of time talking about it, making sure the soil's right, making sure you get the plant at the right depth, making sure you get that right hybrid or soybean variety selected for the right environment to give it the opportunity to perform at its maximum performance.
Matt Adams (04:15):A lot of planning goes in really before the planter even rolls in that field. We want to make sure we have a lot of the variables. As he says, I think as much as we can control, and that's where you guys probably come in too is on that pre-planning stage to try and help pick them right varieties and genetics to... I know there are so many different types of things out there now, probably try and tailor it to really fit each individual farm because I'm guessing one genetic does not fit the whole entire operation.
Don Daniels (04:50):Correct. And it may fit my operation, but maybe not fit yours. I'd like to start that process in June and July. So, let's get our rotation written down and get it identified for next year in June and July of this year and let's get our hybrids selected. We'll tweak them come harvest time, but let's get that plant put in place because what that does for the producer farmer then is it gives them during the fall as they go to plots and evaluate hybrids. It gives them the idea to evaluate the hybrids they've already selected and firm up their decisions and their plans. And then, come harvest time, you just need to make a few minor tweaks, but a lot of that really ought to be done in July. And a lot of folks think that's way too early. I understand what they're saying about that, but I think that's your best opportunity for success.
Brenna Finnegan (05:44):Forward thinking.
Don Daniels (05:45):Yeah, control what you can control.
Brenna Finnegan (05:47):Yep. So, little scenario here. I'm a new farmer, and I just bought a piece of ground. What do I do? I have no idea what this land can do, or has done, or this, that, or the other, so what do I do?
Don Daniels (06:02):Well, you always start with the soil test. That way, it gives you a snapshot in time as to where it is today. You at least know how big your grocery store or your card is at that point, as far as what you have, as far as your pH. And it all starts with soil pH when it comes to your nutrients and availability. So, you just look at that and then talk through what your goals are. Everyone wants to do something different with it. Some want to reach maximum performance, some want to reach maximum bushels, and some want to talk about maximum return on investment or some combination therein. There are some areas where it's just all about yield. They could do everything they can to produce as much yield as they can, and there are other folks that want to put in as little as they can, and as long as they have a little money left at the end of the year, they were successful. So, part of our job is to help them succeed as they define it.
Brenna Finnegan (06:54):I always think about that a little bit when people are renting ground. It's not necessarily theirs, so they might maximize while they have it. Well, I guess it starts to deplete over time after they've initially gotten it, and then they're like, "Oh, we're done with that one and move on." So, then that person that's picking up that ground might have a lot of work to do in order to get it to its maximum capabilities, correct?
Don Daniels (07:20):Potentially, yeah. And as you go east or you get closer to towns and cities, that whole land rental thing becomes a totally different animal because sometimes it may not be in production agriculture in two years or in three years because it might be growing houses instead of corn or some field of wheat. So, we face that, especially as you go further east and in Lorain County, as you're aware.
Matt Adams (07:46):We talked about our soil tests and the use of an agronomist. I know there are different types of soil tests we can do out there where it'd be a grid sample or a different type. In your scenario, what is the best type of soil testing that a producer can do to get the most optimum look on his farm?
Don Daniels (08:08):For the most optimum look, in my mind, I would grid sample it probably on one-acre grids. If they've not had any history with it, I would start with two and a half because that's still going to be 10 or 20 times better than what they've been doing prior to that. If you've had a history and you've been through multiple cycles, which a lot of guys have at this point, I would break it down into one-acre grids. There's a lot of discussions out there about zone sampling and sampling by soil types. I've played around with that on a few different occasions, and we've grid sampled in one-acre grids, two-and-a-half-acre grids. We've sampled by zones, by management zones. And when you sat down and looked at it with the grower, we felt that the one-acre grids were the most representative of that field with input from the grower.
Matt Adams (09:01):Gives you that best snapshot of that farm.
Brenna Finnegan (09:04):Especially, when you're trying to decide what to do as you're going through the field and with all the technology that's coming to play and the ability to pinpoint certain things in certain parts of the field. I mean to me, it just sounds like it would be a more profitable way of doing it, I guess.
Don Daniels (09:22):That would be a more precise one. Again, those one-acre grids are in my mind. It could be for somebody that's been through several rotations of two-and-a-half acre grids that have made multiple applications with their alignment, P and K. When you look at a yield map, it doesn't always line up with the soil type. There are just so many different factors as far as drainage and, where the compaction zones are, where the organic level changes. So, it doesn't just necessarily change with the soil types. That's where I think the one-acre grids.
(09:54):If you've not done anything at all and you want to spread your own fertilizer, then I'm going to tell you to take a full soil sample based on a 20-acre field size. If your fields are bigger than that, you're going to have to find a spot to split that field. And there again, you want to make sure that the farmer's going to apply those two sides of that field separately. And the 20 acres also fits in with the H2Ohio and a lot of the 4R requirements and all those things. So, it keeps you in range with some of those other guidelines that are out there today.
Brenna Finnegan (10:27):So, pretty much breaking into zones, into each area.
Matt Adams (10:31):So, Don, going in and looking at the 2023 crop year, our inputs continue to rise. So, we are putting out a very expensive crop on our ground and that soil test is giving us, as you said, that snapshot, that baseline, tell us what we're going to need. It's helping us. Also I think, control those inputs a little bit with our inputs continuing to go up. So, much money we're putting out on a per-acre basis to raise this crop. How often should I be testing my farm, or how often should a producer do a soil test on his farm, especially in such a high-priced input environment?
Don Daniels (11:13):So, the general rules, every three to four years, if you've got some areas of your farm or if your entire farm's intensely managed and you can have the wherewithal to do it, there are some folks that are soil testing every year. Again, it's a snapshot in time. It's a living thing. So, there's going to be some fluidity to that. The biggest thing in soil sampling, in my mind, is if you pull it into fall the first time, try to pull it in the fall every time. Stay within the fall or the spring. Whenever you do it, try to stay in that same timeframe of the year. Because we do know that there will be some differences. Some areas of the state were extremely dry here this summer, and if you pull it in a dry year. We know that your potassium levels in particular, won't show as high when it's really dry.
Brenna Finnegan (12:02):It's like 12/31 balance sheets. We want them the same every year.
Matt Adams (12:06):Want them the same every year, so you get that same kind of timeframe of information. It just works the same, right back on the farm.
Don Daniels (12:13):Got it.
Brenna Finnegan (12:13):Consistent timeframe. Getting that same information every year just obviously seems to help for financial reasons, soil fertility reasons, and production reasons. It all makes sense.
Matt Adams (12:27):Well, man, we've had some great information. We're going to take a quick break here on AgCredit Said It and we'll be right back with you with Don Daniels.
Voiceover (12:36):Join us Wednesday, February 15th, 2023, at 7:00 PM for a free weather outlook webinar. We'll be featuring guest speaker Eric Snodgrass from Nutrien Ag. Eric will take a deep dive into weather patterns for 2023. Visit www.agcredit.net/webinar to register. Pre-registration is required, so register today.
Matt Adams (13:00):And we're back with Don. So, Don, we are diving deep into soil here, pretty much. Getting our hands dirty, right, Brenna?
Brenna Finnegan (13:08):Haha, pun intended.
Matt Adams (13:10):So, looking at soil fertility and everything that goes into it. So, we have that test in hand. We have that plan. Good scenario here. We met in that June and July timeframe. We put a plan together. We got our soil test back. Say that March timeframe, getting stuff ready. What plans of action do you want your producers to be doing at that time? Getting ready to put that crop in the ground. If we had that soil test, we have our genetics picked. What's the next step we need to be looking for?
Don Daniels (13:49):So, you'd be picking your fertilizer applications at that point based on your plan. And in today's environment, again, depending on cash flow, depending on how well they did with marketing their grain. We still have a lot of producers that are into applying what we call a buildup. So, if the soil test levels aren't quite where we want them. We do have some folks that are applying some buildup and we have an awful lot of folks that are just providing maintenance levels. And we use the Tri-State fertility guidelines for that to help guide that. And the recent ones that they came out with a couple of years ago actually reduced some of the crop removal levels. And so, for potassium, a bushel of soybeans used to remove 1.4 pounds of potassium from every bushel. Today, the new guidelines state it's only 1.1. So, that has caused us to tweak those fertility recommendations a little bit lower based on the new Tri-State fertility guidelines.
Matt Adams (14:45):What drove those changes? Just because we're switching. In my mind, would it be because we're not as much of a primary tillage to more of a no-till or minimum till setup or we're leaving more of that organic matter in that ground? So, we're adding some of that back a little bit.
Don Daniels (15:03):I'm not sure what factors Ohio State put into determining that. Some would suggest that the newer varieties are becoming more efficient in the use of the nutrients we're using today.
Matt Adams (15:15):Okay. So, Don, looking at the past 2022 harvest here. We've had exceptional yields, I think for a lot of the areas, but with exceptional yields this year came another little present in our corn crop. The nasty V word, vomitoxin. Can you go into a little bit about... Is there stuff out there for the future that we can do to take care of this nasty vomitoxin a little bit?
Don Daniels (15:45):So, there are some tools I think that can help with that. So, again, when we think about a disease or any pathogen, we need to think back to that whole disease triangle and that you got to have a host or the pathogen present or the corn-soybean crop. You got to have the pathogen. You got to have the environment, and that creates what they call the disease triangle. And if any one of those three are missing, then you don't have any issues. It's just like a fire. You got to have the right amount of a combustible and oxygen in order for it to go. So, part of the problem today the biggest challenge with vomitoxin, is it's not a clear-cut deal. There are a lot of unknowns. And with unknowns and uncertainty causes a lot of questions and a lot of frustrations. That variability from load to load is one of the big frustrations.
(16:39):And there are some differences amongst the hybrids. There are some things we can do to help mitigate some of that and there are some things that we probably did to this year's corn crop that helped make it into the animal that it became. When we put a fungicide on corn today, generally speaking, we're putting a fungicide on corn for leaf diseases. Vomitoxin pathogen is the same pathogen that causes head scab in wheat. So, that's a different class of fungicides. And what happens is the class of fungicides that we use for leaf diseases can actually agitate the vomitoxin and therefore make it worse.
Matt Adams (17:19):So, certain things we're doing, we are actually intensifying our problem.
Don Daniels (17:23):Yes.
Brenna Finnegan (17:24):Who knew? I mean, I wouldn't have ever guessed that. You'd think you're trying to solve the problem, and you're really firing it up.
Matt Adams (17:30):And it's interesting like you talked about it. It's that same that's in our head scab and our wheat too, that's kind of carrying through on that. So, with vomitoxin, I guess we'll go back, there are things we can do, but is it more Mother Nature driven that's going to give us that intensified problem through the year? There's probably only so much we can do as producers to try and mitigate the risk as much as we can.
Don Daniels (17:58):Correct. Mother Nature, at the end of the day, rules it all and it's all about Mother Nature and the timing of when events happen. So, it likes cooler moisture shortly after pollination. So, when we think about moisture as a farmer, we think about rainfall. Well, it's not always about rainfall. It could be a lot of those mornings when we had heavy fog and that extended periods of leaf wetness or when it's wet out there until noon. That's a lot of high-humidity environments. That's when that happens or sometimes some late silks will emerge and then that's where it gets in as well. And then, when you have that right environment, it just makes it worse.
Brenna Finnegan (18:39):A little breeding ground for it all to just blow up more.
Don Daniels (18:41):Yep. And I think you talked about these last podcasts with the grain fellow from Mercer is that a lot of those ears do stay upright. So, some of those years that we know that have that long, tighter husk, we know some of those may be a little more susceptible, but a lot of those are also really good varieties that really produce really well. And we had the same hybrids last year, and we have vomitoxin in them. Now, this year we do. So, is that a reason to kick that hybrid out? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on your environment. I mean, if you're just hauling grain to the elevator, it's not as high of a risk for you as it is if you're trying to raise hogs that have a very low tolerance to it.
Matt Adams (19:23):Right.
Brenna Finnegan (19:27):Makes sense. I mean, from year to year, it's never going to be the exact same. It's always going to be changing, so knowing all of that information and weighing your options on yield and the potential risk for a disease or a fungicide pressure of some sort.
Don Daniels (19:43):It's also why we plant more than one hybrid on a farm.
Matt Adams (19:45):Exactly. I think it's one of those interesting things. I didn't really think about that. I mean, as a farmer, I'm thinking, "Wow. It had to come from some of these big heavy rains." You don't think about these heavy dew mornings that stick around till sometimes after lunch. We've seen it. So, that's interesting just to see the different characteristics that could happen out there in the field.
Don Daniels (20:08):So, when you think back, two years ago was a heavy vomitoxin year. So, that pathogen is present in a lot of our fields. Now, you mentioned we think the rains bring it in. Well, when you talk about northern corn leaf blight or tar spot, those do come in with some weather events. And in Lorain County this year, we actually saw northern corn leaf blight show up in late July. So, earliest I've ever seen it in my career, and I didn't believe it, but it was northern.
Matt Adams (20:35):So, Don, go and talk about that timeliness, a little bit of everything. Are you a proponent of early planting, late planting, or just whenever it's fit, you need to be out there? I hear so many different things. You talk to ten different farmers. You get ten different answers on when you should be out there planting.
Don Daniels (20:56):I'm going to plant as early as I can plant, provided the soil conditions are right for planting.
Brenna Finnegan (21:02):The double whammy right there for you.
Matt Adams (21:04):That is.
Brenna Finnegan (21:06):I was always told soil temp. Pay attention to the soil temp when you're out there.
Don Daniels (21:12):I'm not going to discount that, but there's more that goes into it for me than just the soil temp. Because it could still be soggy soils and still be warm. If the soil conditions are good and the soil is not quite the magic temperature yet and we have a good weather forecast in the next week and a half. I'm going to plant. The big thing for me is the first 24 to 36 hours after the seeds are in the ground because that first water that is going to absorb from the soil profile is so important. It'd be no different than taking a young infant that’s a day old and taking it outside on a cold winter day. It's not going to respond well. And that's what we're doing to those young corn or soybean plants.
Matt Adams (21:55):So, going back onto 2023 with our input costs being higher. We also know that that's driving our margins. Our net margins on the farm are going to be tighter going into 2023. What are some things that you would focus on as an agronomist to that producer that, "Hey, we know net margin's a little tighter." So, do we hold back on that fertilizer a little bit to try and conserve some money or do we still go off our soil test and try and hit that optimum crop for the yield potential we got out there? I think that's going to be a big question because we've come off of two years with good net margins on the farm and we know as producers and lenders that things are starting to tighten up. So, I'm just curious what your take is on that as an agronomist.
Don Daniels (22:50):So, my first take would be, I did a budget here just a couple of weeks ago for a guy that plants corn about every three years. So, I looked back at where his budget was three years ago. His fertilizer cost has doubled today, what it was three years ago. But the bushels that he needs to break even are down 45 bushels to the acre compared to three years ago. Because the 2023 fall harvest price was five-something, three years ago, it was 3.66. So, the grain price makes a big difference, still for us today, so there are still opportunities for profit. Yes, it's tight and it gets scary because you're handling a lot of money. So, there's a lot more money going into it. We have a lot more invested. So, it causes a few more sleepless nights probably for some.
(23:37):The other side of it is, again, depending on the goals and the situation of the farm, this might be a case where maybe we only put out crop maintenance only. Based on what we anticipate, the yield is or based on what our history has been. If cash flow is really tight and you've done a good job of filling up your grocery store or your soil bank account. Maybe this is a year you only put out part of it and then maybe take a little removal, make a withdrawal, a lot of your soil bank account, or pull something off that grocery store shelf without replacing it.
Brenna Finnegan (24:13):So, really sit down and prioritize what's important to you, in the long run, come fall.
Don Daniels (24:20):Yep. When you're raising a corn crop, the one thing you can't shortchange is nitrogen. I mean you can in some areas, again, depending on what a guy's done with his crop. If he's been heavy in the cover crops and growing his own nitrogen and all those things, yes, now you can tweak those things a little. But the average producer that has made that investment in growing their own, then that's the one nutrient that you don't shortchange.
Brenna Finnegan (24:50):Okay. There are a couple of options when it comes to nitrogen. What's your pick?
Don Daniels (24:54):The corn plant doesn't care. Corn plant doesn't care if it's anhydrous, or if it's liquid, or if it's dry. It's all about getting it into the plant. It doesn't care. If you're asking me as an applicator, I'm going to pick anhydrous ammonia because I use a third amount of the product.
Brenna Finnegan (25:13):True. So, now, obviously talking about stuff like that, how have the supply chain issues affected the ability to attain some of these inputs for the coming year?
Don Daniels (25:26):So, the coming year is a little bit easier on some things. On crop protection materials, it's a little easier in '23. Again, compared to '22, it's still not great. You still need to have a plan B and in some cases, maybe a plan C. A lot of places in ag retail have added warehouse space so that we can take more in. So, it used to be a world of order today – we'll have it tomorrow. That doesn't work today. So, you got to have it earlier now, which adds some expense for the ag retailer now with interest rates going up. So, you got a lot more money invested in carrying costs and whatnot. But we've been trying to encourage our growers to do anything that they can throw on their farm and have possession because that's nine-tenths of the rule. Let's have possession. Let's get on your farm. That way, we know what we're working with.
(26:18):Right now, the biggest thing fertilizer-wise is the river levels. That's real. The water levels are low, which impacts your freight for both grain and fertilizer moving up and down the river. You got to use smaller loads and that has more expense on the freight side of it. It's about logistics and it's a worldwide thing. I mean, with as fast as news travels today, something happens on the other side of the world and we know about it in 30 seconds today, and then emotion kicks in. There's a lot of chaos and volatility. On the flip side of that, where there's chaos and volatility, there are opportunities for profits for both the retailer and the farmer that's equipped and ready to make business decisions instead of emotional decisions.
Matt Adams (27:08):So, Don, you said for 2023, not as big of a problem for our supply chain. What are you guys seeing after 2023 into 2024? I know there are so many unknowns out there and there are so many variables, but is this the new norm that we're going into? Where we're always going to be, have to be almost one step ahead just to make sure we have those products on hand.
Don Daniels (27:33):I think for the next two to three years when it comes to crop protection products, it'll be the new norm as the basic manufacturers work to rebuild their inventories and rebuild their stocks. Now, I say that, on the other side of it, they've also learned at a basic manufacturer level that if they keep their inventories tight, they can command a little better price. So, I don't know. I think it'll be a while before we get back to having a glut of product. Now, thankfully for us going into the COVID time, we had that glut of product out there or we wouldn't have made it through '21 and '22 as well as we did.
Brenna Finnegan (28:15):So, we just did another podcast a little while ago with Zoe Kent and she's on TikTok and all that kind of stuff. And I know we're friends online and everything and you've started doing your own type of videos, and updates from the field.
Don Daniels (28:35):Yeah, haven't done one in a long time. I've been reminded I need to get back to doing those.
Brenna Finnegan (28:39):Over here is another reminder. That's what actually, but I was going to ask you, are you planning to do that this coming season and keep it updated? Because I know, last year you did a lot with cover crops.
Don Daniels (28:51):Yeah. So, on the home farm, we've been pretty big in the cover crop piece just because our soils are classified as HEL. So, they're highly erodible and just trying to make the soil better and put it back to the way it was and the way it used to be. With what we did, we did some things that some of the neighbors looked at us and thought we were a little crazy, and in some ways, we probably were. But that's also one of the advantages of being a small producer. You can do some of that. And we always experimented in the garden first, so we've got three acres of vegetables and just under that, and we figured if we made a mistake there or if something got away from us, we can go in there and fix it by hand because a lot of the garden is just, that is all handwork.
(29:33):So, we always started there and got in some crazy concoctions, then we took it into the field level and we hire our planting done. And the folks that do our planting would always be nervous coming in because we were planting green. We're planting corn, no-till green into and some thick cover and made them nervous and they're like, "We're not nervous, let's go." So, it worked out. We did some nitrogen trials. We did some nitrogen with zero nitrogen. Just to see what a corn crop could grow without any nitrogen.
(30:03):So, we learned a lot from it and still are trying to figure out how to do that at the garden level. It's a little bit different with sweet corn than field corn. So, I will get back to the field updates and I just need to make it a commitment to be better at doing that. I got a little tired this summer and that was the first thing to go.
Brenna Finnegan (30:25):Yep. Well, they are very informative and helpful to people, and I mean, I could see why people would log in or something to see an update as the season progresses.
Matt Adams (30:37):Well, Don, this was some great information today. I want to thank you very much for being part of our podcast. People can look you up on Facebook and I’m sure your company has a website too. If they have any questions on soil fertility or different services that you guys might offer.
Don Daniels (30:55):Yes, centerracoop.com. I'm listed in there. You just look under “our experts,” and I'm listed there as well as a lot of our other folks.
Matt Adams (31:04):Very good. Well, we want to thank everybody for listening to another great episode of AgCredit Said It. Brenna, pleasure as always. Anything you got to close us out with?
Brenna Finnegan (31:17):Well, if you want to find us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it's at AgCredit and you can also visit us at agcredit.net.
Matt Adams (31:25):And we'll catch you all next time on another great episode of AgCredit Said It.
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