An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

It's an old saying but it definitely holds true for the modern farm.  There are many potential pitfalls that can create tough challenges for today's farmers.  Here are 5 ways we can help you prepare and, when possible, prevent such problems. Call us at 1-315-849-4330 (NY) or 802-318-1413 (Midwest) to learn more.

  1. Keeping Good Records: All of our TSP consultants have a story about a farm inspection situation or neighbor complaint that would have been solved if the farm kept records of what actually happened. How many loads went to the field, what was the date, the weather, and how long was it until the manure was incorporated. For CAFO, NPDES permitted farms, keeping records is not only a requirements, it is one of the few protections you have from citizens who have problems with field manure applications. We have had plenty of experience speaking with farm neighbors, explaining the fact that field application of manure is a good practice, that it is an agronomic practice and that there is little to no environmental harm inherently associated with this practice. BUT, without farm records, it is hard to demonstrate to neighbors, state agencies or federal regulators how farm management has protected the environment.
  2. Don't wait until March to get ready for the upcoming season: whether you are doing a NMP update for an existing CAFO permit, a  CNMP for NRCS-EQIP contract, or a future CAFO permit, do not wait until early spring to begin getting last seasons records together. There are many values that a CNMP can bring to the farm, but most are hard to realize if the plan is started two weeks before the growing season. The earlier you begin planning for the upcoming season, the more your cropping decisions can be based on data and results. If you do not take the time to look at yields in relation to manure & fertilizer applications, you will never know what worked and what was a waste of money. The sooner you gather your previous years records, the more your NMP can incorporate actual farm records and outcomes moving into the new growing season.
  3. Annual Manure & Soil sampling: if you don't know what is in the manure or in the fields soil bank, you will never be able to fine-tune your crop production. Farmers continually under-estimate the value of what is in the manure tank. A CNMP provides annual field specific manure recommendations based on current soil tests and tested farm manure values. If a field has low soil nutrients, the value of manure may far exceed what a commercial fertilizer blend can provide. If a field has high soil nutrients, the CNMP will identify this field and find other farm fields that are in need of nutrients for improved crop production.
  4. Buy ONLY the necessary inputs: year after year we visit with new clients who have been buying the same inputs and applying them at the same rates, regardless of soil test or crop rotation. This is not a sustainable approach with today's ever increasing cost of inputs. The CNMP helps farm identify and analysis practices that save money and substitute on-farm nutrients (manure) for off-farm purchases.
  5. Your time is worth money! sometimes farmers forget that the time they spend in the field is worth money. Long and short-term farm planning must factor into account what the human cost is in any decision. It is not just important that your animals or crops are producing efficiently, the farm employees must be efficient as well. Farm planning, considering how systems will be managed and getting people trained to manage various aspects of the farm are essential for farm profitability. FCS can help develop user friendly farm plans that all farm employees can take part in and use to improve their own efficiency.