Former Illinois Corn Growers Association and National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer was contacted recently by a Chinese news agency. They were interested in hearing Garry’s thoughts on conservation and nutrient management. Water quality is a growing concern here, but in China it’s at an emergency level. Garry participates in work with IL Corn and the IL Council on Best Management Practices to improve water quality and nutrient management. Governmental mandates are surely on the horizon in China. Here at home, IL Corn advocates for farmers to voluntarily adopt BMPs that make sense for their farm. Here’s Garry’s statement to the Chinese news outlet.
“As a farmer, I want to keep the soil, chemicals and fertilizer on my farm as a means of working on nutrient loss reduction strategies that the farming community can adopt to meet sustainable objectives.
“To do this, we have installed filter strips alongside of our waterways. They have been very effective at keeping the soil on the land and as chemicals and fertilizer attach to soil particles, we accomplish multiple goals. We just recently have added cover crops to our farming mix this year to capture any escaped nitrogen.
“On another issue, we are changing the way we fertilize our corn crop. In the past, we have utilized N-Serve to reduce the speed of breakdown of our applied fertilizer. Most recently, we are applying nitrogen more closely to the timing when the crop utilizes the fertilizer the most efficiently. Normally, we would apply all of our anhydrous ammonia in the fall of the year with N-Serve to slow down the degradation process. We now apply anhydrous ammonia in the fall with N-Serve but at a 50% rate of what we previously applied. Therefore, we are applying other nitrogen products closer to when the corn plant needs the nitrogen the most.
“The corn plant utilizes the most amount of nitrogen when the corn plant reaches V8 thru maturity. This V8 height is normally when the corn plant is approximately one foot tall. From that height to the pollination time is when the nitrogen fertilizer is needed the most. By applying the nitrogen later in the growing season, we are less likely to lose fertilizer into the watershed areas. With this practice, we have been able to produce more corn bushels per acre by 20% with exactly the same total amount of fertilizer as we did in the past. This is a win-win-win solution for everyone involved.
“I feel like we have developed a voluntary, incentive-based approach focused on the implementation of best management practices. Farmers increase their yield with the same inputs, there is less runoff into water streams as we time placing our corn nitrogen to the time it is needed and thereby keeping the environment safer for everyone. The one thing that I have learned over the years is that a voluntary farmer incentive based program works best to implement new farming practices.
“Regulations based on a one size fits all approach generally doesn’t accomplish the original goal deemed necessary. This is the main reason for my involvement in developing practices that work for everyone.
“We are very concerned about sustainability and conservation issues facing the farming community. It is also absolutely necessary to utilize genetically modified corn plants to achieve sustainability in a very competitive world. This technology will allow us to answer the need for ever increasing demand in a growing world population.”