Dirk Rice, a corn farmer from Philo, IL and an Illinois Corn Marketing Board Director, is currently featured on www.watchusgrow.org as a sustainability leader in the industry.
Watchusgrow.org is the consumer-facing website of the Illinois Farm Families coalition. The website seeks to help non-farmers understand more about agriculture in Illinois and feel a comfort level with the food they are eating.
Dirk’s feature does exactly that.
The article explains how Dirk captures data about his farm and uses that data to drive the management decisions he’s making each and every day.
“Before this calculator, I used soil conservation practices including cover crops and minimal tillage, both of which help prevent erosion and increase organic matter in the soil,” said Dirk. “When I first began using the calculator, I was happy to see that my score was already low and I was doing excellent work in many categories. There was, however, one category that I didn’t score as well in: fertilizer use.”
“I applied the same amount of fertilizer to all areas of my fields at the time, but looked into other options once I knew there was room for improvement. Now, I apply fertilizer at a variable rate, meaning my field is split into sections and I only apply as much fertilizer as each individual section needs based on soil test results. It’s like each acre of my field has its own prescription,” he said.
Dirk helps non-farmers realize that the people growing their food want to do the best job possible to grow nutritious food in an environmentally healthy way, but that profitability for the farmer and his family has to also be a consideration.
“To me, sustainability is about conservation practices, but it’s also about profitability. I believe the two go hand-in-hand. After all, a farmer can’t keep using sustainability measures without succeeding in their business,” he said.