Eight Inches Can Become a Yield Barrier

I want you to feel confident knowing you have done your very to best manage the things that are within your control. This involves understanding production-limiting factors and building a plan to reduce, if not eliminate, those factors.

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As I was thinking about barriers to yield, I recalled reading an article Shannon Latham wrote to recap a presentation she had heard by Captain Charlie Plumb. (You can read that post in its entirety here: https://bit.ly/2WbhYBV.) Captain Plumb, whom spent 2,103 days as a POW, began his presentation by saying, “Today I want to take you back to a Prisoner of War camp in Vietnam where you can feel the intense heat baking on the tin roof of your 8 by 8 cell. Even though I’m telling a story about myself, the real story is not about me. It’s about you. You won’t face the 8-foot walls that I did, but you will encounter the eight-inch ones. Those eight inches between your ears can become your biggest barrier. That’s why it’s important to remember that you can do anything you set your mind on.”

Captain Plumb’s quote really resonated with me. How often do we let those eight inches between our ears become the biggest barrier? Each of us has a different comfort level when it comes to trying something new, from a new brand of denim jeans to a new seed trait or technology. Much of what we’re comfortable with has to do with how we were raised. Many of us watched Mom and Dad do the chores. We followed them around like a shadow until we were finally old enough to accept some responsibility, and then we tried to perform the same chores just as we had seen them do it. This time-honored tradition of learning by immersion is unparalleled and builds such a solid foundation.

Farming practices have evolved through the generations, but the one thing that remains constant is our connection between the soil and our future. Generations before us tilled the earth that we currently farm. As you develop a plan for 2019, you will be developing a plan to use the earth in a way that will affect generations to come. In 2019, try an on-farm experiment: Try a new seed treatment or a product from our new line of Talc options. Try a couple different seeding rates in the same field. Try planting one field to Latham’s low-lignin alfalfa. Just try something you’ve never done before that has the potential to be a game changer, and limit your risk by starting small. I know change can be a little frightening. Fear of the unknown can be overwhelming, but conquering our fears can lead to even greater confidence.

Continuous pursuit of finding the best practices for your farm will bring a new sense of confidence. I believe the anatomy of yield starts with those eight inches between your ears. Get the most you can possibly get from each acre by planting the best genetics and trying new practices while remaining in harmony with your soil.