MINNEAPOLIS - Farmers in Minnesota harvested an average of 168 bushels per acre this year despite the ongoing drought. While it may not be a record, the Minnesota Corn Grower's Association says it's the best in the corn belt.
But as the need for corn increases with the demand for food, ethanol and livestock there's a push to get even more out of our fields.
Brothers Matt and Luke Lantz are in "The Pursuit of 300," as in 300 bushels of corn per acre, which is a big increase from the 180 they average currently.
The brothers agree the journey to better yields has to come from looking at the little details that make up the big picture. As Matt puts it, "It's finding two bushels here, three bushels there."
Far from any laboratory, it's a science experiment in partnership with The Mosaic Company. And it includes a big focus on fertilizer.
Agronomist and Manager of New Product Development for The Mosaic Company, Kyle Freeman estimates, "By 2050 we are going to have 9 billion people here on earth and that's going to require us to grow in the next 40 years what we've grown in the last 8000 combined."
To make 300 bushels per acre a reality, fertilizer has to go beyond the main three, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, into the micro-nutrients.
Freeman also adds, "We also have secondary nutrients that include calcium, magnesium and sulfur. And then there are some other micro-nutrients that are also key to growing high yields."
Now that harvest is complete the Lantz' are working with Mosaic on just the right recipe to put into use this Spring. Some of which will include manure from the farm's own hogs.
Matt Lantz explains, "A farm may look like its all the same, but it varies dramatically by soil types. Before we go to the field we actually write a prescription map based on the soil types."
Its not all about fertilizer, the experiment also includes seed selection, fungicide, planting depth and spacing, and the timing of all those elements.
In the spirit of teamwork, the results are shared publicly online to highlight progress toward the pursuit of 300. You can find more information on The Pursuit of 300, including Lantz' progress and struggles by visiting Pursuitof300.com.
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