A New Mindset for Pushing Yields to New Levels

Pushing corn yields to new levels requires a mindset shift. AgriGold agronomist Nick Frederking says if farmers want to push beyond yield plateaus, they need to hone-in on the details.

“Most farmers today take a blanket approach to managing their farm. If growers are looking to find that next level of yield on their operations, the success is going to be in the details. To move up in yield level, we need to focus on the small things, the details, and not the big picture. There are a lot of variables in growing crops today, whether it’s soil types, or pest pressures, all based on the geography that you live in. So, to take an average corn yield and move it up on an operation, the key message should be don’t focus on the big picture. Focus on all the details that make that up.”

He says another way farmers can increase yield is with the planter.

“Right out of the gate, growers can affect their yield in their planting season. As soon as that seed goes into the planter and makes its way into the ground, there are so many things affect success from the crop standpoint. When look at the planter, there are so many levels to it, right? Simple maintenance on the planter low inputs, not putting a lot of focus on it, we’re probably going to maintain those baseline averages across the farm. As we start to look at the details on the planter, seeding depth, plant spacing, all of these little details in the planter make up a big impact when it comes to the end of the season. Focusing on some of the details will certainly move us up the ladder, but a near-flawless planter, one that has every bell and whistle turning the right way, putting the seed exactly how we want to, that’s where we’re going to find optimum success.

Frederking says the final area to focus on when shooting for higher yields is nutrient management.

“Many farmers today make a blanket approach to nutrition and their crops. When we look at the macronutrients, many growers year in and year out are making the same applications with no thought as to why they’re doing it. We get soil samples done.   I find that most growers grab those soil samples, put them on a shelf and never look at them again. That’s fine for baseline yields. But again, these growers that are looking for more yield have to focus on the details. It may start with understanding how much a crop needs for those yield goals that you’re looking to achieve. That’s what the macros are, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, making sure pH is right. But to climb that ladder now we need to start focusing on the micronutrients sulfur has made its way into the discussion as a macro slash micro. That’s a good place to start by making sure we have the right nutrients for the yield goal we’re trying to obtain  that needs to be the key message there.”

He talks about where farmers should start when they’re ready to take on the challenge of pushing yields to new levels.

“Focus on not changing everything at once. In fact, in year one, I would strongly suggest establishing a baseline with whatever technology you want to use. Some of my favorites are tissue samples, and soil samples, but we certainly know that there are drones and yield technology, so much technology available to us. The key message through first year, establish a baseline for what you’re already doing. Find out where your limiting factors are today. And then in the second year, don’t change 12 things at once. Focus on one, two, maybe three things at most, it makes it a stair-step approach. Don’t get in a rush to change everything. We need to understand where these changes are coming from.”

Reach out to your local AgriGold agronomist or visit for form information.