Fixing your fall focus to stay sustainable

Posted on
March 10, 2023
Buffy Uglow    buffy_uglow@rockriverlab.com

By: Scott Fleming, CCA, TSP

The 2020s haven’t been ‘standard’ by any means - and that tendency seems to resonate across all facets of our world, including agronomic mantras. Ever since farming began to adopt scientific practices, there has been a focus on getting data in the fall, post-harvest. This ‘fall rush’ that was instilled in our blood is no longer sustainable. We’ve gotten to the point where so much data is collected post-harvest that there simply isn’t time to manage it all. 

Harvest is already stressful enough without having to squeeze in soil sampling and figuring out the fertilizer strategy for the coming crop year. We must change course. The best solution we can come up with is to shift to spring soil sampling. Moving ahead of the chaos will allow for better planning and overall recommendations. Allowing more time to strategize could lead to better mental health and less stress. I think we can all get behind that!

But how do we make this transition to spring sampling when there are so many intertwined cooperators and processes? I have a few simple recommendations to make 2023 the year of change for you and your team: 

  • Focus on moving late-harvest fields to a spring schedule first.

These fields have the smallest window of opportunity in the fall. Sketching this out quickly today will save you hours in the near future. 

  • Moving to spring is working ahead, not playing from behind

Typically, spring sampling is used as a way to catch any fields that were not sampled the previous fall. That isn’t what I’m suggesting here. Rather than pushing sampling back to the following spring, move it up to this spring. It will give you so much more time to plan the fertilizer strategy! 

  • Talk with your team about making a crop year plan.

Whether you’re an agronomist or a grower, discussing and making a crop year plan that starts in spring with your entire ‘cabinet’ helps everyone adjust their schedules accordingly. This can help ensure a smooth transition while getting everyone on board to the new timing. Sometimes buy-in is the first hurdle. This can help. 

As agronomic practices and methodology changes, it’s essential for us to adjust to continue forward progress. That doesn’t always mean purchasing expensive new equipment or trying new chemicals. Sometimes improving fertility and paving the way for success can be as easy as adjusting the way of thinking and planning accordingly.

Posted in:
Agronomy, Nutrient Management