The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 23, 2013

Lake Crystal farmers pursuing top yields

One of six Midwestern farms involved in yield-building campaign

(Continued)

They are focusing on testing the use of the micronutrient Boran, something not typically added to commercial fertilizers.

Gary Spence, an agronomist with Crystal Valley Co-op who works with the Lantzes, said many predict the goal of routinely getting 300 bushels per acre is achievable by 2030. "But everything has to come together."

He said advances in crop technology have been staggering in recent years. "I've seen more changes in the past five years than I saw my first 15 years before that."

Seed technology has led the way, with genetics providing pest- and drought-resistance and more adaptability to a variety of soils.

"The yields around here last year, even with the drought, were phenominal," Spence said of the payoff from drought resistant plants. That drought resistance also allows farmers to plant seeds and rows closer together as the plants need less moisture. The Lantzes plant 40,000 corn plants per acre on some land, higher than the 35,000 plants typically planted.

Their parents, Fred and Diana, started farming in 1963 and still live on the home place.

Matt, 52, returned to the family farm at a bad time. In 1982, as the farm economy was being battered by high interest rates and low crop prices, the recent college graduate went to work with his father with an eye toward expanding the farm.

Luke, 41, had a delayed route to the farm. "I saw Matt come out of college and go into farming in the '80s and I decided to take a different path." After several years in construction, Luke returned to the farm as his dad was retiring.

Today they run 2,800 acres of land, growing mostly corn, and operate an independent farrow-to-finish hog operation, raising some 60,000 pigs annually. All of the corn they raise goes to feed their pigs.

Mara Ryan, of Mosaic, said the idea for the Pursuit 300 campaign was to "bring the best minds together" to share experiences and expertise on farming practices. The Pursuit 300 website contains journal and blog entries from the six farms involved as well as articles on the latest seed and nutrition technologies.

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