Farming through floods, drought and a derecho is an occupational hazard for farmers, but usually not all three in the same year. Despite it all, Tama County farmer Adam Nechanicky is looking forward to the next planting season, and implementing 4R Plus practices to continue to improve his soil.

“I lost 40 acres of corn to a flood this spring, ran out of moisture this summer during that long dry spell and then had some corn flipped over by the derecho,” he said. “We had a great spell of weather for harvest, though, and, it has been great this fall for strip-till.”

Variable weather impacted crops. “Overall, I’d describe my yields this season as lackluster, mainly due to drought. I’m sure we lost some due to the wind damage, but my corn wasn’t completely flat like some of my neighbors,” Nechanicky said. “My corn yields were down around 40 bu. an acre from our five-year average, and the beans were down 10 bu. to 15 bu. an acre.”

Conditions this year were ideal after harvest for strip-tillage.

Nechanicky said it was a tough year to evaluate overall agronomic programs, but he’s ready to make adjustments to his conservation practices. “This is the second year I aerial seeded my rye after harvest, at a rate of 45 pounds per acre,” he said. “Last year, with all the moisture, it worked well. I was concerned this year because we’ve been so dry, but it’s really looking good. Fields were greening up.”

Getting the cover crop seeded early enough can be a struggle. “Last fall I aerial seeded one field with rye and a month later I drilled a field just across the fence line, and there was a noticeable difference all year long. You could see the advantage from growth. The field that was aerial seeded came up so much quicker and taller, which improved weed control.”

Nechanicky plans to evaluate some new techniques for the upcoming season to enhance livestock grazing potential and crop emergence in rye cover crop growth.   

Cover crops were boosted by timely rains.

“This year, I went back out after the aerial seeding and drilled some rye into corn stalks at 75 pounds an acre,” he said. “I’m after a really good thick stand to bale to get some tonnage next spring for the cattle.”

He’s also looking at 60-inch row corn, interseeding a cover crop early, to get more growth, and then turning his cattle out after harvest. “I had some 60-inch rows this year, but didn’t get the rye seeded because my seed beans were late, and I needed to concentrate on getting them in,” he said. “I’m satisfied with the yields in the 60-inch rows, so I plan to overseed rye next season. This should help us from overgrazing the pasture and saves from buying hay.”

Challenges with soybean emergence in tall rye are also driving his decision making. “I have a tool bar and rollers, and am planning to get an implement put together this winter so I can crimp the rye for termination at planting,” he said. “I’ve had some soybeans struggle to get through the taller rye and want to see if they can come through a flat mat quicker.”

Nechanicky’s advice for others considering new 4R Plus practices is to look longer term. “A lot of these practices, like cover crops and strip-till, don’t capture a return on your investment the first year,” he said. “You can see advantages in a single year, like good weed control from a cover crop, but the payoff is building healthier soils, and keeping your soil in place, long term.”

Click here to ask Adam a question about his farming operation.