Responsible Farming :: Nutrient Management
Converting Acres into Management Zones
Intensive nutrient management through precision farming has helped our farm improve growing conditions and limit nutrient runoff. Precision farming utilizes techniques that break down large diverse fields into smaller management zones of more uniform soil conditions. The management zones, which have been determined based upon years of harvest data, can then be cultivated according to a customized plan based on their individual soil needs. Subdividing fields into management zones has supported key decisions in crop diversity, conservation planning and fertilizer application that have improved our yields while reducing cost and environmental impact.
Just as our hens prefer diversity in their feed, our soils benefit from diversity in crops. We utilize a systematic rotational program of corn, soybeans and hulless barley to naturally balance the nutrients in our soils. The varied nutrient profile of these different crops contributes to the long-term sustainability of our farm.
Closely related to nutrient management is the responsible allocation of our hens’ litter to soils that can use it most. Litter from egg layers has become a valuable commodity as a dry natural fertilizer to introduce nutrients into soils. Our annual manure auction, held in late winter each year, seeks to allocate these nutrients to the fields that need it most. All purchasers must supply a certified Nutrient Management Plan that verifies the litter will be allocated appropriately.