Posted on November 27, 2015 at 10:50 AM by Iowa Corn
Conserving a Family Tradition
Mark Recker, the Iowa Corn Growers Association Director for District 3, joined his family farming operation full-time in 1994, and it was around that time that he and his father began implementing variable rate application. Applying higher rates of nitrogen on hills and lower rates in valleys, they found, increased yields and reduced costs. It was the start of something good.
“We recognized the value in it right away, and now with precision ag there’s a much better way to do it. We can actually map the ground topographically by elevation and apply exact amounts of nitrogen,” said Recker, who farms about 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans. “This saves us dollars by not applying to areas that don’t need it, and we’re being more sustainable because excess nitrogen doesn’t find its way into the ground water.”
Water quality is a hot topic of conversation right now, and Recker believes that there are some public misconceptions about what Iowa corn farmers are doing to address the issue.
“Water quality is absolutely a huge issue for us as farmers. For starters, our families drink water from the well. We wouldn’t allow this if we weren’t absolutely confident in the quality of the water,” Recker said. “At the same time, managing fertilizer judiciously is good from a profitability standpoint and from a conservation standpoint.”
Conservation has been a major focus on the Recker farm for decades, dating back to the early practices implemented by Recker’s father. The Recker’s were early adopters of biotechnology, which enables them to produce a higher quality crop while using fewer pesticides. In recent years, the Recker’s have installed terraces, waterways, filter strips and other conservation practices that minimize the impact their farm has on the environment.
“Anything that can help maintain the soil on the land is worth considering. The conservation practices used by my dad impacted the land that I inherited, and if my son chooses to farm, I want to make sure the ground is in as good a condition or better than when I found it,” Recker said. “Conservation is beneficial to us as farmers and consumers today, but it’s even more important to the next generation. That’s why we do it.”