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Paul Good and Dale Weaver installed their first center pivot 2007 and say yields have improved considerably on their Noxubee County, Miss., farms. They now have five sprinkler systems, two that are almost half a mile long, the rest shorter. "Each of the systems can be monitored and controlled from my smart phone with FieldNet software," Dale says. "At any time, I can see what each system is doing, what the water pressure is, how much water is being applied, etc. I can change the rate or make other adjustments remotely."
PAUL GOOD, left, and Dale Weaver dropped cotton in 2007 in favor of all corn and soybeans on their Noxubee County, Miss., farms.
Poultry litter a better value
“The litter has worked well on our wheat, too. Initially, we were afraid it might cause too much growth with fall application, but we haven’t seen that. We feel the litter has been a real asset to our operation, that we get more for our money than with commercial fertilizer, along with a boost in organic matter. Freight’s a big expense with poultry litter; we get most of ours from the Philadelphia/Carthage areas, less than 100 miles away.”
This season, through mid-July, they’d had no significant insect problems, Paul says.
“Stink bugs are always around, but we can manage them OK. Because we have problems with sugarcane beetles, which are in the soil and damage plant roots, we treat our corn seed with Capture, and we’ve seen very few damaged plants.”
Dale says all their corn and soybean seed is treated. “We use Poncho on corn and we treat all our wheat and soybean seed with fungicide and insecticide.. We think this is insurance that gets plants off to a better start, and we generally have very little replanting.”
“We bed everything in the fall, if we can. All our crops are on 30-inch rows, and we’ve found yields are better than on wider rows.
So far, Dale says, they’ve had no problems with weed resistance. “There have been a few instances when weed kill wasn’t what we thought it should’ve been, but rotating crops and chemistries has helped to keep things under control. And I do a lot of hand-pulling of weeds.”
Paul and Dale do most of the work on the farm themselves, but value the assistance of their employee, Dave Skinner, who has worked on the farm for 40 years. They will use some part-time labor at harvest and other busy periods. Paul’s wife, Joyce, and Dale’s wife, Janice, handle the books and records and keep all the farm paperwork in order.
Getting qualified labor is increasingly a problem for farmers, Paul says. “Trying to find someone to competently operate a $300,000 piece of machinery, with sophisticated electronics, is a real challenge. And it’s one that’s somewhat worrisome for me, at my age, with Dale and me doing almost everything ourselves. One thing I think the university ag schools could do is to incorporate programs that let their students get out-of-classroom training through actual work on farms.”
A growing problem for all of Mississippi agriculture, Paul says, is the deteriorating state of roads and bridges. “A lot of our secondary roads are no better than they were 40 years ago. I feel this is hindering Mississippi development, and in many areas is certainly a detriment to agriculture, for which a good transportation infrastructure is vital.”