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Expenditures for additional grain bins, center pivot systems, a new grain dryer, trucks and trailers to haul grains — and possibly a new module builder cotton picker — are investments that allow Mike Graves and his sons, Allen and Tyler, to increase efficiency, boost yields, and reduce costs on their 4,500-acre Mississippi operation.
MIKE GRAVES, from left, his father, Hines Graves, and sons Tyler Graves and Allen Graves, at the start of the new season on their 4,500-acre farming operation near Ripley, Miss.
More grain storage, new dryer
With the construction of a new 54,000 bushel bin last year, the Graveses have increased their on-farm grain storage capacity to 200,000 bushels.
“We just bought a new natural gas-powered GSI dryer that will double corn drying capacity to 1,100 bushels per hour,” Mike says. “It’s not that expensive to dry corn — about 10 cents a bushel — and the added convenience is well worth it. Being able to dry at that volume, on our own schedule, lets us harvest two to three weeks earlier than we would otherwise.”
They were contracting their grain hauling, but he says, “That got to be very expensive, so now we do our own trucking. With the money saved in just one year, we were able to buy two new hopper bottom trailers and two used Peterbilt trucks. We also have half ownership of another truck in partnership with the Tippah County Co-op, and we have two tandem trucks to haul grain from the fields to our bins.”
And says Tyler, who had just returned from a 200-mile round trip with a load of poultry litter, “We are saving about $500 a load by using these trucks and trailers to haul litter.”
This is the third year they’ve used poultry litter in their fertility program, Mike says. “It’s very effective, and initially was considerably cheaper than commercial fertilizer. But there is so much competition for it now that the price differential has narrowed quite a bit and we can’t get all that we need. So, we will use some commercial fertilizer.
“Last year, we applied 1.5 tons per acre of poultry litter on our cotton and corn land. We fertilize according to soil test recommendations and we also get an analysis on the poultry litter. It usually runs about 60 units of nitrogen, and 60 each of potash and phosphate. Sometimes, we may have to add a little potash.
“You can tell to the row where we’ve applied poultry litter; the crop is greener, more lush. And you can see it on the yield monitors at harvest.”
They also bought a Caterpillar loader for use in moving the poultry litter and for other farm chores. “It has been a very useful piece of equipment,” Allen says. “We also picked up a used forklift for $1,500, and that was money well spent.”