Source: Central Valley Ag

It seems to me all too often in life, as consumers we are presented with solutions or products that are in search of a problem. This, of course, is counter-intuitive to what we should have, which is a problem in search of a solution. On the surface, these two things seem closely related, but the fact is they are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Don’t believe me? This winter walk around a farm show and see how many products are there that you just shake your head at and wonder "who would buy that?" At the same time, count the products that you see that make you go “It is so simple, why didn’t I think of that!”

In the grand scheme of things, what separates the two ends of the spectrum more than anything else is facts. In our case, it is agronomics and facts. What I mean is, can I prove that there is a problem in just a few minutes? Then, and this is the important part to me, can I verify a proposed solution would work in a few minutes? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then move along. I am willing to bet cash money that there is lower hanging fruit to be picked to improve your operation. If it is a split decision, one yes, and one no, then I suggest filing it away for later. There is probably something there, but perhaps this isn’t the right time. But, if both tests come back as yes, then I believe we are on to something.

Today, I want to apply this test to kernel loss at harvest. Over the last year and a half, I have talked a lot about a product called YieldSaver. These replacement gathering chains seemed to me like a solution in search of a problem when I first saw them. But as I applied the principals above out in the field, I found out I was wrong. They are in fact a solution to a real problem. What makes them a solution is that we can quickly verify what they do.

For those of you that saw my video a couple months ago on the YieldSaver’s or joined us at the Innovation events this summer in Bellwood or Norfolk, you saw us do a demonstration of dry, shelled corn going through the head. It was a great demonstration, but it wasn’t a real-world situation. So today, I wanted to walk you through how to do this on your own. As you are going through the field, pull back on the hydro and stop the head. Then back the combine up so that the head is where the tailings were. Then I want you to get out with some gloves on and pick the inside two rows, as they will have the least head loss in theory. Measure off ten foot of row, and carefully remove all the leaves and stalks between the two rows. For those of you in 30” corn, this represents 25 square foot. Two kernels per square foot is roughly one bushel. So if you are losing more than four kernels per square foot, you have a problem. This, of course, means we are looking for 100 kernels in that 25 square foot area. More than that and the solution will pay for itself in yield. Less than that and we need to evaluate other factors like volunteer corn population potential to determine if it is a solution for your farm.

I know that none of you want to take the time to do this sort of evaluation now that the weather has turned for the better, but I promise that it is worth it. Working with a trusted advisor that can help you out on the numbers side to determine the economic viability of a solution is a key piece of this equation. Having the people that bring the solutions to you be Agronomists first is another great indicator.

While we talked about yield loss today, the process is the same to evaluate stands for planter performance. Just make sure we keep our eyes open, and our minds clear to look for these opportunities regardless of time of year.