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Family farm uses technology to improve efficiency and save money

Mississippi corn and soybean farmer uses technology to help save time and money on the farm.

Alaina Dismukes

October 2, 2020

4 Min Read
Fourth-generation farmer, Riley Weaver, farms soybean and corn in Glen Allen, Miss., along with his father. Thanks to farming technology, they can save some on seed, fertilizer, and even spray applications.Alaina Dismukes

Riley Weaver, a soybean and corn farmer in Glen Allen, Miss., says technology has been a big help in streamlining farming for the fourth-generation family farm.

"I officially joined my father to farm the family farm about two years ago with this being my second season," Weaver said. "My family has been farming since my great granddad. Now, we farm corn and soybeans, as well as a winter cover crop that is a mixture of wheat, cereal rye, and radishes, which, along with chopping corn heads with a high-speed disk, helps us in our soil conservation efforts."

Technology: Saving time, money

Technology plays an important role in the farm operation.

"Technology makes a night and day difference, in my opinion," Weaver said. "Variable rate seed and fertilizer application saves us money by being so precise. You don't have to put out so much of each to cover the entire field. Now, we're only putting out what we need, where we need it. It makes all the difference in the world to us. It saves us a significant amount across the board on everything from seed, to fertilizer, and even on spray applications. Anywhere we can save a few dollars goes a long way for us."

Besides variable rate seed and fertilizer application, GPS tractors and other software advancements have also helped save time and resources.

Related:Fred Bourland: 50 years of cotton breeding

"Pipe Planner is a software that has helped us increase our savings on fuel and electricity to run our irrigation wells," he said. "The software takes in all of your irrigation information and helps you manage your watering more efficiently. With volume control and automated well timers, irrigation advancements have come a very long way in the last few years. The main limit to the advancements in farming technology is what you can afford."

2020 harvest season

Fortunately, Weaver's farm didn't experience any damage from the recent hurricanes in August and September.

"The harvest season is going good so far," he said. "Luckily, we dodged some bad weather we were supposed to get. It has been relatively dry. We've been blessed to not get any adverse weather, so all in all, it has been a typical harvest year."

One of the biggest challenges this year is the markets.

"Corn and soybean prices rebounded a little bit recently," Weaver said. "A challenge earlier in the year was the wet planting season. We didn't get off to the best start, and yields could have been a little better, but they also could have been worse all things considered."

Weaver finished harvesting corn and is well under way harvesting soybeans.

Related:Harvest is here, and we gather

"We probably have another two or three weeks with soybeans, depending on the weather," he said in the third week of September. "We're probably dead in the middle of harvest currently."

Dicamba ruling

Weaver, like many farmers, is a bit concerned about holding on to an important piece of weed management technology.

In June 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to vacate registrations of the dicamba products Xtendimax, Engenia, and FeXapan. The result of the ruling raised concerns about herbicide options available to control herbicide-resistant weeds, as well as what the financial effect might be on the family farm.

"The Ninth Circuit Court's ruling about dicamba threw us a bit of a curveball since we had to have it all used by the specified date under the ruling's orders," Weaver said. "The decision wasn't a shock, but it wasn't fun to deal with. We like to use dicamba to help control pigweeds, which are a problem on our farm as well as morningglories, but we'll manage until they make a final ruling on it. Dicamba is a powerful tool. It does great when we can use it, and when we can't, it shows in the fields.

"There are very few alternatives to dicamba, but you would be hard-pressed to find something that works as good as it does across all weeds. Pigweeds, in particular, are hard to kill."

Organizations for advancement

The family farm has changed a lot over the years through advancements in technology, but Weaver also said that key agriculture organizations help in moving farming forward.

"There are tons of organizations like MSU Extension, Mississippi Farm Bureau, and Delta Council, which are valuable resources for me going forward in these uncertain times of agriculture," he said. "The agriculture family is huge, involving many different sectors of business, and these are some of the groups looking out for me on a wide range of issues."

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