With the arrival of planting season, there is no more suitable time to give an update fresh off a farm! We sat down with Matt Divis, Farm Manager, for Spring tips and best practices implemented on Bollig Farms, a multi-generational family farm operation owned by Denny Bollig, Farmer, and President of Dragotec USA. Beginning his career in Fenton, Iowa, with Bollig Farms over 15 years ago, Matt brings an arsenal of agricultural knowledge and experience to the farm. He attributes much of his hands-on learning to an upbringing on his family farm, which raised farrow to finish hogs, corn, and soybeans near LuVerne, Iowa.

Take Advantage of Down Time

Midwest farmers are experiencing planting delays due to unseasonably cool temperatures, and Bollig Farms is no exception. Playing the waiting game during planting season while the clock is ticking can be a source of anxiety amongst farmers. “The planter is one of the most important pieces of equipment on the farm,” states Matt. “You only have one chance to plant for optimal yields. Take the time to ensure your equipment is operational for maximum uptime when field conditions are optimal.” As Bollig Farms enters the 2021 season, Matt shares tips for planting in various growing conditions. A best practice for optimal planting conditions is for soil temperatures to be 50 degrees or above. Ensure you are planting the seeds into moisture, yet the topsoil is dry enough to reduce compaction from the equipment footprint. On Bollig farms, Matt aims to plant seeds two inches deep to help with future root development. He adds that accurate meters ensure you are planting with consistent spacing while adjusting downforce aids in providing consistent seed depth. For precision technology, auto-steer boosts efficiencies, and Matt appreciates utilizing mapping for future reference for the spray and harvest seasons. “While it can be tempting, I would advise against planting in any extreme conditions, unless the calendar is pushing you,” adds Matt.

Protecting Your Seed Investment

Every year in farming is different. Bollig Farms strives to evolve to meet the changing demands of the industry. In the fall, Matt utilizes the year’s harvest data to evaluate and make decisions for the coming growing season, such as by matching optimal seed varieties that are best suited for each farm’s soil type. Post-harvest, Bollig Farms boosts soil nutrients with dry applications of Diammonium phosphate (DAP) and potash fertilizers, along with applying various forms of Nitrogen, such as Anhydrous or Urea or Urea containing fertilizers (UAN), accompanied by a stabilizer. Matt recommends that all Nitrogen applications should be applied responsibly and stabilized when practical. In the spring, Matt continues to build soil nutrients with multiple passes of Nitrogen applications. The first pass is a liquid Nitrogen that is applied pre-emergence and is field cultivated into the soil. The second pass of banded liquid Nitrogen is applied with the planter, placing the fertilizer two inches from the row. Additionally, the last pass of slow-release Nitrogen is applied to ensure the seed has optimal access to the fertilizer. Bollig Farms also invests in protecting their seed investment with a two-pass herbicide program, applied pre-emerge and post-emerge. Matt recommends using a residual herbicide to combat hard-to-kill resistant weeds, such as Water hemp. To further protect the crop, Bollig Farms utilizes both ground and aerial applications of insecticide and fungicide post-tassel. The farm also grows some conventional corn, where they use granular insecticide to protect the crop from pests.

Expect the Unexpected

Having Dragotec USA situated on the rural homestead of Bollig Farms has its advantages as well. Despite both businesses operating separately, the farm operation performs research and development by utilizing Drago and competitive corn heads during harvest. Both companies align with teams comprised of strong agricultural backgrounds and values that put the farmer first. We are proud to offer solutions to the agriculture industry that we stand behind because we use them on our farm too. We truly understand our customers’ business because we farm too. Farming is constantly evolving. Count on Drago to be your partner in innovation for more profitability. “Slow down and pay attention to details,” states Matt. “Always expect the unexpected.”

Matt's Planter Quick Check Guide

Row Unit: • Check for missing hardware, cracks, and bends. Check the parallel arm bushings for wear.

Row Cleaners: • Check bearings and wheels for wear. Adjust appropriately for field conditions.

Disc Openers: • Check the diameter and bearings. Check the gap between the openers, as well as the scrapers. Be sure to check any other attachment that forms the seed trench.

Gauge Wheels: • Check the bearings and rubber for wear. Inspect the clearance between the wheels and disc opener. Check the pivot arms for wear.

Seed Hopper: • Check for cracks, as well as the lids and seals. Make sure they are clean from the previous crop.

Closing Wheels: • Check the bearings, as well as the wheel condition. Also, check the down pressure spring and frame.

Seed Meters: • Inspect the brushes, seed discs, covers, seals, and belts. Check any other moving parts of the planter. Inspect seed tubes for wear and cleanliness.

Technology: • Check calibrations and functioning of sensors (if your planter applies)

Other: • Check other items on your planter, such as chains, bearings, and hydraulic hoses.