Innovation Continues to Drive Minnesota Corn

Dec 27, 2023

By Adam Birr

As we reflect on another growing season, a theme that emerges for me is the wonders of innovation and technology in agriculture. As we were preparing budgets in September prior to harvest, optimism about this year’s crop was in short supply. By the end of August, significant portions of the corn growing areas of Minnesota had received less than 50% of the normal precipitation for the growing season. As we entered the harvest, I started getting texts from many of you surprised at the numbers appearing on yield monitors. The November USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report substantiated those texts with a forecasted yield of 181 bushels per acre statewide average for Minnesota. Certainly, a wide range of yields were realized across the state and many experienced below average harvests, but it’s astonishing when you consider how little rain we received throughout the growing season. The fact that we can maintain productivity despite challenging growing conditions is a testament to timely rains but also the evolution of seed technology and agronomic practices.

As we enter a new legislative session, many of the tools farmers use to maintain this productivity will be scrutinized. Part of the challenge is that fewer people know a farmer or are familiar with agriculture. In fact, a recent survey that Minnesota Corn commissioned found that just 37% of Minnesota residents across the state know a farmer. It’s incumbent on us to tell our story to both Minnesota residents and legislators alike.

Minnesota’s farmers have a great story to tell that includes the use of technology like precision agriculture that ensures efficient use of all crop inputs including seed, fertilizer, and pesticides. Minnesota Corn’s leaders recently underwent a third-party assessment of their farming practices and quantified the impacts on soil, water, and carbon. The assessments provided a benchmark and demonstrated that Minnesota’s corn farmers have made significant advances in sustainability. In the coming year Minnesota Corn hopes to gather more data to assist in demonstrating to legislators and residents the importance of agronomic tools both for on-farm productivity but also for protecting soil and water resources.

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