On Carter’s hill farm, PZM showed losses in the $300/acre range on thin, heavily sloping ground that is adjacent to tree lines that cut the 45-acre field in two. “Areas bordering trees don’t generally produce well,” says Carter. “I wanted to know how far I had to get away from the trees to increase profitability. PZM gave me those boundaries.”

Carter is planning to take about 4 acres out of production and enroll the ground in the Conservation Reserve Program. “In a small area where I am currently losing money, CRP will pay me more than $300/acre,” he says.

Putting the field edges in permanent cover “should decrease the amount of nutrients leaving the farm and getting directly into surface water and groundwater,” Carter says. “In these areas, I tend to get water running. Now they will have permanent cover and I won’t be applying nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.”


Carter has two other farms in mind for PZM analysis. Both are bottom ground subject to flooding. A preliminary analysis of one cash-rented field shows he would have to increase soybean yields 36 bushels/acre in some field areas just to break even. “This is something I will look at again in the future and work with the landowner to identify alternatives that could be more profitable for both of us and make it more healthy conservation-wise,” he says.

Expanding PZM program

Heiniger from Pheasants Forever says the group is expanding use of PZM to other parts of Iowa, as well as Minnesota, Wisconsin and elsewhere, in partnership with crop consultants, ag supply and machinery dealers, watershed districts, NRCS and others. The wildlife group recently announced it was adding a precision ag specialist in southern Minnesota to supplement efforts of another staffer working in Marshall, MN.

“We are looking at fresh approaches that are environmentally friendly that also have a stronger working land component,” he says. That could entail using parcels not conducive to corn or soybeans for seed needed for the burgeoning cover crop market, he adds.

(Source – http://cornandsoybeandigest.com/conservation/blend-field-profit-environment?page=1)