Location: Olin, Iowa
Crops: Corn, Soybeans, Alfalfa, and Beef Cow-Calf Operation
Let’s start by discussing your 4R Advocate award in 2016. What did the award mean to you and how did it change your perspective?
Darin Stolte: “The 4R advocate award meant a lot to me. It made me realize that I have a positive role in this industry. I’m more than willing to help people out and teach people new and better ways to farm. It not only helps them, but it helps me at the same time. We’re all in this together — we need to reduce runoff, soil erosion and increase the sustainability of our farms. We have to pass these down to the next generation and the generation after that.”
As someone who understands the importance of getting nutrients into the plant, how important is it to apply the right sources in the right places?
Stolte: “It’s important to place higher quality nutrients, like TerraNu Technology, in the root zone. Especially on a wet season like this one could be. This enables the plant to have access to the nutrients and achieve maximum nutrient uptake. Broadcasting nutrients across the whole width of the field can lead to nutrients being flushed out, but strip-tilling prevents that and keeps them accessible.”
You’ve quadrupled the acres that you are applying TerraNu on this growing season. What did you see with TerraNu last year that led you to increase the acres it was applied on?
Stolte: “What I really like about TerraNu Technology is that it increases the soil biological activity. I used it on one of our marginal farms in 2018 and I saw a really nice yield response from it. We saw as much as a 25–30 bushel advantage over what we have ever seen from that given farm.”
How has TerraNu technology helped you increase nutrient uptake and crop performance?
Stolte: “TerraNu and the Midwestern BioAg fertilizer blends are enabling us to balance nutrients. We’re going farther than simply applying nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). We’re adding all of the trace minerals — everything the crop needs throughout the growing season. And TerraNu helps with maximum nutrient uptake by feeding the soil biology and helping increase the earthworm population.”
In regards to crop health, did you see any visual differences from the crops that had TerraNu in the strip-till zone?
Stolte: “The biggest thing I noticed about applying TerraNu Technology is that the crop never had a bad day. It grew nice and uniform. I never saw any deficiencies or striping of the leaves, like I’ve seen in the past. I know that nutrients are getting into the plant when those traits aren’t noticeable. I believe that TerraNu Technology is a high quality, well- available nutrient that played a role in the crop health that I saw.”
What would your advice be for growers who are hesitant to try new products?
Stolte: “The biggest thing I always tell people is that when you’re trying something new, you don’t have to try it on the whole farm. Just try it on a small portion of acreage. If you spend $20 and you get $30 back, that’s a positive return. So if you spend $50 and get $80 back, that’s positive as well. So I don’t worry about how much I spend. I worry about the return on my investment, and how much I can get back. And I feel like TerraNu, and the balanced nutrition, is paying us back verses applying low quality nutrients like we used to.”