Like many farmers during this past growing season, Iowa strip-tiller Frank Moore harvested corn and soybeans with wildly varying yields. Much of the variation stemmed from when, where and how much rain fell, along with planting dates and when corn pollinated.

Despite the huge impact of the weather on yields, Moore came away with some useful results from his second year of evaluating Cornell University’s Adapt-N program. Adapt-N helps farmers evaluate whether they should sidedress and, if so, how much nitrogen to apply.

In one of the fields where he used Adapt-N’s recommendation, Moore found that growing the greatest number of bushels wasn’t the most profitable. That’s something he saw while working on the MAX Program during the 1990s that helped farmers make sound economic choices, Moore says.

“The MAX Program showed me that yield is important, but controlling costs is also as important,” Moore says. “My primary goal is to maximize profits, not maximize yields. The top yield will probably cost you money. That's nice to shoot for in trials or yield contests, but it shouldn't be a whole-farm goal.”

If you compared nitrogen rates when sidedressing strip-tilled corn last summer or plan to do so for 2013 — or have questions about how to decide application rates — let us know in the comments below.