NEW GALILEE, Pa. — Yost Farms is moving forward with technology and conservation efforts.
Rob and Jim Yost are a father-and-son team concerned about protecting the soil, and making a profit. And the two concepts go hand-in-hand.
The farm has been practicing no-till procedures for over 25 years and now uses 100 percent vertical tillage.
They plant half their acreage to soybeans and the other half to corn, and use a 50/50 rotation system. The Yosts said there are too many benefits to no-till not to do it. It builds a heavier matter on top by not turning the soil, and conserves moisture.
Rob said when it comes August and the rain is not falling, it can really scare you, but the no-till traps moisture and the plant will do better, creating better yields in the end.
They also use extensive tiling to improve water management in their fields. “If it is owned, it is heavily tiled,” Yost said.
They said it can take up to five years to see the return on the investment — even though they have their own equipment including a Soil-Max Gold Digger Pro to install drainage pipe — but they believe it is worth it because drainage is everything in a field.
The soil’s fertility can’t be taken for granted, either. He said potash and phosphorus has to be applied and maintained.
“There is no cheating on fertility with no-till,” Yost said.
Jim Yost agreed. “It’s all about preparation,” he said.
Like many farmers, the Yosts manage fields carefully to reduce soil compaction, something they are very concerned about. Rob said it is very important to get into the fields, get the job done, and then get out.
“Don’t be out there making tracks,” he said.
Willing to change
However, unlike some farmers who get into a pattern and find it difficult to stop, this family goes out of its way to modify the operation. Sometimes, it means different equipment or herbicides, or even a new way of doing things.
“You have to do what works for your system at the time. However, you have to be willing to change things,” said Rob.
“Even if someone comes back in five years, we’ll be able to show you the changes we have made because as times change, your practices have to as well.”
The Yosts agree no-till requires better herbicide application and better management of the fields — “things you don’t usually have to deal with in traditional tillage,” Yost said.
One negative side to no-till the Yosts have found, specifically in the new varieties of corn, is the length of time it takes for cornstalks to break up. Rob said the stands are a problem, because they will withstand the winter weather well.
He added they have found it’s important to send the stalks through the combine to ensure they get shredded over the fields.
“It all starts behind the combine,” Yost said.
Another area where the Yosts differ from some farming operations is with the use of their RoGator. They use it to spread liquid fertilizer, nitrogen and Round-up. (They use Round-up Ready soybeans.)
Rob said he uses two applications of Round-up chemicals on the soybean fields and feels the sprayer is the most efficient way of applying nitrogen.
“Lots of guys don’t like it because you have to go back and cover the ground, costing more fuel and time, but it’s worth it for us,” Rob said.
The Yosts have over 250,000 bushels of storage capacity on their farm, which lets them contract corn throughout the year, but their marketing emphasis in contracting is during June, July and August.
The farm is using a Case Turbo 330 tillage tool for the first time this year in their planting process. They also use a Great Plains Turbo Drill, a John Deere MaxEmerge XP planter, a RoGator, which is a self-propelled sprayer, and a John Deere combine to harvest.
The combine is a 9560 STS, which has the ability to level itself as it fills with grain during the harvest. The front axle sits on a hydraulic cylinder, which the Yosts say comes in handy on some of the hilly locations they farm.
Rob said farming can be hard on any family and his is no exception.
“I plant and combine every acre myself,” Yost said.
And that means missing some activities for his three elementary-aged children, Riah, Carter and Alayna. He gave a lot of credit to his wife, Julie, for keeping everything in order when he is out in the fields, especially during planting and harvesting time.
The farm is a partnership between him, his dad, Jim, and his mom, Janet.