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KRJ Farms uses precision agriculture to grow their farm.

Adding more acres isn’t the only way to expand a farming operation. Near Lexington, KRJ Farms is looking toward expanded productivity to make their operation “bigger.”

Ken Heimer and his wife, Rachel, along with their son, Jay, and his wife, Elizabeth, run a cash crop corn and soybean operation in addition to having a commercial cowherd and doing some custom farm work.

To produce more from what they have, the Heimers are racheting up the management intensity on their crop ground.

“We started getting into some precision agriculture practices in 1995, mainly gathering information about our fields,” Ken explains. “At some point, though, you have to ask yourself, ‘okay, what are you going to do with that information?’”

One answer was to plug that data into a variable rate fertilizer application and planting rate program for corn. “The name of the game is to lower costs and increase income,” Ken notes. “With variable rate, we can use the right amounts in the right places, making better use of those inputs.

“On the fields we’ve farmed for a long time, we pretty much knew what areas of a field are more productive and those that are less so but the precision technology enables you to put some science behind your decisions and be more accurate in addressing variability within a field.”

The Heimers are also addressing the productivity of the soil itself. They continue to improve the drainage capabilities of their fields through tiling.

“It’s hard to get more land but you can make what you have more productive. Tiling is one way to do that,” Ken says. “It helps us get into the field in a more timely manner and it has helped increase overall yields.”

Custom combining, anhydrous ammonia application and planting enables the Heimers to make better use of their equipment as well as diversifying their farm income. Their crop acreage is primarily rotated annually between corn and soybeans.

Productivity is also important on the financial side of the operation and it starts with getting more bang for their buck with their lender, FCS Financial.

“Good rates are the starting point,” Ken says. “FCS Financial is very competitive in that respect but the people there also understand agriculture. They know the nature of the business and they know what kinds of challenges we face. They’re nice, friendly folks and we don’t have to go into the office a lot.

“It’s much easier to talk to someone with an agricultural background — that’s a big plus for us,” Ken concludes.

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