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Farm name: Shuter Sunset Farms
Growers: Mike & Susan (parents), Brian and Patrick (sons) Shuter
Location: Frankton, Indiana (central Indiana)
Approximately 3000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat
Livestock: Cow-calf 80 head, 9000 hogs wean-finish
Mike’s grandfather and dad bought the original 200-acre farm in the early 1950s.
2015 Outstanding Young Cattleman Award, Indiana Beef Cattle Association
2015 NCGA Conservation Stewardship Award
2015 Purdue Distinguished Alumnus
2014 Farm Family of the Indiana State Fair
2010 Indiana Master Farmer Award
Since 2010, Shuter farms has used cover crops, including a mix of cereal rye, 14-way CC mix, Annual Ryegrass, Rapeseed, Nutribuilder 3-way mix, oats and others.
What tillage practices do you use, and since what year?
We started no-till corn in 1983 using a 3-coulter setup on the planter, and ddded no-till drilled soybeans in 1987. We changed to strip-tilling before corn in 2003.
How have you improved your nutrient management?
We take soil samples every year and apply nutrients using variable rate technology. We added wheat to the crop rotation in order to safely apply hog manure in the late summer. However, cover crops were planted after manure application in order to keep the nutrients in the soil profile.
We also use Optrix sensors (measures greenness of corn leaves) on side-dress nitrogen bar to vary the rate on the go, based on the crop needs. Only P & K is applied during the strip-till operation in the fall. This strategy places nutrients under the corn rows which improves placement and reduces the opportunities for loss.
What have you learned as part of the Soil Health Partnership?
We had been using cover crops and no-till/strip-till for some time but were looking to take things to the next level. We became involved in the SHP in 2015. The SHP demo field is for 5 years and will compare the impact of a 14-way warm season cover crop cocktail mix after wheat with manure being applied (4 strips with the cocktail mix and 4 strips with no cover crop). Others have gotten a significant yield bump after the cocktail mix and Shuter Farms want to see how big and how long the yield bump lasts and how does pencils out compared to a corn/soybean rotation.
In addition, we look forward to the SHP soil sampling for the new soil health tests to see how much change in the soil is occurring. We’re curious to learn about the impact of our management practices on soil health as well as yield and the bottom line.