Posted on July 8, 2011
Topics: Grower Profile
Name: Brian Dunham - New York Farmer
Location: Medina, N.Y.
Years farming: 8
Number of Acres: 1,500
Crops: Corn, soybeans and wheat
Adopting Adapting Traditions
Because tradition is strong in agriculture, farming operations often are passed down from generation to generation – as is the case with Brian Dunham. Dunham is the fifth generation of his family to work on the 1,500-acre family farm in Medina, N.Y. He’s been working on the farm full-time growing corn, soybeans and wheat – for more than eight years; and two years ago, the farm was officially transferred from his grandfather to Dunham and his father.
“There are three generations between my grandfather, father and my older brother and I who work side-by-side daily,” says Dunham. “I feel very fortunate for the opportunity that I have been given through the hard work of the generations of Dunhams before me.”
Cropping technology: the next generation
As a young farmer, Dunham is receptive to new agricultural technologies. Recently, his farm upgraded equipment with auto-steer technology, and Dunham maintains an open mind and often tries new products when they enter the market.
“We have started using a vertical tillage tool to help warm soils and variable rate fertilizer application that has really helped our yields,” Dunham adds. “It’s essential to apply the right nutrients and the correct amount where plants need it.”
To determine correct fertilizer rates, Dunham takes soil samples on five-acre grids every three years. Using soil test results, he develops a fertilizer prescription for spring application. Dunham also made changes to his fertilizer management program by using AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer and NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager. Like any grower, he wants to increase plant health and yields, so deciding to use fertilizer efficiency products like AVAIL and NutriSphere-N were an easy choice.
“My father and I read about several product trials and what other growers were experiencing,” says Dunham. “We also talked to neighboring growers in the area who used SFP products, and they were very happy with the results.”
In northwest New York, weather can be a challenge Dunham doesn’t apply fertilizer in the fall but does spread potash after the soybean harvest to prepare for the ground for next year’s corn crop. Typically, weather doesn’t permit much work in the fall because the ground becomes too wet and cold, too fast.
“Both the spring and fall seasons can be very cold and wet, making time management crucial when working to maximize plant health,” says Dunham.
Despite occasional rough conditions, Dunham still harvests healthy crops with significant yields.
“By adding AVAIL and NutriSphere-N to our phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer programs, the plants have better color and I haven’t seen stress where the products were applied. We’ve seen better root systems and plant stands, as well as less lodging in the fall compared to fields without them,” says Dunham.
Pass it on
Whether it’s new products or different application techniques, Dunham often exchanges farm management tips with fellow area growers.
“I highly recommend both AVAIL and NutriSphere-N because the products have contributed to our success. We’ve had healthier crops and higher yields since we started adding the products to our fertilizer programs,” said Dunham.
While keeping the tradition of running the family farm, Dunham has adapted to new technology and the always changing environment of agriculture and farming. Benefiting from products such as AVAIL and NutriSphere-N has increased the chance of Dunham passing the farm to the next generation.
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