Making Money with Manure…..and Precision Ag

Steve Miller - Precision Ag Specialist - Creighton Brothers Farms - Atwood, IndianaSteve Miller, Precision Ag Specialist, Creighton Brothers Farms, Atwood, Ind.

It’s all about eggs at Creighton Brothers Farm in northwest Indiana. With three million laying hens producing two-and-a-half million eggs each day, the fifth-generation family-owned company in Atwood recently celebrated 90 years in business.

“We farm close to 10,000 acres — all corn and beans — primarily to provide feed for our chickens,” says Steve Miller, precision ag specialist for Creighton Brothers. “We have 300 employees and we all have our own specialties.”

Miller’s focus is mapping and following all aspects of production on the company’s acreage through precision agriculture. In particular, he tracks manure production and application through MapShots AgStudio® software, working closely with Agri-Labs in Albion, Ind.

“In the state of Indiana, you are required to have an operating permit to keep animals — it’s called the Confined Feeding Operation (CFO) rule,” explains Miller, who has been with Creighton Brothers for 10 years now. “When we renew our permit every five years, I have to show where every single ton of manure went over that time period.”

Miller uses AgStudio software to make his farmstead maps, which become the basis for tracking all operations. “AgStudio software shows all of our farms — every field, waterway and boundary. It shows where I can apply manure according to the proper application and setback guidelines required by federal and state laws.”

Information at your Fingertips

Since growers can apply manure according to their soil phosphorus levels and crop utilization, having manure nutrient information at his fingertips is critical to Miller. He can write a prescription based on regulatory guidelines.

“When I run the prescription, it tells me how many tons per acre I can put down,” Miller says. “I keep detailed records of it and the state does periodic inspections. They go through application records, soil tests, manure analysis and yield records.”

The prescription creates a map showing exactly where everything goes, he adds. “AgStudio software centralizes it for us and color codes exactly what went where so I can match the prescription to the as applied map.”

For the past few years, Creighton Brothers has not spread any manure but still must keep all records up to date for when they do. “Right now we choose to sell our manure,” he explains. “Manure is not considered just a waste product anymore, but a valuable commodity.”

Without AgStudio software, he would be struggling to keep up with all the information. “But AgStudio software makes it easy,” he adds. “It saves us so much time, and time is money!”

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