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Words and photos by Jessica Ekern

Raising meat goats brings both challenges and rewards

No way a boring day

Ask goat farmers about their day, and they’ll tell you there is never a dull moment. Goats are full of curiosity and personality. Fences are just a nuisance for some. And their reproduction cycle seems to be nonstop.
LeeAnn Martin, who raises Boer goats on her Red Head Acres farm near Rocheport, Mo., says that goats are one of the hardest animals she has raised, yet also one of the most rewarding.

“I really like the babies,” she said. “Watching them run around is pure joy.”

LeeAnn’s journey in goat farming is unusual. When she and her husband, Tony, MFA’s animal health manager and staff veterinarian, bought their 44-acre farm in the 1990s, LeeAnn loved the old horse barn on the property and wanted to restore it. Built with “good bones,” the barn still had most of its original beams. It would quickly become a haven for a new guest.

“Soon after we bought this place, a friend who volunteered at the Humane Society called and said,
  . . . .
Crop scientist outlines top six factors that impact soybean yield

Secrets to share

The five-soybean pod. For many growers, it’s as mythical as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
Not even seasoned crop scientist Dr. Fred Below of the University of Illinois has seen one of these elusive occurrences firsthand, even as he researches ways to help growers maximize production through better management.

“The typical number of seeds per pod is three; under stress you might see two or even one,” Below said. “But if you have the right growing conditions, the right genetics and the right management, you can get four or even five. I hate to admit it. I’ve never found a five-bean pod, even though I’ve looked like crazy.”

Three, four, five—why should growers care about how many soybeans are in each pod? It’s simple, Below said. Yield.

“Take the number of pods per plant and multiply it by the number of seeds per pod, and that gives you the seed number,” he explained. “And seed number is directly associated with yield. Add one more pod per plant, and you’ll get 2 more bushels per acre.” . . .

Automation, speed and precision bring unmatched efficiencies to MFA’s Four Rivers Agronomy Center

New era in service

The recently constructed Four Rivers Agronomy Center in Ravenwood, Mo., is bringing a new era in service to farmers in MFA’s northwest trade territory.

Located about 10 miles east of Maryville, the complex consists of a high-speed 6,500-ton fertilizer plant, crop protection warehouse, centralized seed treatment system and office building. The center is the service hub for MFA customers in a 30-mile radius and beyond, consolidating smaller fertilizer and chemical facilities into the larger, more modern operation.

“We’re covering pretty much all of Nodaway and Worth counties and the northwest corner of Gentry in Missouri and Ringgold and Taylor counties in Iowa,” General Manager Craig Wilmes said. “This was a big overlap territory among MFA’s Conception Junction, Maryville, Sheridan and Guilford locations, and we’re seeing huge improvements in efficiencies.”

The fertilizer plant, which began operating this past spring, is a high-volume throughput system with a modular declining-weight blender. Operations Manager Justin Seipel said its six bins will typically accommodate three phosphates, ammonium sulfate, potash and SuperU nitrogen plus two micronutrient bins. The building features three bays that can hold 1,000 tons of dry product, three that hold 500 tons and two with a 200-ton capacity.

“In and out, we can load a 24-ton tender in about 8 minutes. Before, it would take at least . . .

Poem by Walter Bargen

Images by Jessica Ekern

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November 2023 Today's Farmer magazine

Click to read more from this issue including articles on drones, conservation, ranching, grants, popcorn recipes and more.

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