Illinois Farm Family field moms learn about the type of information provided by the monitor in the sprayer from Paul Jeschke. The sprayer, equipped with GPS technology, automatically tracks where Jeschke has sprayed, which helps prevent him from overlapping his application of products.
Illinois Farm Family field moms learn about the type of information provided by the monitor in the sprayer from Paul Jeschke. The sprayer, equipped with GPS technology, automatically tracks where Jeschke has sprayed, which helps prevent him from overlapping his application of products.
MAZON, Ill. — One acre of corn and one acre of soybeans planted on the Paul and Donna Jeschke farm has a special meaning for the group of Illinois Farm Family Field Moms.

At the end of the growing season, the urban and suburban moms will decide how to spend the net income from these two acres.

During a visit to the farm, the moms saw their corn acre already growing on the farm near Mazon. The soybean field with the mom’s acre will be planted as soon as conditions allow.

“We planted this field on April 21, in 30-inch rows and 34,000 plants per acre,” explained Paul Jeschke. “The plants should be 6 inches apart in the row, and one of the main reasons our yields have gone is the genetics of the corn has allowed us to put more plants per acre.”

Jeschke told the field moms that when he started farming in 1975, he planted from 24,000 to 25,000 plants per acre and the average yield was less than 100 bushels of corn per acre.

“Today, the trend yield is 160 bushels of corn per acre,” he said.

“Compared to 1980, we apply about the same amount of phosphate, potash and nitrogen to the soil today and yet our production has gone up about 87 percent,” he noted. “Part of that is due to the better corn genetics, and it is also a result of better placement of nutrients in the field.”

Fields Tested

Fields of the Jeschke farm are soil-tested every four years.

“Our planting season started last year when harvest was over,” said Tyson Dollinger, Jeschke’s nephew who also is involved in the operation. “We create maps using GPS and yield monitors in the combine that show the number of bushels produced per acre across the field.”

The farmers take the yield information, combine it with the soil samples and then apply the appropriate amount of phosphate and potassium.

At planting, the farmers use the maps to look at soil fertility, soil type and previous yields to generate a variable rate planting prescription.

“This determines how many seeds per acre to plant for each part of the field,” Dollinger said.

With the GPS system, the planter can sense when it goes into an area that’s already planted.

“It will shut rows off, so we don’t plant seed where we’ve already planted,” Dollinger explained. “Planting is the most important job — if you mess up planting, you have to wait to try again next year.”

The sprayer on the Jeschke farm also is equipped with GPS technology.

“It automatically tracks where I sprayed, and my monitor shows me where to drive,” Jeschke said. “I’m spraying 90 feet within two-tenths of a foot, so there is very little overlap because that’s wasted product.”

At the end of the field the sprayer shuts off automatically.

Jeschke told the moms that he is required to keep records on all the chemicals he sprays on his crops and those records are subject to random spot audits by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“I also have to have a pesticide applicators license,” he said. “I take training and pass a test to get this license, which I need to even purchase the products.”

Glyphosate is one herbicide Jeschke uses on his farm to control weeds.

“Glyphosate, or Roundup, is one of the safest herbicides developed — it only acts on green tissue, so I spray it on weeds that are growing,” he said.

“Through genetic engineering, the corn and soybean plants are tolerant to Roundup,” he explained. “I’m ecstatic I can use such a safe product that kills the weeds, but not my crops.”

Crop Insurance

How crop insurance works was among the many questions asked by the moms. Jeschke said there are many crop insurance options.

“The best coverage I can purchase is 85 percent of my long-term average yield times the price of the crop in February or November,” he said. “That coverage is expensive, up to $40 per acre.”

In contrast, Jeschke said he could purchase a minimal amount of crop insurance for just a few dollars per acre.

“Crop insurance is not made to give you a profit if you have a disaster year. It is designed to help cover some of the costs,” he said.

In 1988, a terrible drought hit Illinois and Jeschke did not have crop insurance because at that time it was expensive.

“It took us six to seven years to make back what we lost in 1988. Our net worth dropped that much,” he said.

This is the second year the Jeschkes have welcomed the Field Moms to their.

“We love to do this. We’re glad you could be here,” Donna Jeschke told the moms.

“We got involved because we are passionate about agriculture, and we love talking to people about agriculture,” Paul Jeschke added. “This is a big deal because these moms gave up a day to come and see what we’re doing.”

Illinois Farm Families are Illinois farmers who support Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board, Illinois Beef Association, and Midwest Dairy Association through farmer-funded checkoff or membership programs.