Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Serving: Central

Efficiency and preparedness key to farmers’ success

Brian Ireland dfp-jamfarms-birelandcopy.jpg
A modeled irrigation system, owning his own equipment and increasing storage capacity on his farm are keys to Jordan Maier's operational success.
Arkansas farmer embraces the latest technology while emphasizing efficiency.

With profit margins shrinking due to rising input costs, growers must utilize technology and have a strong work ethic to be successful, according to Jordan Maier, owner and operator of JAM Farms in Stuttgart, Ark.

Maier started farming on 300 acres of rented land at the age of 19.  Now 33, he manages 2,250 acres spread over seven farms.

“I’ve grown the operation over the years by letting my quality of work speak for itself,” he said. “Farmers looking to retire see the good job we’ve done with managing our farms and want the same for theirs.”

The name of the operation, JAM Farms, was developed to show the partnership it takes to be a successful farmer.

“JAM stands for Jordan and Ashley Maier,” he said. “The name shows that farming takes teamwork. I may be out here in the field all day working but my wife is working just as hard, if not harder, taking care of the kids while still helping out on the farm.”

Maier typically utilizes drill-planted rice. He has the land surveyed each year for shaping the soil to achieve a two-tenths of an inch slope.

“We survey our levees on two-tenths of an inch grade in each rice field,” Maier said. “Typically, we try to stick to row crops such as corn and soybeans on our steeper grade fields and plant rice on our flatter fields to make up our rotation.

“We are able to plant approximately 200 acres per day. Sprouting can get delayed due to colder temperatures.”

The fields are flooded from mid-May to late July or early August when the rice is ready to be harvested.

Efficiency

Maier notes that he employs three major methods to become efficient and prepared in the operation – using a modeled irrigation system, purchasing his own equipment to reduce dependency on others, and increasing storage capacity to benefit from bulk buying.

“Admittedly I fought using Pipe Planner the first year,” he said. “Once I saw how much water and time was saved, I was hooked. Efficiency is key to success.

“Our irrigation system is comprised of primarily surface water. We have reservoirs on every farm where we can store that water starting in February, to be used throughout the irrigation season. Surface water is both better for the crop and much more economical to pump than well water."

dfp-jamfarms-bireland  (53).JPG

Levee gates are aligned in fields to assist with drainage and flow of water from one field to the next with the help of Pipe Planner. (Brian Ireland)

Installing the poly piping requires a lightweight hole punch tool of up to four different sizes. The tool is long enough to prevent workers from injuring their backs and often comes with a soft grip.

“We utilize different hole sizes depending on the size of each field and the number of gallons per minute of water available,” he said. “This is where pipe planner is so useful. It tells us how many of the given sizes we need to make the entire field water out as evenly as possible. This makes our water usage much more efficient and cost-effective.”

The irrigation sets are installed with poly piping per data from Pipe Planner.

“We stick to the exact number and layout that the program calls for,” he said. “We don’t try to cut corners, only make improvements if possible.”

If a worker accidentally pokes an extra hole in the piping, there are plastic plugs made for each hole size.

“We use poly pipe for our irrigation on all of our fields,” he said. “This allows us flexibility from field to field and the ability to water every acre on the farm.

"Once we have a crop made and irrigation is no longer needed, we roll up the poly pipe and remove it from the field before harvest. It is then staged at different locations and picked up by Delta Plastics, our local poly pipe manufacturer to be recycled.”

Self-sufficient

Maier noted that it was important to have his own spray rig to reduce dependency on others.

His sprayer has a 90-foot boom consisting of nine sections, allowing for a precise application. Each section is 10 feet long, equipped with sensors and controlled via a solenoid.

Maier combines herbicide and fungicide application to reduce time, labor, and manpower.

“The sprayer is one of the most important pieces of equipment on the farm,” he said. “We start in late winter/early spring burning down weeds that have emerged during the offseason in preparation for planting the current crop. From there we are applying in-season herbicides, fungicides, and some insecticides on rice, corn and soybeans.

"Custom applications nowadays run about $8 per acre so the sprayer gives us a huge economic advantage. Not only saving lots of money but the timelessness, as well as the quality of work, are other advantages the sprayer brings us.”

Aerial application must be utilized at times, but Maier minimizes the use of airplanes due to cost.

Being Prepared

Maier purchases his seed and other items in bulk to hedge against the fluctuating market and rising input costs. He purchased a fuel storage tank that holds 10,000 gallons of fuel. This has allowed him to buy in bulk and purchase fuel when the price isn’t at a premium.

“We purchased the tank and due to inflation, it paid for itself in the first year,” he said.

Maier buys seed in bulk sacks and normal size bags to prevent having to stop the operation in the middle of planting and run into town for a few bags. He also purchases chemicals and fertilizers in bulk due to fluctuating prices and limited availability.

“Fertilizer used to cost us $325 per ton and now it’s over $1,000 a ton,” Maier said. “Roundup used to cost us $2,400 per year and now the same volume costs around $14,000 per year.”

Being able to purchase in bulk allows Maier to manage the risk of market volatility and time tasks accordingly. It ensures he is always prepared with extra seed, chemicals and parts to remain efficient and prevent waiting on someone else.

Teamwork

Maier takes care of maintenance and cleaning during the winter to prepare the equipment for the next season. He also tried to anticipate which parts and supplies will be needed the following season.

“Communication and teamwork are key to success,” he said.

He notes that change and working with universities or extension agents to gather data for evaluating fields from year to year are important. Soil sampling and data management are important to his operation.

He recently performed his own trial and cost analysis to compare ten methods that ranged from applying different fungicides to several biologicals, as well as a seed treatment, to optimize his crop.

Maier employs three other people and expresses the importance of each person being self-sufficient while working well as a team.

“Our team is constantly preparing and talking about what’s coming up next,” Maier said. “We even try to prepare by staging materials were needed to ensure a smooth transition for one task to the next.”

Maier is not a closed book. Shared knowledge, good communication and hard work are important to the JAM Farm operation, especially as agriculture faces its current challenges.

With profit margins shrinking due to rising input costs, growers must utilize technology and have a strong work ethic to be successful, according to Jordan Maier, owner and operator of JAM Farms in Stuttgart, Ark.

Maier started farming on 300 acres of rented land at the age of 19.  Now 33, he manages 2,250 acres spread over seven farms.

“I’ve grown the operation over the years by letting my quality of work speak for itself,” he said. “Farmers looking to retire see the good job we’ve done with managing our farms and want the same for theirs.”

The name of the operation, JAM Farms, was developed to show the partnership it takes to be a successful farmer.

“JAM stands for Jordan and Ashley Maier,” he said. “The name shows that farming takes teamwork. I may be out here in the field all day working but my wife is working just as hard, if not harder, taking care of the kids while still helping out on the farm.”

Maier typically utilizes drill-planted rice. He has the land surveyed each year for shaping the soil to achieve a two-tenths of an inch slope.

“We survey our levees on two-tenths of an inch grade in each rice field,” Maier said. “Typically, we try to stick to row crops such as corn and soybeans on our steeper grade fields and plant rice on our flatter fields to make up our rotation.

“We are able to plant approximately 200 acres per day. Sprouting can get delayed due to colder temperatures.”

The fields are flooded from mid-May to late July or early August when the rice is ready to be harvested.

Efficiency

Maier notes that he employs three major methods to become efficient and prepared in the operation – using a modeled irrigation system, purchasing his own equipment to reduce dependency on others, and increasing storage capacity to benefit from bulk buying.

“Admittedly I fought using Pipe Planner the first year,” he said. “Once I saw how much water and time was saved, I was hooked. Efficiency is key to success.

“Our irrigation system is comprised of primarily surface water. We have reservoirs on every farm where we can store that water starting in February, to be used throughout the irrigation season. Surface water is both better for the crop and much more economical to pump than well water."

Installing the poly piping requires a lightweight hole punch tool of up to four different sizes. The tool is long enough to prevent workers from injuring their backs and often comes with a soft grip.

“We utilize different hole sizes depending on the size of each field and the number of gallons per minute of water available,” he said. “This is where pipe planner is so useful. It tells us how many of the given sizes we need to make the entire field water out as evenly as possible. This makes our water usage much more efficient and cost-effective.”

The irrigation sets are installed with poly piping per data from Pipe Planner.

“We stick to the exact number and layout that the program calls for,” he said. “We don’t try to cut corners, only make improvements if possible.”

If a worker accidentally pokes an extra hole in the piping, there are plastic plugs made for each hole size.

“We use poly pipe for our irrigation on all of our fields,” he said. “This allows us flexibility from field to field and the ability to water every acre on the farm.

"Once we have a crop made and irrigation is no longer needed, we roll up the poly pipe and remove it from the field before harvest. It is then staged at different locations and picked up by Delta Plastics, our local poly pipe manufacturer to be recycled.”

Self-sufficient

Maier noted that it was important to have his own spray rig to reduce dependency on others.

dfp-jamfarms-bireland  (16).JPGPrecision sprayer with a 90-foot boom and a 1,000-gallon reservoir. (Brian Ireland)

His sprayer has a 90-foot boom consisting of nine sections, allowing for a precise application. Each section is 10 feet long, equipped with sensors and controlled via a solenoid.

Maier combines herbicide and fungicide application to reduce time, labor, and manpower.

“The sprayer is one of the most important pieces of equipment on the farm,” he said. “We start in late winter/early spring burning down weeds that have emerged during the offseason in preparation for planting the current crop. From there we are applying in-season herbicides, fungicides, and some insecticides on rice, corn and soybeans.

"Custom applications nowadays run about $8 per acre so the sprayer gives us a huge economic advantage. Not only saving lots of money but the timelessness, as well as the quality of work, are other advantages the sprayer brings us.”

Aerial application must be utilized at times, but Maier minimizes the use of airplanes due to cost.

Being Prepared

Maier purchases his seed and other items in bulk to hedge against the fluctuating market and rising input costs. He purchased a fuel storage tank that holds 10,000 gallons of fuel. This has allowed him to buy in bulk and purchase fuel when the price isn’t at a premium.

“We purchased the tank and due to inflation, it paid for itself in the first year,” he said.

Maier buys seed in bulk sacks and normal size bags to prevent having to stop the operation in the middle of planting and run into town for a few bags. He also purchases chemicals and fertilizers in bulk due to fluctuating prices and limited availability.

“Fertilizer used to cost us $325 per ton and now it’s over $1,000 a ton,” Maier said. “Roundup used to cost us $2,400 per year and now the same volume costs around $14,000 per year.”

Being able to purchase in bulk allows Maier to manage the risk of market volatility and time tasks accordingly. It ensures he is always prepared with extra seed, chemicals and parts to remain efficient and prevent waiting on someone else.

Teamwork

Maier takes care of maintenance and cleaning during the winter to prepare the equipment for the next season. He also tried to anticipate which parts and supplies will be needed the following season.

“Communication and teamwork are key to success,” he said.

He notes that change and working with universities or extension agents to gather data for evaluating fields from year to year are important. Soil sampling and data management are important to his operation.

He recently performed his own trial and cost analysis to compare ten methods that ranged from applying different fungicides to several biologicals, as well as a seed treatment, to optimize his crop.

Maier employs three other people and expresses the importance of each person being self-sufficient while working well as a team.

“Our team is constantly preparing and talking about what’s coming up next,” Maier said. “We even try to prepare by staging materials were needed to ensure a smooth transition for one task to the next.”

Maier is not a closed book. Shared knowledge, good communication and hard work are important to the JAM Farm operation, especially as agriculture faces its current challenges.

Hide comments
account-default-image

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish