As Top Producer Editor, the favorite part of my job is visiting farmers across the country. I love being able to see impressive operations up close and hear the pride in farmers’ voices as they tell me about their operations.
Last week I traveled to central Illinois (Louisville, to be exact) to visit Zach and Cole Bailey of Bailey Family Farm. The brothers, along with their dad, Darren, were Top Producer of the Year finalists this year.
The Baileys grow corn, soybeans and wheat across 12,000 acres. For the last few years, the Baileys have only grown soybeans—no corn. This change for their operation was driven by cost control and profitability. Intensive production practices protect their soils and fertility and, ultimately, yields.
They have found a great niche in growing non-GMO soybeans, and this year all of their corn and soybean acres will be non-GMO. That, of course, takes a different mindset and the entire agronomic toolbox.
“Attention to detail is very important, especially with our scouting,” Zach says. “You have to watch for insect and weed pressure, and stay ahead of the curve.”
Zach provides a planting season update for his farm:
These foundational management shifts for their operation require constant communication, Zach and Cole say. Not only do they need their 15 full-time employees to understand their goals and plans, but also their landlords and suppliers. The employees meet every morning to get the game plan for the day, and the three farm leaders meet once a week for more long-term planning.
“Our biggest challenge will always be communication,” Zach says. “As we grow, it gets tougher, so the conversations have to be deeper. We need to make sure everyone knows our vision.”
You’ll be able to learn more about this remarkable farm operation in the summer issue of Top Producer, which will hit mailboxes in early August.
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