Farmers – our original innovators

In farming, innovation isn’t just about trying new things – it’s a matter of survival. Whether it’s embracing new technology, or adapting to changing weather and economic conditions, farmers have always been at the forefront of invention.

Joe Lininger’s family has been in the business of changing with farm technology for four generations. As the newest generation to run the farm, Lininger recognizes the importance of social media, big data, and staying on top of new technology.

“I’ve seen so much change in technology,” Lininger says. “To run a successful farm, you have to be open to new technology. You can’t just say: ‘I’m going to stay with the way grandpa did it.’ You have to be open, adapt, and keep moving forward.”

Lininger and his father grow corn, soybeans, seed corn, wheat and pumpkins at Michiwak, Indiana. Being an early adopter by nature, Lininger was interested when his local retailer suggested he run a test plot on ESN.

ESN is a polymer coated nitrogen fertilizer that increases nitrogen use efficiency and reduces N lost to the environment. The nitrogen is released when growing conditions are just right, so it feeds the crop all season long.

A Smart Test …

“The CPS retailer we deal with came to us with ESN, and they wanted us to try it. We started with a 40-acre field. We put 100 percent ESN on one side and a normal side-dress application on the other,” he recalls.

The trial was successful, and Lininger appreciated the flexibility ESN provided. “There was no pressure to get it on at the right time. We could put it down pre-plant and go with it,” he says.

After sharing the results with his retailer, word got out to other growers. “The retailer started telling others that we were using it and seeing great results, and it essentially took off from there,” says Lininger.

As is often the case with innovation, Lininger discovered through experimentation the best way to use ESN on his own farm. “It was something we kind of stumbled across,” he says. “We decided to do a trial with 100 percent ESN on one side and urea on the other. Just before both spreader trucks were empty, we decided to do a split 50/50 blend right down the center. From then on, we went with a 50/50 blend across every acre we put ESN on.”

Lininger now puts ESN on a third to half his acres every year to maximize yield and reduce the time crunch of trying to side-dress all his acres in the correct application window.

The Next Generation …

The Lininger family also continues to experiment with other technology.

“Every year our retailer asks us to test something different, and we let them know afterward if it’s worth it or not – whether it’s good, bad or we’re indifferent. But we’re very honest in everything we do,” he says.

Lininger has a two-year-old son and a second child on the way. “Hopefully they want to be fifth generation farmers,” he says. “My son loves tractors, he loves getting outside and getting his hands and feet dirty. Hopefully Nutrien and ESN will be around for him when he grows up.”