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MEY Group Alive and Well in Akron, CO

Saturday, February 2, 2002
filed under: Optimizing Plant Development/Yields

MEY Group Alive and Well in Akron, Colo.

Topics, research on “Maximizing Economic Yields” is producer driven

Remember the term “MEY?” It means “Maximum Economic Yields,” and the buzz phrase led to the formation of a number of MEY groups in the 1980s. MEY remains a primary objective in the crop production business. However, the buzz phrase is seldom used anymore, and few farmers belong to MEY groups.

Except in Akron, Colo.

Merle Vigil, soil fertility specialist and head of the Central Great Plains Research Station at Akron, says the MEY group began around 1985, and still meets today, usually twice a month during the winter. There’s a one-time membership fee of $50. About 30 producers are members, and each meeting usually attracts between 6 and 12 producers. “I help line up speakers but it’s really their program. They come up with the crop production topics they want to know more about,” says Vigil. “I think what makes it go is that it’s farmer driven. It’s about their needs they’re trying to fulfill.”

John Wright, who farms south of Akron, says MEY is an early tagline for the group that started meeting over 15 years ago, and the name just sort of stuck around. “I’m not even sure if anybody knows what it means anymore,” he says. “We see it as a conduit for information from Colorado State University and USDA researchers. Hopefully we can spread that information by practicing some of the things they do, and hopefully get some feedback to the researchers to keep them working on things that are of interest to us.”

The group’s program this winter includes talks on no-till management of sunflower; selecting hybrids for dryland corn; economics of dryland cropping systems; what to plant after sunflower; 25 years of no-till research (from a researcher about to retire), white wheat update, alternative crops, biotechnology update, soybeans for forage and grain, dryland crop fertility, determining management zones in precision farming, and crop protection products for 2002. Only two of the talks this winter will be led by scientists at the Akron research station, says Vigil, the rest are speakers from outside the area.

There’s even plot research dubbed “the MEY plots,” because the research being conducted on them stems from the MEY group. “A lot of producers around here are trying to figure out what to do after sunflower,” says Vigil. “ Generally, people fallow. But we thought, ‘well, maybe let’s try something a bit more intense than that.’”

The MEY plot research is examining what the best management practice may be, on land following sunflower and before the next winter wheat crop. They are comparing 1) planting proso millet for harvest; 2) planting proso millet, then using glyphosate as a burndown; 3) planting oats; 4) planting field peas; 5) complete no-till fallow; 6) no-till fallow, allowing weeds to grow about 8 inches tall, then spraying the weeds with glyphosate. There were two replications on plots at the Akron research station and at three off-station sites with producer cooperators.

Winter wheat was planted last year following these six practices, and the yield was compared. “The two plots that did best were complete no-till and the weedy no-till,” says Vigil. “What’s interesting about the weedy no-till is that the yield on the subsequent wheat crop was about the same as it was following complete no-till. If you let it grow a bit and then spray, you don’t have to plant a cover crop, and you’re skipping a management step.”—Tracy Sayler

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