4th and 5th Generations Leading Morgan-O’Bannon Farm

Grower: Jeff O’Bannon Morgan-O’Bannon Family Farm Madison, MO Crop Advisor: Todd Ragsdale Nutrien Ag Solutions Madison, MO

The Morgan-O’Bannon Family Farm is located near Madison, Missouri, and covers 9,500 acres in Monroe and Audrain Counties. It is a far cry from its original 160 acres when it was formed as the Morgan family farm in 1873. The farm is managed today by fourth- and fifth-generation owners Alan and Jabe Morgan, and Kevin, Jeff and Jay O’Bannon. The business is made up of 4,650 acres: a 50/50 corn/soybean rotation with 200 acres of wheat annually.

Farm management adopted precision agriculture early, beginning with yield monitoring equipment and soil testing on 2.5-acre grids. Todd Ragsdale, location manager for Nutrien Ag Solutions, began working with the farm team about 11 years ago, primarily selling inputs and dry fertilizer. Over time, the relationship developed, and Ragsdale now provides the entire range of Nutrien crop protection, seed and fertilizer products used on the farm. He also develops nutrient and agronomy recommendations.

Thanks to a conversation with Ragsdale and the family several years ago, they began incorporating 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices into their operations. “The Morgans and O’Bannons trust our opinion,” Ragsdale says. “If it’s something they need to do, they’ll listen. And, the trust runs both ways. We have to listen to what they need, too.”

Data now drives decision-making. It begins with yield maps to develop crop removal rates and yield goals. Soil test samples are integrated into yield data to evaluate nitrogen rates and variable rates for phosphate and potash with an overall goal to build and maintain soil nutrients. Variable-rate technology has increased yields and yield uniformity. A snapshot of their approach shows nutrient sources.

Nitrogen: anhydrous on corn. On wheat, 100 percent liquid of UAN 32% and 28% with Agrotain®, nitrogen stabilizer. Phosphorous: Source is MAP, MicroEssentials® S10 (S10 on all acres for 2020) Potassium: Source: 0-0-60 potash

The 4R approach is working. The average corn yield for 2019 was 210 bushels per acre compared to an average of 202 bushels per acre the six years prior. Corn yields have increased 55 bushels per acre over the last 10 years. Nitrogen use efficiency is 0.8 pounds per bushel of corn, compared to a previous 1.0 pound per bushel.

The average soybean yield for 2019 was 65 bushels per acre compared to a previous 57 bushels per acre. Yields have increased by 10 bushels over the last decade.

Best Practice Management

  • Use nitrogen stabilizer for liquid and dry fertilizers
  • Variable-rate nutrient application
  • Account for nutrient credits from the past year to determine rate
  • Account for nutrient credit from cover crops to determine nutrient application rate
  • Use split application for nutrients
  • Use end-of-season stalk test to evaluate nutrient uptake
  • Use Climate Corporation in-season nitrogen management tool
  • Apply 65% nitrogen in fall, 35% in spring; 90% of P and K in fall
  • Petiole sampling
  • In-season plant tissue testing
  • Foliar application
  • GPS precision planting
  • GPS precision nutrient application
  • GPS tillage