Data-driven farming is changing the agriculture industry.
Jess Daily is the managing member and operations manager for Mainstay Farming Partnership, a family farm in northwest Indiana. He is a 2011 Purdue University graduate, where he earned a degree in agriculture economics, a minor in farm management and associates in agronomy.
Upon returning back to the family farm, Daily formed Daily Farms Enterprises for the farmland he owned and was operating, which he said later transitioned into MFP in 2017 while working with his sister and brother-in-law.
MFP offers a full range of operational services including farmland leasing, custom field work, agronomic resources, land purchasing options, sustainable ag practices implementation and crop year data.
Additionally, the partnership has a direct line of communication with industry experts to offer farm management, tax management and estate management resources and advice.
MFP’s diverse operation has highly variable soils and management practices. Over the years, Daily says his operation has been diversifying to different areas of production agriculture.
“We recently switched to non-GMO commercial corn and we started transitioning acres in 2018 to organic production,” Daily said. MFP also farms yellow popcorn, wheat, sorghum, seed soybeans and commercial soybeans.
Daily said he tailors his practices to address the vast variations that can exist across the farm because of differing topography, soil type, fertility, moisture content, weeds and insects.
New precision technology has the ability to aggregate trends, assess risk and reward, generate predictive models and overall increase yields. Daily says access to this information allows him to produce the maximum yield from the lowest amount of inputs.
Where water management is concerned, MFP utilizes Crop Metrics — an irrigation optimization technology. Their software allows Daily to maximize his profitability through the use of in-field soil moisture probes, variable-rate irrigation, real-time data science and field support.
“Water management is huge for us,” Daily said. “Under watering a crop can result in reduced yields, while over watering results in higher input costs, nutrient leaching, equipment wear and tear and negative environmental benefits.”
He says that as the market for precision agriculture continues to develop, more and more farmers will embrace these technologies in an attempt to increase crop yields while using fewer resources.
Daily also works with the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) — a consortium of 10 counties in north central Indiana working to harness the power of internet-enabled sensors to develop the region into a global epicenter of digital agriculture. They received a $40 million grant for the project in 2017.
Armed with an array of data from soil sensors, GPS-equipped tractors and on-farm weather stations, Daily says that farmers who implement precision technology are gaining a new view into their operations.
“Some people think that crop analytics are a trendy thing, but they really offer us vital information that can help optimize our planning and productivity, all while better managing our resources,” explained Daily.
MFP added its second full-time employee last fall.
Andrew Malott was hired as the lead agronomist for MFP. He graduated in 2014 from Purdue University with a degree in agriculture systems management, a minor in agriculture business, and a focus in crop science.
Malott has worked for Greenmark Equipment (John Deere Dealership) as their integrated solutions consultant, for Mill Creek Crop Care as an applicator and for Black Gold Farms as an agronomist.
“We had been looking to hire a full-time agronomist but it had to be the right fit,” noted Daily. “We needed someone who could be extremely detailed in the field and in the office — that person was Andrew.”
With a history of farming spanning five generations, Daily has a deep-rooted passion for farming, the agriculture industry and his community.
“Mainstay means a thing on which something else depends,” said Daily. “MFP is a mainstay in the community in northwest Indiana and will remain for generations to come.”
Reach Quentin Blount at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5130.