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CASE STUDY 1 Crop and Livestock Farming in Ohio: The Spray Brothers THE FARM OF THE SPRAY BROTHERS Glen and Rex, is located in Morgan Township, Knox County, which is nearly in the geographic center of Ohio. The farm homes and some of the land are adjacent to State Highway 586 approximately 3 miles north of Martinsburg and 11 miles south of Mt. Vernon, the county seat of Knox County. The Sprays currently own 650 acres and cash-rent an additional 70 acres. They have farmed the rental acreage in the same manner as their own land for 15 years. They currently have 400 acres of cropland; the rest of the land is in permanent pasture flow depressional areas or steep sloped uplands) and woodland (7 to 10 acres). A 4-year rotation of 100 acres each of corn-soybeans-small grain-red clover hay is currently followed on the tillable cropland. The Spray brothers' farming operation is a full, equal partnership (Table 1~. Most other farms in the immediate vicinity are about 200 to 250 acres, although the average farm size in Knox County is 177 acres and one neigh- boring farm comprises 600 acres. The dominant farming system in the area is row-crop farming with continuous corn or a corn-soybeans rotation. Knox County has a high percentage of row crops planted with no-tillage equip- ment, a practice that markedly reduces the erosion potential for these soils. Dairy farmers in the area generally follow a corn-corn-soybeans-hay-hay- hay 6-year rotation. Beef farmers use a corn-soybean-hay-hay 4-year rota- tion. The Sprays do not participate in any government programs except for the dairy diversion program. 253
254 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE GENERAL DATA The Sprays operate a diversified animal and cash grain farm, as follows: Milk cows*: The farm has 32 Holstein cows and 10 replacement heifers. Milk is sold to a local grade A market. Dairy cattle are bred using artificial · . . Insemination. Beef cows: The Sprays have 40 to 50 Herefords; their calves are finished by feeding out in a 90-day finishing regime. Cattle are marketed at about 15 to 16 months of age. Some finished cattle are sold locally while the remainder are marketed through National Farmers Organization (NFO) markets as far away as Green Bay, Wisconsin. Soybeans: Soybeans are a major cash crop, occupying 100 acres of cropland per year. The Sprays clean, bag, and market the entire crop of soybeans and sell it to organic tofu specialty markets at a premium price. In 1985 they marketed to tofu manufacturers in Cleveland and Worthington, Ohio, and in West Virginia at a price of $9.00 per bushel including transportation costs. The Sprays use a soybean cultivar with a white hilum that is desirable for tofu production. The soybean screenings, which contain cracked and broken beans and weed seeds, are fed to the dairy cattle and to beef cattle being finished for market. Adzuki beans (PhaseoZus anguZaris, wild): This crop was a new enterprise, occupying about 12 acres in 1985. These beans are sold to specialty health food companies for $42.00 per bushed and yield about 20 to 25 bushels per acre on this farm. The adzuki beans replaced 12 acres that would normally have been planted with soybeans. Corn: A major cash crop as well as a cattle feed for on-farm consumption, corn acreage on the farm is 100 acres each year. Of this total, 40 percent is sold off the farm and 60 percent is fed to animals. The Sprays developed a specialty market for shelled corn as poultry feed for an Amish farm in Pennsylvania at a $0.50 per bushed premium price in 1985. The corn used for dairy and beef feeding on the farm is harvested with a picker because the cob is considered an important carbohydrate constituent for the cattle. The Sprays grind and mix the corn for animal rations directly on the farm. The seed corn used by the Sprays is a triple-cross hybrid instead of the more common single crosses. The advantages of the triple-cross hybrid are some prolificacy (multiears) and a savings of about 33 percent in the cost of seed. Small grains: Wheat (50 to 70 acres) and oats (30 to 50 acres) occupy about 100 acres annually and serve as a nurse crop for the red clover used in the *This enterprise was scheduled to be terminated by the U.S. Department of Agricul- ture Milk Production Termination Program in August 1987. This case study does not reflect that termination.
THE SPRAY BROTHERS TABLE l Category Z55 Summary of Enterprise Data for the Spray Brothers Farm Description Farm size 720 acres, 32 dairy cows, 40-50 beef cows Labor and All enterprises are managed by the two brothers, Rex and Glen management Spray. Glen Spray's son is a salaried employee. Student labor is practices hired during the growing season to help with haying and weed control. Hired labor costs are about $1,200/year for 300 man- hours. Livestock management Dairy cows are kept on pasture and fed roughages and practices supplements. Beef replacements are produced on the farm and marketed at 15-16 months of age. Marketing strategies Premium prices are received for corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, adzuki beans, and some of the beef because the farm is a certified organic farm. On-farm facilities are available for seed cleaning, bagging, and storage. Weed control practices No herbicide has been applied in 15 years. The farmers rotate corn, soybeans, small grain, and red clover. Two dishings in the early spring control weeds; late planting of corn and soybeans again uproots weeds; and corn and soybeans are rotary-hoed at emergence. Frequent cultivations (2-4 per season) also control weeds. Hand weeding of limson weed is performed in adzuki bean fields. Insect and nematode No problems with insects or nematodes are apparent. control Disease control Rotation and the use of disease-resistant varieties are cited as the practices reason for the absence of disease problems in farm crops. Soil microbial populations are also cited by the farmers as a disease- inhibiting factor. Soil fertility The farmers use a corn-soybeans-small grain-red clover hay management rotation. No lime or fertilizer has been purchased since 1971. Microbial fertilizer is applied once per 4-year rotation; the fertility benefits are not yet proven. Manure is applied to 100 acres/year. Irrigation practices None Crop and livestock Yields of corn exceed the county average by 32 percent, soybeans yields by 40 percent, wheat by 5 percent, and oats by 22 percent. (There is no county yield comparison for clover hay; the farm averages 6 tons/acre.) Financial performance The farm's overall economic viability is good. The value or sale of crops, livestock, and livestock products was $188,000 in 1985. fourth year of the rotation. The wheat is aD sold off-farm through normal marketing channels as grain or as seed wheat. (The availability of marketa- ble seed wheat is another advantage of the farm's seed cleaning, bagging, and storing facility.) In 1985 some of the oats were sold for a premium price ($3.20 per bushel) to an organic market in Pennsylvania for processing into rolled oats. Pasture: Almost 300 acres are unimproved permanent pastures made up of timothy, white clover, and blue grass.
256 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE TABLE 2 Normal Monthly Precipitation at Fredricktown Observation Station, Knox County, Ohio Month Normal Precipitation (inches) January February March April May June July August September October November December Average annual total 2.8 2.2 3.4 3.7 4.2 4.2 4.3 3.1 3.0 2.3 2.8 2.4 38.4 NOTE: Lee normal monthly precipitation is the average of the inches of precipitation for that month from 1941 to 1970. SOURCE: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1980. Climates of the States, 2d ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co., Book Tower. Red clover: This crop occupies 100 acres of tillable land annually and is used as a hay crop as wed as a green manure crop when incorporated in the fan. In some years the second crop is aDowed to mature, and clover seed is harvested and sold. In 1986 the Sprays sold 100 pounds of clover seed at $0.65 per pound. CIlmate The climate in Knox County is typical of central Ohio, with warm and moderately humid days in summer and cold and cloudy winters. On the average there win be 15 days per year with temperatures above 90°F and 7 days per year with temperatures below 0°F. The growing season at the Fredericktown Observation Station (about 24 miles northwest of the Spray Brothers Farm) is 147 days. The growing season is longer than 170 days 10 percent of the time and shorter than 123 days 10 percent of the time. Showers and thunderstorms account for most of the precipitation during the growing season (Table 2~. Snowfall averages 30 inches per year but varies greatly from year to year. PHYSICAL AND CAPITAL RESOURCES Soll Knox County is on the outer edge of the glaciated region of Ohio. The last glaciation of the Wisconsin age completely covered western Knox
THE SPRAY BROTHERS TABLE 3 Erosion Potential of Selected Soils Under Different Tillage and Rotations Annual Soil Loss (tons/acre) 257 Spray Brothers' Rotation Corn-Soybeans (Reduced Tillage- Continuous Corn-Soybeans Conventional Soil Chisel Plowing No Tillagea No Tillage Tillageb Luray clay loam 0.62 0.14 0.36 1.7 (0.2% slope) Titusville silt loam 6.85 1.58 3.95 18.5 (6.0% slope) NOTE: All figures are based on an assumed 200-foot slope land. Figures are calculated using the Universal Soil Loss Equation. aThe rotation is corn-soybeans-small grain-red clover hay. Conventional tillage represents spring dishing and normal field harrowing. SOURCES: R. Adamski, communication, 1989. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1984. Universal Soil Loss Equation Charts. Soil Conservation Service. Washington, D.C. County. The soils map of the Sprays' farm is quite complex, with approxi- mately 20 soil types or phases. The farm is founded on deep, well-drained to very poorly drained soils. These soils were formed in glacial outwash, alluvium and lacustrine deposits on terraces, floodplains, and glacial lake- beds. The farm land of the main farm (along Martinsburg Road, State Highway 586) fits this description closely. The tilled land is in a flat basin, with rolling topography on the edges and rolling hills interspersed in the flat basin. AD of the arable land on the farm has been tired, and neither drainage nor wetness is a problem. The soil surface texture ranges from silt loam to silty clay loam. Some of the soils are underlain with sand and grave! and can be excessively well drained and slightly droughty. Although the soils are complex, four soil associations dominate the farm: (1) flat to nearly flat Fitchburg-Luray soils formed on lacustrine materials; (2) Chili-Crane-Homewood soils formed on glacial out- wash; (3) Centerburg-Bennington soils formed on glacial till; and (4) Home- wood-Loudonville-Titusville soils formed in loamy glacial till and residuum from sandstone. The soils making up the tired land are good soils for the region and, because of tile drainage, are reasonably easy to manage. The Homewood- LoudonviDe-Titusville soils on steep slopes could present a serious erosion problem if they are not properly managed. Problems could occur if the soils were tilled in an excessively wet state (Table 3~. Builttings and Facilities The homes of both brothers are modern, substantial houses. Farm build- ings are located at three locations and are modest but adequate. Farm
258 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE building locations are neat and well managed. Primary and special facilities include a milking barn with a pipeline milking system and bulk tank, a new grain cleaning and storage facility for bagging and storing grains for off- farm sale (a $45,000 investment), storage bins for dried grain and shelled corn, an ear corn storage building, and a grain drying facility. Machinery The Spray brothers currently have nine tractors of varying ages and sizes. The largest is a 125-horsepower tractor mainly used for soil tillage with the farm's primary tillage tool, an offset disk. Other tractors are dedicated to specific tasks such as row-crop cultivation, manure loading, mowing and baling hay, and the like. None of the tractors was purchased new. All were purchased after being deafer demonstrators or otherwise used. Other farm equipment includes a self-propelled combine with grain and corn headers, a four-row planter for corn and beans (36-inch row width), a grain drill, a two-row corn picker, two manure spreaders, a four-row field cultivator, two harrows, a rotary hoe, a sickle bar mower, a mower-condi- tioner for hay, a hay rake, and a square baler. Because grain handling is an important part of the farming operation, the Sprays own four gravity-feed grain wagons, two grain elevators (the auger type), and a portable hammer mill for grinding their cattle feed. Their estimate of total machinery inven- tory is $100,000. MANAGEMENT FEATURES Soil Fertility The Spray brothers have not purchased any lime or chemical fertilizers since 1971. However, they do use microbial fertilizers that are applied one time in the rotation on those fields being planted with corn. The Sprays use the manure that is available from their dairy and beef herds but do not consider this contribution of nutrients to be particularly important because fewer than 100 acres of their tillable land receive manure each year. They apply the manure to the clover fields in the fall and winter months because these are the fields to be planted with corn the next year. Thus, manure is applied only once in a 4-year rotation and then not to all the soils. The committee engaged consultants to provide an estimate of nutrients supplied by the manure to the soil. The estimate assumed an application of 4 to 6 wet tons of manure per acre by a single pass. The average nutrient composition of beef manure is 18 pounds of nitrogen (N), 7 pounds of phosphorus (P205), and 9 pounds of potassium (K2O) per ton; dairy manure is composed of 12 pounds N. 3 pounds P2O5, and 11 pounds K2O per ton. Using an average of the two values and assuming 50 percent N mineraliza- tion from the manure in the first year, the 4-ton application rate would
THE SPRAY BROTHERS 259 supply 30 pounds available N. 20 pounds P2O5, and 40 pounds K2O in the first year after application and lesser amounts in subsequent years. These are not insignificant concentrations of nutrients. The primary source of nitrogen for the rotation is the nitrogen provided by the incorporation and decomposition of the red clover green manure crop. This crop is generally harvested for hay in late spring or early summer. (A second hay crop may be harvested if needed or allowed to mature for clover seed.) The clover is then allowed to grow back and is partially incor- porated by a late dishing in October. The fall incorporation allows some decomposition and mineralization to occur before cold weather. In the spring the fields are dished twice more and harrowed before planting the corn in mid-May. The brothers estimate that incorporation of the red clover will provide about 125 pounds of nitrogen per acre with about 75 pounds or 60 percent available to the corn crop. The Spray brothers do not believe in soil testing, and therefore only limited soil test data were available. The results indicated a soil pH of 6.2 to 7.2, 53 to 74 pounds per acre of available phosphorus, and 80 to 120 pounds per acre of available potassium. These data are insufficient to determine the pH, phosphorus, or potassium status of the entire farm; however, the yields obtained would seem to indicate that currently there is no soil fertility problem on the farm. A detailed and complete soil testing program over time would be required to determine if this fertility status can be maintained indefinitely. The Spray brothers attribute the favorable nutrient status to organic matter and microbial activity. Tillage The Spray brothers use chisel plowing as a form of reduced tiliage. The primary tilIage implement is the 12-foot offset disk. As indicated earlier the clover crop is disked once in October and then twice in the spring before once in October or November before frost and again once or twice in the spring before planting soybeans. The fields are harrowed before planting corn or soybeans. Soy- bean residues are also incorporated by dishing, and wheat is planted im- mediately after tilIage. The Spray brothers told the interviewer that they do not till deeper than 4 to 6 inches with the disk. planting corn. Likewise, the corn residues are dished ~ ~ . . ~ ~ ~ . Weed Control The Spray brothers have not used any herbicide for 15 years. They attri- bute the success of their weed control program to five factors: (1) the rotation they use, which includes a red clover hay crop; (2) the two dishings in early spring that kill off the sod as well as successive flushes of weed seeds; (3) a relatively late planting date for corn (near the middle of May) and for soybeans (in late May or early June); (4) the use of a rotary hoe at corn and soybean emergence; and (5) frequent cultivations during the grow-
260 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE ing season (two to four times as needed). In discussion, the brothers also noted that hired labor is used for cleaning up corn, soybean, and adzuki bean fields. limson weed is the major weed in the bean fields, and it is removed by hand. The soybean fields and corn fields were relatively free of weeds during the farm visit in September 1986. Weeds in the small grains on the Sprays' farm are not a problem because of the rotation. Insect, Nematode, and Disease Control Insecticides, nematocides, and fungicides have not been used on the Spray Brothers Farm in 15 years. The brothers stated emphatically that they did not have serious infestations of insects or diseases. The current and consistently high yields they obtain suggest that they are correct in their assumption. Field observation of mature or nearly mature soybeans and corn confirmed this point; there was no evidence of a disease or insect problem in September 1986. The fields of small grain were not observed during the farm visit. The Sprays reported that they use an oat variety with a high test weight per bushel, an attractive feature in the marketplace. In 1986 this oat variety was not on the recommended list for Knox County, although it was on the recommended list in 1985. The loss of its earlier recommendation suggests that these oats may currently be susceptible to the fungus disease races prevalent in Ohio. The wheat variety used by the Sprays has good resis- tance to rusts, smuts, viruses, and powdery mildew and was on the rec- ommended variety listing in 1986. In general, the Spray brothers did not feel that their small grain acreage was adversely affected by diseases or insects. They cited the benefits of rotation, an active soil microbial popula- tion, and good soil health as the reasons for reduced disease and insect occurrence, although there may be other factors that are important as wed. The Sprays were asked why alfalfa was not used in the rotation instead of red clover. Their answer is significant with respect to pesticide use; they do not use alfalfa because they believe that it would be necessary to use insec- ticides to control alfalfa weevil. Clover, on the other hand, does not have such an endemic insect problem and thus is a successful alternative legume whose use eliminates the need for insecticide. Also clover seed costs less than alfalfa seed and is a better leguminous crop for biomass production in the first year than the locally popular cultivars of alfalfa, a significant attrib- ute for a legume that is used for only a single year in a rotation. Labor The farm's 720 acres and its multiple enterprises are operated by Glen and Rex Spray and Glen's son, who is paid a cash salary. During haying season and for weed control, the farm employs additional student labor. The Sprays hire about 300 man-hours of labor each year at a cost of about $1,200.
THE SPRAY BROTHERS 261 ANIMAL ENTERPRISES Dairy Operations The 32-cow dairy herd is kept on pasture near the milking barn and fed roughage (clover hay) in bunks near the barn. Ground concentrate is pre- pared on the farm, using farm-grown ear corn, soybeans, and the following supplements: vitamins, minerals, LactobaciZZus acidophiZus fermentation product, and corn germ meal (18 percent crude protein). Replacement heifers are kept on pasture until they are ready to calve. Winter housing without stanchions is available. Beef Operations The Spray Brothers Farm currently has 40 to 50 beef cows, and the Sprays plan to add 25 more after the dairy herd is sold. They raise their own Hereford calves and grow them to market weight at about 15 to 16 months of age. The cows are pastured most of the year and are returned to the ~ , , ,. . . . ~ . ~ .. . . . . ilnlsnmg area tor concentrated feeding (mostly ground ear corn and a non- medicinal supplement) about 90 days before marketing. All cattle have free- choice minerals and salt. The beef animals being fattened are fed inside but are not confined. PERFORMANCE INDICATORS Crop Yields The farm visit and additional discussions with the Knox County extension agent, Soil Conservation Service personnel, and some Ohio State Univer- sity faculty members (from the departments of agronomy, agricultural en- gineering, and agricultural economics) confirm that the Spray brothers have a highly productive, well-manazed farming operation. Their farm has a `_ J ~ ' I_ ~ 1 ~ . ~ . . - · .' ~ ~.~ ~ .~ . . proven and accepted reputation in the area; and, although the outstanding yield data (Table 4) are not completely verified, the enterprise returns for 1985 (Table 5) are consistent with the Spray brothers' yield estimates. Soil Fertility It would seem that a crop rotation that includes clover and small grain for 2 out of 4 years would be a soil-conserving management system as com- pared with the production of only corn and soybeans. Yet, estimates made by the Soil Conservation Service computer program using soil loss equa- tions and rainfall patterns in Knox County indicate that, although the Spray system is a better system than conventional (plowing) tillage, it is not as effective as a no-till system, which is used on 11.2 percent of the corn and 1.4 percent of the soybean acreage in Knox County. Erosion was not evident
262 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE TABLE 4 Yield Comparisons of Spray Brothers Farm and Knox County Averages, 1981-1985 Location or Soil Type Corn Soybeans Wheat Oats Clover Hay (bushels/acre) (bushels/acre) (bushels/acre) (bushels/ acre) (tons/ acre) Spray Brothersa 145-150 48.0 45.0 80.0 6.0 Knox Countyb 111.5 34.4 42.8 65.5 Soils inventory Luray silty clay 125.0 40.0 45.0 80.0 loam Bennington 102.0 30.0 40.0 65.0 6.0 silt loam Homewood 110.0 30.0 45.0 90.0 6.0 silt loam aYield estimates obtained from Glen and Rex Spray. Data based primarily on field harvest, with limited hand harvest data. The 1986 yields for corn, soybeans, wheat, and oats were 140, 48, 45, and 75 bushels per acre, respectively. bData obtained from Joseph Brown, Knox County Agricultural Extension Service, Mount Vernon, Ohio. CData from An Inventory of Ohio Soils, Knox County, Table 1, Report No. 70 (Ohio Department of Natural Resources, 1984). This is an estimate of yield by soil map unit when optimum level of management is imposed. TABLE 5 Spray Brothers Partnership Income, 1985 Income Source Amount (dollars) Sale of animals and animal products Beef cattle Dairy products Government payment (milk diversion) Cull dairy cows Subtotal Sale of agronomic crops Soybeans Corn Other grains (for example, wheat, oats) Feed Subtotal Miscellaneous Custom machinery work State gas tax refund Sale of microbial fertilizer Subtotal Total 18,382.48 49,216.02 5,669.80 5,243.45 78,511.75 56,726.34 14,791.59 23,084.78 14,725.83 109,328.54 2,653.90 695.16 15 461.27 18,810.33 206,650.62
THE SPRAY BROTHERS 263 in the corn and soybean fields observed during the farm visit; fall disking and frequent cultivation of row crops on the sloping fields, however, could present an erosion hazard. The Sprays' ability to supply all the nutrients needed for high yields of corn, wheat, soybeans, and oats using minimal off-farm inputs is a real accomplishment. The manure applications (once in the 4-year rotation) and the red clover green manure crop supply, at least for now, the nitrogen necessary to grow corn and small grains. How the Sprays manage to main- tain an adequate pH balance and enough phosphorus and potassium in the soil- despite the fact that they have not added lime, phosphorus, or potas- sium in 15 years cannot be readily explained. It may be due in part to previous additions of high concentrations of phosphorus and lime by the Sprays' father prior to 1972 and to the natural fertility of the soils. Detailed soil nutrient evaluations and further study of nutrient cycling on the farm would be useful and informative. Both Glen and Rex Spray attribute much of their success in maintaining adequate soil fertility to the use of microbial fertilizers at least once in 4 years on all of their tillable acreage. On-farm research or comparisons have not been performed, however, and so no definite statement can be made about the reasons why the soil on the Spray Brothers Farm remains fertile. Weed, Disease, and Insect Control For the past 15 years the Spray brothers have been producing high yields of agronomic crops without the use of chemical pesticides, a considerable achievement that deserves further study. The clover in the rotation, later- than-normal planting dates for corn and soybeans, the tilIage system, fre- quent cultivation, and some hand weeding are certainly factors in their success. Field observations in September 1986 confirmed that this alterna- tive system is still working for them. The Spray brothers did not stop using chemical herbicides because they were worried about the health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use. They stopped because herbicides were altering weed popula- tions in such a way that weeds that had never been seen before were becoming problems. When this occurred, they stopped using herbicides and began to explore other weed control methods. The Sprays do not use chemical insecticides or fungicides because as a certified organic farm their products must be pesticide free to retain their organic designation. Marketing Strategies An important component of the financial performance of this operation is the farm's ability to market its corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, and adzuki beans, as well as some of its beef cattle, at higher-than-normal market prices. This kind of marketing is possible because the Spray Brothers Farm is an Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association certified organic farm.
264 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE TABLE 6 Per Acre Costs of Field Operations Reported by Spray Brothers, 1982 Field Operations Amount (dollars) Corn After Sod Unit Cost Cost/Acre Offset disk (3 times) 9.00 27.00 Field cultivate (3 times) 6.00 18.00 Spread fertilizer 1.75 1.75 Plant corn 7.50 7.50 Rotary hoe (1 time) 4.00 4.00 Cultivate (2 times) 5.00 10.00 Harvest 17.00 17.00 Total costs/acre 85.25 Soybeans After Corn Unit Cost Cost/Acre Chop stalks 6.50 6.50 Offset disk (2 times) 9.00 18.00 Field cultivate (3 times) 6.00 18.00 Plant beans 7.50 7.50 Rotary hoe (2 times) 4.00 8.00 Cultivate (2 times) 5.00 10.00 Harvest 18.00 18.00 Total costs/acre 86.00 Wheat After Soybeans Unit Cost Cost/Acre Spread fertilizer (1 time) 1.75 1.75 Disk (1 time) 6.00 6.00 Drill seed 5.50 5.50 Total costs/acre 13.25 TABLE 7 Reported per Acre and per Bushel Costs of Production for Corn and Soybeans in Ohio, 1982-1983a Category Corn (dollars) Soybeans (dollars) Variable costs Seed 15.00 7.00 Fertilizers 8.50 8.50 Other 85.25 86.00 Land charges 125.00 125.00 Total costs/acrea 233.75 226.50 Per bushel costs Low yields 2.33 5.66 High yields 1.94 4.53 aCosts reported by Spray brothers are not directly comparable to enterprise budgets from The Ohio State University Extension. The Sprays did not assess costs for labor. Procedures used for estimating equipment costs and land charges are not available. bForty bushels of soybeans and 100 bushels of corn. Fifty bushels of soybeans and 120 bushels of corn.
THE SPRAY BROTHERS 265 With this certification and judicious advertising in appropriate journals and meetings, the Sprays have achieved firm and regular specialty markets that add greatly to their profitability. It is clear, however, that not aD midwestern farms could exploit such markets; if even a small percentage of farms shifted to organic methods, the market would become saturated and its premium prices would be greatly reduced. The Spray brothers' recent investment in a seed cleaning, bagging, and storage facility complements this marketing strategy. The facility ensures a quality product and provides savings in cleaning and handling, some mar- ketable wheat and clover seed sales, and a usable by-product (screenings for cattle feed). The facility also removes fines from shelled corn, wheat, oats, and beans, a capability that improves air flow and allows the Sprays to run an effective grain drying operation without supplementary heat. Financial Performance Table 4~. The overall economic viability of the Spray brothers' enterprise is strong at this time (see Table 51. Direct comparisons with the performance of similar farms using conventional methods would require whole-farm anal- ysis of entire rotations, which is beyond the scope of the present study. However, per acre production costs for the Spray brothers are below the county averages (Tables 6 and 71. Yields are above the county averages (see ~ _ ~ O The farm's effective management and the distribution of labor over the entire year is impressive. The brothers are obviously busy, yet they partici- pate in community activities, host numerous visitors to their farm, give lectures to student groups at The Ohio State University, assist other farmers in establishing organic farms, and provide leadership for the Ohio Ecologi- cal Food and Farm Association. They also host a farm field day each year; on September 19, 1986, about 80 people attended this annual event. The Sprays are obviously proud of their operation and convinced that their system of farming is appropriate for them. The Sprays and their methods are gaining some acceptance by certain faculty at The Ohio State University and by U.S. Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Research Service faculty at the nearby Coshocton station. The Sprays' immediate neighbors are not particularly supportive or enthusiastic about their operation, but the brothers are given credit for being good farmers by the Knox County extension agent. They are also willing to open their farm for further research and evaluation by The Ohio State University faculty, and there is currently some hope that this will occur. Finally, the Spray brothers' response to inquiries about what, if anything, limits further acceptance of their farming system was enlightening. They felt strongly that, despite acknowledgment of their achievements, the major hurdle that their system faces is the reluctance of the state's Cooperative Extension Service to accept their methods and educate other farmers on crop rotations and alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides.