(Editor's note: This growing season Emily Beal will be checking in from time to time with the Spiekermeier family about what they're doing on their farm. Read the first installment here: Spiekermeiers add conservation practices to their family's farming legacy )

SHELDON, N.D. — As the summer months continue to fly by with taxing heat and little precipitation, the Spiekermeiers are beginning to relate to a lot of fellow farmers' concerns: They need rain.

“It’s looking OK in places and really dry in other places,” Nathan Spiekermeier said. “We definitely need a shot of rain. The hill tops and side hills are definitely starting to pineapple a little bit on the corn leaves and stuff like that.”

Nathan and his father, Dan, farm in Sheldon, in southeastern North Dakota. While they are in need of rain, they have been lucky compared to many producers. According to Nathan Spiekermeier, they received about an inch of rain spreading over two weeks, followed by cooler temperatures days following the precipitation. This allowed the soil to absorb the moisture, which the pair was thankful for.

“Overall I think if we keep getting some rain spaced out here that we will be OK,” Nathan Spiekermeier said.

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On the day that Agweek visited, Nathan Spiekermeier was putting down 28% nitrogen on some of their corn crop, applying it with a John Deere sprayer with a yield 360 y-drop system on it.

The Spiekermeiers like that their new y-drop system allows them to apply nitrogen while their crops are at various heights. Photo taken July 12, 2021 in Sheldon, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
The Spiekermeiers like that their new y-drop system allows them to apply nitrogen while their crops are at various heights. Photo taken July 12, 2021 in Sheldon, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
“Our biggest thing since we have started with strip-tilling is fertilizer placement and putting it right where it needs to be. This system just seems to work out really good for us. It gives you a whole lot of options in season,” Nathan Spiekermeier said.

The Spiekermeiers have been using this system for about five years and have been extremely pleased with the overall results. They began using the system when they started moving towards no-till and strip-tilling their acres.

“You can put down 28% from when the corn is knee high all the way up till it is about head high, which is about where it is at right now,” Nathan Spiekermeier said. “Before we started strip-tilling, we front-loaded all our fertilizer and did it all almost in one pass.”

The Spiekermeiers have remained diligent in their soil health practices, making it one of their top priorities. Dan and Nathan take extra time going over fields up to four times with fertilizer if the soil needs it.

“One of our main concerns is soil health,” Nathan Spiekermeier said.