Gary Schnitkey, agriculture and consumer economics professor at the University of Illinois
Aired: January 2017

In both good times and bad there are commonalities among the farmers who tend to be most profitable. Last year a study sponsored by ISA and the Illinois Soybean checkoff program explored the on-farm practices that led to healthier bottom lines. Gary Schnitkey, agriculture and consumer economics professor at the University of Illinois, and his team of researchers found that certain habits of the most successful farmers set them apart.

“The most resilient farmers are able to mitigate risks, make informed, cross-functional decisions and operate with lower overall costs than their peers,” says Schnitkey.


Key Takeaways:

1. Keep overhead costs low. The most successful farmers often have slightly higher yields, and almost always have lower overhead costs than their peers. These advantages enable them to innovate across all facets of their operations.
2. Seek expert advice. Even the best farmers can’t excel at everything—know your strengths and weaknesses and seek out the expert help you need to be successful.
3. Maximize your acreage. Increasing soybean acres will help manage costs. Schnitkey’s team deemed the traditional fifty-fifty corn-soy rotation most profitable, particularly while the current global demand outlook favors beans.

This interview was conducted as part of the Profitability Radio series, sponsored in part by your Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program.

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About the Author: Gary Schnitkey

Gary Schnitkey, Ph.D., is a professor and farm management specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and regularly contributes content to farmdoc Daily. Schnitkey focuses on farm management and risk management by examining issues impacting the profitability of grain farms including corn-soybean rotations, machinery economics and factors separating profitable from unprofitable farms. Schnitkey grew up on a grain and hog farm in northwest Ohio and received his Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from UIUC.