Farmland Investing
Land Management
Crop Production
Ag Innovation
The Latest from Weiland Farms

How Weiland Farms Is Generating Stable Returns with Less Environmental Impact

Improved nitrogen management practices are bringing landowners and strategic partners the same (or better) returns with less environmental impact

by Reid Weiland

If there’s one thing we believe in at Weiland Farms, it’s that we can achieve stable returns from farmland assets while minimizing environmental impact. 

This guiding principle drives us to continue investing in agricultural practices that prioritize the health of our land, productivity and efficiency.

One cornerstone of our sustainable farming approach has been the evolution of our nitrogen management program, which emphasizes reducing reliance on synthetic crop protection products.

“We're seeing the same or even better returns on our land compared to previous years and compared to other producers, but with significantly less environmental impact,” says Reid Weiland, managing partner for Weiland Farms.

Nitrogen management practices at Weiland Farms

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for crop growth. It helps plants turn sunlight into energy and build the proteins they need to grow strong and healthy.

Historically, farmers have understood the value of nitrogen and sought high-nitrogen-content materials for soil enrichment. 

"Can you believe that we harvested bird excrement from islands all over the world as a nitrogen source?" says Weiland. "That fact in itself shows how crucial nitrogen is to our modern food production system.”

Yet managing it is tricky. "Nitrogen is a difficult nutrient to manage due to its volatility,” he adds. “It can easily rise into the air or wash down into water supplies, which poses environmental risks.”

Efficient and responsible nitrogen application has been a long-standing practice at Weiland Farms. We work to mitigate environmental risk while optimizing crop nutrition by adhering to the industry-standard 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework, using the:

  • Right fertilizer source at the
  • Right rate at the
  • Right time and in the
  • Right place

This precision approach not only contributes to our sustainability efforts by minimizing runoff and reducing nitrogen volatilization but also enhances crop yield. 

“We're feeding our crops exactly what they need, when they need it, to optimize growth conditions,” says Weiland. “This leads to more productive, resilient crop outputs.” 

Embracing naturally sourced solutions

Weiland Farms has long embraced biological solutions, such as locally sourced manure, integrating them into our nitrogen management strategy when it makes economic and agronomic sense. 

Today, one-third of our nitrogen is naturally sourced. But initially, this shift came with its challenges and learning curves, says Weiland.

“Early on, there were doubts about the efficacy of using manure at scale,” he recalls. There were also missteps and mistakes. “But we’ve worked through that as an industry and are able to use it successfully while still growing the same amount of crop using less synthetic fertilizer.”

Impact and benefits of nitrogen management

This approach to sophisticated nitrogen management has several benefits:

  • Lowering carbon emissions: By minimizing the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, which are energy-intensive to produce, we’re able to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improving soil health: Many synthetic fertilizers have high pH levels, which can disrupt the delicate balance of soil microbiomes. By opting for natural nitrogen sources, we foster an environment where beneficial bacteria can thrive. This improves the soil's fertility and water retention capabilities, leading to more resilient crops.
  • Benefiting the farmer in the long run: Sustainable farming practices reduce dependency on volatile fossil fuel markets. By leveraging natural processes and technologies that align with crops' needs, we insulate our farming operations from the unpredictability of oil and gas prices. 

The equivalent of taking 198 cars off the road with carbon dioxide emissions

Our commitment to responsible farming and environmental stewardship extends beyond our fields. By partnering with like-minded organizations, we can amplify our impact.

A key example is our strategic partnership with sustainable agriculture company Pivot Bio. In 2022, we integrated Pivot Bio’s N-OVATOR™ program into our nitrogen management strategy, which has helped us reduce our dependence on synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Through the collaboration, we’ve been able to transition to a microbial solution that naturally syncs with crops’ nitrogen needs, eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions associated with synthetic fertilizers.

This initiative has had a significant environmental impact: The synthetic nitrogen we’ve replaced in our 2022 corn crop has an environmental impact equal to removing 198 cars’ carbon dioxide emissions for one year. 

“It’s become another tool in our toolkit, another right source of nitrogen at another right time,” says Weiland. “We’ve been able to mitigate environmental risk and still maintain crop yields — which not everyone has been able to achieve.”

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute investment, financial or tax advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.