The more Iowa farmer Ben Pederson hears about the use of cover crops, the more convinced he is that it was the right addition to his current cropping practices. Already a strong advocate for strip-tillage, Pederson believes the use of cover crops in his cropping program was an obvious addition. In 2013 when heavy rains prevented him from putting in a crop, he turned to the use of cover crops to prevent erosion and depleted soil health. The positive advantage he saw from the cover crops led him to incorporate them the following year during a normal growing season.
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As Dr. Steven Carlson walked a strip-tilled field near his home in Albert Lea, MN this past summer, he noticed something missing: soil compaction. Penetrometer readings from the neighbor’s conventionally tilled field had measured compacted soil at 15 inches, but this field was consistently showing none.
It was also teeming with earthworms.
The world of agriculture changes so quickly that farmers need to stay diligent just to keep up. The challenges can multiply when farmers are adopting new or alternative farming practices like strip tillage.
For many farmers considering new conservation tillage practices or looking for innovative ways to improve existing business plans, educational conferences can be extremely valuable. Many shows, conferences, and field days offer growers access to new research, university and industry experts, innovative technology, and the option to connect with other farmers.
Because there are so many options for farmers to consider, here are a few conferences and farm shows that we suggest to help you discover new tillage techniques in 2016.
The following is a guest post written for ETS by Abbey Wick, Extension Soil Specialist, at North Dakota State University. We are proud to support tillage and soil health research (like Abbey's) with the use of our equipment. It is truly an honor to serve farmers who are leading the charge in building healthier soils.
Harvest is an opportunity to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. We have a lot to be grateful for at ETS. At the top of the list are our customers who are defending the land and leading the charge. Today we're in New Zealand with a business owner who is ready for planting...
While farmers in the U.S. and Canada are getting into the heat of harvest, at least one ETS customer on the other side of the world has planting on his mind. John Austin, Managing Director of John Austin Limited, and his team are about to head in to their eighth growing season since adopting strip-till in New Zealand.
Harvest is more than just a time for hard work, it's also an opportunity to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. We have a lot to be grateful for at ETS. At the top of the list are our customers who are defending the land and leading the charge. We'd like to introduce you to a few of them. Today we're in Iowa with Mark Thompson.
Mark Thompson got an early introduction to conservation tillage. The north central Iowa farmer started farming with his grandfather back in 1983 while still in high school. Even then his farming focus was different than most.
“We probably stopped moldboard plowing 50 years ago,” Thompson recalls.
Farm tillage traces a path that mirrors the development of civilization. Cultures often developed around their ability to collectively produce food. Because food is one of our most basic needs, humans recognized it was difficult to sustain communities solely by hunting and gathering, so the cultivation of food began.
Billions of dollars are spent each year by people trying to get healthier. From gym memberships and personal trainers to vitamins and supplements, we work hard and spend a lot to build a foundation for health.
Farmers do the same things. Whether its fertilizer applications or tillage techniques, farmers work to build strong yields. And it all starts with the foundation.
Modern corn hybrids and soybean varieties have tremendous yield potential right out of the bag. But unless the soil they’re planted in is healthy, they’ll likely fall well short of that potential. Soil health is the combination of many things including water and nutrient holding capacity, organic matter and soil structure. All of those characteristics are promoted through strip-till practices.
“Soil protection is the number one thing,” says Jodi DeJong-Hughes, extension specialist with the University of Minnesota.
Many farmers are accustomed to doing deep, horizontal, full surface tillage. But with an increasing number of growers researching strip-till, many are asking themselves what type of tillage system is best for their soil.
The great news is ETS manufactures SoilWarrior row units that provide tillage using a cog and coulters or a coulters and shank. Depending upon soil conditions and individual farm goals, each system serves a different and valuable purpose.