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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Does Conservation Farming Pay?

In the world of soil conservation, there is sometimes a perception that No-Till and other soil saving practices sound good on paper, but can the producer afford the yield hit.  Researchers in Michigan have found that farming for ecological benefits does pay.  It pays for all of us in environmental benefits.  Not just the farmer.  That explains why we should use taxpayer dollars to support soil conservation. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Proposed Rules Changes to the Clean Water Act

USEPA is proposing rules changes to the Clean Water Act.  They say that the changes are necessary because of court rulings in 2001 and 2006 on the definition of Waters of the United States.  This Los Angeles Times Article says environmental interests like the new rules because they expand jurisdictional waters.  EPA says it is mainly for clarification.  Farm Bureau thinks it expands the reach of the federal government unnecessarily.  Agweb has some nice links in their article.  Illinois Farm Bureau explains their reservation in a recent article. Keep an  eye out for an opportunity to comment. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

How low can you go with soybean populations?

Soybean seeding rates have gotten a lot higher over the years.  I remember 80,000 plants being considered a high population in 30 inch rows.  Many people are now planting double that rate.  I ran across this article from 2012 documenting research on soybean populations.  The researchers concluded that rates of 120,000 are adequate.  Their research seems to support what Marion Calmer shared this winter at the National No-Till Conference.  Calmer said that all his studies showed that he was not justified economically to plant more than 75,000 even though yields were a bit higher at higher rates.  He also says the narrower the rows, the better.  Cutting rates in half may seem radical, but cutting them by 25% seems reasonable.  120,000 to 130,000 should be more than adequate. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Soil Compaction

Yesterday we did a septic tank investigation.  One of the borings was difficult as we got deeper because of moisture issues.  We were on a ridgetop near a steeper slope, so excessive rainfall runs off fairly easily.  What does this have to do with farming?  They hose was already built.  Construction equipment had compacted the soil under the dry hole.  The other two holes were moist if not wet.
This little observation showed how compaction can affect soil moisture.  Water is the top need to produce high yielding crops.  When you affect infiltration and subsoil moisture, you are setting yourself up for poor yields.  Here is some additional information on compaction:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Camera

I am getting set up to use a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 as the computer I keep in my truck.  I prefer using my phone or a camera for photography, but because of the need to mess around with file transfer, I decided to try the built in camera.  Below is an example of the photographs it is capable of.  I find it very  adequate.  Also, It is nice to  see the glint of green in the trees.  Weather was wonderful today.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tile Outlet

Sometimes it can be difficult to install tile drainage because outlets are too shallow.  This farmer solved the problem by installing a pump to pump the tile water into the ditch.  I am sure that road commissioner permission is needed for a setup like this.  I have also seen tile pumped into a drainage ditch.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Field Activity - Grassed Waterway Construction

One of my conservation mentors old me that the best way to build a grassed waterway was with a bulldozer working perpendicular to the waterway.  Today I found a contractor working close to the road and doing just that.  He was a friendly guy who eventually stopped to visit.