2020 Starting an Organic Grain Farming Operation – Joel Gruver Presentation #2
Starting an Organic Grain Farming Operation – What You Need to Know Program held Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center. Weed Management in Organic Row Crops presented by Joel Gruver – Associate Professor of Soil Science and Sustainability Ag – Western Illinois University.
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[00:00:21.680]Okay, we're gonna get started
[00:00:22.880]with Joel's second presentation.
[00:00:26.900]He's gonna talk about weed management, organic grow crops.
[00:00:34.806]You guys take a seat and we'll get started again.
[00:00:36.933]Like I said, if you got questions, write 'em down
[00:00:40.490]'cause he'll be on the panel after our last presentation.
[00:00:44.380]So, go on.
[00:00:47.160]Okay, hey, guys.
[00:00:49.490]Glad to be back with you again.
[00:00:52.690]As I said earlier, I really wish I could be with you guys.
[00:00:56.480]This is not my preferred approach
[00:00:59.350]to be speaking electronically.
[00:01:01.160]I like to walk around and be engaged with my audience.
[00:01:06.530]Anyway, we'll do what we can do.
[00:01:08.620]I hope that my voice holds out.
[00:01:11.470]I'm not feeling full strength, but I'll do my best here
[00:01:15.010]to share some fresh ideas about organic weed management.
[00:01:23.250]There are many different approaches
[00:01:25.270]to organic weed management, and some of them do not work.
[00:01:30.030]That's the reality that there are many organic farms
[00:01:33.070]that are really weedy, but there are some
[00:01:35.130]that are consistently less weedy,
[00:01:38.310]and we identified a bunch of farms across the Midwest,
[00:01:42.230]and we didn't include any organic grain farms
[00:01:46.790]from Nebraska in this study, but 2012,
[00:01:49.980]we identified about 20 organic grain farms
[00:01:55.490]across the Midwest region, and also
[00:01:58.370]some organic grain consultants, and we interviewed them
[00:02:03.080]about their weed management practices.
[00:02:05.140]That's what's summarized in this publication.
[00:02:10.320]You can see here some of the states.
[00:02:14.090]Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana.
[00:02:20.130]Here's an example of one of the farmers we interviewed.
[00:02:25.180]You could see he's a pretty large scale operator.
[00:02:27.920]More than 2,000 acres of crops,
[00:02:32.320]and he uses controlled traffic,
[00:02:35.160]RTK guidance for controlled traffic.
[00:02:37.440]18 inch cultivator sweeps, 22 inch rows.
[00:02:40.730]That's really tight.
[00:02:46.000]Just I'll say one other thing about this guy.
[00:02:48.710]As part of his controlled traffic system
[00:02:50.480]he uses some very large equipment.
[00:02:53.760]Some of his equipment is actually 90 feet wide.
[00:03:01.980]Glen Borgerding is a consultant.
[00:03:04.430]Excellent guy to work with.
[00:03:06.360]He has clients that are really benefiting
[00:03:09.780]from using precision ag technologies
[00:03:11.890]in their organic fields.
[00:03:14.030]And then he also has people that are much more traditional,
[00:03:16.230]but the bottom line is that someone like Glen Borgerding
[00:03:19.970]or Gary McDonald, they know what they're talking about
[00:03:23.540]and they can really help a transitioning organic farmer,
[00:03:26.610]or somebody who's got some experience,
[00:03:28.830]but just needs to troubleshoot, needs to solve a problem,
[00:03:32.640]guys like Glen Borgerding can be worth that $50 per hour.
[00:03:38.700]I don't know exactly what he charges,
[00:03:40.020]but it's a substantial amount, but you can learn enough
[00:03:44.820]that it really can pay.
[00:03:48.210]If you want to download this particular publication
[00:03:51.260]Excellence in Organic Weed Management
[00:03:52.850]Insights from the Field, it's available
[00:03:54.300]actually on the Ohio State website,
[00:03:57.510]and you can see the link up there.
[00:04:00.960]I assume these slides that I'm presenting today
[00:04:03.280]will be available through the University of Nebraska,
[00:04:07.800]so please download this whenever you want to,
[00:04:12.430]or you could shoot me an email
[00:04:13.390]and I can send you the publication.
[00:04:18.960]Another great free publication
[00:04:21.470]put out by the USDA SARE program now about 20 years ago,
[00:04:25.810]it's called Steel in the Field.
[00:04:29.350]They identify early in the publication
[00:04:31.760]three basic kinda principles of organic weed control.
[00:04:37.970]Kinda the ABCs.
[00:04:40.330]Give the crop the advantage,
[00:04:42.310]keep the weeds on the offensive,
[00:04:44.890]accept weeds that don't really matter.
[00:04:47.420]Those are some basic principles
[00:04:48.810]that I think are really useful.
[00:04:49.960]Everybody has to figure out how to make those work
[00:04:52.540]on their farm, but they have lots of farmer profiles
[00:04:57.030]in this publication, and then also lots of illustrations
[00:05:00.450]of the specific tools that are useful
[00:05:03.340]for direct control of weeds.
[00:05:09.860]If you want to just boil it down to a very simple concept
[00:05:13.550]in organic weed control in direct contrast
[00:05:17.350]to conventional weed control, your practices
[00:05:20.680]are so much more important than your products.
[00:05:24.350]But no one practice can get the job done, so basically,
[00:05:30.830]to get effective weed control in organic systems
[00:05:33.880]you need to integrate many little hammers.
[00:05:36.470]We don't have a big hammer like glyphosate, like dicamba.
[00:05:41.930]We have to put together multiple, smaller hammers,
[00:05:45.700]to be able to drive that nail.
[00:05:47.480]No one practice or product will consistently provide
[00:05:50.290]acceptable organic weed control.
[00:05:54.270]And the effectiveness of the practices, and the products,
[00:05:58.110]to a smaller extent, is strongly influenced
[00:06:01.730]by the skill with which those practices are implemented.
[00:06:07.640]What do I mean by skill?
[00:06:08.710]Well, the timeliness, the attention to detail,
[00:06:10.890]the integration within a system.
[00:06:14.180]There is not a formula to organic weed control
[00:06:17.370]that can just be applied.
[00:06:19.450]We can't just get a prescription.
[00:06:21.250]It's just a fundamentally different approach
[00:06:23.250]than conventional weed management.
[00:06:28.360]So, when we think about practices,
[00:06:30.770]what are we trying to achieve?
[00:06:33.690]Well, there are two basic things
[00:06:35.380]that I think about when I try to identify what's needed
[00:06:40.940]to make an organic weed control system work.
[00:06:44.030]We need to maximize crop competitive advantage,
[00:06:47.350]we need to minimize weed pressure.
[00:06:49.440]And if you can do both of those things together,
[00:06:52.520]you will be effective in organic weed control.
[00:06:56.110]So, how do we maximize crop competitive advantage?
[00:07:00.280]Number of different strategies.
[00:07:01.930]You don't necessarily need to be doing all of these
[00:07:04.360]at the same time, but the more, the better.
[00:07:07.580]When we delay our field work such that the soil is warmer,
[00:07:13.390]our crop is ready to emerge much more rapidly.
[00:07:17.150]We also, if we've delayed the field work,
[00:07:19.190]we've been able to control a flush of weeds, typically,
[00:07:22.140]if we're doing a tillage-based system,
[00:07:24.077]and maybe more than one flush of weeds.
[00:07:27.250]We want to make sure that we prepared a good seedbed
[00:07:30.260]that doesn't have any growing weeds
[00:07:33.140]and is favorable for our planting technology
[00:07:36.460]to allow us to have uniform crop emergence.
[00:07:40.520]We need to fine tune our planter performance
[00:07:42.670]so that it is appropriate for our seedbed conditions
[00:07:45.860]so that we can get the depth, the down pressure,
[00:07:47.820]the closure of the slot exactly the way we want.
[00:07:51.250]We need to right crop genetics, maximum leafiness.
[00:07:55.950]We need to have that canopy closed, that in row.
[00:07:59.820]Not between row, but in row canopy close
[00:08:03.660]as rapidly as possible.
[00:08:06.610]We need to think about the population.
[00:08:08.350]Maybe we need to plant more seeds.
[00:08:11.238]Plant more seeds maybe because we want to have
[00:08:13.740]the in row canopy close faster,
[00:08:15.620]but also maybe because we know we're going to be taking out
[00:08:18.590]some of our crop stand with our line cultivation tools.
[00:08:23.280]We need to adjust row spacing.
[00:08:25.300]There are cases where narrowing the row spacing
[00:08:27.760]is the way to go, but there are also cases I think
[00:08:30.670]where widening the row spacing,
[00:08:32.380]maybe even to 60 inch rows, is the way to go.
[00:08:35.120]So, we'll talk about that more later,
[00:08:37.320]but the bottom line is if you have wider rows,
[00:08:40.760]it is easier to have a higher percentage
[00:08:43.110]of your soil surface being disturbed by a cultivator sweep.
[00:08:48.340]If you had narrower rows, you could still cultivate,
[00:08:51.340]in some cases, but you have less
[00:08:53.300]of the soil surface being disturbed.
[00:08:56.920]And then sometimes we might want to apply
[00:08:59.700]specific treatments like seed treatment
[00:09:03.590]or banded fertilizer that will give our crop
[00:09:07.110]a little faster emergence, faster early growth
[00:09:11.450]that can give it a competitive advantage.
[00:09:15.720]We need to think very carefully about our use of manure.
[00:09:21.290]Basically, you often find that people
[00:09:23.330]who are organic farmers are in the location,
[00:09:27.720]the organic farmers tend to concentrate in areas
[00:09:30.220]where there is manure availability,
[00:09:33.520]which means that it is easy to over-apply manure.
[00:09:37.840]If you have lots of manure available in your township,
[00:09:42.270]you have access to it, and you may think,
[00:09:44.827]"Well, the more is better."
[00:09:47.420]You can really create serious weed problems
[00:09:51.570]by over-applying manure.
[00:09:53.800]Basically, when your whole soil's fertility
[00:09:56.690]starts getting outta whack, basically over-fertilized,
[00:09:59.880]your weeds will grow so much faster
[00:10:02.220]and you will have a harder time
[00:10:05.370]having a crop competitive advantage.
[00:10:08.760]You also can, with a specific application of manure,
[00:10:12.170]can stimulate weed seed germination,
[00:10:16.140]and you can end up with higher weed pressure
[00:10:18.590]during a particular season.
[00:10:23.080]Okay, how do we minimize weed pressure?
[00:10:26.790]Some of these are ideas that I've already shared
[00:10:29.310]in my previous presentation,
[00:10:30.500]but promoting weed seed dormancy, predation, and decay.
[00:10:34.680]Basically, letting natural processes or facilitating
[00:10:38.850]natural processes taking out your weed seed bank.
[00:10:43.980]Now, that is something that we need to do strategically.
[00:10:47.510]Our crop rotation, our use of cover crops,
[00:10:50.350]our typically delaying of tillage
[00:10:53.900]so we have a period without tillage, and then late planting.
[00:10:57.140]All of those things can reduce weed pressure.
[00:11:02.680]We need to make sure the field operations that we do
[00:11:05.880]target weak links in the weed life cycle,
[00:11:08.730]and we'll talk more about that in just a second,
[00:11:10.780]but blind cultivation is a critically important approach.
[00:11:14.410]If you're using a tillage system for organic production,
[00:11:18.410]which most of us are, that blind cultivation component
[00:11:25.700]is underutilized on many farms, and it is really a key way
[00:11:30.390]to target the weakest link in the weed life cycle.
[00:11:32.940]We'll get to that.
[00:11:34.800]We want to optimize performance of cultivation equipment.
[00:11:37.880]Just like optimizing your planter,
[00:11:39.870]you need to set up your cultivator right.
[00:11:42.830]You need to adjust it as soil conditions change,
[00:11:46.170]and basically, just like we get off the planter,
[00:11:49.970]the planter tractor and check to see
[00:11:52.330]that our seed is being placed properly,
[00:11:54.310]we need to be checking routinely to see
[00:11:56.730]that we're getting the right soil flow
[00:11:58.690]all the way across the cultivator, and adjust as needed.
[00:12:05.030]And then I have this listed last.
[00:12:07.830]In some of your minds, it may be first in importance,
[00:12:12.070]but we need to think about how to prevent
[00:12:14.080]weed seed production, whether that be through crop rotation,
[00:12:19.470]through hand roguing, going out and walking our fields,
[00:12:22.600]weed zapping with some of the new technologies available
[00:12:25.870]to use electricity to take out weeds
[00:12:28.170]that are taller than our crop canopy,
[00:12:30.660]or in some cases, terminating an excessively weeded crop.
[00:12:35.750]That could be working it back into the ground
[00:12:38.290]with the tillage tool.
[00:12:40.430]That could be harvesting it as forage, could be grazing it,
[00:12:44.600]but I don't think we need to be terrified
[00:12:47.890]of having some weeds go to seed,
[00:12:49.410]but there are points at which
[00:12:52.180]we probably should terminate an excessively weeded crop,
[00:12:55.190]and that's an easier decision to make
[00:12:57.250]if you have a use for that biomass.
[00:13:03.570]Understanding the soil seed bank.
[00:13:07.270]Understanding soil as basically a repository
[00:13:10.760]or archive of weed seeds is just something that,
[00:13:17.170]basically, it should be something that you study.
[00:13:21.768]That you become a student of, and the reality
[00:13:27.320]is that there are mechanisms which are understandable
[00:13:31.590]that explain why weeds behave the way they do.
[00:13:37.060]I have a colleague who tells his students
[00:13:40.680]you need to think like a weed,
[00:13:42.510]and I guess that's what I'm telling you to do.
[00:13:44.860]Become a student of how weeds behave.
[00:13:50.800]Good article about this will help you think like a weed.
[00:13:54.563]There's one called Manage the Weed Seed Bank.
[00:13:57.150]Minimize deposits, maximize withdrawals.
[00:14:01.670]It's available as a free download.
[00:14:03.350]If you need some good winter reading, this is a good one.
[00:14:08.670]This is a research article that might not be as accessible
[00:14:12.420]to all of you, but it basically summarizes the science
[00:14:18.290]of the factors like nutrient levels, light, temperature,
[00:14:23.740]oxygen, CO2, amount of crop residue, depth of burial
[00:14:28.840]that impact how weed seeds either stay dormant or germinate.
[00:14:36.240]And as we start to really understand
[00:14:40.190]the germination requirements, we can design
[00:14:43.140]agronomic practices that put the weeds to sleep
[00:14:47.550]when we want, or wake up the weeds when we want.
[00:14:54.880]If we have that understanding, basically,
[00:14:57.190]we can exploit that understanding.
[00:14:59.670]We can put it to use.
[00:15:02.790]Okay, here's the reality.
[00:15:05.360]Most of us are using tillage in our farming systems,
[00:15:08.630]and so we need to understand what that tillage does.
[00:15:11.830]I think we all have this concept in mind,
[00:15:14.340]but I think that this is a valuable way to think about it.
[00:15:18.150]Tillage triggers the germination of weed seeds
[00:15:20.990]through a bunch of different mechanisms,
[00:15:22.670]but basically, exposing seeds to light,
[00:15:25.530]exposing them to a host of higher oxygen or lower CO2,
[00:15:31.516]a pulse of change in temperature.
[00:15:34.400]All of those things trigger weed seeds to germinate.
[00:15:38.750]Once you have had that triggering effect,
[00:15:43.210]you basically, swatted the hornet's nest
[00:15:45.420]and now you're going to have a whole lot of weed seeds
[00:15:49.020]that are gonna try to grow,
[00:15:50.640]and that's something you have to be ready
[00:15:54.310]to respond to if you're using tillage
[00:15:57.490]in your organic farming system.
[00:16:01.770]You also need to think about the fact
[00:16:03.480]that some tillage practices trigger
[00:16:05.100]more weed seeds germination than others.
[00:16:07.730]If you are preparing a seed bed,
[00:16:11.690]if you're doing the last pass before planting,
[00:16:14.760]you want to use a pass that has the least triggering effect.
[00:16:19.720]If you are doing an earlier tillage pass
[00:16:24.290]where you're planning to come back and control the weeds
[00:16:27.830]that germinate, then you actually want to use a tillage tool
[00:16:31.490]that triggers as many germinating weeds as possible.
[00:16:35.930]And basically, what it comes down to is tools
[00:16:38.770]that are more aggressive that fracture more soil structure
[00:16:41.910]tend to trigger more weed germination.
[00:16:43.980]Tools that are more gentle, less disturbance of the soil
[00:16:47.690]tend to trigger less weed germination.
[00:16:50.720]Also, the timing of when you do these things.
[00:16:53.700]There's some work been done showing
[00:16:56.310]that when you do your tillage in the dark
[00:16:59.320]where there are low light conditions
[00:17:00.580]you have much less weed seed germination.
[00:17:07.470]Very basic concept in terms of using tillage
[00:17:11.360]to help manage weeds.
[00:17:13.270]You want to delay planting long enough
[00:17:15.930]that the soil is warm enough for good germination of weeds.
[00:17:21.440]Obviously, we're waiting for the soil to be warm enough
[00:17:23.500]for good germination of our crop,
[00:17:25.560]but another key concept is we need it to be warm enough
[00:17:28.510]so that we have a good flush of weeds that we can terminate.
[00:17:31.910]In some cases, two flushes of weeds
[00:17:34.130]that we can terminate before we plant the cash crop.
[00:17:39.400]If you let the weeds get too big,
[00:17:41.640]then they may be more difficult to control
[00:17:44.850]with our last tillage pass before planting.
[00:17:47.490]And obviously, we don't always have full control of this
[00:17:50.290]because of the weather, but we need to be careful
[00:17:53.210]that we don't wait too long because then
[00:17:55.730]it may be difficult to fully terminate our weeds.
[00:18:01.200]I look at a field like this and I might think,
[00:18:03.433]"Oh, maybe I shoulda waited a little bit longer,"
[00:18:05.450]but reality is you've gotta go when it's go time.
[00:18:09.450]When the weather is favorable.
[00:18:13.790]Here's what we like to see.
[00:18:16.450]Less than a week after planting,
[00:18:18.460]we want to see our corn and our soybeans emerging rapidly
[00:18:22.370]and uniformly with very little germination
[00:18:25.520]of anything else in the field.
[00:18:29.690]Obviously, weather has a big impact
[00:18:31.650]on how effectively you can achieve this,
[00:18:34.110]but this field has had one rotary hoeing pre-emergence.
[00:18:40.120]You could see that nice fractured soil surface
[00:18:42.610]that was created by the rotary hoe,
[00:18:44.630]and the corn is emerging ahead of any other weeds.
[00:18:51.400]Establishing a good stand
[00:18:52.930]is a really important weed control strategy.
[00:18:56.680]In our small grains, it's basically our whole strategy,
[00:19:00.420]but it's important for success in all crops.
[00:19:06.560]Okay, earlier, I talked about targeting the weak links.
[00:19:12.200]Line cultivation is a tool that targets the weak link
[00:19:17.750]in essentially, all weeds, or basically annual weeds.
[00:19:24.360]The weakest link is between germination and emergence,
[00:19:29.260]which are not the same thing.
[00:19:30.920]Germination is when that seed
[00:19:33.830]first sends out the first seed root.
[00:19:36.880]Emergence is when it gets to the surface.
[00:19:40.690]Before the seedling has emerged,
[00:19:45.060]but after it has germinated,
[00:19:48.320]a very small amount of mechanical disturbance
[00:19:52.020]will terminate that seedling.
[00:19:54.180]That is the weakest link, and that's what we are targeting
[00:19:58.730]when we use blind cultivation.
[00:20:01.770]Now, what do I mean by blind cultivation?
[00:20:05.600]Basically, we're talking about tools
[00:20:07.870]that are disturbing the top, typically, about the top inch.
[00:20:12.370]They are disturbing the whole soil surface,
[00:20:15.340]rather than just between rows.
[00:20:17.810]Some tools are more aggressive than others.
[00:20:21.270]We typically, are using two different tools.
[00:20:23.770]A high residue rotary hoe, M&W rotary hoe,
[00:20:27.970]and an Einbock tine weeder.
[00:20:31.530]The tools have different effects.
[00:20:33.600]They're suitable in different conditions,
[00:20:35.180]but they both have been very useful for us.
[00:20:39.920]The Steel in the Field publication
[00:20:41.440]has some good illustrations of blind cultivation tools.
[00:20:47.490]With the high residue rotary hoe,
[00:20:49.660]you have your hoe wheels spaced differently,
[00:20:54.060]so more residue can flow through.
[00:20:58.350]A rotary hoe is not as aggressive as a tine weeder,
[00:21:00.620]but it can essentially handle all residue conditions,
[00:21:03.510]and that's really useful with the high amount of residue
[00:21:07.010]that we are now leaving on our field surface normally,
[00:21:10.510]with the cover crops that we're growing.
[00:21:16.030]Tine weeding has worked really well for us in soybeans,
[00:21:19.520]both pre and post-emergence.
[00:21:21.870]We have done just a little bit with corn,
[00:21:23.880]and we're not pleased with how aggressive it was
[00:21:27.490]with the corn seedlings.
[00:21:30.100]When you bury or knock over a soybean plant,
[00:21:34.550]that's no big deal.
[00:21:36.020]It can normally still push right back through.
[00:21:38.687]But the corn plant that gets tipped over,
[00:21:41.110]normally, you've lost that corn plant,
[00:21:43.130]or it's stunted, and then basically,
[00:21:45.920]when it's delayed in its growth
[00:21:47.874]it essentially, becomes a weed in your cornfield.
[00:21:52.787](coughs) Let me take a drink of water, guys.
[00:22:02.690]There are other blind cultivation tools.
[00:22:04.580]Some farmers use harrows for blind cultivation.
[00:22:07.590]We have not, but the bottom line is you're trying to disturb
[00:22:12.270]the top inch of soil, approximately,
[00:22:16.520]and get as much fracturing of that soil as possible
[00:22:20.030]so you're terminating weed seedlings
[00:22:22.690]that largely have not emerged.
[00:22:26.373]They're in the white root stage
[00:22:28.480]between germination and emergence
[00:22:31.030]when they are weakest and most effectively controlled.
[00:22:34.400]As soon as they have any green on them,
[00:22:36.120]after they've emerged, they still may be terminatable
[00:22:41.140]to some extent with a blind cultivation tool,
[00:22:43.550]but much less effectively.
[00:22:47.620]Blind cultivation tools provide the most action
[00:22:50.150]when they are shattering a crust.
[00:22:52.300]We often think of in conventional ag,
[00:22:55.240]the rotary hoe is useful for breaking a heavily crusted soil
[00:23:00.220]that is not allowing emergence.
[00:23:04.420]That same process is useful in organics,
[00:23:08.520]but in addition to helping with seedling emergence,
[00:23:12.790]all the little seeds, all the little weed seeds
[00:23:15.610]that are not emerged yet, but are just starting
[00:23:18.710]to try and push through, they get flicked out
[00:23:21.450]when you shatter that crust,
[00:23:22.730]and you get more effective blind cultivation.
[00:23:30.860]So, what do you want the surface to look like
[00:23:33.180]before you run your blind cultivation tool?
[00:23:35.830]Well, our experience is
[00:23:38.730]the more micro-topography, the better.
[00:23:41.950]Meaning if you have ridges and valleys,
[00:23:45.460]obviously you've gotta have a field surface
[00:23:48.960]that is not too extreme, but more ridges and valleys,
[00:23:53.760]more residue, but sized residue on the soil surface,
[00:23:57.950]the more leveling will occur
[00:24:00.470]when you do your blind cultivation, and that leveling,
[00:24:04.720]that flowing of soil, is going to improve the effectiveness
[00:24:09.120]of your blind cultivation tool.
[00:24:12.890]The other thing to keep in mind is blind cultivation
[00:24:16.150]doesn't just reduce weed pressure
[00:24:19.040]by terminating white root seedlings.
[00:24:21.670]It also creates a soil surface environment
[00:24:24.330]unfavorable for weed germination until the next rain.
[00:24:28.490]So, if your crop is planted deep,
[00:24:31.070]let's say your crop is planted 2 1/2 inches deep,
[00:24:33.730]you disturb the top inch of soil
[00:24:36.170]and you terminate some white root seedlings
[00:24:38.780]but you also prevent the next flush of weed seedlings
[00:24:44.610]until your next rain, and that may be long enough
[00:24:47.890]that your crop gets a one to two week jump on the weeds,
[00:24:51.950]which can make all the difference
[00:24:53.300]in terms of highly effective organic weed control.
[00:24:59.230]Here we have some data from a 2019 study
[00:25:03.780]where we were comparing two things.
[00:25:06.610]Two different soybean varieties
[00:25:08.090]and two different blind cultivation tools,
[00:25:09.940]rotary hoe and tine weeder.
[00:25:11.870]We did two passes pre and post with our hoe and tine weeder,
[00:25:17.830]and what we saw here was that we had a particular bean
[00:25:23.320]that was more robust and more basically,
[00:25:28.250]less damaged by the blind cultivation.
[00:25:33.010]We had a environment this past season
[00:25:36.440]where there was not as strong a stand establishment
[00:25:43.710]as we had hoped.
[00:25:45.730]When I look at those populations over on the far right,
[00:25:50.497]at the very bottom you could see 59,000.
[00:25:53.360]That looks like a terrible stand of soybeans.
[00:25:56.890]If that is a uniform stand, and you could see
[00:26:00.800]where it says average number per row foot,
[00:26:03.080]and you actually have 3.4 plants per foot on average,
[00:26:07.710]even though it's a very low population,
[00:26:10.400]3.4 plants per foot could be a very acceptable stand.
[00:26:16.380]So, bottom line was that we had more termination
[00:26:23.370]of our crop with the tine weeder than the rotary hoe,
[00:26:27.230]and we had one soybean variety that was more tolerant.
[00:26:31.970]But ultimately, as you can see here,
[00:26:36.260]we ended up with a high level of weed control
[00:26:38.790]with both systems, and even though we lost
[00:26:42.060]about half of our planted beans,
[00:26:44.980]we ended up with good yields and excellent weed control.
[00:26:49.490]I'm not trying to tell you that that's what is normal.
[00:26:53.100]We normally, are targeting for much less stand loss
[00:26:55.910]than occurred in this particular system,
[00:26:58.120]but the point is if you have that stand loss,
[00:27:00.970]but you have a relatively uniform stand,
[00:27:03.720]even if it's a low population,
[00:27:05.130]you still can have excellent growth
[00:27:07.800]of your crop and productivity.
[00:27:12.800]Okay, let's move on from blind cultivation
[00:27:14.730]to row cultivation.
[00:27:15.740]Lots of different options for row cultivation.
[00:27:19.200]The tool that we work with, Gary McDonald,
[00:27:23.000]who I mentioned earlier, built for us back in 2012.
[00:27:27.250]It's a modified IH 153.
[00:27:28.970]It's actually three old IH 153s that are put together
[00:27:35.320]to give us an extended system where basically,
[00:27:40.680]the cultivator is much longer than the original IH 153.
[00:27:47.960]What are we trying to achieve?
[00:27:50.170]Basically, what you're trying to achieve
[00:27:52.160]with row cultivation is your inter-row weeds,
[00:27:56.290]the weeds that are between the rows,
[00:27:58.260]you are undercutting them and desiccating them,
[00:28:00.930]and the in-row weeds, you're not undercutting them,
[00:28:05.520]rather, you're burying them.
[00:28:08.320]Both of those things can be done
[00:28:10.680]with a high level of success
[00:28:14.450]if your cultivator is set properly
[00:28:16.380]and your soil is able to flow properly.
[00:28:22.140]With the extension of our IH 153,
[00:28:26.040]we actually are able to cultivate
[00:28:27.870]in pretty high residue environments.
[00:28:31.160]This happens to be right on the edge of a no till experiment
[00:28:34.170]where there was more residue than normal.
[00:28:37.980]Sometimes we need to slow down a bit,
[00:28:39.570]but the bottom line is that this tool
[00:28:42.370]is much more tolerant of residue than the original IH 153.
[00:28:50.020]We continue to try and fine tune this system.
[00:28:53.000]We added some stabilizer disks just this last season.
[00:28:58.340]We have an unusual design.
[00:29:00.910]You're maybe noticing that there's a hydraulic ram there.
[00:29:05.690]We could run this as a four row or a six row cultivator.
[00:29:09.900]We normally run as a six row 'cause it's 50% faster,
[00:29:13.260]but sometimes we have four row plots.
[00:29:16.550]Anyway, originally, the IH 153 had stabilizer disks
[00:29:21.980]out on the outer rows.
[00:29:24.930]Well, if you lift up those wings,
[00:29:27.550]then all of a sudden you have no stabilizing,
[00:29:29.290]and stabilizing is critically important.
[00:29:31.690]So, we originally worked with Gary
[00:29:35.460]to have a big stabilizer disk in the middle,
[00:29:38.610]and that basically, works well most of the time,
[00:29:44.920]but sometimes is a pinch point
[00:29:47.180]where we can get residue plugging.
[00:29:49.020]So we'd like to eventually go away
[00:29:51.370]from having that big disk in the middle,
[00:29:54.610]and so one option is to have small disks
[00:30:00.950]associated with all of our depth wheels,
[00:30:03.360]and that's where we're headed.
[00:30:04.936]We're also thinking that those small disks may,
[00:30:08.260]in addition to stabilizing,
[00:30:09.490]they may help with sizing residues, cutting vines,
[00:30:12.020]and basically, make the whole system work more effectively.
[00:30:17.440]I guess the other thing I'll mention real quickly,
[00:30:19.630]you can see our fenders or shields.
[00:30:26.050]We really like these.
[00:30:28.840]Most of the time, they work very well for us.
[00:30:30.870]We'll talk more about that in just a minute.
[00:30:35.960]The bottom line is with the new disks that we added,
[00:30:40.180]we had improved lateral stability and residue sizing.
[00:30:47.710]What we are achieving with this cultivator
[00:30:51.870]is a high level of in-row weed control that basically,
[00:30:55.610]is much higher than many people realize is possible.
[00:30:58.770]I certainly didn't realize it was possible
[00:31:00.670]until we started working with Gary McDonald.
[00:31:05.250]You could take a look in the upper left image
[00:31:08.930]and see the weed pressure that was in this field.
[00:31:11.730]This was a particular field that had
[00:31:14.360]the highest weed pressure on the farm this past season,
[00:31:17.320]and we went in and started cultivating
[00:31:20.930]a little earlier than normal
[00:31:22.030]because of that high level of weed pressure.
[00:31:27.900]With adjustments as we started moving across the field,
[00:31:30.850]we were able to achieve a very high level
[00:31:32.880]of in-row weed control that just five years ago
[00:31:37.330]we would not have been able to achieve
[00:31:39.560]because we didn't know what we were doing.
[00:31:42.570]The combination of having the right soil conditions,
[00:31:47.910]excellent soil till, having the right setup
[00:31:52.400]of your cultivator, and this particular cultivator
[00:31:54.420]has many different adjustments.
[00:31:55.810]We're running five sweeps between 30 inch rows.
[00:32:01.450]And then of course, the operational,
[00:32:05.890]the ground speed also makes a difference.
[00:32:08.370]There are many different things that you can adjust,
[00:32:10.830]and if you adjust them properly,
[00:32:12.910]you can have the desired soil flow.
[00:32:16.410]Not too much soil, but effective soil flow
[00:32:20.070]into the row that varies your in-row weeds.
[00:32:25.080]Here's the critical concept.
[00:32:27.960]Your in-row weeds really can only be controlled
[00:32:31.660]with a high level of effectiveness one time,
[00:32:34.330]during your first cultivation.
[00:32:36.970]If you don't achieve that in-row weed control
[00:32:40.410]during your first cultivation,
[00:32:42.610]the weeds that weren't controlled
[00:32:44.990]will be cropped up just like your crop.
[00:32:47.140]Cropped up with soil on either side,
[00:32:49.850]and will be so much more difficult to bury.
[00:32:53.610]So, yes, there's some potential
[00:32:56.550]it'll flow more soil into the row
[00:32:58.080]and bury in-row weeds at a later date,
[00:33:00.930]but it's much easier to accomplish your first pass,
[00:33:05.330]so that's what you really need to take seriously.
[00:33:08.340]Setting everything right, operating at the right speed
[00:33:12.160]to get that in-row weed control accomplished
[00:33:15.077]during your first past across the field.
[00:33:20.150]There's more than one way to set up a cultivator
[00:33:22.220]for highly effective first cultivation.
[00:33:24.510]I guess the bottom line is you need to know that,
[00:33:26.850]that first cultivation is when you need to get
[00:33:31.200]as many of the in-row weeds out as possible.
[00:33:34.420]This happens to be a setup on a farm in Ohio
[00:33:38.330]with very, very tight spacing.
[00:33:41.310]They're using RTK guidance.
[00:33:45.388]It's so tight, I would be a little concerned
[00:33:48.050]to operate this tool, but they have found
[00:33:51.450]that this particular setup can work well for them on their,
[00:33:56.350]I think about 1,000 acre grain operation in Ohio.
[00:34:03.790]You can also do cultivation in no till crops.
[00:34:08.280]These are no till soybeans planted on 30 inch rows.
[00:34:12.430]What you are able to accomplish with this system
[00:34:15.970]is just simply very different than in a tillage system.
[00:34:19.260]You can undercut weeds, which if it's hot and dry,
[00:34:23.010]will terminate a significant number of weeds
[00:34:26.180]that are growing inter-row, but you can't flow soil
[00:34:30.040]in the same way, and so you're not able to control
[00:34:32.700]the in-row weeds, and you're not able to even control
[00:34:36.270]all of the inter-row weeds because the soil
[00:34:38.990]isn't fracturing off of the roots in the same way.
[00:34:46.430]How do we make our cultivation systems more effective?
[00:34:49.950]One of the key ways is to use some type of guidance.
[00:34:54.790]It could be mechanical guidance,
[00:34:56.740]could be GPS guidance, sensor-based guidance,
[00:34:59.080]or some combination.
[00:35:00.770]Bottom line is you can reduce operator fatigue.
[00:35:03.610]You can allow for easier monitoring
[00:35:06.250]of how the cultivator is working, and all of those things
[00:35:11.250]improve effectiveness of cultivation.
[00:35:15.920]One old school approach to improve guidance
[00:35:18.610]is making a comeback.
[00:35:20.890]There's an article about this in Farm Show Magazine
[00:35:24.160]from way back in 1990, but it's easily searchable online.
[00:35:28.010]And Steel in the Field also has a story about this.
[00:35:33.950]Bottom line is you can make a ridge.
[00:35:37.660]Sorry, said that incorrectly.
[00:35:39.530]Make a furrow in your field while you are planting,
[00:35:43.310]that then you can have wheel guidance.
[00:35:46.780]So, you're furrowing, and then you are following
[00:35:51.080]those furrows with a wheel that's running in that furrow.
[00:35:55.610]And so, basically, your planter is making the furrow,
[00:36:00.840]and then you're following tools just to follow that furrow,
[00:36:05.860]and it's a way to keep your tools right on the row.
[00:36:13.170]Okay, we've gone through some basic principles.
[00:36:16.690]Let's get back to kind of our core mission.
[00:36:20.420]What do we need to do to be successful?
[00:36:23.060]We need to start right, and we need to finish strong.
[00:36:26.490]I've already talked about starting right.
[00:36:28.390]We'll just review that in just a second.
[00:36:30.920]But by finishing strong, what I mean
[00:36:33.110]is we are having rapid crop growth after cultivation
[00:36:38.740]such that our crop is highly competitive
[00:36:41.870]and out-competing any weeds that might germinate
[00:36:44.380]after our last cultivation.
[00:36:49.660]How do we start right?
[00:36:51.170]Most of these things we've already talked about,
[00:36:53.300]but really, really important
[00:36:55.730]is to manage soil for good tilth.
[00:36:57.750]Without soil flow, these mechanical processes
[00:37:01.030]that I've emphasized, the flowing of soil into the row
[00:37:06.162]are not likely to be as effective.
[00:37:09.860]Even your inter-row weed control
[00:37:12.420]requires desiccation of the weeds,
[00:37:14.520]and so we need the soil to flow off of the weed roots,
[00:37:17.870]so that also requires good tilth.
[00:37:21.050]Let's move down to the bottom.
[00:37:24.020]You need to take blind cultivation very seriously.
[00:37:27.270]That's part of starting right.
[00:37:29.290]And then you need to take that first row cultivation
[00:37:32.370]more seriously than perhaps you ever thought possible,
[00:37:35.520]because that's when you achieve
[00:37:37.980]almost all of your real effect on yield.
[00:37:42.840]The weeds that are not in-row
[00:37:46.510]have much less effect on yield.
[00:37:48.740]If you can achieve good in-row weed control
[00:37:51.800]with your first cultivation, you've done most of the work.
[00:37:55.660]You may need to come back and control some weeds
[00:37:59.300]that germinate later in the inter-row,
[00:38:01.830]but that's a small part of your job.
[00:38:07.410]So, how do you get things set really well?
[00:38:12.530]Well, we do it fairly old school.
[00:38:15.380]We're doing research, so we want to make sure
[00:38:17.210]that we get things really set properly,
[00:38:18.900]so we always are having multiple people watching
[00:38:22.760]how the cultivator is working.
[00:38:24.610]This was a young farmer from northern Wisconsin
[00:38:28.500]that drove seven hours to come down
[00:38:30.450]and spend a day cultivating with us.
[00:38:34.670]I think he got his value out of that day.
[00:38:41.150]Obviously, he had to do a little bit of work that day.
[00:38:46.170]Got in some exercise, but he also got to really see
[00:38:49.840]how the soil was flowing
[00:38:51.110]and help us with the wrenching part.
[00:38:55.320]I think you could see he's carrying some wrenches.
[00:38:58.370]I normally am playing the role that he plays in this picture
[00:39:02.150]and every time I see something that needs adjustment,
[00:39:05.330]I get my technician who's driving the tractor to stop,
[00:39:08.250]and we make those adjustments
[00:39:11.570]so that we get that desired soil flow into the row.
[00:39:16.520]One interesting approach that we started doing two years ago
[00:39:21.840]was setting our residue managers
[00:39:24.410]on the planter more aggressively.
[00:39:29.860]I'm not guaranteeing this is going to work
[00:39:31.610]on all soil types or all seasons,
[00:39:33.820]but we've had two years of success with this.
[00:39:37.650]When your residue manager is set more aggressively,
[00:39:40.340]you actually can get better in-row weed control.
[00:39:45.190]Here's some data.
[00:39:46.750]You can see here the yields
[00:39:48.510]where we had the aggressive residue management
[00:39:50.850]versus the standard residue management.
[00:39:53.100]There was almost a 10 bushel yield difference.
[00:39:55.610]Nine bushel yield difference.
[00:39:58.850]So, what was going on?
[00:40:00.490]Why would the residue managers have this effect?
[00:40:04.360]Well, we don't know exactly what was going on,
[00:40:07.930]but clearly, there was a big difference
[00:40:10.930]in the amount of foxtail that grew in-row
[00:40:13.283]when we had the standard residue manager setting.
[00:40:16.100]Standard residue manager setting means
[00:40:18.000]that you are parting the residue,
[00:40:21.620]but you are minimally moving soil.
[00:40:24.310]Aggressive residue manager setting
[00:40:26.000]is where you are actually digging a furrow.
[00:40:28.740]Could be as much as maybe a two to three inch furrow,
[00:40:33.870]so why would that help with weed control?
[00:40:37.740]Part of it could be that you're just moving weed seeds
[00:40:40.110]out of the row, but I think what's more important
[00:40:43.460]is you're creating those ridges and valleys
[00:40:47.120]that are now going to flow when you run your rotary hoe
[00:40:52.670]so you're gonna get more soil flow
[00:40:54.590]when you run your rotary hoe,
[00:40:56.110]and then you're going to get additional soil flow
[00:40:58.530]when you run your row cultivator,
[00:41:00.660]and your in-row weeds will be much more effectively buried
[00:41:04.130]if you start with your crop in a furrow.
[00:41:13.000]As I said earlier, we put a lot of effort into setting,
[00:41:17.730]operating, and adjusting our IH 153.
[00:41:21.150]We often have a student strapped in there
[00:41:24.090]watching from above, and I'm often jogging along behind.
[00:41:30.970]Obviously, this isn't the way you do 1,000 acres
[00:41:33.720]of row cultivation, but we're doing plot work.
[00:41:38.360]Typically, our plots would be maybe 30 feet wide
[00:41:41.100]and 1,200 feet or 1/4 mile long.
[00:41:45.490]But the point is that by really doing your cultivation
[00:41:51.290]very carefully, it is possible to have a high level
[00:41:55.320]of effectiveness of cultivation if you basically,
[00:42:00.530]bring all the pieces together at the same time.
[00:42:05.410]Timeliness strongly impacts
[00:42:06.960]the effectiveness of cultivation.
[00:42:08.930]As I said earlier, first cultivation
[00:42:10.890]is far more important than subsequent cultivations,
[00:42:14.460]but the reality is that we have challenging weather.
[00:42:21.250]Depending on your scale of enterprises,
[00:42:23.500]challenging weather may be more or less of a problem,
[00:42:26.730]depending on the drainage of your soil
[00:42:28.490]may be more or less of a problem.
[00:42:29.910]But even though these systems that I've just kinda laid out
[00:42:34.450]can work very well, they will not provide
[00:42:38.730]adequate weed control every year
[00:42:40.810]when you have seasons like 2019
[00:42:44.160]where it's just so excessively wet.
[00:42:46.720]So, it is possible to get really good weed control
[00:42:50.270]with mechanical methods, but we do need to think
[00:42:53.650]about what to do on those seasons
[00:42:55.990]when the weather doesn't cooperate.
[00:43:00.930]Just ponder that for a second
[00:43:04.290]I'm pretty sure that you would agree,
[00:43:07.860]regardless of where you're from,
[00:43:10.520]pretty much anywhere in the world
[00:43:12.930]that we are having increasing frequency
[00:43:15.260]of extreme weather events.
[00:43:17.510]That creates challenges for organic weed control.
[00:43:21.580]As a primarily receipt driven program,
[00:43:23.850]we have been forced to make adjustments.
[00:43:26.510]Here are some of the things we've done.
[00:43:28.420]We've used more nimble utilization
[00:43:30.500]of windows of opportunity.
[00:43:32.020]I used to let my technician do all the tractor work.
[00:43:35.860]Now, if there's an opportunity on the weekend, I get to it.
[00:43:40.230]We've been diversifying our crops and cover crops.
[00:43:42.380]We've been using new particular precision ag technologies,
[00:43:46.100]and then we've been adopting some new cropping systems
[00:43:49.230]like Solar Corridor and CCORNT systems.
[00:43:53.630]What in the world is a CCORNT system?
[00:43:57.910]Well, we'll get to CCORNT in just a second,
[00:44:00.000]but in terms of nimbleness of operation,
[00:44:03.430]one of the things that we're doing
[00:44:05.220]is we have started cultivating when the crop is smaller.
[00:44:09.500]We don't always do this, but if the weather is right,
[00:44:12.130]the soil conditions are right,
[00:44:13.570]we might cultivate a crop much smaller than we're used to
[00:44:16.600]simply because we have a window of opportunity.
[00:44:22.260]We also are looking at other tools
[00:44:25.530]other than mechanical tools for weed control.
[00:44:29.660]We have not used a flamer now in over a decade.
[00:44:34.860]We are open to that option, but I guess in my communication
[00:44:41.300]with some of the more successful organic grain producers
[00:44:45.820]in Nebraska, while flamers are used by some,
[00:44:48.710]while there is innovative research being done
[00:44:51.870]at the University of Nebraska on flamers,
[00:44:54.130]the majority of organic grain producers in Nebraska
[00:44:58.740]do not rely on flamers.
[00:45:03.140]How about weed zappers?
[00:45:05.020]Lots of interesting potential here.
[00:45:06.680]I think it's a rapidly moving technology
[00:45:09.610]that will get better,
[00:45:12.000]but it should not be overly relied upon.
[00:45:16.799]Our intent should be to never have weeds
[00:45:19.960]be taller then the crop.
[00:45:22.420]When we fail to achieve that, it is useful to have
[00:45:26.830]some backup plans, and that's what the Weed Zapper is.
[00:45:29.760]But if you are planning to kill
[00:45:32.210]a substantial fraction of the weeds in your field
[00:45:35.260]with the Weed Zapper, you will be losing lots of yield,
[00:45:38.710]and really you'll have a farming system
[00:45:41.870]that has the wrong priorities, from my perspective.
[00:45:45.940]So, the way that the Weed Zapper works
[00:45:48.160]is that it is passing a high voltage through the weeds
[00:45:52.990]and it is able to kill weed roots, which is very useful.
[00:45:57.030]So, I think there are some great possibilities
[00:46:00.670]for getting control of perennial weeds using Weed Zappers,
[00:46:06.210]but they shouldn't be your first line offense,
[00:46:11.100]from my perspective, because we just want to avoid
[00:46:15.300]the situation that's required for a Weed Zapper,
[00:46:17.610]which is where the row, sorry,
[00:46:19.950]where the crop is taller than the, sorry,
[00:46:23.140]when the weed is taller than the crop.
[00:46:26.010]Let me take a drink of water.
[00:46:33.470]There are other interesting tools
[00:46:34.950]that people are developing.
[00:46:35.880]Maybe some of you are mechanical wizards
[00:46:39.590]and could come up with your own tool.
[00:46:41.390]A innovative farmer in Indiana,
[00:46:45.910]maybe about 4,000 acres,
[00:46:47.776]has some organic crop production now,
[00:46:51.100]and he just recently developed a steam weeder.
[00:46:56.940]Okay, let's come back to the CCORNT system.
[00:47:01.210]What in the world is CCORNT?
[00:47:03.710]CCORNT is a term that's used in academia
[00:47:08.890]for talking about organic, no-till.
[00:47:12.720]CCORNT stands for Cover Crop-Based Organic Rotation No-Till.
[00:47:19.260]I don't use CCORNT when, the term CCORNT
[00:47:21.530]when talking to farmers, normally,
[00:47:23.130]but the key piece here is that it's rotational.
[00:47:27.260]The idea is not that you're becoming continuous no-tiller.
[00:47:31.650]You're not implementing a continuous no-till system,
[00:47:34.920]but you are using cover crops intensively,
[00:47:38.300]and you are using no-till on a rotational basis
[00:47:42.070]in your system.
[00:47:45.780]There is a book that lays out the principles
[00:47:49.670]of organic no-till farming that I think is a good read,
[00:47:53.900]by Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute,
[00:47:56.620]but take a look at this farmer comment.
[00:47:59.420]This was a farmer that I happened to know
[00:48:01.600]who's in Iowa who read the book, and he says,
[00:48:05.567]"Too much about the roller crimper
[00:48:06.763]"and not enough about no-till organic farming."
[00:48:10.467]"A crimper is not the all to answer
[00:48:14.417]"for organic no-till farming.
[00:48:15.657]"Not by any means."
[00:48:17.720]I completely agree with this assessment.
[00:48:21.650]What we really need to make organic no-till work
[00:48:25.640]is not the roller crimper.
[00:48:27.610]We need a thick stand of a cover crop.
[00:48:32.390]Thick, uniform stand of cover crop.
[00:48:34.340]There are certain varieties that work better.
[00:48:36.820]We have had good success with both cereal rye.
[00:48:40.600]Several varieties, but mostly, Aroostook,
[00:48:42.960]which is an early maturing high biomass variety.
[00:48:45.630]And then we've also had success
[00:48:47.060]with some forage triticalies.
[00:48:53.190]In addition to a thick, uniform stand of cover crop,
[00:48:55.610]you need a strong stand of your crop.
[00:49:00.690]Most of our work has been with soybeans,
[00:49:02.420]but we have done a little bit with corn,
[00:49:04.270]and this picture happens to show us planting
[00:49:07.640]into a spring planted cover crop mix,
[00:49:10.910]and we're planting corn.
[00:49:13.610]Our neighbor's 1760 planter is effective
[00:49:18.010]planting into that much biomass.
[00:49:20.300]As long as we remove the residue managers
[00:49:22.990]and set the planter properly, we are able to plant
[00:49:25.820]right into what really looks like a jungle.
[00:49:33.060]As I already mentioned, we have adjusted
[00:49:35.140]our no-till bean system so that we're no longer
[00:49:38.570]trying to plant the cover crop after corn.
[00:49:43.890]That just was a system that seemed to be unreliable.
[00:49:49.120]Now we're using a less risky sequence,
[00:49:51.140]as I discussed earlier, and following oat pea mixtures,
[00:49:55.100]or just pea, we're able to get our rye
[00:49:58.710]or triticale planted early.
[00:50:00.830]We use less seed, get an excellent stand,
[00:50:03.240]and then you have better, much better likelihood of success.
[00:50:12.120]The reason why we have gone to our neighbor's
[00:50:15.550]precision planter and planting on 30 inch rows
[00:50:20.830]is not that we didn't have success with a drill.
[00:50:24.230]We actually have drilled soybeans since 2009.
[00:50:29.190]Organic no-till soybeans drilled
[00:50:31.580]on 7 1/2 inch rows since 2009.
[00:50:34.880]What we found was that when we had dry soil conditions,
[00:50:40.220]the drill was not able to plant the seed
[00:50:42.240]consistently into moisture.
[00:50:43.890]Whereas with a planter, we can crank up the down pressure.
[00:50:46.770]We can get that seed that needs to be 2 1/2,
[00:50:50.533]2 3/4 inches deep.
[00:50:52.740]It will be able to emerge through that cover crop
[00:50:56.250]if it starts out in moisture.
[00:50:58.440]If we have to wait for a rain, that's just unreliable
[00:51:01.480]and we don't end up with the vigorous early growth
[00:51:04.870]that's needed to have excellent competition against weeds.
[00:51:10.420]So, I guess here's what it boils down to.
[00:51:14.260]We've had a lot of success.
[00:51:16.040]This particular year, 2016, that's shown in this picture,
[00:51:19.120]we had a variety trial.
[00:51:20.950]We compared two different blue river varieties,
[00:51:23.900]and both of them averaged over 70 bushels per acre.
[00:51:27.580]It's possible to have this system really work well.
[00:51:29.990]There are also many opportunities
[00:51:31.900]for fine tuning this system
[00:51:34.500]to increase soybean yield and reduce risk.
[00:51:38.330]I've mentioned in my previous presentation
[00:51:39.970]some of those things where we're trying to figure out ways
[00:51:42.740]to put together mixtures,
[00:51:45.224]but I think the most important thing
[00:51:48.330]is to just recognize what the priorities are.
[00:51:52.170]Good stand of cover crop.
[00:51:54.400]Maybe I should say excellent stand of cover crop,
[00:51:56.670]and excellent stand of cash crop
[00:52:00.690]is so much more important than the roller crimper.
[00:52:03.890]The roller crimper we have used everything
[00:52:07.560]from a old cultimulcher to we now have
[00:52:12.280]the I&J Rodale-style roller crimper,
[00:52:16.900]but it's not that great.
[00:52:19.330]The biggest problem is any micro-topography in your field,
[00:52:24.840]basically unevenness, so your field is not completely smooth
[00:52:28.050]our tool is only 15 feet wide
[00:52:29.810]and still it doesn't give uniform crimping across the field
[00:52:33.290]because our fields just are not quite smooth enough.
[00:52:37.630]The system that I think obviously, has a significant cost,
[00:52:41.740]but gives you the action uniformly across your toolbar
[00:52:48.590]is a system where you basically,
[00:52:50.620]have your crimpers mounted on your planter.
[00:52:53.720]Dawn has the ZRX system.
[00:52:56.360]There may be some other systems.
[00:52:57.790]I know a farmer in Pennsylvania built his own system,
[00:53:02.340]but if you can have uniform crimping at every row,
[00:53:05.910]you will be much better off than a solid bar
[00:53:08.962]that isn't gonna be able to provide that uniform crimping.
[00:53:15.220]I already told you this story.
[00:53:17.690]There are times when you just should pull the plug
[00:53:22.810]on a weedy field.
[00:53:24.340]The more you're able to do that in a revenue producing way,
[00:53:29.890]the better, if you have animals that can graze,
[00:53:35.160]if you have a market for forage.
[00:53:37.150]But even if you can't sell anything,
[00:53:40.190]you can set yourself up for such a big yield improvement
[00:53:43.670]and improved efficiency the next season
[00:53:46.660]that some of you that may have very high weed pressure
[00:53:49.910]in your fields might want to intentionally
[00:53:52.530]stick in a fallow period.
[00:53:56.620]And if it's not intentional, it could be something
[00:53:59.410]that just is triggered by extreme weather
[00:54:02.090]like the 2019 system or situation.
[00:54:06.030]2019 season when we had high levels that prevent a plant
[00:54:12.040]across the western, central, and eastern corn belt.
[00:54:15.220]And the reality is that I think there will be
[00:54:17.570]a lot of farmers that have easier organic farming in 2020
[00:54:23.300]if they took advantage of that opportunity
[00:54:27.090]to use the fallow effect.
[00:54:31.290]So, to say it one more time, periodic inclusion of fallow
[00:54:35.020]can be a problem-solving and profit promoting phase
[00:54:38.660]in your crop rotations.
[00:54:42.530]We've already talked about solar corridors.
[00:54:44.860]I'll just say the impact on weed control is very obvious.
[00:54:52.800]When you can have your corn plants closer together,
[00:54:57.220]but have much less risk of your corn plants suffering
[00:55:01.640]from overcrowding, you can have much easier weed control.
[00:55:07.150]As I mentioned before, our last season,
[00:55:09.520]we packed three rows of corn into two,
[00:55:13.830]where every third row we planted the force soybeans.
[00:55:16.970]That's 4.7 inches between corn plants.
[00:55:20.820]That's basically, a wall that you can very easily
[00:55:25.360]flow soil into, and basically, have easier weed control
[00:55:29.990]than if your corn stand is plants that are uneven
[00:55:34.190]or much farther apart.
[00:55:35.740]Having a solid, closely spaced stand,
[00:55:39.440]you end up with much more rapid in-row canopy development
[00:55:43.490]and much more effectiveness of your tools,
[00:55:47.330]your rotary hoe and your cultivation.
[00:55:50.730]So, with that, I think I will end,
[00:55:52.850]and I'll take any questions, if there is time.
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