Starting an Organic Grain Farming Operation – What You Need to Know Program - Jim Starr Presentation
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. The Importance of Cover Crops in an Organic Rotation presented by Jim Starr, Joel & Jim Starr Partnership – Hastings, NE.
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[00:00:21.860]Our next speaker is JC, or Jim Starr,
[00:00:26.070]he farms with his brother Joel, around Hasting, Nebraska,
[00:00:30.630]and they farm about 2,000 acres.
[00:00:33.240]And they have a diversified organic grain farm.
[00:00:37.574]380 acres of the farm are still conventional production.
[00:00:41.220]But they got interested in organics back in the '80s,
[00:00:45.523]when conventional prices were low.
[00:00:47.790]And they wanted to specialize the crops
[00:00:50.720]to get more value from them.
[00:00:52.190]So, they converted their conventional seed corn
[00:00:56.700]production to organic seed corn.
[00:00:59.610]And they raise white, blue, purple and yellow corn.
[00:01:03.260]And then also some other crops are sunflowers,
[00:01:06.140]rye, peas, kernza, wheat, triticale and soybeans.
[00:01:12.069]We're welcoming Jim, I've been out to their farm
[00:01:15.670]on a tour a couple times.
[00:01:19.820]He's gonna talk about using cover crops,
[00:01:21.530]so the name of his
[00:01:25.510]presentation is The Importance of Cover Crops
[00:01:27.370]in an Organic Rotation.
[00:01:30.430]Looking forward to your talk, Jim.
[00:01:35.718]Okay, we're gonna get started. (whistles)
[00:01:40.344]Go ahead, Jim.
[00:01:41.290]I'm Jim Starr, I'm from Hastings.
[00:01:44.620]And I've got my brother Joel over here.
[00:01:47.520]And we've been farming together since we were
[00:01:50.610]little kids, I guess.
[00:01:54.204]Dad and my grandpa started seed corn back in the 1958.
[00:01:58.950]And so we've grown up in the seed corn business.
[00:02:02.948]In the '80s when corn got down to $1.62,
[00:02:07.100]we decided we wanted to do something that had more value,
[00:02:11.000]something we could control the price of our crop better.
[00:02:16.200]We started experimenting with organic crops.
[00:02:19.700]And we started out small, we did a lot of mistakes.
[00:02:23.040]But what I want to show you today is,
[00:02:26.820]how you can use your cover crop to produce nitrogen,
[00:02:31.290]and also get weed control.
[00:02:33.897]And I think this is exciting because,
[00:02:36.830]we used to think as organic as weeds and low yielding
[00:02:40.720]and it's not, it can be very profitable and high yielding.
[00:02:47.640]This is organic seed corn.
[00:02:49.460]This is back on '07.
[00:02:52.580]And I've got the two male rows and the six female.
[00:02:57.620]But the fertility of the corn looked fantastic.
[00:03:01.940]And this is all organic production.
[00:03:06.610]We're in the field de-tassling corn.
[00:03:11.480]I'm running kids through the field.
[00:03:15.910]There's the processing plant,
[00:03:18.060]we're taking the husk off,
[00:03:19.530]and Joel's standing up on top of the husking bed there.
[00:03:27.470]We have women that sort the corn.
[00:03:30.290]We had all this equipment because we were raised
[00:03:32.750]in conventional corn, so it just made sense
[00:03:35.690]to go into organic seed corn.
[00:03:38.330]And the idea was organic seed corn doesn't yield as much,
[00:03:42.510]so we can get nitrogen easy to produce
[00:03:45.740]the yields that we needed.
[00:03:48.990]This was after harvest, and you can see the weed pressure
[00:03:52.050]really wasn't that bad.
[00:03:54.160]The male rows where we destroyed them,
[00:03:58.440]they'll have more weeds in there.
[00:04:00.410]But the problem of organic seed production
[00:04:03.170]is you don't have a canopy.
[00:04:05.240]So you always have sunlight shining.
[00:04:08.060]So you could develop a little bit of weeds this year,
[00:04:10.490]you come out next year and you got a whole lot of weeds.
[00:04:13.760]So it's not a, for us we wanted to get into
[00:04:17.680]field corn production where we could get a canopy.
[00:04:22.870]Now the rub was we were getting by spreading manure
[00:04:28.150]on bean ground, as had enough nitrogen to grow seed corn.
[00:04:32.517]And a typical seed corn yield might be 100 bushel an acre.
[00:04:36.570]So that was easy to attain.
[00:04:39.200]But even the next problem was is we start getting
[00:04:44.500]our phosphorus levels too high.
[00:04:46.620]Maybe you start getting your salts too high.
[00:04:49.060]It wasn't sustainable in the long term
[00:04:51.800]to expect manure to produce all of our nitrogen.
[00:04:58.210]So we came up with this idea,
[00:04:59.930]we were gonna have to grow it.
[00:05:02.400]And that's about a three foot tall cover crop.
[00:05:07.430]And there's a lot going on in this picture.
[00:05:10.410]The vetch in there is your nitrogen producer.
[00:05:14.160]And then we've also got the rye.
[00:05:16.710]Well the rye kind of holds the nitrogen up.
[00:05:19.970]We sampled the above ground material,
[00:05:23.610]and we had 190 pounds of nitrogen.
[00:05:28.240]Now I'm not sure how much of that's readily available
[00:05:31.220]to that year or the next year after.
[00:05:33.870]But there is a lot of nitrogen production.
[00:05:36.725]And we're not even taking into account
[00:05:38.930]the amount of nitrogen that is below ground
[00:05:42.594]in the nodules.
[00:05:46.836]Also, you've got that much growth on top of your ground,
[00:05:50.130]you can imagine the growth that you've got
[00:05:52.080]below the ground.
[00:05:53.880]We don't have to chisel or deep rib,
[00:05:56.230]because our cover crop is doing the tillage.
[00:06:00.890]And, you could say, "Well, why do I need that rye?
[00:06:03.947]"Why can't I just put all vetch."
[00:06:07.440]Well if you put all vetch, your soil will
[00:06:09.360]be really mellow and prone to erosion.
[00:06:12.840]When you work that vetch in the soil
[00:06:15.620]it's gone in about five days.
[00:06:18.730]Now let's say if you wanted to plant all rye,
[00:06:21.920]you would end up with ground that's clotty
[00:06:26.970]or difficult to work, 'cause it's more like sod.
[00:06:30.740]What we found out was is if we combine the two,
[00:06:33.980]it made the perfect soil structure.
[00:06:36.860]The soil works up beautiful when you have
[00:06:39.350]a grass and a legume mixed together.
[00:06:41.390]So we always mix the grass and legume.
[00:06:45.110]And also the rye is taking nitrogen up.
[00:06:49.270]It's nice and dark and green.
[00:06:51.570]Well I think that makes the vetch produce more nitrogen.
[00:06:55.920]So it's a safe for your nitrogen crop.
[00:07:01.830]We're moving into our first year of organic white corn.
[00:07:05.400]We did put manure even on top of this nitrogen.
[00:07:09.690]So we're basically going in fully loaded.
[00:07:13.460]Well the next year, that year,
[00:07:16.800]we harvested the first strip through the field,
[00:07:19.010]and it was 260 bushel an acre.
[00:07:24.650]We recalculated it several times,
[00:07:26.770]because I didn't believe those numbers.
[00:07:28.320]I didn't believe that was possible in organic production.
[00:07:32.814]And I will say that that year the weather was perfect,
[00:07:35.920]it was corn growing weather.
[00:07:38.440]You know if the weather doesn't work with you,
[00:07:41.170]it can go south pretty quick.
[00:07:44.210]I had a field that year of white corn that averaged 250.
[00:07:48.860]And I would say that's the top end
[00:07:51.080]of what we're producing.
[00:07:53.070]But those yields are attainable in organic production.
[00:08:02.012]I think something else there.
[00:08:05.950]Anyway, I'll go to the next slide.
[00:08:07.900]So we're trying to, how do you manage your cover crop?
[00:08:12.720]Well I found out the best way was to take the shredder out,
[00:08:15.940]because your cover crop can get fairly high.
[00:08:19.710]And you've got to get it down to size
[00:08:21.620]to where you can work it.
[00:08:26.500]On the left there we run through with the shredder,
[00:08:29.450]and on the right we went through
[00:08:31.200]with a Lemken high speed disc.
[00:08:33.930]And the soil just worked out beautiful.
[00:08:35.910]It's a beautiful soil structure.
[00:08:38.220]The particles are sized to where they incorporate well.
[00:08:42.100]The vetch will be gone in five days
[00:08:44.440]and you'll have the rye left there
[00:08:46.840]to hold your soil together, for water or wind erosion.
[00:08:50.890]It's very important to have that grass in there.
[00:08:55.860]Another benefit of your cover crop is
[00:08:58.750]look at the insects that were on that cover crop,
[00:09:02.180]this is on the shredder.
[00:09:04.340]I've got ladybugs, lacewings, spiders.
[00:09:09.330]I mean you're providing a habitat for those insects.
[00:09:12.800]And when you destroy your cover crop
[00:09:15.660]those insects migrate to your cash crop.
[00:09:22.650]We don't seem to have that much insect problem,
[00:09:24.900]because you have enough abundance of beneficial
[00:09:27.930]insects that are working for you.
[00:09:31.840]Now we ended up getting so much residue
[00:09:34.560]that we had to change from our field cultivator
[00:09:37.180]to a vertical tillage machine.
[00:09:41.450]And this thing can go through about any type
[00:09:43.870]of residue that we have.
[00:09:48.780]And this is,
[00:09:51.840]after you work the residue, and you're out planting,
[00:09:55.120]there's a lot of rye in there.
[00:09:56.530]And that's what you want.
[00:09:57.590]It looks like a mess, but that'll really
[00:09:59.960]hold your soil together.
[00:10:01.530]You can get a three inch rain overnight and sleep good,
[00:10:06.510]because you know you're not getting erosion.
[00:10:11.810]Now I have to explain, this is my
[00:10:16.980]weed control system right here.
[00:10:19.820]I have two rotary hoes and I offset them.
[00:10:23.430]So the hoes are actually about an inch and a half apart,
[00:10:27.890]if you look down the row.
[00:10:30.060]And the principle here is we take
[00:10:33.000]a soybean or a corn, and we put it 2 1/4 inches deep.
[00:10:38.110]And we let that get a good root on it,
[00:10:40.040]and when the shoots starting to come out,
[00:10:41.730]or the bean is starting to push we double hoe it.
[00:10:45.440]We can completely fracture the soil all the way across.
[00:10:49.700]So when you run your hand across the soil
[00:10:52.330]there is no soil that's still attached
[00:10:55.670]to the soil down below.
[00:10:57.720]If you use a single hoe, it doesn't work.
[00:11:01.570]The single hoe will not disturb the soil completely across
[00:11:07.170]where you're planting.
[00:11:09.000]And then in the double hoe situation like that,
[00:11:11.507]you kind of just feather it down into the soil,
[00:11:14.600]to where you're working up an inch and a half.
[00:11:16.560]And you have just a nice layer of soft soil.
[00:11:20.240]Your weeds won't germinate.
[00:11:22.740]Imagine if you're planting,
[00:11:27.216]you put up a new house and you're planting your yard there,
[00:11:29.635]and you're putting grass out,
[00:11:30.468]and the soil's loose for an inch and a half.
[00:11:33.210]None of your grass is gonna grow.
[00:11:35.270]That's all I'm doing with this tool, it's very simple.
[00:11:42.290]So this is the same field.
[00:11:45.470]And you can see the rye piece is still in the soil.
[00:11:50.300]That rye will stay around up 'til about cultivating time.
[00:11:55.730]And so once you've got it cultivated then
[00:11:59.820]you're beyond the point where you're gonna have
[00:12:02.150]any serious erosion.
[00:12:04.360]But the color of that field was fantastic.
[00:12:08.930]The nitrogen that you get out of your cover crop
[00:12:13.500]must be substantial, and I don't know how to measure it.
[00:12:16.950]When you're working with organic nitrogen
[00:12:19.180]you really can't go down to your lab
[00:12:22.350]and use a traditional soil test.
[00:12:25.430]You have to, I end up doing it by eyeballing
[00:12:28.510]the cover crop, in past experience.
[00:12:31.100]And I can tell you if you can raise corn out there.
[00:12:34.740]That's pretty primitive, I guess.
[00:12:37.952](audience member comments off microphone)
[00:12:42.010]This field was May 28th.
[00:12:45.960]We got it worked up early and it wouldn't quit raining.
[00:12:50.620]And we planted it May 28th and we thought,
[00:12:53.240]boy this is the end of the world planting corn that way.
[00:12:58.620]Now, I'm so used to planting a field or two that late,
[00:13:03.490]it doesn't bother me at all.
[00:13:05.700]And I'll explain that more.
[00:13:11.445]How many pounds of vetch,
[00:13:14.108]and how many pounds of rye, (voice fades off microphone)?
[00:13:19.234]Okay, initially the question,
[00:13:20.988]I guess the question is, how many pounds of vetch,
[00:13:22.779]and how many pounds of rye?
[00:13:24.320]We were putting 25 pounds of vetch,
[00:13:28.460]and five pounds of rye.
[00:13:34.298]And I don't remember if we were using radish back then,
[00:13:38.121]because we started putting two pounds
[00:13:39.110]of radish in with it.
[00:13:43.780]Just whatever we could get our hands on.
[00:13:46.181](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:13:47.960]Cereale rye, yes.
[00:13:49.702](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:13:53.306]The rye and the vetch,
[00:13:54.419]when did you seed that?
[00:13:55.252]Okay, that would have went in,
[00:13:59.350]I think that one was October.
[00:14:02.310]We'll either do it after beans, or excuse me,
[00:14:05.300]after peas and wheat will go in the first of September.
[00:14:08.540]Or, we'll put it in after soybeans.
[00:14:11.590]That's kind of our two planting periods.
[00:14:14.127](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:14:17.220]We drilled that in.
[00:14:20.930]Now this is
[00:14:23.180]hilling time, and,
[00:14:27.990]once you get past here and you've got your corn
[00:14:29.910]hilled up like that, you really don't have a weed problem.
[00:14:33.850]The field was nice and clean.
[00:14:36.390]And on this particular field,
[00:14:39.730]we had leveled it back, I don't know the late '50s,
[00:14:43.230]and there was so much gumbo out there.
[00:14:45.750]You'd set your cultivator in the grounds
[00:14:47.517]and the ribbons would just roll off all the way
[00:14:49.810]through the field.
[00:14:51.260]We have completely changed the soil structure
[00:14:53.750]on this farm by putting cover crops on it.
[00:14:58.230]It'll crumble like that and work well
[00:15:01.750]when you're out hilling.
[00:15:06.230]Now this was in August.
[00:15:09.180]You know I'm kind of taking
[00:15:12.250]a picture into the sunlight,
[00:15:13.950]it makes the corn look lighter green.
[00:15:15.660]But it was nice, and dark and green.
[00:15:18.060]There was plenty of fertility there.
[00:15:20.620]We went in and took a soil sample,
[00:15:23.140]we took it down to our lab,
[00:15:25.310]and asked them how much nitrogen we need to put on
[00:15:28.100]to raise that corn crop.
[00:15:29.920]And it came back at 230 pounds.
[00:15:33.820]And that kind of gets back to where
[00:15:35.540]you're using organic nitrogen.
[00:15:37.100]It's not showing up on your test.
[00:15:39.570]So, when you start growing organically,
[00:15:41.720]you have to have a different mindset on your fertility
[00:15:45.930]that you're getting.
[00:15:47.974](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:15:52.470]You know, we very (sighs) I can't remember,
[00:15:55.260]this has been years ago, if we were down to 32 or 34.
[00:16:05.340]There's at harvest time.
[00:16:09.110]That with the late planting date,
[00:16:10.910]still made 218 bushel an acre.
[00:16:14.530]And our biggest mistake we made was by using
[00:16:18.490]a shorter season hybrid.
[00:16:20.130]We should have stuck the full season in there.
[00:16:22.551]Because we had the season to grow it and the fertility.
[00:16:26.460]So I think we could have even done better.
[00:16:31.170]But looking at the ground after combine,
[00:16:32.900]I mean we really didn't have weeds in there,
[00:16:35.550]it was a nice, clean field.
[00:16:41.920]Now I'm taking you out to another field.
[00:16:45.250]The history on this was it was wheat in the summer.
[00:16:50.160]And then the summer followed it and the first of September
[00:16:54.010]we put our cover crop in and we're putting vetch,
[00:16:57.900]and radish in there.
[00:16:59.480]And I was expecting some of the volunteer wheat
[00:17:01.820]to grow and it didn't.
[00:17:05.680]We had a warm fall and we had a significant amount
[00:17:08.170]of growth on the radish.
[00:17:11.099]And I was at a organic, or a no til conference one time,
[00:17:15.017]and a guy tested the nitrogen in those radishes,
[00:17:18.650]and he had a solid stand of them,
[00:17:20.360]and he had 400 pounds of nitrogen per acre in the radishes.
[00:17:24.750]So when I come out in the fall,
[00:17:26.307]and I see we've got that much growth,
[00:17:28.940]I'm in credit, probably a lot of nitrogen for that radish.
[00:17:32.170]'Cause it's going down deep and mining bring it back up.
[00:17:36.690]And then I've got a really good stand of vetch.
[00:17:40.210]And I've got enough cover on the top
[00:17:42.210]to help protect that vetch.
[00:17:43.680]Something to trap the snow.
[00:17:47.710]In the ideal situation that's what you'd like
[00:17:49.900]to see in your fall.
[00:17:51.310]Now the last two years hasn't been that way.
[00:17:53.770]We had a quick, cold fall, a late, cold spring,
[00:17:57.860]and it really hurt my nitrogen production.
[00:18:00.920]And you've got to get,
[00:18:03.080]you got to get used to that.
[00:18:04.270]The weather is gonna
[00:18:06.130]hand just a bad a hand in the winter growing
[00:18:08.630]your cover crop, as maybe it did in the summer.
[00:18:13.600]Now in this field one thing I noticed was
[00:18:15.980]when we were drilling the cover crop in,
[00:18:18.340]we got down to the end and we were overlapping.
[00:18:21.280]And there was these spots all the way along
[00:18:23.180]the edge of the field where there was nothing growing.
[00:18:27.520]And you can see all the dead leaves and the branches
[00:18:33.900]of the radishes there.
[00:18:37.290]I thought that looked kind of suspicious.
[00:18:40.850]And I come out in May and the cover crop around this
[00:18:43.970]was three feet high.
[00:18:45.910]But yet that bare spot was still there.
[00:18:49.350]The dock here is barely growing.
[00:18:52.260]The dock at this time of the year in the ditches
[00:18:54.670]is fully seeded out.
[00:18:57.180]How did that radish suppress those weeds like that?
[00:19:02.760]You know in my head I wasn't quite figuring out
[00:19:05.210]what was going on, but there was something going on.
[00:19:10.130]This is later that year
[00:19:13.120]in that same field.
[00:19:14.560]The only nitrogen that corn crop has there
[00:19:18.360]is from the hairy vetch.
[00:19:23.210]The corn looked fantastic.
[00:19:28.530]But in the row, the rows were nice and clean.
[00:19:32.100]How much of my weed control was coming
[00:19:34.700]from the radish, from the brassica?
[00:19:39.240]I was starting to think maybe we were on to something,
[00:19:41.690]'cause everything was going right there.
[00:19:48.373]About 10 days later we got a heavy hailstorm and windstorm.
[00:19:55.280]On one end of the field there was hardly any leaves
[00:19:57.530]left on the plant, and the other end of the field
[00:19:59.570]it wasn't near as bad.
[00:20:03.170]So we got,
[00:20:05.970]got into harvesting.
[00:20:07.130]Remember two years ago when we had the windstorm?
[00:20:10.540]It was one day before harvest,
[00:20:12.310]and that's what we had laying there underground.
[00:20:14.830]And we harvested that, and we had 190 bushel an acre.
[00:20:20.720]So, I don't know what the potential was there.
[00:20:24.070]I guess I had a field south of town
[00:20:26.490]that didn't get the hail and it yielded 212,
[00:20:30.070]and I had a 13% loss.
[00:20:33.400]So I'm thinking it could have been up in the 220s again.
[00:20:37.850]And the only nitrogen that corn had was the cover crop.
[00:20:41.980]So now the question is, is should I buy manure
[00:20:46.870]in the spring?
[00:20:48.830]I mean there's times if your cover crop is healthy enough,
[00:20:51.610]you may not need manure.
[00:20:54.200]But if you go out there and your cover crop
[00:20:56.400]looks a little bit light,
[00:20:58.300]I'd probably be looking for some manure.
[00:21:01.200]So that's something you've kind of got to get used to
[00:21:03.650]in your own mind and check in your fields,
[00:21:06.120]and by past experience, how much fertility you've got.
[00:21:13.810]And this was another field that was wheat.
[00:21:17.310]And we put a cover crop in in September.
[00:21:20.960]And we have mustard, radish, turnips,
[00:21:27.010]rabe, what else did we have in there?
[00:21:30.930]I'm missing some.
[00:21:35.760]I can't remember the other one.
[00:21:37.290]But, this was the fall when it didn't freeze until December.
[00:21:42.200]I mean the cover crop was huge.
[00:21:44.600]You know a lot of years, well like last winter,
[00:21:47.880]or two winters ago, we had,
[00:21:51.510]cover crops barely got that high.
[00:21:54.880]So again, you've got to be watching and monitoring
[00:21:57.450]your cover crop, to try to determine how much benefit
[00:22:00.990]you'll get out of it.
[00:22:02.410]This cover crop I was really concerned
[00:22:04.870]that my vetch that's down on the ground
[00:22:07.610]was gonna get shaded out, and I was getting worried
[00:22:10.920]that my brassicas here were gonna hurt the vetch,
[00:22:15.210]and kind of ruin my game plan for nitrogen production.
[00:22:21.970]The radishes got, the turnips got full size.
[00:22:26.270]The radishes got full size.
[00:22:30.200]Joel came in and said the radishes up
[00:22:32.940]on field six were out of control.
[00:22:41.160]And this is in the spring.
[00:22:44.430]The dead, like the mustard and rabes that are still standing
[00:22:49.450]that helps protect your cover crop down below.
[00:22:52.630]It'll catch that snow
[00:22:54.810]and get the ground cover to a snow.
[00:22:57.660]So that was a benefit there.
[00:23:00.520]Now the radish, or the hairy vetch I think
[00:23:05.590]was kind of getting suppressed from all the brassicas.
[00:23:08.500]And I was kind of concerned that we were gonna
[00:23:10.160]really be short on nitrogen.
[00:23:12.830]And then there's rabe in there, and the rabe
[00:23:16.870]grows back in the spring.
[00:23:20.120]That's what it looks like in the spring.
[00:23:24.530]So we're out there shredding it and working it in,
[00:23:27.080]and for this field, I think we planted last
[00:23:30.547]and it was June 5th.
[00:23:33.650]We had so much residue there to work with
[00:23:36.390]and the ground wouldn't dry out.
[00:23:39.057]And it looked like it was gonna be kind of
[00:23:40.680]a challenge getting it planted.
[00:23:45.535]We went and worked it and planted it,
[00:23:47.387]and it got hot and dry.
[00:23:49.800]I did not rotary hoe this, because it was so dry and hot.
[00:23:54.410]It was one of them times where it went to 95 overnight.
[00:23:59.060]And, there were no weeds in that field.
[00:24:03.920]Now I'm saying that this all happened,
[00:24:07.150]because I had the brassicas in the mix.
[00:24:10.400]They are acting as a weed control.
[00:24:12.817]And if you go on YouTube, you can look up
[00:24:15.590]all the information about how brassicas effect weeds.
[00:24:21.532]I think you have a question.
[00:24:22.630]I plant rye as a cover crop,
[00:24:24.819](voice fades off microphone).
[00:24:31.172]Do you find any of this allopathy, or whatever,
[00:24:33.490]from the brassicas, or your rye hurt the corn,
[00:24:37.050]or is it deep enough to not hurt the corn (voice fades).
[00:24:44.350]You know we've been working this just a couple years,
[00:24:46.390]and I haven't noticed a difference yet,
[00:24:48.210]hurting a large seeded crop.
[00:24:50.650]Maybe if you put a small seeded, or maybe a wheat,
[00:24:54.473]could that be a problem?
[00:24:55.730]Or the time that you wait after you til it
[00:24:59.210]until the cynalates are gone in your soil.
[00:25:04.530]So you're saying the
[00:25:05.363]larger seeds like corn.
[00:25:08.230]I haven't noticed damage on it yet.
[00:25:11.870]But we're generally maybe five days to a week planting
[00:25:16.170]behind the time that we destroy the cover crop.
[00:25:18.920]So if you've got gases that are in those leaves
[00:25:22.980]and they're evaporating.
[00:25:25.210]If you planted the day after I might be concerned.
[00:25:32.070]This is kind of an evolving situation here.
[00:25:35.070]We're learning how to work with the brassicas.
[00:25:38.378](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:25:44.910]I've never, we've grown a lot of rye
[00:25:46.840]and I've never seen the weed suppression in rye
[00:25:49.800]like we get with a brassica.
[00:25:53.230]I would be more inclined to look into the brassicas.
[00:25:57.930](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:26:06.564]It's gently rolling to flat.
[00:26:10.540]You can kind of see where it rolls down the hill behind it.
[00:26:15.800]So, we didn't rotary hoe this.
[00:26:19.660]This is the first day of cultivation.
[00:26:21.500]And that field is still relatively clean.
[00:26:25.890]There might be a few velvet leaf showing up.
[00:26:30.250]I think there was a couple there.
[00:26:31.950]Velvet leaf seems like they can grow
[00:26:34.950]in about any condition, they're hard to get rid of.
[00:26:39.200]But what I noticed was that field was dark green
[00:26:42.980]all the way through it.
[00:26:44.750]And there's hillsides up in here that are clay.
[00:26:47.880]And normally you can see them 1/2 mile away.
[00:26:51.522]Then you can see that crops that are
[00:26:54.040]light growing, yellow looking.
[00:27:00.000]So that's our first cultivation there.
[00:27:05.320]Now we cultivated it and it was so hot and dry
[00:27:08.620]we ran the pivot around so we could mellow it up
[00:27:12.143]to hill up, well then that made it rain.
[00:27:16.960]That plan didn't work out.
[00:27:20.310]Because of that we didn't get it hilled.
[00:27:22.830]But you can still see how nice can clean
[00:27:24.930]that soil is.
[00:27:26.330]And there is small velvet leafs that popped up later.
[00:27:30.639]If we had been able to hill it,
[00:27:31.860]I don't think we would have had those velvet leaf.
[00:27:38.470]I think it's the cynalates that are in
[00:27:42.350]the leaves of brassicas.
[00:27:45.130]Those are in mustards.
[00:27:47.630]If you go on YouTube there's tons of videos on it.
[00:27:54.114]As far as control of nematodes, diseases,
[00:27:58.460]there's a lot of things going on with the,
[00:28:01.260]especially when you get into the mustard family.
[00:28:05.367](audience member speaking off microphone)
[00:28:08.410]Brassicas would be like your turnip, radish,
[00:28:14.926](audience member speaking off microphone)
[00:28:28.020]So this year I decided, well I'm not gonna put
[00:28:30.700]a cover crop in after corn, 'cause I'm going to soybeans.
[00:28:34.550]And I'm gonna come out there in March,
[00:28:36.260]and I'm gonna put mustard down.
[00:28:38.674]And we'll use that as a herbicide.
[00:28:43.400]You notice this dark green strip here.
[00:28:46.270]I had two rows that were plugged.
[00:28:49.710]And this was solid winter annuals grass,
[00:28:54.527]and there were broad leafs that were starting to grow.
[00:28:56.957]And I had just gone over that
[00:28:58.730]with a shredder, shredding it.
[00:29:02.190]You could go right outside into this area,
[00:29:05.450]and there was no winter annuals.
[00:29:07.840]It was amazing the weed control
[00:29:10.230]that was happening with that mustard growing.
[00:29:18.630]Now in the particular field I didn't shred it.
[00:29:22.821]I just went in with that sunflower machine
[00:29:25.320]that you saw earlier, and I worked it in.
[00:29:31.020]If you work your mustard, and then wait a long time,
[00:29:35.410]the gases will evaporate out of it,
[00:29:37.857]and it won't do you any good.
[00:29:39.950]So a lot of times people shred it and they're
[00:29:42.050]right behind discing it.
[00:29:44.250]This was getting late in the year and I just wanted it done,
[00:29:46.420]so I just went out and disced it.
[00:29:48.310]And it seemed to work fine.
[00:29:51.222](audience member speaks off mic)
[00:29:53.280]Yeah there was volunteer.
[00:29:55.980]It's not an ideal situation for killing mustard,
[00:30:01.580]but the volunteer wasn't gonna cause a problem,
[00:30:04.060]so I wasn't really worried about it.
[00:30:10.110]Now, this is our soybeans planted after the mustard,
[00:30:14.490]and you can see the soil's loose.
[00:30:16.300]And that's from rotary hoeing.
[00:30:18.500]So that field has been rotary hoed
[00:30:21.930]right when the soybean got a good root on it.
[00:30:25.980]And then when the soybean came up through the ground
[00:30:28.280]and got leaves on it, you can rotary hoe it again.
[00:30:31.200]And at that point you don't cause that much damage
[00:30:33.430]to the soybean.
[00:30:34.590]And we plant extra heavy anyway to make up for it.
[00:30:38.170]Then you can see there's volunteer,
[00:30:41.600]well mustards that I didn't get killed.
[00:30:44.280]And those don't hurt anything because they're in
[00:30:46.010]the process of going to seed and dying.
[00:30:51.300]Well we're out cultivating and the ground
[00:30:53.790]just looks suspiciously clean.
[00:30:58.150]There's not the weeds that you normally see
[00:31:00.890]when you're out cultivating.
[00:31:09.680]That's in August.
[00:31:12.360]And we did, Joel and his son walked around there
[00:31:16.953]a little bit, trying to get some of the bigger weeds
[00:31:19.390]off the field, just some of the escapes.
[00:31:22.960]I don't know, did you run a crew through there?
[00:31:27.433]It was fairly easy to road,
[00:31:29.120]there wasn't that many roads out there.
[00:31:32.020]Your best compliment you can get from your certifier
[00:31:36.050]is when he comes out and says your,
[00:31:38.850]I'd guess you'd say your best and your worst compliment
[00:31:41.540]you can get from your certifier.
[00:31:43.630]Is he comes out and looks at your field
[00:31:45.360]and says that it's suspiciously clean.
[00:31:51.250]Then you know you're either, you're happy,
[00:31:52.910]but you're also in trouble.
[00:31:55.320]But, soybeans can be raised like that, that are that clean.
[00:31:59.220]And this is right on Highway 6.
[00:32:01.810]You know if I let weeds get in there,
[00:32:03.600]everybody's gonna tell me about it.
[00:32:05.780]But if the field is clean, I might get two comments.
[00:32:14.289]Now this is the game plan this last fall.
[00:32:17.470]I decided to put four different types of mustard in there.
[00:32:22.030]I got mighty mustard, and I added a brown mustard.
[00:32:26.950]There's vetch down in there growing.
[00:32:29.980]I've added another source of nitrogen
[00:32:32.610]which was valance of clover.
[00:32:35.250]I'm trying to play around with some clovers
[00:32:37.260]to have a back up nitrogen source in case,
[00:32:43.407]the vetch would winter kill or something.
[00:32:45.910]And then we added radish.
[00:32:50.498]And there's also rabe, the rabe should overwinter.
[00:32:55.500]And if it comes up in the spring
[00:32:57.890]it'll be one more source of brassica, weed effect.
[00:33:02.620]So I'm trying to get all my nitrogen growing here,
[00:33:05.410]and I'm trying to get all my weed control
[00:33:08.230]in this cover crop.
[00:33:10.060]And this kind of an evolution in the process here,
[00:33:14.310]because there could be other things I add to it.
[00:33:17.777]And then also those cover crops get up high enough,
[00:33:22.460]and when they die they help protect that vetch.
[00:33:27.246](audience members speaks off microphone)
[00:33:37.470]You know it might depend on how warm the winter
[00:33:40.750]or spring you get, and how much growth.
[00:33:43.730]Like the last two years we didn't get much growth.
[00:33:47.150]And there wouldn't probably have been much to graze.
[00:33:51.383]I'm not sure on that, I'm not a cattle guy.
[00:33:56.080]If you could get some use out of it,
[00:33:57.670]that would be fantastic.
[00:34:04.070]Now this is wheat, we put wheat and peas into the rotation.
[00:34:09.620]If I get a field that I think's getting
[00:34:11.820]a little bit too many weeds in it,
[00:34:14.220]I'll put wheat or peas into it.
[00:34:16.530]Get the weeds stopped now, so that I can go into
[00:34:19.010]a clean field the following year.
[00:34:21.620]Now this wheat is generally considered poverty grass,
[00:34:26.640]or that's what the conventional farmers would call it.
[00:34:31.890]And even to an organic farmer would consider it as that.
[00:34:35.550]It yielded 74 bushel an acre.
[00:34:38.130]The only cost I had in it was the seed,
[00:34:43.880]and we watered it twice.
[00:34:47.620]And it was $10.25 a bushel.
[00:34:50.600]You know compare that to my conventional corn,
[00:34:53.870]where I have all the expenses in it.
[00:34:56.720]So that doesn't look that bad
[00:34:58.130]when you consider it that way.
[00:35:02.162](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:35:04.130]Yeah the variety of that was SY Wolf.
[00:35:07.030]There's some new wheat varieties
[00:35:08.640]that have really yielded well.
[00:35:11.030]We had a transitional field the year before this one.
[00:35:14.820]And it yielded 80, with no input on it.
[00:35:21.710]This is our peas here.
[00:35:23.940]The problem with peas is after,
[00:35:26.390]you're getting close to harvest, they can fall down.
[00:35:31.472]And if they fall down, or you don't get to them
[00:35:34.840]for awhile, they can get weedy.
[00:35:37.010]And I've seen some people now that are putting
[00:35:39.950]like a rabe, or canola, or a mustard
[00:35:42.380]with the pea when they plant it.
[00:35:44.690]And I want to try that.
[00:35:45.780]I think I can put mustard in with these,
[00:35:48.180]and have a co-companion crop.
[00:35:51.060]And provide my weed control.
[00:35:53.700]And help the crop stand up.
[00:35:59.600]Oh see that's another one, too.
[00:36:03.630]So are you growing those for grain,
[00:36:06.790]for sale, or are you growing those as a green cover?
[00:36:10.420]These peas will go into
[00:36:13.540]products like Muscle Milk.
[00:36:16.600]It'll go into the protein market.
[00:36:20.430]They're getting very popular.
[00:36:23.500]Plant protein is getting very popular.
[00:36:25.320]I think it's an emerging industry.
[00:36:27.950]People are wanting to cut back on their meat,
[00:36:30.190]and they're wanting plant protein, because it's cleaner.
[00:36:37.610]I just noticed the lady bug on that one.
[00:36:40.380]That gets back to your beneficial insects.
[00:36:42.870]Put your cover crop out there attracts your beneficial
[00:36:45.410]insects and get them back on your cash crop.
[00:36:51.750]Now another thing we do with our cover crop
[00:36:55.810]is we inoculate it with a broad spectrum
[00:37:02.060]We want to get as much biological activity
[00:37:05.830]in that soil as we can.
[00:37:07.280]So when you disc that crop in,
[00:37:09.550]you've got something to eat it.
[00:37:11.800]And I think that's why we're seeing our organic
[00:37:13.590]matters rise up.
[00:37:15.560]We've had readings anywhere from 3.3.% to 4%
[00:37:20.600]on organic matter.
[00:37:22.210]And I'm not getting that on my conventional fields.
[00:37:25.740]So, your cover crop's doing a lot.
[00:37:28.640]It's providing your above ground insects
[00:37:31.700]and it's providing your below ground biology.
[00:37:38.456]Now one day we were out shredding this,
[00:37:41.260]and we were wondering how fast you can plant
[00:37:44.380]after you shred it.
[00:37:47.890]We planted it the next day.
[00:37:51.080]That didn't look very good at all.
[00:37:54.190]But we had enough moisture in the soil,
[00:37:57.830]that we had, it worked out well for planting corn.
[00:38:03.250]If you would have had a five inch rain that night,
[00:38:05.470]I don't think anything would have ran.
[00:38:08.840]The soil would have stayed intact.
[00:38:12.960]And this is at cultivating time.
[00:38:16.180]But you could just see the residue in there.
[00:38:19.769]And if any of you people are, like in hillsides
[00:38:22.020]or something, that's what you want to see.
[00:38:24.160]You want to see a lot of that residue.
[00:38:30.830]This is something we're working on for the future,
[00:38:33.870]no til organic.
[00:38:35.920]And we got a rower there.
[00:38:39.070]Joel's driving that, he likes to go fast,
[00:38:41.330]so we put him in that spot.
[00:38:45.180]I think he's running about eight mile an hour.
[00:38:49.670]And I'm running behind him with the planter.
[00:38:53.870]It planted beautiful, this was two years ago.
[00:38:58.790]We had about four inches of residue there.
[00:39:04.810]The problem we're having, we're finding though
[00:39:07.460]is we can get cutworm when we don't disc the soil.
[00:39:12.260]If we would have disc that in I don't think
[00:39:14.070]we would have had any cutworm.
[00:39:16.460]We're looking at a bait that we can put out there,
[00:39:18.427]and it's organic certified that can attract
[00:39:21.460]the cutworm and kill them.
[00:39:24.530]The other good thing about organic farming
[00:39:26.490]is you can stay behind 20 years in planter technology
[00:39:31.890]and get by fine. (laughs)
[00:39:34.680]Then you can buy cheap.
[00:39:38.300]Now I borrowed these,
[00:39:40.740]these next two slides from Jerry Laners.
[00:39:44.600]When I rolled my cover crop, I rolled it too soon.
[00:39:47.660]It wasn't fully blooming.
[00:39:49.370]And the stuff started growing back up.
[00:39:52.850]Then I took a shredder out and shredded it down,
[00:39:55.027]and I ended up getting about a dry land stand
[00:39:58.330]after I got done doing that.
[00:40:00.630]I made a lot of mistakes that first year.
[00:40:03.430]But this is a picture of Jerry's field,
[00:40:05.570]that's what it can look like.
[00:40:07.890]And it's amazing the amount of weed control
[00:40:10.100]you can get from that vetch.
[00:40:14.080]I'm also thinking that we could put
[00:40:18.260]mustards and radish in with that in the fall maybe,
[00:40:21.700]and pick up that weed control a little bit.
[00:40:24.240]That's something I want to work on.
[00:40:28.721]And that was his field again,
[00:40:34.080]throughout the summer there.
[00:40:36.520]Now this is coming back to my field.
[00:40:38.890]But you can see that residue.
[00:40:40.950]This is in September and it's still there.
[00:40:44.630]And you pick it up like a piece of carpet.
[00:40:47.520]It just pulls up and it's all stuck together.
[00:40:52.139]Has that been cultivated?
[00:40:53.547]No, it's all no til.
[00:40:56.130]The problem I have here is the corn's looking
[00:40:59.170]a little bit yellow.
[00:41:00.490]Well I'm leaving all that residue on the top
[00:41:03.000]that's got all that nitrogen.
[00:41:04.980]So I'm really in a nitrogen deficiency here,
[00:41:08.740]so I've got to correct that.
[00:41:10.730]And that's where maybe I could add a ton
[00:41:13.540]of chicken litter, or something like that to it.
[00:41:16.160]The other thing I was looking at was putting
[00:41:18.310]a row of faba beans down between it.
[00:41:21.930]Corn will give flavanoids to a faba bean.
[00:41:26.033]And the faba bean will increase the nodulation about 40%.
[00:41:30.670]And then the faba bean should give the nitrogen
[00:41:32.980]back to the corn.
[00:41:35.979]So I'm trying to see, will that work?
[00:41:38.440]There's a lot of research been done on it.
[00:41:42.300]I was noticing Joel Groover saying where
[00:41:45.110]he had two rows of corn and a row of beans.
[00:41:47.400]Well, what if I put two rows of corn
[00:41:49.480]and a row of faba beans? F-a-b-a.
[00:41:56.720]You can find, there's a couple of good articles
[00:41:59.870]on the internet where they go into the scientific
[00:42:02.290]part of it, into the research of the faba bean.
[00:42:05.560]And I don't know if a soybean or a pea
[00:42:08.310]will respond the same way that a faba bean does.
[00:42:15.040]Now you're wondering about, how do you get rid
[00:42:16.920]of that cover crop?
[00:42:18.700]You can shred it and this is my Lemken disc here.
[00:42:22.440]And each disc has its own arm.
[00:42:26.960]If you don't need to plant a cash crop behind it,
[00:42:30.370]you can go through your cover crop three feet high,
[00:42:33.380]and that'll go right through it.
[00:42:35.840]So you could use it either way.
[00:42:38.420]You could shred ahead of it,
[00:42:39.570]or you can go right into a standing cover crop.
[00:42:49.610]These are made in Germany.
[00:42:52.120]They sell them over here at Seward.
[00:42:56.652]I got a tour of the plant two years ago
[00:42:58.580]where they make them.
[00:43:03.970]This is the other disc I use.
[00:43:05.960]That's a Vaderstad.
[00:43:08.400]That's made in Sweden.
[00:43:10.640]And I like it better, because it has a narrower
[00:43:15.220]disc spacing and it leaves the soil,
[00:43:18.320]I would say less chunky.
[00:43:21.120]When you get to a seven inch spacing
[00:43:22.850]you've got to go deeper.
[00:43:24.430]And the chunks you bring up are gonna make
[00:43:26.100]your ground rougher to drive on.
[00:43:28.120]So that actually does the work better,
[00:43:29.710]and I can adjust the angle of each blade.
[00:43:33.670]And I'm running a little bit straighter,
[00:43:35.200]so I'm doing a real simple cut and a cut.
[00:43:38.330]I'm not throwing stuff around.
[00:43:41.220]And this one is a 25 foot model,
[00:43:44.410]where Lemken, the biggest model they have is 23.
[00:43:52.000]Now there's a Seder that I installed on the back there.
[00:43:57.077]And I blow some of the cover crops on right
[00:44:00.200]in front of these soil runners.
[00:44:04.170]So I can do two things at one time.
[00:44:10.850]This was something Joel kind of,
[00:44:13.490]a project that he did.
[00:44:16.050]He got einkorn seed from a seed conservatory,
[00:44:19.440]and you get 30 little seeds in a package.
[00:44:22.400]And you put them in a row, and you grow them,
[00:44:24.640]and evaluate them, handpick them and make it bigger.
[00:44:28.497]And we ended up with 10 acres of einkorn wheat.
[00:44:32.554]Einkorn wheat is a first wheat known to man,
[00:44:35.220]and that's what fed the Roman army.
[00:44:38.690]It's very high in protein, very low in starch.
[00:44:44.130]It's probably the perfect wheat.
[00:44:45.520]We should be eating this wheat and not the stuff
[00:44:47.610]that we have today.
[00:44:49.340](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:44:53.564]Very low gluten if any gluten.
[00:44:59.209]And it's aggressive.
[00:45:02.210]It'll outrun any type of weed.
[00:45:04.198](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:45:05.810]Yeah, but it's such a limited market.
[00:45:10.270]Currently we're not growing any,
[00:45:11.810]we shared our seed with the university.
[00:45:15.730]The problem with this type of stuff is well,
[00:45:19.082]a guy calls up and he orders 10 bags,
[00:45:20.480]well now he's got a field.
[00:45:23.520]Pretty soon you can't control what happens to the seed.
[00:45:28.290]The seed has a hull on it.
[00:45:30.027]And you have to run it through a de-huller.
[00:45:35.940]an interesting crop.
[00:45:38.604](audience member speaks off microphone)
[00:45:48.230]It would yield about 1/2 as much as our conventional wheat.
[00:45:52.530]So that's kind of the rub.
[00:45:53.970]You got to double the price of your wheat,
[00:45:55.090]then you got to get somebody to buy it at an organic price.
[00:45:59.200]Now this is blue Ethiopian emmer.
[00:46:02.950]It's a second generation wheat known to man.
[00:46:06.330]And this would have come out of the
[00:46:09.810]flaxseed area, it would have.
[00:46:14.030]I mean this is an ancient wheat.
[00:46:16.480]But it would actually hull in the combine.
[00:46:19.780]It actually works pretty good.
[00:46:24.750]And I guess that's all the slides I got.
[00:46:27.610]But I just, I wanted to share the idea of using
[00:46:30.420]your cover crop as your nitrogen source.
[00:46:33.150]And think about it also controlling your weeds.
[00:46:37.980]The only thing of course that can mess with that
[00:46:40.530]is you've got one more thing to manage.
[00:46:44.240]That's the draw back of it.
[00:46:46.250]And then Mother Nature, if it doesn't cooperate
[00:46:50.410]with your cover crop,
[00:46:53.036]you could have a cover crop that doesn't look very good.
[00:46:55.460]And you might need to get some manure.
[00:46:58.220]This last year I had the cover crop
[00:46:59.890]wasn't looking very good, and I called Tim up,
[00:47:01.890]I need some manure, I guess it was the other guy.
[00:47:04.340]But, they come out and put my manure on.
[00:47:07.310]Well then in the spring thawed it,
[00:47:09.467]and I think all my manure was running off.
[00:47:11.740]So, two things didn't work.
[00:47:14.840]Your best laid plans sometimes don't work.
[00:47:22.070]Okay, I don't know if anybody's got any questions.
[00:47:28.312]First, where are you located,
[00:47:29.145]second, (voice fades off microphone)
[00:47:33.270]Okay, the question was where I'm located.
[00:47:35.350]I'm in Hastings, Nebraska.
[00:47:37.360]And on soybean yields,
[00:47:39.690]we, in food grade soybean clear highland, 55 to 60.
[00:47:45.450]If you use a feed grade, you can go higher than that.
[00:47:48.680]But, your yield is limiting on food grade.
[00:47:53.580]We're kind of going into the tofu market,
[00:47:55.930]and the food market.
[00:48:01.920]I think earlier you had a slide where
[00:48:04.530]you see it's mustard in the spring. (voice fades)
[00:48:10.700]Yeah, you'll need to plant mustard in spring.
[00:48:13.490]I'd want to go as soon as you can get in the ground,
[00:48:15.670]I'd say the first of March.
[00:48:17.560]Now this last year didn't work out very well,
[00:48:19.780]and we were like mid-April, that's getting too late.
[00:48:22.940]And I think Eric Belken, he flew his on with
[00:48:25.540]an airplane and that worked much better.
[00:48:28.130]So I'd want to have it in the shed and be ready
[00:48:32.200]if it looks like it's gonna be too late,
[00:48:34.090]maybe fly it on, if you can get somebody to do it.
[00:48:44.314]Guess that's all.
[00:48:45.147]Any other questions, oh.
[00:48:53.110]I hope I've been listening well,
[00:48:54.307]but you're the only person I believe
[00:48:57.150]that's mentioned running the pivot irrigation system
[00:49:00.670]on an organic field.
[00:49:02.630]And just in general, what are some of the guidelines
[00:49:08.110]related to that for irrigation management?
[00:49:14.520]We're all irrigated,
[00:49:15.680]so we just about have to irrigate to raise a crop.
[00:49:19.670]I guess we'll have to be more specific question on that.
[00:49:27.609]Do you mean how much to put on?
[00:49:30.810]I suppose, is it just like
[00:49:32.270]a commercial crop?
[00:49:34.350]Okay, of course.
Do you think about it
[00:49:35.810]any differently and then what do you do with
[00:49:37.720]the ruts and all that on an organic field?
[00:49:41.860]Yeah we would treat it the same as conventional.
[00:49:46.280]And you get your ruts, but that's the time of year
[00:49:49.020]when you're working your ground up.
[00:49:51.290]So it's really not an issue.
[00:49:56.490]We'd want to have our pivots ready to run sooner,
[00:50:00.000]because we've got cover crops out there.
[00:50:01.930]That maybe the only thing that's different,
[00:50:03.950]between that and conventional.
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