Friday, January 13, 2012

The Power of Radish and Rye

Did I scare you with yesterday's blog? If I didn't, you better go back and read it again. I quoted what I heard and I don't deny the evidence. It is pretty scary. If I believed it I would never use glyphosate or plant genetically modified seed again.

Several more farmers have asked my opinion on the subject since I wrote that blog. It's amazing to me how many of you are following the convention through my eyes and ears. I had over 100 page views overnight from Wednesday's blog and more since.

Last night we heard a good talk by Mike Plumer from Illinois. I have quoted him in past blogs over the years. He showed how he has changed his southern Illinois soils so much that they don't meet the original soil classifications! A soil scientist friend of his told Mike after studying lots of root and soil pits "I am not going to reclassify all these soils you have screwed up!"

I thought that was a pretty good line. That is the power of notill and cover crops. If you can figure out how to make a living while developing your system you can very much leave your soil better than you found it. I know I am doing that after only 2-8 years on the fields we own and farm.

Mike's friend Terry Taylor just showed how he is doing that on his farm, Jeff Martin is showing how they strip till continuous corn on the flat black Illinois soils south of Decatur and Bob Yanda is doing a great job on soil biology and how amendments affect it. I see why I like high calcium lime, AMS, trychaderma, and inoculants.

Fred Yanda of Midwest Biologicals gave a really good presentation of how plants and soils work chemically and biological and how certain biologicals fit in to give a good return on investment. The biggest advancement has been in the new strains of soybean inoculants that compete for a site on the root to survive and in the process of doing so, make more nitrogen that increases nutrient uptake, health, and yield.

There are 336 first time attendees at the conference and I almost feel sorry for them. You almost have to have attended past conferences or be an experienced notiller to understand the implications of the presentations of the varied subjects.

The crowd is near 900 farmers and others who work with farmers and the hotel is maxxed out. As one farmer said, "I don't know what we would do if 200 more showed up."


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