Friday, September 14, 2012


Archuleta! I am venting my frustrations before I write this blog. The cheapest gas I saw in 200 miles yesterday was $3.82 in my own little town so I filled up. I headed for Wilmington this morning for errands and there is gas down to $3.55! Argh! I mean Archuleta! I also forgot Extension is now closed on Fridays so I couldn't get my Farm Science Review tickets presale!

Ray Archuleta is a unique USDA NRCS soil scientist who is really breaking down the old walls of tillage and corn soybean rotations. I missed him at dear Lake Darling last week but I got to see him at Dave Brandt's giant field day yesterday, the Ohio No-Till Field Day.

I forgot how to get there the quickest way so I was a little late. They are tearing up one of the best roads I travel, Greene Road to repave! I wonder what in the world is wrong with that good road? When I finally turned on to Western Basil Road in Fairfield County, you could see the hundreds of cars and pickups glistening in the morning sun!

I pulled into the drive and there must have been 40 ag science students to park us! I knew it must be a local chapter so I asked the students and found out they were from Liberty Union schools. I knew why the kids were there. In order to visit the field day, the teacher had to offer to park the cars but he had to bring the whole class. I have been there myself so I knew what was going on. 40 students in Ag Science II class! That's pretty good!

There were 350 chairs spread across Dave's shop and they were filled and probably another 100 people were standing. Gabe Brown from North Dakota spoke on cover crop diversity and Ray demonstrated his slake and other soil lab visuals so farmers could see the advantage of notill and cover crops. It was all quite impressive.

Wagons took visitors to the plots of various covers while a yellow spray plane sowed cover crop seeds across the various fields. It was quite a site and a beehive of activity!

Some notes to think about this winter:
The Phosphide Lipid Fatty Acid test is being used to study soil quality.

Gabe recommends all 4 types of cover crops in a mix, warm and cool season grasses and broadleafs but mixes can be targeted to a goal.

Non GMO fields are needed in Ohio for analysis of contribution to the phosphate algae problem in tile in watersheds.

Look at the LaMotte and Morgan soil tests to fine tune my older OSU-Midwest soil tests.

Number one killer of earthworms, soil life is cold hard steel because we let copatrophic bacteria destroy glomulin and other soil goodies(we knew that???).

Parts of Iowa, the Ukraine and Argentia share "the best soils in the world", the "Cadillac of soils" but we turn them into a Volkswagen in performance with tillage and monocrop corn/aoybean rotation.

Slake test showed a Cadillac turned into a VW with tillage and poor crop diversity, and a VW soil turned into a V-8 engine with cover crops and notill.

NoTill soil held more water and fertilizer and showed in the drought.

1% Organic Matter holds 19,000 gallons of water.

Organic Matter is 58% Carbon and tillage releases it.

40 year NoTill plots at Coshocton(now shut down by our government due to "budget restraints") averaged 38 inches of rainfall per year:
NoTill plots lost almost 7 inches of that 1580 inches of rainfall in 40 years
Conventional tillage plots lost over half that rainfall and over 10 tons of soil lost per acre year.

In summary, I know to notill and how to use it. I neec more diversity in my crop rotations and the easiest way I can do that is through cover crops but that is not easy. It requires more work and money but is worth the investment.

To all of this I say Archuleta! Keep preaching and teaching Ray as many are listening and we will work together to spread the good word!

Ed Winkle


  1. Talking of performance, can a Cadillac average 84MPG? ^-^

    In addition to the fertile black soil of Ukraine and other places you mentioned, there is also the Amazonian terra preta, which was slowly built by incorporating biochar into the soil.

    We could do the same by burning part of the increasingly tough corn stalks into biochar. Charcoal releases very little carbon into the atmosphere under the right conditions, so it seems to be a great way to both sequester carbon and improve the soil, a win-win situation.

    I actually wonder if the biomass the Amazonians turned into biochar was not partly made of corn stalks already, so maybe I am just reinventing what already existed.

  2. I think it could but it would be here if it were readily feasible? How many great inventions or findings have been squashed by "follow the money"?

    I have yet to run my hands through any of those soils. You would have thought I would have by now, wouldn't you? I have only been to Iowa but I would sure like to add those 3 to my bucket list!

    Biochar is fascinating to me but I don't know enough to talk about it. I did see exhaust gases being run back into soils in Canada and the US but I haven't formed an opinion of where that stands with my thinking.

    I am so caught up in notill, calcium, cover crops and balancing soil fertility as affordably as I can that I can barely handle that myriad of subjects.

    There is just so much to learn. I can barely apply 10% of what I understand to be sustainable yet profitable.