Monday, August 25, 2014

Ohio No-Till Field Day September 9

I have been concerned about what I can possibly say at the Ohio No-Till Field Day in Marion County on September 9.  My visit with Odette Menard and her farmers in Quebec last week cleared that up for me.  I think I know what I need to present.

She took us to the farm of Jocelyn Michon near St. Hyacinth, Quebec.  We were very impressed with his crops and his farming operation.  He has been continuous no-till for 21 years and his soil structure is beyond most fields I have visited.  He has taken a little different approach to farming than my friend Keith Schlapkohl in Stockton, Iowa but his crops are every bit as impressive.

He came to our farm with a bus load of fellow farmers from Quebec in 2008 and saw one of the best crops of soybeans I ever raised until last year.  The color and reproduction of his crops showed the benefits of the improved soil structure he has created.  I challenged the group to explore cover crops and they were hesitant since they farm so far north.  But Jocelyn figured it out and took his farm up another notch.

He showed us the mix of 11 cover crop seeds he is planting.  The big thing I saw is if one cover does not do well in a certain year, others take over and do the job of multiplying beneficial soil organisms.  Believe me his system is really working.

He converted a Monosem planter to twin row and his soybeans and green beans and corn are extremely impressive with very little purchased fertilizer.  Odette says we know the chemical properties too well and don't pay enough attention to soil structure from our farming activities.  I saw on Jocelyn's farm the benefit of paying more attention to soil structure and less to chemical fertilizer.  His yields are way beyond normal and his profit line is strong.

In a year like this with poor income, he makes it up with more profit from less inputs.  Then, he makes even more income in years like the last four where crop prices were higher.

I know what to communicate now a little better.  Don't focus on something like gypsum alone, it is just a tool.  Focus on the entire cropping system.

Ed Winkle

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