Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'll Grow My Own

My young friend David Groff in southeast Pennsylvania put together a nice harvest video called "I'll grow my own."  It shows the harvesting of corn and soybeans by a smaller, young farmer.  That reminds me of my own life.  Since bigger isn't always better, it brings a smile to my face.  I applaud the few smaller farmers, especially the very young ones.  They are both a rare commodity in the face of huge piles of corn, soybeans and other crops this year.

I met David's dad, Steve at a National NoTillage Conference 15 years ago or so.  I think we've both influenced each other in a positive way.  Steve was trying to improve no-till with cover crops and I was trying to improve the process of no-till farming with planter modifications, soil chemistry and soil biology.  Our ideas work together so well.

I've always enjoyed growing things and farming has always been in my blood.  Thanks to the Good Lord and LuAnn we were able to increase our farming operation to 1125 acres harvested in 2010.  Our timing was perfect with the resources available.  We have enjoyed a really good ten years since we bought this farm in 2004.

None of this would have been possible without my early recognition that no-till was the only way to go for me, that crop rotation was very important, and that we as farmers don't use enough lime and fertilizer to produce a maximum economic crop.  Economics change but the need for soil improvement and fertilization never does.  We farm plowed to death soil that had a poor crop rotation.  How do you change that direction?

Like David has been blessed to learn at a very young age, tillage is not necessarily the best answer to raise any crop.  Soil was meant to be covered and when we learn how to accomplish that in a good crop rotation, that worn out soil starts to turn around and our mistakes of tillage are less noticeable.

I encourage all farmers to answer the question I've proposed the last 20 years on the speaking circuit:  What change really needs to be made on your farm?  This is a very open question that the operator really needs to search and assess.  I have seen enough in my lifetime I can give a pretty good recommendation.  I need the same assessment of my own life and farm.  A second and third opinion can really help answer what we need to do and so many of us don't do that.

Someone is going to make a living from growing our food.  Who can do it better than myself?

Am I willing to grow my own?

Ed Winkle

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