Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Learning a Little about No Till

 The Conservation Cropping Systems project is an experimental near Forman, North Dakota. Each July they hold an open house with a field tour. Farmer Fred and Robbie decided to attend.
According to their 2010 annual report:  "The Conservation Cropping Systems Project (CCSP) is located on a 130-acre
tract of farm land two miles south of Forman, ND along Highway 32. A 14
member Board of Directors composed of local producers in northeastern South CONSERVATION CROPPING SYSTEMS PROJECT
Dakota and southeastern North Dakota advises the CCSP staff. Diverse crops
ADVISORS are grown in 16 rotations that range from one to six years under no-till, strip till,
shank and disk drill cropping systems. A total of 172 60x220 foot plots and
North Dakota State University South Dakota State University
several irregular shaped “bulk area” plots ranging from 1/10 acre to 8 acres are
Dr. David Franzen, Blaine Schatz, Dr. Dwayne Beck used for planting. Rotations are demonstrated to look at their effect on water and
Greg Endres, Julie Hassebroek wind erosion, soil tilth, soil moisture retention, organic matter changes, and
profitability. Each crop within a rotation is grown every year and replicated three
NRCS Ducks Unlimited
Ted Alme, Hal Weiser, Blake Vander Vorst, Steve Dvorak David Breker
2times. Other practices and demonstrations done include variety trials, livestock waste applications, carbon sequestration studies, weed control experiments, livestock grazing, saline cover crop and saline alfalfa trials, biological strip till, radish rooting depth, and equipment demos to name a few.
The project provides producers data and physical observations that allows them to see advantages and disadvantages of a range of crop rotations in no-till and conservation crop production. The effective use of crop rotations to break weed, disease, and insect cycles is demonstrated. The placement of legumes in rotations reduces dependence on fertilizer N. Recent work by Dr. Dave Franzen of NDSU has shown that long term no-till requires 50 lbs less nitrogen fertilizer to grow the same crop as conventional tillage. Dr. Franzen feels the increased amount of biology and organic matter in no-till effectively grabs the applied nitrogen and holds it much more efficiently than in conventional tillage. In other words, leaching and volatilization losses may be considerably less.
This project is a living classroom to demonstrate that agriculture can produce food, fuel and fiber in an environmentally favorable manner, preserving and enhancing soil, wildlife habitat and water quality, while providing producers with competitive to superior economic returns." 
 The purpose of the project is stated as follows:
"Our goal is to demonstrate profitable farming methods, machinery, and philosophies that promote soil and water conservation." 
To learn more about the farm you can read The 2010 Annual Report or visit NoTill.org by clicking on the links. 
Farmer Fred and Robbie are always interested in the latest methods and results of the work of experts in the field of agriculture. Farming is an ever changing business.  
It is clear that the new methods are interesting to young farmers as this crowd is clearly younger than many groups of farmers that gather in greater Dakota. 
Root pits illustrate what the corn is doing to produce the visible plant. Roots are critical to crop production as they draw in moisture and nutrients. Quick and strong root development is especially important in our climate with a short and often unpredictable growing season. 
Chances are that GriggsDakota will never be a purely no till farm, but we certainly try to be a minimum tillage farm. We do have some tracts of land that have been no till for many years. Minimum passes save fuel and conserve moisture in the soil. Generally, that means better crops in GriggsDakota.

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