At the end of every growing season I like to take some time to review the practices we used during the year to raise the crop. My goal is to determine if we should've done something different, whether it be crop rotation, method of fertilizer application, pesticide application, use (or not use) of tillage, etc, etc, etc.
We have been trying to use no-till practices on our farm for the past 10-plus years. However, each one of our fields has had a tillage tool on it, called a Salford. It does very shallow tillage, 1 to 2 inches deep, which helps to incorporate dry fertilizer and helps to dry out the soil surface so that we can seed on a timely basis.
But before we can seed, we need to make sure that we're keeping our soil healthy. Below are two videos that I took in April 2020 showing soil compaction and soil texture:
That cover crop of winter rye was allowed to grow and we seeded soybeans directly into the standing rye crop. After we seeded the soybeans, we sprayed a pre-emerge herbicide that killed the rye and other weeds to help establish good growth environment for the soybeans. Here is a video of the drill getting ready to seed the soybeans:
With humility, I must say that our crew does a fantastic job of caring for all of our crops throughout the growing season. So we apply pesticides that keep the crops healthy and then we harvest the crops as soon as we can. I'm very proud of our guys.
The days after harvest is when we begin prepping for the next year's crop. We were fortunate to use our strip till machine this fall in preparation for 2021 pinto beans and corn. The strip till machine applies fertilizer in rows that are 30" apart. That is the only tillage pass done on these fields. Next spring we will pull the planter directly into these fields and seed the pinto beans and corn. Here's a video of the strip tiller in action:
Sometimes we need to reflect on what we've done, visit with experts regarding farming practices, and continually try to improve. We're not trying to improve our farm for us, but for the next generations to come.
Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!