List of Wildlife Conservation Practices

List of Wildlife Conservation Practices

sophia and frog

  • Bee hives are hosted seasonally on the edges of our fields.
  • Cautions are taken to avoid drift of chemicals into areas where bees are present.
  • Hay mowing is sometimes done from the inside of the field to the outside with a bar on the front of the tractor dragging chains through the grass to flush out critters to avoid chopping them up.
  • Borders around the fields are left in many places sown in grass as habitat.
  • Agents to deter deer from eating crops are not used.
  • Planned flooding of cropland for seasonal waterfowl is practised.
  • Native warm season grass plantings on some field borders as a project of the NRCS.
  • Plots of native flowering plants seeded for wild bees and other pollinators.

List of Energy Conservation Practices

Energy Conservation Practices

Kids learning to drive on electric Gator
Kids learning to drive on electric Gator
  • Natural gas grain drying is minimized in favor of cheaper and more gentle natural air-drying with Intellifarms Bin Manager automated fan control systems which utilize moisture and temperature cables in grain bins and under floors, along with ambient air monitoring weather stations outside the bin to calculate when the most efficient drying times are present and needed. The fans, consequently, run fewer hours.
  • GSI Centrifugal Fans are purchased for all of our new grain bins because of their efficiency and quietness.
  • Minimizing field traffic with GPS and zero overlap uses less fuel.
  • In-field weather stations called Field Data Manager by Intellifarms are utilized with soil moisture probes to assist in applying the most efficient amount of water.
  • Weather stations at distant in-field locations minimize the need to travel many miles just to see if field conditions are appropriate for work or if the crop got rain.
  • Telemetry technology and cellular control of irrigation systems, like Field Commander VP by AgSense, eliminate the need to drive many miles every day to turn pivots on and off.
  • All electric and diesel motors on the farm are sized appropriately for the application.
  • We have a selection of John Deere tractors with various horsepower capacities so that we can only use the size tractor needed for each job.

List of Chemical Conservation Practices

My children in a flowering wheat field
My children in a flowering wheat field

Chemical Conservation:

  • Scouting is done regularly to identify targest pests by:
    • weekly in-season WRDVI satellite imagery and automated crop health alerts
    • drone flights across fields
    • traditional boots on the ground
  • Only chemicals which are needed based on scouting results and recent history are used.
  • Scouting until insects and weeds reach certain threshold levels before spraying is common practice.
  • Beneficial insects are respected and accounted for before deciding whether to spray.
  • Only labeled and professional agronomist recommended products and rates are used.
  • EPA regulations are followed.
  • Proper adjuvants are used as labeled to make less chemical work better.
  • Detailed records are kept of products, rates, field conditions, weather conditions
  • Digital as-applied maps are made, reviewed with SMS Advanced, and kept with exact locations, rates, conditions, and speeds as they vary across every field.
  • Drift controlling coarse droplet air-induction nozzle tips are used
  • Drift control adjuvants, like Helena’s Justified, are added to tank mixtures when there is moderate wind.
  • Wind speeds are monitored and recorded by sprayer applicator and in-field weather stations.
  • Spraying is halted when wind is above safe levels.
  • Zero overlap from pass-to-pass is maintained through GPS, RTK, auto-steer, Accuboom section control, and exact swath width settings.
  • Overlap on headlands is minimized with 11 foot section-control and manual turn compensation.
  • Crushed limestone is applied as-needed to maintain balanced pH levels to minimize the need for higher rates of chemicals.
  • We have bioligically responsible disposal of un-needed of chemicals, etc.
  • Used jugs are triple rinsed to prevent even small amounts of contamination.

List of Fertilizer Conservation Practices

fertilizer loading anson

Fertilizer is where most of our crop input money is spent each year.  It is easier to waste money and damage the streams by over fertilizing than anything else we do, so it only make sense that I spend more time planning fertilizer rates than anything other input.

  • Soil samples are taken according to soil type maps.
  • Fertilizer prescriptions are made according to recommended rates for reasonable yield goals.
  • Dry fertilizer is applied in late winter or spring rather than fall.
  • Enviromental stabilizers and availability aids, like Helena’s Hydra Hume, are used to maximize usage.
  • Nitrogen is applied in readily available forms in multiple applications to avoid leaching, denitrification, runoff, and over-application.
  • Nitrogen is applied with proper directed nozzles on a sprayer to utilize technology minimizing overlaps.
  • Nitrogen is added to irrigated fields through fertigation in 3-6 applications using an Agri-Inject system to minimize leaching while optimizing yield.
  • Crushed limestone is applied as-needed to maintain balanced pH levels which minimized the need for high rates of fertilizer.

List of Water and Irrigation Conservation Practices

Irrigation and Water Conservation:

2013 skyview irrigation running

Irrigation efficiency is important because it minimizes wasted water, runoff, and crop stress and damage.

  • Scouting is done as needed to avoid runoff.
  • A low rate of water is applied each pass.
  • Irrigation is cut off when rain is near.
  • Detailed records are kept of water usage at each location.
  • Well water samples are being taken to a laboratory for quality testing to ensure pollution free standards are maintained.
  • In-field weather stations are utilized with soil moisture probes to assist in applying the most efficient amount of water.
  • Crushed limestone is applied as-needed to improve water infiltration rates and water holding capacity.
  • Nozzles are arranged for almost-dry wheel track setup for the towers most susceptible to washing.
  • Soil amendments are being tested to improve water infiltration and overall usage efficiency.
  • Check valves are in place to prevent ground water contamination.
  • Nozzles are checked for even distribution and cleared of blockages by debris.
  • Stream-style water application nozzles are used to minimize drift and evaporation.
  • Variable Rate Irrigation prescriptions are used to get less water where where we don’t need as much.
  • We are experimenting with locating the nozzles on top to improve the evenness of water distribution and keep excess water out of pivot tracks.

List of Soil Conservation Practices

alexander terrace built
A newly built terrace and drain for 2016 which replaced an old ditch which had been growing deeper

This is a list of soil conservation methods and landforms currently utilized on my farms.  For each of these items in the list I could write an essay, and on many of them I will.  Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is a good reference for understanding these practices and landforms.

Currently used permanent landforms and water runoff control work:

  • Terraces for surface water deflection are present.
  • Terraces which are drained are used and maintained to slow excess surface water.
  • Grassed waterways are created and maintained.
  • In-Crop waterways are made with level bottoms to distribute any surface water.
  • Large rocks are placed where water exit erodible zones in fields and as water stream breaks at drain pipe and culvert exits.
  • Grass is sown in some waterways, steep banks, and gullies.
  • Manufactured net-mats are used to hold sod in some areas prone to washing.
  • Grass is maintained in roadside ditches.

Current Field Practices for Soil Conservation:

  • Almost 100% of acres are year-after-year no-till with the proper equipment on planters and drills.
  • Field compaction is minimized, obviating the need for tillage:
    • GPS and RTK correction signals are used to consolidate field traffic to the same tracks every year.
    • Field work is delayed until conditions are most favorable and not likely to form compaction
    • Poorly drained areas of fields are tilied by slope, soil type, and history.
    • Tire pressure on tractors and implements is kept at optimal levels for compaction reduction.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) counsel is sought and procedures implemented.
  • Winter crops are utilized as cover crops: wheat and canola.
  • Cover crops are planned in fields subject to erosion because of slopes.
  • Some CRP grass field borders are planted.
  • Some non-CRP grass field borders are left.
  • Non-subsidized buffers are left between fields and trees.
  • Some areas which are prone to flooding and poor drainage are left in native plant species.
  • Regular scouting is performed for conservation issues.
  • Scouting is performed during and following heavy rains to detect problems and conservation issues.
  • Bi-annual maintenance and repair is made to drain pipes, ditches, and terraces.
  • Humus soil amendments are being tested to improve water infiltration rates and total water holding capacity which would minimize runoff.
  • Planned flooding of some cropland in the winter controls washing from large rains.
  • Aerial scouting is conducted by weekly in-season satellite WDRVI imagery updates and by drone to detect problems not visible from the road.
  • Trees on field borders minimize wind erosion.
  • Crushed limestone is applied as-needed to improve water infiltration rates (hydraulic conductivity) and water holding capacity.