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.
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.
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.