My last day of visits in North America started with a visit to Dustin. This was a last minute visit organised through Twitter and was worth the effort. Dustin is a Corn, speciality beans and wheat grower and came to my attention through the picture below.
Dustin plants soyabeans into wheat and then double crops them. He also used to bale the straw with an adapter baler and picked up the bales with an adapted bale picker/trailer which means he does not have to run over the soyabeans. Now though he does not bale the straw as it is worth more on the ground. He plants the wheat with a twin row planter so there is eight inches of wheat with a gap of 22 inches between twin rows. Surprisingly he has not seen a yield drop in his wheat. He fertilises the wheat heavily at planting which helps establishment and reduces winter kill. He gets a third of a crop of soyabeans. He uses bin run beans and plants a high population so keeps it cheap, so if they do not do well he has not lost much and gets a cover crop. He has adapted a JD drill to plant his soyabeans. His biggest challenge is drought and so plants the soyabeans deeper than normal to find moisture and get roots down.
Dustin’s father started no till in the 80’s and they have been ever since. They though have switched to strip till corn. They used to use a shank strip till bar but were unhappy with the high soil disturbance and it bringing up rocks. So they now have adapted a John Deere Coulter bar.
This has lower disturbance and they can travel twice the speed. They put down fertiliser with this toolbar to a depth of 5 inches, what Dustin calls the hot zone. This practise has also increased yields of corn by by 20% and also increased Soyabean yields. He also plants his cover crops after wheat on these strips. He uses bio strip till, which means he plants a six way mix directly on the strip which he then plants his corn into. He is adapting the airseeder to be able to plant cereal rye in between the strips which he can leave growing once he has planted his corn. It was great to see someone improving strip till. I was not a fan of these big expensive high disturbance strip till tool bars but Dustin is working around this problem with innovation.
Dustin has an aim to farm as biologically as possible. He is not a fan of Round Up or GMO’s. He uses a product called Vitazyme after using Round Up. The reason is that after using Round Up apparently the population of Fusarium triples in the soil. So if you use it a few times during the season you have a very high population of fusarium. Fusarium is a real problem to wheat growers here. Dustin grows white wheat which is more susceptible than Red wheat but sees no fusarium problems whereas his neighbours growing red wheat do have fusarium. Round up also apparently causes Yellow Flash in Corn but again Dustin has not had any problems.
He also uses the solvita soil test. This has indicated that to grow 180bu corn he only needs 19# of Nitrogen. Normally 180# is recommended. Dustin is testing to see if this correct. He is also phasing out Bt corn and currently is 50% non GMO corn.
I really enjoyed my visit with Dustin. He is really changing his system to biological farming through innovation. Thanks Dustin.