Today I have spent the day and evening with Loran Steinlage of West Union, North East Iowa. Loran is a corn farmer, who also grows soya beans and this year some wheat. Plus a few other diversifications on the go.
When I first arrived the weather was rubbish so we had a tour around the machinery shed. Loran is one of those people who won’t spend money on new machinery unless he can’t make it himself and he seems to be able to make most things. Even things he does buy in seem to get chopped up and re welded how he wants.
His corn and beans are strip till and below is a picture of his strip till rig. He is also CTF.
The interesting thing for me on both his strip till rig and drill were the discs
These discs are designed by a local company and a supposed to cut residue better. This drill has cost Loran less than $10,000 where as a new John Deere the same size would be nearly $100,000.
Also in the back of his shed was another one of his creations a rock roller. He has large rocks which he doesn’t want entering the combine and so rolls the ground
The other interesting thing I had never seen was they receive seed in a plastic box which sits on a platform on the planter and seed is fed out the bottom. No bags needed.
After lunch Loran gave me the grand tour of Iowa. We drove for about 100 miles. Our main destination was Norman Bourlag’s home place. Norman Bourlag’s was the father of modern wheat and is credited with reducing hunger and saving millions of lives through his wheat breeding. Loran had organised a personal tour around the site
The irony is that Bourlag was bought up in Iowa that now grows virtually no wheat, it is dominated by corn. One of the only couple of fields of wheat in the area was Loran’s
He is growing it for a few reasons but it is an experiment. The grand tour continued and we saw this set up
This is the feed mill area for a huge hog operation. Things are large scale in Iowa.
After the grand tour the weather had improved and so we got out into the field to kick some clods. Loran last year experimented with inter seeding cover crops into corn. He found he has had a yield bump of about 15 bushels per acre in the following crop and the interseeded area has the highest soil health scores when tested. The day before Loran had interseeded some radish into the corn and it had already germinated .
There was also clover left from the previous year in corn on corn
Another trial he was doing was planting corn and soya beans together
Apparently in trials the corn with the Soyabean with no added N has out yielded corn alone with full fertilisation.
He was also trialling out a new cover crop, can you guess what it is?
Loran seemed to be enjoying himself playing around and trialling different things and seemed to be a lone voice in the area for these practices. I look forward to see what else he gets up to in the future. Good luck Loran and thanks to you and your wife for your hospitality