Ron Alverson, Chester, South Dakota – 25th June 2015

This morning I had a quick visit with Ron Alverson. Ron is a farmer half a hour south of Brookings. He was recommended to me by Dr Dwayne Beck because he does ridge till. Something I had never heard off

image

The idea off ridge till is to plant crops on permanent ridges. The advantages of this for Ron is that the ridges warm up quicker in the spring and also are drained better if it turns wet.

image

Not sure how well the ridges have come out on camera but these ridges have just been reformed by the machine below.

image

It takes a few years for the ridges to build up and to settle down. They are reformed every year though after planting. They have had to adapt their other machinery. Below is their planter which has the rollers in front for depth control

image

They also have these wheels on the front to guide the planter along the furrow

image

Their harvester also has special dual wheels so they don’t run down the ridges

image

Ron grows corn four out of five years and has the other year in soyabeans. As corn produces lots of residue they have managed to build up their organic matter by about 1.5% in the last 30 years of ridge till.

image

Ron’s outlet for his corn is two local ethanol plants. One of which he is a part owner off along with another 1000 farmers. His local fuel supplier now supplies different grades/ percentages of fuel with ethanol.

image

He needs all these different grades as different vehicles can tolerate different levels of ethanol inclusion.

Thanks to Ron for seeing me at late notice. It was interesting to see something different but not sure how we would incorporate it into a small grains rotation!

Advertisements

Dr Randy Anderson, ARS, Brookings, South Dakota – 24th June 2015

This morning I spent with Dr Randy Anderson. He is a researcher for the USDA ARS and is looking at organic no till and finding out how to get it to work. Dr Anderson is a weed scientist. The idea of organic no till fascinates me and the fact that someone is doing systems research into this I think is great. Dr Anderson is a firm believer in rotations and crop sequences and has come up with a nine year rotation with 3 years of red clover which he mows to get on top of the perennial weeds. Dr Andeson also came to my attention with his work on seed bank reduction in no till.

Dr Anderson had organised a visit to Don Deweerd’s farm in Minnesota. Don is an organic farmer and has been farming his 200 acres organically for 37 years. When we turned up there was a load of other people there to so we had a brainstorming meeting and a farm tour.

image

Dr Anderson is on the right and Don Deweerd is in the middle with the beard. One reason Dr Anderson had organised to visit with Don is because he has been experimenting with an interrow mower, which wasn’t there! What I found interesting about speaking to everyone was that they had problems with weeds and tillage and they were wanting to reduce their tillage and weeds through rotation and I was there wanting to reduce my synthetic inputs through rotation. We were all looking at the same goal but coming at it from different directions.

Don below in one corner of the field had a problem with Ragweed

image

Dr Anderson immediately knew the answer to getting on top of this weed through rotation. He was so knowledgable.

Don grows corn and soya beans and peas

image

image

He was also intercropping oats and clover.

He also had a trial on his farm for pollinators for Dr Lundgren. There were 13 species of plant that they were testing to see their efficacy of attracting beneficials

image

It was Don’s birthday today so he and his wife had organised lunch for us all. Their hospitality was great and I really enjoyed my visit.

Luckily on the drive to and from the farm I got some time to talk to Dr Anderson about his theories and work and got some really good ideas of how to handle done of our weed problems. He has a huge amount of knowledge and I felt I could speak with him all day. Thank you Randy for your time, I really enjoyed it.