We farm 320 acres (240 owned) in northern Iowa. Along with the traditional corn and soybean crops, we grow small grains, forages, grain amaranth, and have an agri-forestry project on 15 acres. We have planted 6000 trees and nut bearing bushes for wind shelter and diversification. The family provides nearly all the labor. We have practiced numerous sustainable agricultural practices beginning in 1983. Among these practices used are ridge tillage, narrow strip intercropping, and planned grazing.
We purchased the scales from Scale Teck. No other producers or businesspersons were directly involved with the project. Several public agency people were involved with the implementation of the project. Rick Cruse, a research agronomist form ISU, provided a $500 cost share toward the scale. The scale has provided Dr. Cruse with valuable information on performance of forages in our joint research on narrow strip intercropping. The animal science dept. and forestry dept. at ISU both used research data provided by the scales.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
My proposal was targeted to address the absence of economic information on alternative farming practices. The scale will enable our farm to generate a large volume of data on may types of activities. The scales were used to provide analysis of the following:
1) Berseem clover forage yields in narrow strips
2) Grain amaranth yields in solid fields and strips
3) Corn yields with different nitrogen rates
4) Oat yields in narrow strips
5) Weight gains of stocker cattle in planned grazing cells
6) Weaning weights of pasture farrowed pigs
Results of the weightings:
1) Berseem clover produces consistent yields. Data results copy may be obtained through Dr. Rick Cruse, Agronomy Department, ISU
2) Grain amaranth yields were influenced by manure fertilizer and varieties. 1994 Sioux – 1100#, Chickasaw – 1400#, 1993 no manure – 900#, manured – 1300# (not replicated)
3) See 1994 Practical Farmers of Iowa report for corn and oat yields
4) Oat yields found in PFI 1994 report
5) Stocker cattle gains…Holstein steers – 1.7 average, Mixed colored calves – 1.9 average
6) 6 week old weaned pigs off pasture – weight 40.1#
All of these scale weights give me a true sign of how these practices are doing. It was great that SARE and Dr. Cruse helped purchased the scale. However, I must admit that I see the information that it provides as so useful, that I would buy one if there was no support available. The scale is a very valuable means of testing many farm activities. The results are truly a sound assistance in management decisions. The scale would be worth the cost if it only lasts three years!
In 1994, our farm hosed approximately 175 people at tours. The scale and the results of weightings provided much information for people to share. I wrote a column and used the scale generated data in these articles that I wrote.