My present farming practices include no-till, ridge-till, and limited irrigation. I farm 1250 acres (of corn, milo, soybeans and wheat for cash crops) and have a cattle back grounding operation of 300 head. For the last ten years I have been using legume rotations of sweet clover and red clover, manure from my back grounding operation, reduced fertilizer application rates and lower chemical herbicide inputs.
Helping me with this project were 10 local farmers who assisted with the program planning. They also provided tractors and worked on various committees (table/chair, parking, trash, and rainfall simulator water set up). The local SCS personnel and County Extension Agents also advised and assisted in the planning of the field day.
Others who helped include two local auctioneers who loaned their portable restrooms. The Coffey County Hospital that donated an ambulance and EMT services. The Burlingame FFA who prepared and served the meat. Six chemical companies assisted by providing herbicides for weed control in the wheat stubble field. Our area elevators and coops applied the chemicals and would have supplied tanker trucks with water for the rainfall simulator. Neighboring County Extension Agents served as tour guides on the buses and two County Extension Home Economists and a secretary manned the registration table and documented the event by taking pictures.
Specialists form Kansas State University provided a segment of the program.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
We recognized the biggest barrier facing us as the need to change farmer’s attitudes and practices from “clean tilling” the land to “trash” farming. Our goal was to convince these farmers that high reside tillage and planting practices are not “sloppy or lazy farming” but rather, important erosion controlling techniques.
We planned an extensive field day that allowed farmers to tour and compare crops growing under ridge-till, no-till and minimum till conditions. They would receive an opportunity to see and understand how increased residue levels reduce soil erosion by viewing the KSU rainfall simulator. Our local SCS personnel were also on had to reinforce that fact and to show them how to measure reside left in their fields. In addition, equipment companies planned to demonstrate many residue saving tillage tools and high reside planters and drills. And lastly, farmers and extension specialists were scheduled to discuss sustainable agronomics and economics of conservation farming practices.
Due to approximately 2 ½ inches of rain the day prior to the Residue Rodeo ’93 the live machinery demonstration plans and scheduled rainfall simulator had to be abandoned. We also moved the program from the wheat stubble field (75 Highway and Olivet exit) to the Niles Farm Incorporated Headquarters. There the machinery company representatives were allowed adequate time to discuss each implement they brought and tell how the implement operated in high residue levels. Only two companies that planned to come, didn’t make it due to the unfortunate weather.
Hans Kok, with slides and a dry run of the rainfall simulator, adequately conveyed the message that increased residue levels reduce soil erosion. The balance of the program proceeded as proposed.
Of the approximately 160 farmers attending Residue Rodeo ’93, 144 completed registration and 106 completed a meal ticket that was designed to allow farmers to express their expectations of the day and any changes made in their attitudes. Of the 106 responses 87% felt the Residue Rodeo met their expectations and 89% were convinced that increased residue levels reduced erosion. 60% of the farmers felt out field day was helpful in making decisions about new purchases or revamping existing equipment. And 75% said they would be implementing ideas seen at the field day.
This event in spite of the weather was well received by all in attendance. Farmers, organizers and company representatives considered the event very worthwhile and a definite success. We felt out goals were met despite the inability to have the side by side machinery comparisons.
The excessive rainfall of 1993 will stick in people’s minds for years to come. Many areas of crop land was flooded and erosion caused serious damage to many parts of the United States. However, I fell that my no-till and ridge-till farming practices contributed significantly in reducing erosion on my farm. Hopefully, those in attendance noticed the absence of silt bars and sheet and rill erosion at our tour stops.
It is impossible for me to measure, but I feel confident this field day will have a positive impact on soil erosion, soil productivity, water quality, stream bank stabilization and sedimentation of our local reservoirs in this community for years.
We can only hope that through this effort attitudes and action were influenced.
This event was promoted and advertised in 8 local papers in 7 counties, 3 regional papers and 1 state magazine. PSA’s were heard on 6 local radio stations and 1 regional and 1 state wide network. A flyer or promotional article was sent to every farm operator in Coffey and Osage County via ASCS, Extension and SCS newsletters. Flyers were also posted in local elevators, restaurants and other businesses.
A local radio station broadcast live form the event and a regional paper carried a follow up story with photographs.