My farm is about 450 acres of HEL land. I rotate corn or milo, oats, soybeans, alfalfa in 24 or 32 row strips on the side hill. The flat hill tops and bottoms are in a corn, soybean rotation.
The farm also maintains 50-60 cow-calf operation using a cell grazing system. Depending on feed an markets we can 1) sell calves, 2) back ground, 3) finish.
I started strip farming in 1987. I striped on e or two fields each year. I started cell grazing about the same time.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
I chose to strip farm because it would force me toward more sustainable practices. With both a small grains and legume in your corn bean rotation you have to be very careful about herbicide carry over. It also cuts back on fertilizer use over a continuous corn system.
My strip cropping and rotation gave me two problems 1) the guess rows between planter passes has to be the same every year of you end up planting the last pass on top of a previous planted crop or leaving a space between crop strips for weeds to grow and 2) I wanted to use post emerge herbicide to prevent carry over but this gave me wind drift if I broadcast spray.
I applied for the grant to build equipment to solve the tow above problems. Number 1 was solved by purchasing a 12 volt DC TV camera and 5” monitor. I built brackets and sun shade to mount in the tractor cab. I mounted the TV camera 4 or 5 places before I was satisfied that I could, be looking at the monitor, keep the planter centered over the mark. Thus eliminating guess rows of varying widths, number 2 was solved by building a 4 row hooded sprayer cultivator combination. Band spraying 15” post emerge herbicide over the row while cultivation between my 38” rows. Visual evaluation of crop cultivator blight and weed strips between crop strips tell me this equipment can and will do the job. Outside of the usual problems like, herbicide that didn’t work in some locations and an operator error or two, things went well.
This grant enabled me to address and solve the two main reasons my neighbors say they could not strip farm. They are concerned that they can’t drive the planter tractor accurate enough and that herbicide carry over or wind drift would destroy their crops.
My first field day and farm tours were advertised by Jim Peterson, County Extension Educator. It was attended by the US Government SCS, University of Nebraska Agronomy Department and about 15 local farmers.
My second opportunity came when the University of Nebraska Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems brought 5 college juniors and seniors and one grad student involved in their internship program to tour my farm.
Charles Francis, University of Nebraska Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems brought 5 or 6 agronomists form Argentina to tour my farm and look at my equipment.
I have been asked to be a farmer-mentor I the internship program in comparative farming systems by the University of Nebraska. I hope to be able to promote strip farming and the equipment needed to make this a sustainable farming system in 1996 and beyond.