Articles, Blog

The Benefits of Crop Rotations (Hall 2/6)

In this video, Jesse talks to us about how
soil health and changing his crop rotations and introducing animals has
actually made money for him. Jesse also talks about infiltration rates which he
frequently measures on his farm. The procedure Jesse uses is to take a six inch ring, hammer it into the ground and then measure the time it takes for one inch
of water to infiltrate. Even if you break even on your small grain when you
look at the the yield bump you get on your corn and your soybean crop after
that and also if you’re grazing after your small grain your profitability goes
up even though you broke even the one year you still make more than you would
have in the two-year rotation so basically here we’re in a corn-soybean-oat rotation. I used to do rye but the profits kind of come out of rye in the
last few years. Now the reason that I pick oats is we raise it as a seed crop
and then we we started a seed cleaning operation now to where we actually have
an air screen and a gravity table and we clean it and sell it as a clean product
so oats works good for us. What I really like about the three-year
rotation is that since we brought in this third crop, our corn yields have
gone up, corn and soybean yields have gone up significantly. Within a three-year span my soybean yields probably went up three to five bushel an acre across the
farm average and corn ten to twelve. I would have to say that’s maybe,
I mean that’s right in there and that’s been pretty consistent our infiltration rates have increased and when you raise that oats it also
gives you a chance to diversify your modes of action on your herbicides so the idea is to try and kind of cut down water hemp particularly. What I really like about oats is now we have an opportunity to cover crop in it, you know, Jim and I are putting up fences and this way we can bring livestock back
into the system. It’s just another factor which is gonna drive that soil health.
You know, I know I had gone to some other workshops in the past they talked about
that our soil doesn’t have enough microbes in it and then the best way to
bring them back is to bring animals back on back into the rotation but it adds a
level of profitability so here you’re raising a third crop that helps
increase all the yields on all three then you turn around put a cover crop in
it drives soil health and you can graze animals on it then you know build a
level of productivity back into that and it kind of works it all, it’s basically a systems approach is what it is. Cover crops that I like best I guess for
us would be putting like a rye, a turnip and a rapeseed mix in after the oats. No-tilling beans into rye, you can’t believe the difference
between that and just going into straight corn stubble.

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