Modern ag, increased productivity, wildlife can coexist
“While I knew even in my youth that this was not at all desirable, it was thought of as an unavoidable loss, because of the prevailing conventional wisdom in northern latitudes like ours, where we get fewer growing degree units per year than most in the corn belt and we have some black soil with drainage problems,” he recalls. “Most of the older generations of farmers believed the only way around these problems was tillage, exposing the black soil to the elements to warm and dry it.”
As he pondered these issues, a practice called strip till came to his attention and the idea immediately struck a chord.
“Tillage right where you need it and nowhere else, and fertilizer right were you need it,” he remembers hearing.
At about the same time, he joined with some local farmers roughly his age in a running dialogue on soil, discussing what was beneficial and what was detrimental.
“The bottom line was this: tillage, most often, is detrimental to soil,” Pederson explains. “In 2011, after researching different machines and speaking with owners of different equipment – and building up a significant amount of courage – I made the decision to purchase a SoilWarrior.”
The system offered them a way to avoid fall nitrogen fertilization, which can be subject to significant loss, and apply it precisely where corn will be grown and incorporate it into the soil.
“My goals in utilizing SoilWarrior to perform strip till are simply to address all the issues I saw with our conventional way of farming,” explains Pederson. “While about 1,500 of my dad’s acres are still farmed that way, he has begun to have me strip till a great many other acres. The good part about this process is that we get to compare the differences. In 2012, two of our top three yielding corn farms were strip tilled. Soybeans yields also compared favorably, in about a dead heat.”
Pederson says another advantage SoilWarrior offers is the ability to strip till corn-on-corn without plugging with residue. He also saw an advantage this past fall when the machine was able to run in non-ideal, wet conditions while other farmers with shank machines could not do so.
“That is a big deal in November when most likely things are not going to dry out again,” he adds.
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