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Old 04-02-2009, 02:46 PM
 
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Forest------we have a farmer 4 miles from me who cash crops corn and beans and was the first farmer to use---"ridge tilling" ( it works for him)

So many area farmers were interested that he started a dealership of selling --Buffalo Ridge Til planters.

Many farmers bought from him and his dealership lot had a lot of planters
Yes, he still uses it today, but I know no one else who does in the area.

So----------YES--------it has ben tried in our area ( not by me cuz I have never been the first to jump at a "fad" )

I also had a friend who tried no-til in the 70's and went broke with in 2 years. ( he did it to save on picking rocks)

Yes, Forest--------I have gone to organic field days and got fed up with some of the "kooks" who attended.

One guy, wearing a floppy hat, held his hand in the air and proclaimed-------" each weed is there for a reason"------( sound familiar ? ) while he pointed to a field of corn only waist high, weeds waist high, and tiny little nubbins for cobs.

What a genious ! (sarc)
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:56 PM
 
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-every weed has a purpose---

Tell that to the organic farmer who lives a mile west of me.
He had a big field of oats that had so much mustard growing in it , it looked yellow.

The township weed inspector dropped by and told him those mustard weeds must be destroyed cuz mustard is a --" noxious weed" -- that the seed drifts when headed out.

A light spraying easily kills it.

He stated he was organic and the weed inspector said that was the farmers problem and he can either pull them by hand, spray, or cut them.

He ended up with no oats to combine as he was forced to cut the weed infested oats for hay.

Organic growers ( and "homesteaders" ) got the right to farm any way they want.

Thankfully, they are not exempt from avoiding any law that requires landowners to control noxious weeds on their property.
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:12 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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BrokenTap -
I am not entirely inside the organic camp.

But I do attend some organic functions, and these workshops tend to be organic focused.

I do understand their reasoning, and I do see a need to be cautious about: GMO use, pesticide use, herbicide use.

My grandparents were farmers before the 'Dust Bowl'. They used early petro-chem fertilizers on their soil, which left a great deal of salts on the soil. The increased salinity made many crops difficult to grow, while salesmen were advising the increased use of more fertilizers. Then they had a drought. The rest is history, watch the movie.

My parents were 5 and 10 years old when the dust bowl hit. So they have never entirely put the pieces together of why their parent's soils became saline and crops refused to grow.

For me it took studying horticulture in college to understand it.

And now where my siblings live and farm, in the central Valley of California the increased salinity of the soil is a problem. They flood irrigate, and provide run-off so the leeched salts can go elsewhere. So they can continue farming. Today's fertilizers are better, but that problem still exists.

As the run-off brine collects in lower areas, some counties there are forbidding farming entirely. They have wildlife refuges for Canadian geese to winter over. The water was once clean and healthy for the birds, now it kills them. So to honor one of our treaties with Canada to protect those geese, we limit where farming is allowed.

I am not entirely within the organic camp. However I do see where some of the things that our commercial farming methods do may be bad choices.

Others would tell the plight of fish dying in over-nitrated run-off going into rivers.

I can see an argument being made that we need to learn other methods of farming. Which do not need petroleum at all.

Developing High-Fructose Corn has been a wonderful advancement. Though now since High-Fructose corn syrup is cheap every food processor wants to put it in their food; our citizens are becoming obese; and 1 of 8 develop diabetes and die from it. So was developing high-Fructose corn really a smart thing to do?

Developing corn varieties that are cross-linked to specific herbicides was a very smart idea. It has been an amazing show of technology to be able to Genetic modify corn to have those genes.

I just wonder if some GMO somewhere is going to get out of control someday and become a far greater threat to us.

Some goofball [Warwick Kerr] in the 50's was trying to develop a better honey bee, and it got away from his lab. Fortunately only 14 Americans have died so far from those bees. So in the bigger scheme of things they are not huge threat. But it does show, that some of these 'advances' should be made slowly and carefully.
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forest beekeeper View Post
BrokenTap -
I am not entirely inside the organic camp.

But I do attend some organic functions, and these workshops tend to be organic focused.

I do understand their reasoning, and I do see a need to be cautious about: GMO use, pesticide use, herbicide use.

My grandparents were farmers before the 'Dust Bowl'. They used early petro-chem fertilizers on their soil, which left a great deal of salts on the soil. The increased salinity made many crops difficult to grow, while salesmen were advising the increased use of more fertilizers. Then they had a drought. The rest is history, watch the movie.

My parents were 5 and 10 years old when the dust bowl hit. So they have never entirely put the pieces together of why their parent's soils became saline and crops refused to grow.

For me it took studying horticulture in college to understand it.

And now where my siblings live and farm, in the central Valley of California the increased salinity of the soil is a problem. They flood irrigate, and provide run-off so the leeched salts can go elsewhere. So they can continue farming. Today's fertilizers are better, but that problem still exists.

As the run-off brine collects in lower areas, some counties there are forbidding farming entirely. They have wildlife refuges for Canadian geese to winter over. The water was once clean and healthy for the birds, now it kills them. So to honor one of our treaties with Canada to protect those geese, we limit where farming is allowed.

I am not entirely within the organic camp. However I do see where some of the things that our commercial farming methods do may be bad choices.

Others would tell the plight of fish dying in over-nitrated run-off going into rivers.

I can see an argument being made that we need to learn other methods of farming. Which do not need petroleum at all.

Developing High-Fructose Corn has been a wonderful advancement. Though now since High-Fructose corn syrup is cheap every food processor wants to put it in their food; our citizens are becoming obese; and 1 of 8 develop diabetes and die from it. So was developing high-Fructose corn really a smart thing to do?

Developing corn varieties that are cross-linked to specific herbicides was a very smart idea. It has been an amazing show of technology to be able to Genetic modify corn to have those genes.

I just wonder if some GMO somewhere is going to get out of control someday and become a far greater threat to us.

Some goofball [Warwick Kerr] in the 50's was trying to develop a better honey bee, and it got away from his lab. Fortunately only 14 Americans have died so far from those bees. So in the bigger scheme of things they are not huge threat. But it does show, that some of these 'advances' should be made slowly and carefully.
Interesting stuff, and like you I try to play both sides. I do have a bit of a dislike for MOFGA only because they are wolf in sheep's clothing, trying to promote "localvorism" as they clamor to grab more and more people and grow their membership. They are pretty big in size already and are looking for a bigger piece of the pie.

Still there are better ways to do things and I ride the fence on some of them. Here in Maine we tend to have high magnesium levels in our soil which make our soils clump together more so then in other areas. Drive a tractor or haywagon across that and you get some serious compaction. This can really play havoc with no-till farming.

As for cover crops, we used to use them a lot, and they have fallen out of favor because of costs. I have seen that turn ugly though too and ruin quite a few good fields when the cover crop took over after the corn crop was planted...what a disaster. Do you file for crop insurance or not...ultimately it was you that caused it even if the FSA required it?

The only question I had was the nitrates in the rivers. My understanding is that nitrates were not such a problem as phosphorous, and even then I am skeptical. I hate to sound like a conspiritists, but at the local Ag Board they did a study a few years ago and tried to claim that farmers here caused 50% of the phosophorous pollution in the local lakes. The county ag board disputed it and come to find out, the DEP's Son was the one doing the study. It was debated as to whether or not it was an attempt to get the county farmers here more money to fight erosion and water quality issues in the way of control subsidies, or if it was a way to pass the blame to farmers and hold them accountable.

In the end this county refuised to sign off on the study stating it was inaccurate. For two years they held off but finally a new study was done and that 50% phophorous pollution by farmers was reduced to 16% by farmers. The real culprit...faulty septic systems of camp owners.

As I said, there is too much politics in farming. I think farmers are some of the better people when it comes to knowing what they are doing and trying to mitigate nutrient losses and pollution. Look at Maine's landmark CNMP regulations...some of the toughest in the nation and yet it was brought on by the farmers to regulate themselves.
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:48 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,157,444 times
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Originally Posted by forest beekeeper View Post
Developing High-Fructose Corn has been a wonderful advancement. Though now since High-Fructose corn syrup is cheap every food processor wants to put it in their food; our citizens are becoming obese; and 1 of 8 develop diabetes and die from it. So was developing high-Fructose corn really a smart thing to do?

Developing corn varieties that are cross-linked to specific herbicides was a very smart idea. It has been an amazing show of technology to be able to Genetic modify corn to have those genes.
FBK...it kind of gets me sometimes that people bring up one or two commonly used products and then trace it back to the point of orgin and blame those that grow it. It does not matter if we are talking corn based sugar, cows milk or water-buffalo meat.

The truth is, we as American's stuff our faces and don't get off our hineys. It would not matter if we sat in our office chairs all day and ate organic apples...its the fact that we do not get off our hineys and get some exercise that causes 90% of the health issues in this country.Today though, we like to blame others and that is just what this stuff is. They do study after study that targets individual items and fail to take into account the big picture.

There was a program on the other day where kids in Appalachia have what is known as Mountain Dew Mouth. Its where that soft drink rots children teeth out. Of course these kids were 1-4 years old. Now let me ask you this, is that the soda's fault or the parents for letting a 1 year old walk around with a bottle filled with Mountain Dew? I could not believe Pepsi paid millions of dollars to have these kids teeth fixed...it was not their fault! What kind of parent would do something like that?

Sorry for the rant, but it just makes me upset that people don't see the real picture. I really don't watch what I eat too much, but my wife always does. She has higher blood pressure and high cholesterol where as mine weight, blood pressure and cholesterol is perfect. I attribute that to being so active (workaholic). And yet in reference to my Great Grandfather...I am lazy. I think if we got off our duffs more, we would be so much more healthy.

(When I say WE that is as a society not as in you and me FBK...I know you are a worker too)
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Old 04-02-2009, 07:01 PM
 
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Fertilizer use (raates of application) has dropped sharply in my area ever since dairy farmers started installing liquid manure pits.

Every dairy farmer in my area used to apply Anhydrous for nitrogen and quit when they started applying liquid manure.

At first it was the liquid tanks applying it to the surface and working it into the ground a couple days later.

Now, most dairy farms custom hire a company that pulls a hose connected to the shank type applicator and connected to a pump at the manure pit.

I have seen those hoses run over 2 miles from the pit to the field.

By knifing it in immediately they lose no nitrogen and the biggest reason is they avoid soil compaction from the heavy liquid manure tanks.

Starter fertilizer (low rates) is still used on the corn planter.

Potash is still used heavily on alfalfa fields.
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:16 AM
 
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You do lose a lot of nitrogen if you don't incorporate it into the ground fairly quick. On our grass ground we lose quite a bit, but we do try and spread the manure just before a rainfall so it gets absorbed into the soil faster.

That new liquid manure aerator machine will work well I think. You do have to go kind of slow with it so that it punches a hole in the sod, squirts in the manure and will allow the nitrogen to stay in the soil...all of which would not work if you blast across a field, but it is better then laying the manure on top of the field. Surprisngly though, we have never had an issue with nitrate leaching on grass ground...only on corn ground. The other issue with this machine, is that it adds another element to spreading nutrients. You just don't fill up a truck and drive across a field. You would have to fill the truck at the farm, haul it to the field, and then fill the manure areator. That is time prohibative...

FBK is right about legumes doing some nitrogen fixation though like alfalfa. I'm just not convinced it works as well as they say it does from pulling it out of the air and depositing into the soil though. Now granted our fields are not planted into 100% legumes because growing 100% alfalfa in Maine is a bit dicey. I think we run something like a 10-15% alfalfa mix in the hay ground.

I would rather see us run something like 0% on the alfalfa mix because I think it causes us to baby our fields way to much. I have one on me...a nice field that is 40 aces in size, flat and fertile. It does well, but because we need a residual height of at least 6 inches to prevent winter kill in this climate, it prevents us from getting a 3rd cutting on it. That is about 100 tons of feed lost per year because of a type of legume that is in 10% of the field. The boys don't care because they get plenty of feed for the farm on 2 cuttings, but for me I could get a 3rd cutting using it for my sheep if it was not for that alfalfa. It will be interesting to see what the winter kill was on the alfalfa this year anyway. It was over 6 inches in height, but that field is wind swept so the snow cover is always low and with temps hitting -40 degrees this past winter...it will be interesting to see how the alfalfa faired.

As for those insoluable salts...a good way to beat that is through the use of probiotics. I'm toying with some stuff called Soil Excel and I recently wrote a KNOL about priobiotics. This is what I wrote about soil based probiotics.

[SIZE=3]On farms where there has been a long standing history of synthetic fertilizer applications, the soil based probiotics help to inject the soil with microorganisms that put life back into the soil. For farms that are transitioning from conventional farming to organic farming, the use of soil based probiotics can be beneficial. It unlocks the insoluble salts that accumulate from repeated synthetic fertilizer applications that the plant has not used and scrubs the soil of most residual herb and insecticides.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=3]For farms such as mine with long standing high organic matter levels, soil based probiotics use that same bacteria to help break down the organic matter so that the crops can readily take up the nutrients of the soil. This is especially true of nitrogen and phosphorous, two difficult deficiencies for the beginning organic farmer to deal with. With repeated applications of manure or compost, soil based probiotics can break down insoluble minerals and allow the plant, and subsequent crop, to grow with more vigor and yield year after year.[/SIZE]
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:04 AM
 
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Broken Tap--------do any farmers in your area use the "hose" system?

It is similar to a chisel plow ( fewer shanks) that has the manure hose attatched.

It would not work well in sod unless the sod is tilled first .
Many farmers in our area use the hose system but it is used on ground already tilled.

Very common in spring and fall to drive a rural road and see a hose going across a field, through a culvert under a road and down to a field far away.
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by marmac View Post
Broken Tap--------do any farmers in your area use the "hose" system?

It is similar to a chisel plow ( fewer shanks) that has the manure hose attatched.

It would not work well in sod unless the sod is tilled first .
Many farmers in our area use the hose system but it is used on ground already tilled.

Very common in spring and fall to drive a rural road and see a hose going across a field, through a culvert under a road and down to a field far away.
No because here the farming is fragmented. For instance you might have 100 acres here, then 3 miles up the road have another 80 acres, so the hose system would be pretty hard to do. Just to put it in perspective, our farthest field from our farm is 35 miles away!

As for the shanks, yeah I know what you are talking about. We used to have some of that work done when we used fish guts back when Maine actually had fish processing plants. The guts and tails would be injected right into the ground because of the smell, but talk about ideal fertilizer! The only difference was, the chisel plows had tanks where the fish guts were pumped from.
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:57 AM
 
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Those chisel plows are actually pretty good. The county here has a soil saver which is a device that has a disc harrow set up at front, and four big chisels in the back. It helps break up hard pan down deep without land plowing every square foot.

A lot of people do not realize that the absolute worst piece of tillage equipment to use is the rototiller. It fluffs up the soil nicely, but also chops up those weeds and gets a lot of weed seeds up on top where they germinate. I see a lot of people use rototillers and once they get weeds, go back again, not realizing that they are actually making things worse for themselves.

But the rototiller does something even worse then weeds. It gives the grounds vibrations which compacts the soil just below where the tines churn. This means the soil down deep is actually compacted. This makes the plants root bound and in wet weather the garden becomes a bowl filling with water that is slow to drain. In dry weather the soil dries out much, much faster.

Its actually better to go no-till for the home gardener, or go to deep-till, but a rototiller is not the answer. The only thing I like a rototiller for is fixing ruts in hay fields. If you get ruts, you can use a rototiller to chew up the spot and in short order it is smooth again without a lot of work. Unfortunately the most useless implements ever invented are now the most commonly bought: the Rototiller and the Bush Hog; of which both should be banned from manufacture.
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