Promoting soil preservation and conservation of our natural resources is what the Huron County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Services does best. With this in mind they recently held a field day in cooperation with the Huron County Fair.
The event took place at the Huron County Soil and Water Conservation property on Fair Road, next to the fairgrounds.
The event featured strip tillage, which is a minimum tillage that is set in place by a strip tillage tool The tool makes a slight mound in rows across the field, then the farmer comes back in the spring after making the mounds and plants directly in the mounds. This practice helps break up the soil within the row and not between the rows, in-turn creating less soil erosion
The Great Lakes Commission and the USDA made the field day possible through an "Erie Huron Strip Till Promotional Grant" which is partially funded through an 18-mo grant that the county received for $74,000 of which $60,000 is set for cost share. The county used $40,000 toward equipment for the producers to rent out to try strip tillage and $20,000 toward the cost share of actual rental of the equipment for the producers.
Producers and dealers from around the area brought in different sizes and types of strip tillage and aeration equipment for those at the field day to see in action. Those in attendance viewed a 12- and 16-row strip tillage machine in action and then watched the planter in process of planting in the strips. Producers also viewed the pit of a cross section of the soil that had been strip tilled at different depths.
Dean and John Sweeting were some of the producers on had to give testimonials about strip tillage. The Sweetings have been using this type of tillage for four years now of which two years ago they went 100 percent strip tillage on all their 1,000 corn acres. They strip till in the spring and then usually follow right behind with the planter, depending upon soil moisture, said John. When we plant we use auto steer and GPS via the tractor to keep the planter on the strip till rows, Dean said. We are really happy with the results of this tillage practice, it saves a lot of fuel and time, and reduces compaction in the field from reduced tillage, Dean added. We no-till all of our wheat and soybean acres thus also reducing soil erosion, time, labor and fuel. Dean concluded. By using the strip till process ,we also find that the moisture stays in the ground better especially when it's dry like it was up until a few weeks ago, John said. We also don't seem to cut ruts as easily when harvesting in the fall and our overall soil conditions have improved since we have been using this method of tillage, said Dean. As far as yields are concerned, yields are pretty comparable to that when we use to use conventional tillage, Dean added.
Larry Reilly has been using strip tillage for 10 years and 5 years ago he also went 100 percent on his corn acres. This year he has 740 acres of corn in strips. He also feels that his ground is more mellow because of this tillage and planting process and that yields have increased. Some of those yields might also have increased because of seed hybrid technology, he added.
Huron County Extension Educator Mike Gastier was also on hand to talk about and educate the producers about the latest in herbicide and pesticide applications, treatments and safety practices. He also discussed the latest crop production issues at hand and the season in review. CCA credits were also given to those in attendance.
Additional cooperative efforts to help make the field day possible were from Sunrise Co-op, GibbsEquipment, Wellington Implement, Pollen Equipment, Stieber Brothers, Larry Reilly, Lepley Farms, Mike Hohler, Stang Brothers, Don Moyer, RJ Farms and Price Properties.