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Same Route. EVERYTIME.

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Is it better to drive a different way to the combine/planter every pass?  Or take the same route every time?  Whether it be with a grain cart, a semi, a tractor, etc., you should try to stay in the same tracks every time to reduce compaction issues in your field. According to Ohio State University studies, 85% of compaction damage is done on the first pass of machinery, for both tracks and tires.

Controlled traffic, as it can be referred to, is an important component alongside no tillage, nutrient management, and cover crops required to achieve a healthy soil environment.  Planning your equipment passes so your planting, nutrient application, spraying, and harvesting operations all follow the same tire or track paths can vastly reduce the percentage of the field that is compacted.  In areas of compaction, you have a reduced crop stand less water infiltration and stressed root growth.  This induces crop stress and lowers yields and profitability in these areas.

Therefore, it is best to stay on the same route.  Everytime.

Yield Map Analysis

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It is the talk of the coffee shop….….how well did my crop yield?    What better way to prove that you raised 250 bushel corn than a pretty yield map that you can show off to everyone.

However, your yield map can give you so much more than bragging rights.

A yield map can help you figure out problem areas in your field and can help you to plan for an even better crop next year.

For example, by comparing your yield map to a soils map, you may be able to see that some fluctuations in yield come from the different types of soil on your farm.   If you completed soil tests, by doing some comparison, you may see where you need to amend your soil for next year.

Other factors to compare your yield maps to:

  1. Crop hybrids
  2. Topographical maps (low/high areas)
  3. Old land use (i.e. woodlands, fencerows, etc.)
  4. Residue thickness when planting/planter difficulties
  5. Weather

It may take a few years for you to decide to make a large management decision based on your findings from your analysis of your fields.  Take a look at where the most loss can come from, and what would be the most economical things to change.  For instance: lack of precision application of fertilizer, chemicals, seed, etc., soil runoff running away with your nutrients, or even a hybrid variety not suited for your soils/weather patterns.

Planter Set-up

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You have one shot to set your crops up for success!

Why not give them their best shot with a no-till system and a properly set up planter?  A no-till system with cover crops increases soil tilth, soil aggregation, and prevents crusting.  All these are key to proper planting and proper and uniform emergence, which gives your crops their best chance to succeed in the variety of growing conditions they will face throughout the year.

Also, making sure your planter is set up for handling residue, planting the seed at the proper depth and spacing, and opening and closing the furrow around the seed, all the while minimizing compaction in your system will improve your crops’ success.

Get Down and Snirt-y about Soil & No-Till

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“Snirt”- The combination of snow mixed with dirt.

Most people see this piled high in the corner of parking lots.  However, in the cold winter months, ‘snirt’ can also be prevalent in your farm fields.

In conventionally tilled fields, snow drifts and leaves behind bare soils in some areas and larger mounds of snow in others.   This allows moisture to leave the soil in areas and over-accumulate in others.  The higher piles of snow can delay crop growth.   This can also cause problems in the spring with more wet patches in the spring. This blowing snow around the conventionally tilled soils collects dirt, turning it into “snirt”, and when those large snow piles melt, soil erosion is promoted.

In no-till fields, the taller residue, whether it be in the form of tall corn stalks, bean stubble, or fresh cover crop growth, keeps snow uniformly in place and insulates the soil from water evaporation.   This aids in higher yields and reduces the amount of valuable soil being removed from your fields.

Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District

LARE Grant in Full Swing!

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Our Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) Grant is kicking off to a great start!  The Bartholomew Co. SWCD was awarded a $30,000 through the DNR LARE program to get conservation practices on the ground over the next 3 years in the Driftwood Watershed.

We currently have about $18,000 of that used in the first year!  This means we can apply for another grant at the end of January for more funds!  This money can be used on Waterways, Cover Crops, Heavy Use Area Pads, Windbreaks, Internal Fencing, No Till, Tree Plantings, Critical Area Plantings, and more!


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The Pathway to Water Quality will be an excellent watershed demonstration that walks residents through practical displays and information about how proper management practices at home, on the farm, and in business can protect our soil and water resources.  We want the public, both non-agriculture and agriculture-based, to understand how they can implement best management practices on their own land.

The Bartholomew County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) would like to ask for your help in raising funds for and installing the Pathway to Water Quality at the Fairgrounds.  We will need help with building benches, doing artwork, designing and building rain chains, installing fence, building garden boxes, installing a pond, building the entryway structure, designing and installing interpretive signage, and planting native plants.  Just to name a few!

If you, or a group or business you are with, is interested in volunteering your time, expertise, and/or funds for the project, please contact the district at the number or e-mail below.  Your name will be added to the list of donors at the completion of the entire Pathway Project!

We look forward to involving the community with all stages of this project!