Cover Crop Field Day
Earlier this week the Dodge County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) with the help of other county SWCD's hosted a cover crop field day near Dodge Center. The site was where the National Plowing Contest called Plowville was held 65 years ago. It was estimated that about 125,000 people were there 65 years ago for the plowing contest and to hear both Presidential Candidates speak. In the last 65 years tillage equipment has changed from the moldboard plow to conservation tillage.
Conservation tillage has seen many practices, minimum-till, no-till, ridge-till, and strip-till. It sure seems like strip-tilling is getting more popular. In the picture is Environmental Tillage System's Soil Warrior. This machine tills a strip and leaves the area in between the strips untilled. This particular machine is set up to till 16 rows at 30 inches apart. In addition to strip-tilling it can also apply fertilizer in the strips. By the way, the Soil Warrior was developed in Rice County and is manufactured in Faribault. It is marketed all over the world.
This field produced a sweet corn crop this year. Then a cover crop of radishes, rye and turnips were planted. Later this fall the Soil Warrior would strip till the field and apply fertilizer. Then next spring the farmer would not till the field. He would just take the planter out and plant into the tilled zones. Strip-till machines with all their technology are not inexpensive. However, many times you can hire someone to strip-till your farm. The Soil Warrior in the picture is owned by Central Farm Service (CFS.) Farmers in the area hire the Co-op to custom strip-till their farm.