In this episode we find another great example of a farmer experimenting with new ideas and figuring out what works best for his farm when it comes to soil health. Blaine Kummer farms with his wife and parents south of Fargo in Colfax, North Dakota. They raise corn, soybeans, sugar beets, wheat and occasionally some barley. The soil is really variable in his area, from silty sand areas to Fargo silt clays. He came back to the farm after graduating from NDSU and over the years he has since tried a variety of techniques to figure out how to build healthier soil. Blaine said as an industry there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to soil health.
“We had severe crop damage, I would say this year due to blowing soil. And there was a few days in June this year where we’re talking 30-40 plus mile an hour winds. There was a week in there where you could see it 30 miles away. The whole horizon was just covered in dirt, blowing, hung up in the air and it was like this train coming through.” – Blaine Kummer
If there’s one overarching theme for today though, it’s experimentation. Blaine emphasized that he is still figuring things out and always trying something new to see what works best for him. That’s definitely been true when it comes to cover crops. Blowing soil is one major concern with the wind. Another concern is that it can blow sugar beet seedling plants right out of the ground. One thing Blaine has found works well for this are rye strips.
We’ve tried several things…. And the next spring, when we went to plant soybeans, the conditions were beautiful. The ground was nice and mellow. The moisture for a seed bed was perfect.” – Blaine Kummer
One of the biggest challenges to cover crops, especially in a place like North Dakota is timing. The logistics are challenging enough to grow one crop, squeezing in a second one before winter comes can be tricky. Flying on cover crops makes a lot of sense from a logistics standpoint. Blaine walks us through the economics of this decision.
“When you think of crop dusters, you think of a guy who’s spraying herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, or whatever by air in the growing season. Our aerial applicator, we utilize them for both fertilizer and cover crops. So we’ll spread urea by air, into a standing corn crop, into a standing wheat crop and also spread cover crops.” – Blaine Kummer
This Week on Soil Sense:
- Meet Blaine Kummer, a producer from south of Fargo in Colfax, North Dakota
- Discover his journey with cover crops and the benefits he has experienced even with adverse weather conditions.
- Explore the process of flying cover crop seeds onto a field and hear why Blaine has used it on his operation
- Follow up with Blaine on Twitter @thek2bk
Connect with Soil Sense
Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.