Written by Kevin Swanson
Photo credit Kevin Swanson
To be successful in farming today, maximizing each rain drop is essential. Here are some ways to help keep and utilize the rain we get on the High Plains.
Soil health and organic matter are vital to collecting and keeping rain drops for crop use. By implementing five basic principles of soil health you can increase productivity and profitability on your farm acres. These five principles are; limit soil disturbance, keep the soil covered, increase plant diversity by well planned multi-year crop rotation, maintain living roots in the soil for as long as possible, and integrate livestock grazing.
Limiting soil disturbance can be accomplished by following no-till or minimal-till practices. Less soil disturbance equals less moisture loss to evaporation. This also increases the percentage of previous crop residue to help keep some cover on your soil. This will increase soil organic matter and will help improve soil fertility through the process of mineralization. Soils with higher organic matter will absorb and hold more rain drops. For each 1% increase in organic matter, the soil will hold 4% more water. More moisture held in the soil makes your crop more productive during the growing season when hot and dry conditions happen.
Rotating crops over a multi-year plan will increase plant and root diversity in the soil and can help achieve the principle of keeping living roots in the soil for as long as possible. Additionally, some cover crops can be integrated in the right conditions to increase root activity and maintain cover on your soil.
Last but not least, integrating livestock grazing in the fall on any cover crops or crop residue can add to the nutrient cycle of your soil by adding organic matter through manure and crushing residue into your soil. This provides a valuable feed source for your livestock or provides some income for your farming operation through renting your ground for grazing to other livestock producers.
Sunflower Marketing Options…
Colorado Mills is currently offering a 2022 Acre Contract for High Oleic Sunflowers. This contract includes all your production for the acres contracted. Identical to an Act of God contract, this covers you in the event of adverse weather or other detrimental circumstances. Colorado Mills adds a grower incentive of $0.20/cwt for each of the last 5 years you have delivered your crop to us up to a maximum $1 premium. And don’t forget that additional Oil premiums are paid when sunflowers contain over 40% oil. Give us a call to discuss your contracting needs and to get our current new crop contract price at 719-336-8452, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.