In normal years the Rulons plan to plant cover crops in 25-35% of their acres. “But for 2010 we had a fabulous fall, with dry weather through most of it,” Rulon says, “so that we could plant a cover crop over 65-70% of our acres. They will help maintain crop residue, prevent soil erosion and limit nutrient runoff.”

While the late summer and fall were dry, early summer rains dumped nearly a foot of precipitation on the Rulon operation in late June. “In one week we had a 3-in. rain, another 3-in. rain, then a 4-in rain,” Rulon says.

"This year (2010) the big benefit of the tiles was in the sidehill areas where yields were well above average, helping to offset the 5% low-lying areas that were destroyed by the flooding. Overall, we had record bean yields, and corn yields were only 10 bu. below average."

Smith says the EQIP program encourages growers to implement or install conservation practices. “The program is designed to offset the cost of adapting new and expensive practices.

“In Tipton County (for example), through EQIP, we’ve been able to promote practices such as no-till, cover crops, nutrient and pest management, animal waste storage facilities and animal mortality facilities.

“Cover crops are helping many growers prevent sheet and rill erosion, break up soil compaction and sequester nutrients. They help farmers capture residual N left in the field after a harvest or when a field has had a manure application.”

Smith says cover crops are able to prevent soluble N from running out tile lines into water bodies. “Most of the captured N will be available for other cash crops to utilize which can save the farmer money,” he says

Along with their farm, the Rulons also install tile for area growers. “The dry fall weather should provide about 60 days of good tiling weather,” Rulon says. “We’ll hopefully pattern tile 300-400 acres leading into 2011.”

Rodney Rulon plays a big part in the conservation program. “Along with EQIP, we also take part in the CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program),” he says. “The function of the practices we’ve incorporated is to develop a good stewardship program. We take extra steps to do tissue testing to enhance our N and other nutrient management.

“The CSP provides us with from $10 to $25/acre on parts of the farm. It ties into our philosophy that the right environmental decision is almost always the right economic decision in the long run,” he says.

Another conservation practice also helped prevent excessiverunoff. “We regularly plant filter strips (small grains grasses)beside fields which lie along heavy drainage ditches or creeks,”Rulon adds.  

 

January 2011