Farmers tour west-end fields

It was a chance for farmers and those just interested in agriculture to share ideas and innovations during Monday’s crop tour staged by the local Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
It kicked off three miles north of Barwick in a field owned by Lyle Wheatley. About dozen people were on hand there although the numbers fluctuated a bit from stop to stop.
The first stop was not your typical farmer’s field. Instead of containing one crop, Wheatley had planted corn, soybeans, and canola in neatly aligned strips.
“It’s like you’ve got another research station,” tour organizer Mike Neilson remarked.
The group concentrated mostly on the soybeans, an experimental crop for this area. Wheatley said the market for the high-protein soy meal the beans produce is a good one, both locally and across Canada.
So far the biggest problem with soybeans is getting the innoculant for them, Wheatley said. Other than that, the plant has fared very well this summer.
“This hill slopes to the west. [Yet] when you go to the west end of the field, the soybeans still do well,” he added, noting they withstood the moisture from the heavy rains earlier this year.
“They’re more resilient than corn to [excess] moisture,” he said.
Speaking of corn, Wheatley said it looked like his crop would ready about a week earlier this year even though the heavy rain this spring washed out a few seeds.
Wheatley also under-seeded his corn with alfalfa. Not only would that provide a little extra nitrogen to the soil, the alfalfa helps to choke out some of the weeds in the field.
Not everything on the tour was related to plants. Jurgen Schmutz hosted the next stop at his cattle handling facility, and he used the opportunity to gather ideas on how to improve it.
Kim Jo Calder, manager at the Emo Research Station, said sharing ideas was one of the main reasons for holding the tour. “With small groups, you get to ask a lot of questions,” she noted yesterday.
John Vandenbrand later showed off his high-tensile wire electric fence system for managing cattle. Using such wire allows you to have posts every 20 yards as opposed to every 10 feet, he said.
It also is fairly cost-efficient, costing only $800 to fence in an entire quarter-section.
“I’ve got a 12-volt battery on it with a solar panel [to recharge the battery],” he said, noting he won’t have to change the battery until the end of summer.
Bill Romyn of Stratton also has worked with high-tensile wire. His only complain was that it was “horrible stuff” to string out.
“But once it’s up, it’s wonderful,” he added.
The rest of the tour looked at some pasture management techniques used by Amos Brielmann of Rainycrest Farms, Jack Vandenbrand’s hemp crop, and a look at John Vandenbrand’s style of hay shelter.
Neilson said he was quite pleased with how the tour turned out. Calder said that also seemed to be the consensus of the group.
“It was excellent,” she enthused.