Ideas exchanged in annual crop tour

Last Wednesday the Rainy River Soil and Crop Improvement Association had their annual soil and crop tour.
The tour brought out farmers from around the district who wanted to learn about different agricultural techniques and crop ideas.
The first stop on the tour was to Larry Lambs farm near Emo.
The primarily canola-based farm has been producing large quantities of the crop since installing a new tile drainage system.
“When I first decided to install this new system I really had no idea what a difference it was going to make in my crop production,” Lamb noted.
“But when you go out to the field that used to be the worst and it is producing better than your best field, you know it is not just a coincidence,” he added.
The purpose of tile drainage, Lamb explained, is to help dry out the soil for planting in areas where it is humid and there are heavy rainfalls throughout the year.
Surplus free water, which is usually rainfall, must be removed and the water table maintained at a level which is appropriate for the particular soil, crop and climate.
“Tile drainage has made such a huge difference in my farming,” Lamb stated. “Of my two fields I have one tiled and the other is not. When they first brought in the front-end loader I really did not think they were going to have any luck getting through that mud. Now when I take a handful of dirt, it is so dry it just blows away in the wind.”
The adoption of tile drainage as a management practice has made significant progress in Ontario in spite of a number of perplexing questions.
Tile drainage represents a large cash outlay and the benefits are frequently delayed, yet many farmers say it represents their highest return in land investment.
Neither benefits nor costs can be determined precisely for individual projects, but farmers have a good appreciation of the importance of good drainage. There has been no question about its value in farm production–it has been a matter of making a decision to proceed and arranging for the capital.
When rainfall intensity is high, surface runoff may occur and little water may enter the soil profile. When rainfall intensity is low and prolonged, much of the water will enter the soil and replace air in the soil.
Good drainage in the long run effects farmers in that it helps to yield larger crops while being more cost efficient.
“I applied for funding from the heritage fund,” admitted Lamb. “I basically filed out an application and informed them about the reason why I would like to place this new drainage system into my farm. Within a year I had received funding and was digging up my field.
“The cost can be quite expensive but in the end you make up for it,” he added. “In the end I think I spent close to a half-million.”
Lamb’s farm was one of four such stops on this year’s crop tour. The tour also included a stop at Arnold Kaemingh’s dairy farm south of Devlin where he discussed storage feed in a dairy operation and Northwest Nursery, north of Devlin for a presentation on hothouse tomatoes.
The final stop was at Cornell farms north of Devlin to discuss synchronized breeding of he animals there.