Small changes coming

Thursday, January 17, 2013

John and I met with Sam and Tyler Shepard this morning at the new Burke farm.  We reviewed our ideas for the immediate improvements that we think need to be made.  We traveled on the wet-but-frozen fields to see the things we are asking Shepards to do soon.  An old terrace in the east field needs smoothed down.  A gap in the levee at Kessinger ditch needs a culvert installed, with the void to be closed over it.  The field will be shaped a little bit so that any surface water that could collect behind this culvert will flow to it and through it into Kessinger ditch.  There is a very old vertical glazed field tile exposed that they will remove.  And there is an old building foundation that will be excavated and removed.   When the Shepards finish these tasks, there should be no obstacles remaining in the fields that we will have to farm around.

Sam and Tyler also showed us the outlet of some drainage tile they had installed there several years ago.  We discussed our plans to remove a small woods after the ’13 harvest.   We are still exploring whether to sell 3 acres with the old house and buildings off the property or to remove them and farm over the site.  We have one more prospective house buyer–not one of the other three buyers remained interested after viewing the house.  If this last buyer also backs away, it would seem apparent that we would move to take down the structures and clear the farm lot to become part of the farm field.

It’s a sunny day in south Indiana, bright blue skies overhead.  The temperatures have climbed to near 40ºF, with 50s predicted for tomorrow and Saturday.  They tell us a cool-down is coming next week with nighttime temps in single digits Monday and Tuesday.  That cold spell may provide just the right window of opportunity for CPS to apply the nitrogen topdress to the wheat crop.

We are working with the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) to enroll two farm locations into the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).  In that 3-year program, we will partner with them to share the cost of building some conservation structures, applying nutrient- and pest-management plans, and utilizing cover-crops.  This will be our first experience with cover crops.  The two locations are especially good candidates for EQIP, for they are mostly reclaimed strip-mined land.  The soils there are particularly fragile and prone to water erosion.   As we learn the management of using cover crops, it should help us discover if that conservation practice will be beneficial on more of our acres.



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