No-till and planting green grow success in grazing cattle

Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Water (HSHW) sponsored a field event on Monday, June 13 at Chris and Brenda Conley’s farm, High-Gem Holsteins & Normandes. More than 30 attendees walked through the fields and had an open conversation of how planting went for 2022.

The Conleys sold their tillage equipment and switched over to no-tillage and planting green five years ago. In addition to their crop acres, cattle graze on 23 acres of permanent pasture throughout the year. This spring, the cattle grazed the rye cover crop, providing three additional weeks of feed.

When Chris was making the transition to no tillage, he modified his original corn planter. Upgrades included the addition of closing wheels and row cleaners.

Greg Olson, Field Projects Director of Sand County Foundation, also presented on equipment for watching water movement through the soil. The equipment is ‘Moisture Manger coupled with their Farm Command display system’ owned and operated by Farmers Edge. There are 30 sites across the state including 15 paired sites. This equipment tracks water movement through the soil, measuring moisture and temperature at different depths from 4 to 40 inches. Past management plays a big factor in this project as it takes time to rebuild soil aggregate. Data is gathered during runoff time in March, May and June. The soil is tested in fall and spring to calibrate the equipment. The equipment at Conley’s farm is measuring more moisture below 16 inches compared to the top 16 inches.

Tony Peirick, Dodge County Farmers HSHW president, gave an update on 2022 cost-share programs open to membership and upcoming field days.

The event ended with a wagon ride checking the fields as the sun set in the rolling hills.