Hometown Farmer: Cultivating a Sense of Conservation
NEAR SIOUX CENTER, IA —
Matt Schuiteman farms near Sioux Center, Iowa, and he's a pretty busy guy.
"We do primarily corn, a little alfalfa, we have a cow - calf operation, a farrow to finish operation and we also custom feed a few pigs," said Schuiteman.
When it comes to field work, Matt's cultivating a sense conservation.
"We put on hog manure and then plant rye in the fall so that we wouldn't lose the nutrients," said Schuiteman.
The rye's a cover crop, he's been using it since 2007.
It's planted it in September or October to stop erosion and keep nutrients where they belong during the off season.
"The nutrients are going to be right here so when the corn grows, the roots find the nutrients right away and the corn catches all the nutrients," said Schuiteman. "The end result is that you hope you don't waste anything."
Matt also practices strip tillage, only cultivating the land in small strips, right where the corn will be planted.
"So in the end we've seen a reduction in water and wind erosion," said Schuiteman.
Matt even has a few farms near aquifers and for the past few years he's been studying how nitrates seep down into the ground water.
He's trying to stop that by planting alfalfa instead of corn.
Rotating the crops every few years to try and keep the nitrates where they belong.
"For every pound of nitrogen that ends up either in the groundwater or in the Gulf of Mexico is money out of our pocket," said Schuiteman.
The practices can be time consuming, expensive and different.
After all, you may be tying up land with alfalfa for a few years and even spending extra money to buy cover crops like rye, but Matt says the benefits speak for themselves.
He's seen corn yields up by as much as 30 bushels per acre.
He's a farmer doing things little differently, and he says a little extra time and money is well worth it.
"Less erosion, more efficient fertilizer and in the end that all comes back to a little better bottom line," said Schuiteman.
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