Sunday, June 23, 2019

Planting/Drilling Sorghum Sudan Grass

Gramps, Max, and I, over the past week on approximately 95 acres planted sorghum sudan grass. Prior to planting, “drilling” is the more accurate term in this case, we first had to combine about 4 acres of last years standing corn, then we could go over the 18” tall weeds and stubble twice with a disc harrow to kill the weeds and to get a rough seed bed that I could drill the seeds into.

Sorghum Sudan is an agronomic choice. I have a lot of foxtail and canadian thistle (weeds) that I’m trying to crowd out, caused in part by compaction/poor drainage and sorghum sudan is supposed to help with that. It is an aggressive grower and can reach 10’ tall in about 8 weeks. If I don’t sell some of it to a local organic dairy, who would in turn have to hire a “custom” hay/baleage/silage cutter to harvest it for him, I’ll mow it down and leave it in place when it gets about 4’ tall. The mowed/mulched sorghum would in turn feed soil microbes, who then "excrete" nutrients for future cash crops.  I’ll have to mow it twice I think, as I don’t want it to go to seed and become a “weed” itself.  Next year all these acres will go into soybeans.

65 of the acres are certified USDA organic, the other 30 are in their first year (of three) of transition to organic. Both fields are about 13 miles south of the farm in Turtle Lake, making it a logistical challenge to move materials and equipment down there.

I’ve put up 3, one minute long videos on youtube that show a bit of this.

I used my new (to me) Deere 8100 tractor and 750 no-till grain drill to cover about 185 acres this spring - 90 in oats/red clover and 95 in sorghum sudan. It’s been a good experience. This week I’m talking to a technology provider about putting gps/autosteer on the tractor to make everything go a little smoother.

p.s.  Big (public) thanks to Dad/Gramps and Max for their help!

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