Dengler Domain: Planting

As planting season arrives or has arrived for some in the field, it is an exciting time. The maximum yield potential starts now, and optimism abounds. With planting comes new plans, whether it is a new chemical program, a new trial, or a new seed. If you stay the same, that is fine, but a slight incremental change does not hurt. In a small, accidental trial of wide-row corn last year, the corn stayed greener longer and the radishes planted in between the rows grew several inches in diameter and at least a half a foot long. On a smaller trial, soybeans planted at half the normal population looked like a bush in front of a house by harvest. These insights showed the slightest change can do wonders.

This inspiration can lead to improvements not thought of before whether in corn, soybean, other crop, or animals in a field. It is always worth playing around. Maybe it is the warmer weather, but this time of year ideas are flowing. Whether it is on the micro or macro agriculture scale, improvements can always be made about what and how we grow what we grow in Iowa.

One concept that I encourage is to do an internet search for the Stock Cropper. This innovative way of farming with a mobile barn full of various animals moving through the field by itself could help turn the tide so more farmers can be on the land. It is still in the research and development phase but check it out. It will also help with the water quality issues in this state and down in the Gulf of Mexico.

There is also the concept of relay cropping or intercropping where farmers like Jason Mauck in Indiana are growing wheat and soybeans together to generate more on-farm income. A North Dakota farmer, Joe Breker, bio strip tills where he plants radishes to create the strips he will plant corn into next spring. These radishes pull up vital nutrients for the corn while leaving a dark, mellow strip for the corn to thrive on. Go to ag Twitter or YouTube, and there are people trying new and innovative ways which are helping sustain rural communities.

Innovation needs to happen; it must happen for rural America to succeed. Trying new trials on the farm can potentially lead to breakthroughs that can help sustain the farm and the communities around it. Innovative ideas and new ways of doing things are worth trying. Not every idea will pan out, but that is okay. Failure sometimes is the best way to learn.

The same old, same old has led to further consolidation. For rural Iowa and America to succeed, agriculture can change this tide if done correctly. Keeping and putting more farmers on the land with help prevent further consolidation. This keeps the wealth in the communities, helps prevent rural schools from consolidating, and continues public and private investments and services in the communities. It is a tall task, maybe an impossible task, but it is not worth giving up on. I am open to listening to anyone who has interesting agriculture ideas or rural ideas in general. It takes a village.

Sean Dengler is a writer, comedian, farmer, and host of the Pandaring Talk podcast who grew up on a farm between Traer and Dysart. You can reach him at sean.h.dengler@gmail.com.