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Thinking Outside the Box

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Mike Paulus describing his plan for the Interseeder this fall.

There is no doubt that this growing season has been a challenging one for all farmers, but Mike Paulus saw this tricky weather as an opportunity to try something new on his fields. Three of Paulus’ fields are at the end of their alfalfa crop rotation, and he’s already preparing for planting corn next summer.

You may have already heard about the new Interseeder the farmers with CFF widely used across their corn fields this year, seeding a variety of species between each row to provide more coverage for their soil. Paulus is now using the Interseeder as a no-till drill to seed oats into his alfalfa fields. He added the extra disks into the seeder where they were removed for the corn rows during interseeding. The goal is to cut the alfalfa while the oats are still small and exposed, then the oats will be harvested later this fall. This will keep plenty of ground cover across the field for fall and winter, and the low disturbance when planting, as seen in the second photo, all helps build a better soil health. Then in spring, Paulus will spray off the alfalfa and no-till plant his corn.

A no-till drill planted row of oats with low soil disturbance.

What is also unique about this process that Paulus is trying is how this year’s unique weather makes this all possible. In a normal year with much less rain by this point in the season, the soil in his no-till alfalfa fields would be hard and dry, and therefore near impossible to drill-seed the oats into the alfalfa. Because of the regular precipitation that’s frustrating many farmers, Paulus is taking advantage of the soft moist soil. The additional rain is also helping to jump start the oats to germinate all the sooner and stronger. As you can see in the third photo, Paulus pulled a seed that was planted only three days prior and already has a root and cotyledon (the first leaf to emerge from a seed).

While the difficult weather this growing season has been a challenge for most farmers in Wisconsin and across the nation, Paulus is thinking outside the box to make his fields more sustainable and profitable simultaneously. If you are interested in using the Interseeder/No-till Drill, follow the link to learn more about the incentive programs the Clean Farm Families offer so that you too can become a more active steward of your land.

An oat germinating in just three days.

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