what we grow
We strive for sustainability in all areas of our farm, and in cropping it's particularly important for soil health. Erosion is one thing that harms the soil health, and we've been trying a few new tools to combat it in the past couple years. One piece of equipment we use is a "vertical tillage" tool, which tills with less disruption to the soil layers than typical tillage. It helps leave a more firm soil bed for next year's crop, as well as retaining more of the residual organic matter from the previous year.
Corn. Some varieties are specifically grown to be used for silage (chopped, fermented,and stored) for our milking cows. Others are cash-crop grain.
Alfalfa. (Hay) This is another crop that is grown specifically to be used for feed. It is harvested 4 times each summer, and like silage, is chopped and stored in a way that it will ferment until being used for feed.
Soybeans. These are grown to be sold, although we do use some soybean by-products as mix-ins in our feeds.
Triticale. Another crop grown for feed, triticale is a type of grain which we chop and use specifically for heifer feed.
We also grow a little winter wheat and rye for cash-crop and cover.
We've also been planting more cover and fall-seeded crops such as winter wheat and triticale. These help hold the soil in place in spite of rain on some of the steep hills we farm, as well as increase organic matter and capture nutrients in between main crops.
Technology is incredibly important in agriculture. On our farm, many of our tractors are equipped with GPS for steering, as well as collecting and logging data as we farm. A computer in the combine helps us create "yield maps," at harvest time, to show us which areas of the field are more or less productive. With this information we can adjust seed and fertilizer rates to prevent waste.
We are proud to have long-term relationships with many of our land partners; in part because we care for the land we rent as if it were our own. This means regular soil sampling to make sure we're putting the nutrients back into the soil that our crops remove, liming when needed, rotating crops, doing our best to minimize erosion, picking rocks, and maintaining fence lines. We have also done more extensive work in partnership with land owners, such as tiling and clearing trees. Each summer we host a land partner picnic and serve lunch and give farm tours to our land partners and their families. We try to stay in touch about what we're doing on the farm each year with a fall newsletter sent out to those whose land we farm. For more information on partnering with Scholze Family Farms, please contact Will Scholze at 608-772-3659.