Published On: Thu, Feb 28th, 2013

Ag event focuses on conserving water

LAUREL — An Ag event on water conservation drew a large crowd from across a large area to Laurel last week.

Close to 40 people plus 11 Laurel-Coleridge FFA students and their advisor Megan Virgil, showed up at an Ag event held at the VFW Club.

The Feb. 19 event was organized by Scott Taylor with Taylor Seeds as a way to help farmers in their effort to conserve water.

“A water shortage is a major concern,” Taylor said. “They are saying water will be the new gold — water is priceless.”

Those who attended the meeting had an opportunity to learn more about precision farming, a new technology for water conservation, plant health, cover crops and crop insurance, along with the importance of using the correct spray nozzle from the ag business representatives that spoke during the event.

“The meeting today is to get answers for all the questions that are out there,” Taylor said. “I get a lot of questions — this will get the answers for you.”

Taylor has heard talk that down the road water may be metered or regulated for producers who irrigate. There are even rumors there could be a tax or fee that would be assessed on the amount of water used.

Don O’Brian, from The Seed House in O’Neill, talked about the importance of cover crops.

A cover crop, which is used to protect and improve soil conditions, helps conserve water and preserve the nutrients in the soil.

It is a great way to utilize the off season as cover crops can also be grazed.

Cover crops can help with soil moisture, help with the control of early season weeds, can increase organic matter, reduce erosion, recycle nutrients and improve crop yield according to O’Bryan.

A cover crop can be a winterkill or it is usually killed off two to four weeks prior to planting the next crop in the spring

“Cover crops will definitely increase your yields but management is important. Do it right and it will make you money,” O’Bryan said. “We have seen cover crops enhance yields an average of 10 bushels per acre and we have even seen 20 bushels to an acre.”

The selection of the cover crop needs to be suitable for the producer’s need.

Barley is fast growing, drought tolerant and has a greater forage nutrition value than oats or triticale.

Rye can be grazed in winter or spring, makes good hay and can be planted later than other cover crops.

Triticale is used primarily for hay or silage, is more expensive to plant and does not have the hardiness of rye.

Oats are a great forage, has a deep root mass and winterkills.

Other options include sorghum sedan grass, legumes, lentils, hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas, cowpea, sedan grass, turnips, radish and rape.

Mixtures are a good way to incorporate erosion control, insect control and nitrogen fixation into your soils according to O’Bryan.

Pick up this week’s issue of the Coleridge Blade to read more!