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NAME: John Kemmeren
FARM: Angelrose Dairy
LOCATION: Bainbridge, N.Y.
YEARS NO-TILLING: 40
CROPS: Corn (grain and silage), alfalfa, grass hay and pasture
Corn isn’t king on our farm, even if it is selling for $8 per bushel. I run a 100-cow dairy along with my wife, Dianne, and our two children.
So the crops in our rotation are geared more toward providing high-quality forage for our cows than chasing down big commodity-crop payouts.
Even if we wanted corn to be the majority of our rotation, it just doesn’t make sense in our area. In south-central New York, it’s mostly hills and river valleys. And generally, we have more very wet years than very dry years.
An overabundance of rain can definitely limit our yields and the acres that we’re able to plant to corn. The flat river bottoms flood and can stay wet. And with traditional tillage, our five 30% slope hills, covered with highly erodible soils, will wash like crazy.
Unfortunately, a normal rainfall is a thing of the past here. We no longer get rain — we get rainfall events. There are days we get 5 or 6 inches, and those aren’t isolated instances.
As a result, I’ve seen more erosion in New York this year than I’ve seen in my entire life. I’ve seen conventional fields cut with ditches knee deep in a matter of hours and acres and acres of corn washed away. There’s no amount of tillage that will fix…