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Newspaper Page Text
OF MONTANA Februo ryHß, £1958 m m Ü m ' T0 M ; :■■■' ÿ 9% I i 1 h ■ - [ I » Ä/: li: ; A : - # UUh V;* By H. H. WHEELER Roosevelt County ;!;hf WE'VE FOUND THAT sandy textured land will furnish a good living for anyone who will recognize its limitations. He rtfust realize that the time-honored 50 per cent fallow and 50 per cent wheat is not for him. He must lean toward diversification with a good livestock program, have a large enough unit, some ability for management and, most important, he can't be afraid of work. Our land is glacial drift and classified, I believe, as Williams stony loam. It's rolling ana not at all uniform, ranging from heavy chocolate colored soil, black loamy bottoms, to white clay knolls, with light, sandy areas usually on hillsides, but sometimes on the flats and even on hilltops. Trouble Spots These light, sandy areas are the ones that cause us the most trouble. We have cut out many of them and seeded them permanently to Crested wheatgrass or a mixture of crest » D A â r 4 ed and Ladak alfalfa, These spots are squared up to fit the gram strips. Period ically they are torn up, fertilized heavily with manure from the cattle sheds and seed ed to oats or wheat for a year. This is done because the Crested wheat grass seems to require plenty of nitrogen to do well itself. These patches are the poorest land and the Crested wheatgrass keeps it so dried out the nitrogen-fixing bacteria do not seem to be very active. We always sow sweet clover with the grass seed which goes in with the grain crop and hope to get a catch. If we do, the first hay crop is mostly clover, of course, but we wel come that because we never have too much hay, and the new grass gets a lift which lasts for several years. Grass Buffer Strips The rest of the cropland is stripped in 10 rod widths with a 12-foot buffer strip of grass seeded down the center of the strips dividing them into two narrow strips. Farm ing operations are conducted around these permanent centers. The buffer strips are harvested for seed, if there happens to be any, with a 12-foot self-propelled combine. This leaves a stiff stubble which Is a good windbreak. Grazing will break it down some, but it still offers a good deal of pro tection. Five years ago we planted trees and shrubs of various kinds on some of these strips, and I think enough of the experiment to increase the number of these field wind breaks. They occupy more crop land than the grass buffers, but we think they may be more effective. Corn vs. Summerfallow Cultural practices on cropland follow gen erally approved dryland methods, with a few exceptions.. We do not do much summer fallowing. It is difficult for us to work our land often enough during the summer to keep the weeds down without burying the cover and leaving the soil practically protected. . We prefer instead to raise corn. This pro vides feed for bur cattle and helps extend our limited pasture. Corn gives the land more protection for a longer period during un* ■ :£• x $: i •I#*: m & £1 M : ; : ; x &: w. Hi ill»: •• : m - li M i ii II p: IP Ü »■■I ■y:£. 'M yy m i&XvSj: ft:- w. K ÏÏÏÏLLa' * ■: v • ■ f im » m . >> ' •: •■X; . Si - mm •VC;. . ' L ffSsSx * ' * I * mm ■: M i * t'X m Hi • : x£ -, mm W. W:-. m. ? m •V--X X M X 4 ■ ÉÜ : ■; ;x ;x; M % »ill : BSBI r? '} /' f v . ' 4t i ■ 5 / ï f'M '< ; >*» gïVÂ ; i. - ■ mm mm m >:. ■ m m mi 1 S Ÿ ■ M X ■M SI m mm mi *rmmL m 1 ^HB^... These field windbreaks on the H. H. Wheeler farm were planted five years ago. They have 1 ° e // ectlve *? holding the light, sandy soil that Wheeler is increasing their numbe? as fast as they can be planted. This picture was taken last July. The row of trees in the ""'« r * ilh "ew Planting, last spring and another row af'rees wTp anted along the left side of the grain strip. (SCS photo) F • /. V 9 the year, and snow lodges in the stalks to a greater extent than in fallow. Wheat following corn will not yield quite as well as wheat on summerfallow, but the small difference, we feel, is compensated for by the value of the corn. Cattle are pastured on the corn strips from November to May, so considerable amounts of fertilizer are returned to the land without expense. Fall Tillage Land intended for corn is tilled as soon as possible after the grain harvest. This does away with any weeds that haven't matured, and if rain happens to come along, many wild oats, if present, and volunteer grain will sprout. This growth often furnishes a well-round ed ration when the herd is turned into the standing corn later in the season. If a crop of first-year sweet clover is present in the stubble, it is left, and the young clover fur nishes the green feed. Corn is planted with a lister. While this method creates an erosion hazard in the rainy season, we find it is the only method whereby we can keep the ground free of weeds, which are much more troublesome on sandy soil Old-Fashioned Moldboard Small grain, mainly wheat, follows corn and summerfallow. Practically all of it, in cluding that seeded on fallow, is planted with an old-fashioned moldboard plow with press drills attached. Much as we would like to abandon it, we always return to this method. We get a better kill on weeds, and the rubber-tired tractors used in cultivating both summerfallow and corn pack the sub soil, while leaving the surface loose, mel low, filled with rotted vegetation and ready to blow at the first opportunity. A good, honest job of plowing lifts this artificial hardpan to the surface in the form of many hard, little clods which resist wind damage, as a rule, until the crop is well established. If we get into trouble because of a heavy rain followed by a high wind, the narrow strips and buffers localize the dam age. Any spots too light to stand this meth od of farming are cut out and seeded to Crested wheatgrass.