b'FirstKindof itsA farmer in Manitoba is trying out a first of its kind seeding experimentusing direct seeding with minimal tillage to try and reduce soil compaction and erosion in his fields.BY: ASHLEY ROBINSONCHAD BERRY HAS been practicing zero tillage seeding on his grain cropssays in an interview at Under the Hill Farms. Anything we can do to promote for years but had always wanted to do it on his potato fields. However,the long-term sustainability of the farmers fields while producing high-quality he didnt feel his potato planter would work for it, so when he upgraded hisyields is a win for all of us and we felt like Chads efforts in direct seeding last planters last year, he decided it was finally the time to give it a try. year showed enough promise that it would be good to follow into 2020.We just wanted to try and prevent erosion in the spring. Weve always gotLast fall Berry ripped a canola field with an eco-till sub-soiler with 1inch fields that are blackened and dusty for four or five weeks every spring aftershanks at a depth of 15 inches. In the spring he seeded 70 acres of the field planting, Berry says in an interview on his farm, Under the Hill Farms nearwith direct seeding, the fertilizer was broadcast on top and then the planter ran Cypress River, Man. The best case (scenario is) we have a crop up in threedirectly into it. The rest of the field was planted traditionally in order to allow weeks and still a lot of the time for the field will blow. Its very erodible. for a comparison.Berry approached his local equipment dealer genAG with his idea ofSimplot and Vikram Bisht with Manitoba Agriculture have been monitoring reducing tillage on his potato fields. Berry and some genAg employees travelledthe field. They have been testing soil compaction between the two sides of it. to the AGRITECHNICA farm equipment show in Germany and found some inspi- Theyve also been measuring hill dimensions.ration from Grimme planters. Back in North America they worked with SPUDNIKWere thinking there possibly could be more soil left available on the hill to develop the SPUDNIK 8080 planter with hill shapers mounted on the back. tops and sides of the direct seeding side, Graham says. Just because theres The idea is you can eliminate a few passes. A lot of people deal with com- more stubble, straw and residue that may hold that soil on a windy day.paction issues and different stuff like that, which this can really help, Mike Wall,There was a slight difference in emergence with the traditionally planted SPUDNIK specialist with genAG, says in an interview at Under the Hill Farms. side coming up a day or two ahead of the direct seeding area. Berry suspects Last year, Berry planted five acres using direct seeding with minimal tillageif he would have watered the field directly after seeding, the plants would have on rye stubble. While he was impressed with the emergence and stand of theemerged at the same time.crop, the wet, cold fall stopped him from harvesting the crop.This trial is a first of its kind and has been drawing attention from across During the winter, the J.R. Simplot Company approached Berry about hisNorth America. Simplot hosted a field day at Under the Hill Farms on June 17 to experience. The potato processing company had heard he had been experiment- show other growers what Berry has been doing.ing with direct seeding and were interested in finding out more. I know weve got a lot of people across North America that are talking Sustainability, soil health and water conservation are always at the fore- about this, Wall says. Amongst the SPUDNIK dealer group, they all want to front of Simplots mind when it comes to growing high quality potato crops,keep updated on how this works. This could change some stuff if it does work.Scott Graham, agronomy raw development manager with J.R. Simplot Company,Results will be being released after Berry harvests the crop this year. A potato planton Under the Hills Farms which was planted using direct seeding with minimal tillage. The crop was planted into canola stubble. PHOTO: ASHLEY ROBINSONSUMMER 2020 SPUDSMART.COM 25'