AgTech has been a buzzword that has continuously grown. It can be great, and provide a lot of tools for us as farmers, but it can also be scary in the sense that we’re being bombarded with a ton of technologies, data and new tools that can help our operations. At Continuum Ag, we want to help you dig into these technologies and help you determine which ones are going to be the best fit for your farm. It all boils down to utilizing technology that helps us be more economically resilient and environmentally sustainable. Being sustainable means that we are continuously improving within the five principles of soil health:
- Minimize disturbance
- Keep armor on the soil
- Maintain a living root at all times
- Foster diversity
- Integrate livestock
The key to these principles is to then tweak the system to work for your operation. This way you can make improvements over time, even if you’re taking small baby steps so that every year you’re doing better than you did the year before. We can also use data to help us monitor this!
One of the things we want to highlight today is that in reducing tillage, there are still ways we can utilize tillage tools, but it’s about minimizing disturbance. Strip-till is one of those things that comes to mind as a way to till only a portion of the soil while maintaining coverage and living roots (with cover crops) across most of the living landscape.
I am spending much of the winter with the AgLaunch Accelerator program based in Memphis, Tennessee working with other companies and technologies that provide promise in helping us, as farmers, to continuously improve upon our economic resiliency and our environmental sustainability. Companies here at AgLaunch along with Continuum Ag include:
These companies provide a ton of new tools to help us be more sustainable but also ensure we are seeing an economic benefit in the short-term, while working towards long-term sustainability gains. The farm cannot be sustainable if we are not economically sustainable first.
As many of you have seen, we try to test a lot of these technologies on the Continuum Ag farm. This year we plan to expand our efforts with cover crops, do more with 60” rows, and expand relay-cropping efforts to include cereal rye. We’re also going to be experimenting with barley this year. We’re expanding our cropping rotations from corn and soybeans only to include winter wheat, cereal rye, and malt barley. We’re utilizing a variety of technologies as well to replace current starter fertilizer systems and utilize more biological friendly products. We’ll also be tying in aerial imagery from TerrAvion and Taranis as well as other technologies. We will be teaming up again with Rantizo and Rabbit Tractor and other input companies to help us make better decisions on the farm.
We also want to work with more supply chain companies to provide an economic opportunity for all farmers to work throughout the supply chain, be more transparent, and find better economic opportunities to reward our efforts across our farms.
We’d love to hear more of your ideas of what you’re trying on your farm and we hope we can help by connecting you with resources to successfully experiment and continue to learn. Remember that continuously improving upon the principles of soil health is key to helping us be more sustainable, while at the same time utilizing technology to help us provide economic value back to our pocketbooks. For more help, feel free to reach out anytime firstname.lastname@example.org.