Ed Hanson, Sunderland, Durham, Ontario
12 July 2015
Ed had the honour of being my last visit on my North America tour and he did not disappoint. Ed is a farmer, a fertiliser salesman, a contractor, chairman of the local no till group and soon to be the father of his fourth child, all boys! I was lucky he had time to see me!
We first went to the land around Ed’s house which he bought a couple of years ago. This last year he had put in tile drainage. He also farms the field on the other side of the landing strip for someone else.
As you see there is a huge difference in the two crops. Ed’s drained side looks great and the other side looks poor, very waterlogged.
This has convinced the landowner to invest in some drainage this year. Seeing is believing! Both sides of the field were pasture for years and have structural problems. Ed has interseeded into both a mixture of annual rye grass, red clover and white clover. He has been doing this for a few years and likes to go as early as possible; the 3-7 leaf timing.
He has a great stand and wants to put some interseeding in the row now as well, and try to get to a stage where no herbicide is necessary. He has found a 7bu an acre yield benefit from interseeding. As the field was pasture it has SOM of 5-6% and so he wants to protect this and not lose it. He also will only use 100# of N in the crop. The difference with Ed is that his interseeded crops will be grazed by cattle after harvest. So the cattle will graze the greenery and also the residue. As he is no-till the residue can be a problem and the cattle help convert the residue and are another income stream.
We then went to his friend Scott’s farm. Scott grows Adzuki beans along with corn and wheat and also has a beef feedlot. We saw a field of interseeded corn after Adzuki beans and they were leaving the beans there to add to the companion crop.
I do wonder at home why we bother to kill out the volunteer beans in wheat. Scott no-tills all his crops and they looked excellent.
We then went to a local hog farm who Ed also works with. This field was corn after wheat and had not seen a herbicide for two years: they do not need to put a herbicide on their wheat. Ed puts it down to no-till, high seed rates and also the manure getting the wheat off to a good start.
This is what Ed uses to spread his companion crops while side dressing. He is looking at a self-propelled front mounted boom with the Dawn units as he is struggling to cover 3,000 acres with this machine.
All the crops Ed showed me were pure no-till, and it was good to see that this is possible. I was starting to think it was not. Ed puts their success down to early fertility. He puts fertiliser on with the planter and so gets the crops off to a good start. He puts in on 2 by 2, which means two inches from the row and two inches under. This backs up what Dwayne Beck said that corn feeder roots go sideways for fertility not downwards and so why put it below the plant? This was shown in Ed’s crops as they had very good strong side roots in the middle of the row. His crops were the most even and consistent looking that I have seen in Ontario: you can no-till corn!
Ed was a very humble guy and was a firm believer in not just making money but also being a steward of the land and also an active member of the community. I was also impressed how he shared equipment, time and knowledge with his friends and neighbours. It is amazing what can be done if you work together, not compete against each other.