Sustainability

Multiple Planting Options to Meet Our Sustainability Goal

June 16, 2017

May continued to provide weather challenges for planting. It was so wet and cold at points, we had to halt planting for a while. We finally finished with our last field the first of June.

Where planting corn into strip tilled ground is fairly uniform across all our fields, we have a little bit more variability when it comes to planting soybeans. On a number of our fields we applied cereal rye cover crops into the corn before we harvested last fall. The rye grew and stayed in our fields over the winter, protecting the soil from wind and water erosion. The residue from the rye will provide structure and organic matter to our soil and we’re hoping for some weed suppression as well.

Other fields that did not have cover crops were no-tilled. This means we left the residue from corn harvest the previous fall in the field and planted beans directly into those conditions this spring. Again, the residue acts as a cover to our soil, protecting from erosion and leaving the soil undisturbed, which helps us keep building our soil structure.

Something new on our farm this year is planting high oleic Plenish soybeans. We were able to contract acres with a processing facility and are planting around 150 acres. Everything about planting and growing high oleic soybeans is no different from any other field until it comes to harvest. The harvested high oleic soybeans have to be kept separate from our commodity soybeans and delivered to a different facility. We do receive a premium per bushel for growing these specialty beans, which is always helpful in a tight farm economy.

Now we need some sun and heat to make sure this crop gets off to a good start!

Plant 2017 is complete! Here is a no-tilled field ready for soybeans.
This is the first year we could plant high oleic soybeans in our area. The premium in addition to the similar production management to commodity soybeans made choosing high oleic a smart business decision.

June 7, 2017

We finally finished planting corn on May 14th and moved right into soybeans. Unfortunately, we had some really wet and cold weather not long after starting beans. Luckily, what was already in the ground wasn’t adversely affected by the cold. However, we could really use some sun and heat for all the crops and then we can finish getting the soybeans in the ground!

With the weather causing a hiatus in planting, I was able to attend the Sustainable Brands conference in Detroit, Michigan. Along with fellow women soybean farmers from across the country, I had some really valuable conversations with many food companies about our on-farm sustainability. It was a wonderful chance to share the specific practices and tools we use to help raise sustainable soy in this country – from the different soybean varieties we choose, to our conservation efforts with reduced tillage and buffer strips and everything in-between. It’s always nice to get off the farm and explore other parts of the country.

We’re hoping the weather will cooperate and we can finish planting soybeans and move on to the next activity of the growing season – spraying.

L-R: CommonGround volunteer, Katie Heger (North Dakota), myself and United Soybean Board farmer-leader Nancy Kavazanjian (Wisconsin) working the USB booth at the Sustainable Brands conference in Detroit, Michigan.
Fellow CommonGround volunteer, Carla Schultz (Michigan) and I attending the Sustainable Brands Conference.

May 22, 2017

Plant ’17 is officially underway! After a wet and cold spring thus far, we were able to get into the field on Monday, May 8th. Although we are a little behind getting the corn into the ground, this is an ideal time for us to be planting soybeans.

Compared to last spring, we are getting a late start, but we are catching up quickly. Living in southwest Minnesota, it is safe to assume the weather will always be a factor. This year it was snow in May. Some years it’s too wet or too cold. At the end of the day, I cannot complain about the timing of our planting.

Every sustainable production system has its advantages and disadvantages; there will always be challenges, and no sustainable practice is a “one size fits all.” For our operation, no-tilling works. The goal is to have healthy and productive soil, and that is something we are very passionate about.

It is a common misconception that no-till fields take much longer to dry. However, that is not the case in our fields, as the snow and rain moved through our soil quickly. No-till isn’t foolproof, but at the end of the day, it improves our soil health – and that’s our ultimate goal.

Bryan takes another lap with the planter as the kids watch
We were able to start planting the second week of May
Lauren Biegler
Lauren Biegler

U.S. Soybean farmer

Minnesota

Lauren and her husband, Bryan, grow corn and soybeans on their farm in Lake Wilson, Minnesota. Lauren has been a CommonGround volunteer for three years. She and her husband have three children.