Friday, 12 July 2013

Heading to North Dakota Day 25

After the very hectic day yesterday with Dwayne Beck at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm today was a more relaxed day driving the 200 miles north to Bismark in North Dakota.  We took our time to stop off several times along the way to 'poke' around in many different field and machinery dealerships along the way.  Our first place to stop was Ohae Dam  It was started in the 1940's and is used to generate hydro electric electricity for the region.  There was also a plan to move the lake water 200 miles by canal to the East to irrigate crops when there rotation was wheat, summer fallow, wheat summer fallow etc.  This rotation caused the dust bowls, similar to those at Oklahoma and Kansas in the 1930's.  With zero tillage adoption pushed by Dwayne among other reasons the plan (thankfully) was scrapped.  We called in to kick some tyres along the way.  This is the flag ship Quadtrac, weighing in at 600 hp it was quite a beast!  The keys were just sitting in the tractor cab, unlocked, so we had a sit in and marvelled at the size and the power, bristling with gadgets and the latest technology.
Along the way we stopped at a few fields, of biotech soybeans, very clean crops, no sign of weed resistance and zero tilled helping reduce that problem.  I've learnt that by not disturbing he soil surface, you get less weed germination, so you can reduce herbicides, incur  less costs and improve the environment buy not applying herbicides all the time for weed control, which we have to do.
We also stopped at some spring wheat, zero tilled into corn stubble and it looked fantastic.  The corn stalked had mulched the wheat seeds, reducing weed development and retained the rain, reducing soil erosion and keeping the water where it's needed for these crops, the soil.  The wheat was very clean and I suspect it had not had any fungicides as there were no tramlines to be found.  You can see the previous crop residue at the bottom of the picture.  You need a special drill/planter to get through that kind of trash.
We headed up the road still further to find more examples of late night country entertainment.  This one is shooting at the road signs, as shown above, with the numerous bullet holes peppering the sign.  This wasn't the only peppered sign, they were everywhere!

On the outskirts on Mandan we found the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery so we spent a few quiet moments wandering around reading the grave stones of people who had served the United States over the last 100 years.  It was very hot by now, over 90 degrees Fahrenheit so we got back into the car and headed north.  It was a lovely site and was perfectly manicured and laid out.
We headed onwards and stopped one last time to watch some cows and calves relaxing in a watering hole.  It was so hot I felt like hopping in and joining them!  There seemed to be plenty of water and the cows and horses seemed quite able to cope in the warm weather.  Once through Bismark we headed  East out to Brown's Ranch where our journey into soil health continues tomorrow morning.

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