At Constant Canopy Farms in Gaston, Indiana, Jason Mauck does things a little differently. He joins Shaun Haney for this RealAg LIVE! Q&A to talk relay cropping, sunlight interception, and moving livestock on to crop land.
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- Constant Canopy Farms is 400 acres of “funny farm” as Jason describes it. Mauck Farms is the more traditional farm with conventional crops and about 12,000 pigs.
- Jason used to be a landscape contractor and has a degree in marketing. He’s comfortable with plants and having a lot of plant canopy. When he got back to the farm he wanted to experiment a bit and see how far he could push a plant’s ability to use all that photosynthesis.
- Having access to tons of manure, he needed to take advantage of that
- Relay cropping, what is it? Two different crops that come off at two different times. Wheat and soybeans for example. But not limited to just this combo, there are others. Different from intercropping, where crops are harvested together.
- As you decrease the amount of plants, you get more plant yield. The wheat will be way ahead of the soybeans. Getting two to four heads per wheat plant.
- Wheat residue helps out with the next crop — soybeans.
- Plant populations? Start out with some early soybeans, then come in and plant the wheat crop, set it up with P and K, then maybe a double shot of N. Ballpark 250,000 to a million seeds per acre, depending on the soil type.
- Planting wheat with the manure tanker, above the manure injection.
- It means planting a cash crop with hardly any cost at all.
- Fertility concerns: where Jason is there’s so much manure available for them that they go off that.
- Purchased a meat company just recently. Why move the animals, when the animals can prime the spot in the field they grazed in order to grow bigger crops next year? Mobile coops for sheep and chicken tractors.
- Herbicides? Apply soybean herbicides a little earlier. Hood-spraying worked pretty good for them, using little trashcans.
- What do the neighbours think? Jason was “really nuts” three years ago, but recently there was a caravan and crop tours with a bus and now he’s maybe not so crazy.
- Speaking engagements? It has toned down since he’s got some kids. He’ll figure out how to ramp those up again.
- From a revenue per acre standpoint, it’s a win-win
- All those gaps from the relay cropping look really bad, but after a rain, those plants will fill in and really take advantage of the sun.
- Sharing knowledge with western Canada at all? Through Twitter and at some conferences. Flexi-fingers have been great
- Where did #farmweird come from? Jason’s wife had the idea for the name and they agreed it should be used to share whatever you’re doing that would be called weird.
- By adding some more diversity, you can increase your profit margins, which might disrupt some of the big ag companies, Jason thinks. If you’re into mathematics you can’t argue the derivative.”
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