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12C

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

DON WHITCOMB Cont. from page 11C bushels of corn done," he said. "We would sometimes have two wagons going at a time. They were narrow wagons with bank boards. "We would have to help shovel the corn into the corncribs. We would lower the end gate and start from the ground until there was enough out of the wagon." Later on the farm, the silos were filled with corn and the surplus was taken to the elevator. "We also used the corn to feed the livestock," said Whitcomb. In the fall, after harvesting, four horses were used to disc the ground. "It had an iron seat, which provided a very bumpy ride," said Whitcomb. Last year was the first year in the history of the farm that cattle was not raised on the property. "This farm has always been known as a livestock farm, but our renter has some physical concerns and decided to not raise cattle," said Whitcomb. "So, all the corn was sold to the elevator." Whitcomb said over the years the coming of the tractor and bigger machinery including corn planters and combines have changed the face of farming.

Whitcomb riding the disc plow many years ago. (contributed photo.)

"I remember our first tractor," he said. "It was a Fordson tractor." In the '20s, Whitcomb's father had a tandem disc harrow. He also added an International combine in 1943. Looking back over the years, Whitcomb says his best memories were of harvest time. "To see the corn come out of the field into the cart was great," he said. "Farming also helped me to learn about life. "It also helped me to exercise more which may be why I am 102." Whitcomb went on to say he wishes smaller farms and smaller equipment would return to help more people find jobs. "But, I don't think that's going to happen," he said. He said one of toughest challenges, as a farmer, was getting his five daughters through college. For the young farmer, Whitcomb offered the following advice: "Get in touch with a farmer and start helping on their farm. "Don't expect to start out big. Start small, and finally, start at the bottom and work your way up. Don't expect to start out at the top."

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A special ag supplement SECTION C

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 VOL. 147 • NO. 4


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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

Farming a true ‘family affair’ in the early years by Jim Cross Press-News Reporter "As soon as I was able to do things, I was helping with chores on the farm," said Osage's Don Whitcomb. "I also helped with the crops which were mainly corn." Whitcomb's first memory of helping on the family farm was at the age of seventeen in 1926 (he will be celebrating his 103rd birthday this year). The Whitcomb family farm, where Whitcomb still livies, was like many family farms at that time. It sustained the family as well as the animals living on the farm. "We had many different kinds of animals - geese, turkeys, chickens, pigs and beef cows," he said. "We butchered our own meat and grew our own vegetables." One of the most important crops grown on the farm was corn. "We had 100-acres of corn, the same 100-acres that are farmed today," he said. Unlike today, when a farmer orders his

Don Whitcomb looking through one of his many family photo albums of his 102 years of living on his family farm in Mitchell County. (Press-News photo by Jim Cross.) seed corn from his dealer, farmers in the early 1900s had to find their own seed.

Before the first frost, each member of the family would take a sack to the corn-

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family would take the good ears of corn down from the attic and carry them to the machine shed to the hand-cranked corn sheller. "That's how seed corn was developed," he said. "The process was repeated each fall and each spring." He said the process would take two to three days to get the corn in the house in the fall and the same in the spring. "Everyone in the family did their part," he said. "My grandpa lived on the farm and he also helped." Whitcomb had one brother and two sisters helping along with his parents. When it was time to plant, Whitcomb's dad would hook up the Hayes check tworow planter to the horses. "The wheels on the planter turned out so it would press the soil close to the kernel," he said. The planter, developed in 1887, featured the patented Hayes wire reel for rolling and unrolling the check wire. "The rows were planted every 40 inches and then cultivated crossways," said Whitcomb. "My dad would plant from sunrise to sunset. On a good day, he could plant 10-15 acres. It usually took him 10 days to plant, if the weather was good." His father started out cultivating with a one-row cultivator but later moved up to a two-row cultivator that was pulled with three horses. "It was quite a job just getting the horses hitched and ready to go," said Whitcomb. "When you cultivated, you drove the horses with your hands and the cultivator with your feet." He said, once the corn was six inches or taller, the horses would follow the row of corn. "Early on, you would have to use a string, but once it got tall enough, you didn't have to," he said. After spending the growing season

Whitcomb tying shocks during harvestime on the farm. (Contributed photo.) fighting weeds, it came time to harvest. "You needed gloves for your fingers," said Whitcomb, "and a clamp which you attached to your right wrist. "You would then take the corn in your left hand, run the clamp over the corn and then break it off the stalk and throw it into the wagon." He said the goal was to "have an ear of corn in the air at all times." Usually Whitcomb's brother, father and dad would help - sometimes not that many at a time, sometimes just one. "On a good day, we could get 100-

DON WHITCOMB Please turn to page 12C

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field and pick the best ears of corn. "We'd put the sacks in the back of whatever vehicle was in the field and take them back to the house," said Whitcomb. "Then we would carry all of the ears of corn up to the attic and hang them on nails." The corn would hang to dry until the spring. "In the spring, dad would examine each ear of corn," he said. "He would take a kernel from each ear and place it in a moist bag or sack. "He would then put the bag or sack in a warm place and wait for the kernels to sprout. If it didn't sprout, he threw it out." Whitcomb said his father would mark each ear to know where each kernel came from. "There had to be thousands of ears of corn in the attic," said Whitcomb. When it came time for planting, the

DON WHITCOMB Cont. from page 2C

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

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Even though the tillage practice known as strip till/no till (ST/NT) has been around for several years,they the technique is recently getting more attention and gaining popularity. This past crop year, a local Osage farmer, Dale Hemann, decided to experiment with the ST/NT system on his farm and learned of the many benefits this tillage practice has to offer. Skeptical at first, Dale tried the practice on a limited number of acres. After harvest Dale said that the field he used the ST/NT on was “some of the best corn he raised this year” and found that it was one of the better yielding fields he harvested in 2011. While doing his research, trying to decide whether or not try the ST/NT practice, Dale stopped by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service office (USDA/ NRCS) to gather some of his information. While at the office Dale learned that there are funds available, from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), to help landowner/operators cost share the expense of implementing these new practices on their farms. Since Dale is located in the Spring Creek Watershed he is also eligible for added incentives from the Mississippi River Basin Incentive program offered by USDA/NRCS. This practice typically involves conventional tillage of a narrow strip of ground

Strip till land on the Dale Hemann farm. (6-8” wide), leaving wider untilled strips between that have soil protecting residue left on them. Generally a corn crop is planted into these tilled strips and a soybean crop is planted into the corn stubble the following year using equipment that does not require tillage before planting. This system keeps enough residue on the ground throughout the year to provide excellent soil erosion protection and provides crop production benefits that can only be attained with a conventional tillage system. Soil erosion protection is not the only benefit that producers can earn when using ST/NT. Fuel and time are saved because this practice only requires one pass across the field before planting. The nutrients are placed in the strips when they are installed making them readily available where and when the plants need them. Less equipment is required to perform tillage and planting operations therefore reducing machinery investment.

Last but not least soil quality is improved which increases soil tilth, water absorption and nutrient availability. There have been many improvements in the ST/NT systems used today compared to when this tillage practice was first introduced. Improved design in equipment to perform the strip till operation and satellite guidance technology for improved placement of nutrients and seed have made this tillage practice more attractive. With more success stories from farmers using the ST/NT practice it seems like this is a wise economic and environmental choice. For more information about the strip till/no till practice please take time to visit with Dale or one of the many Mitchell County farmers who are successfully using this system. Stop by and visit with the staff at the Mitchell County USDA/ NRCS office at: 1529 Main St, Osage, or phone: 641732-5504 for more information about funding to help you try this practice on your farm.

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

Young Osage area farmer looks to corn for bright future by Jim Cross Press-News Reporter Once you start to talk farming with Osage high school junior Jared Tolliver, it doesn't take long to see that farming is his passion. "I started helping my grandpa on his farm, when I was seven or eight-yearsold," said Tolliver. "I would ride on the tractor, help load and of course, pick rock." Tolliver said he always knew he would be in farming. "I always asked questions," he said. "I wanted to learn everything I could." At the age of 12, Tolliver said his family left farming. But just a couple of years later, he found himself back on the farm, this time at Brad Balsley' farm north of Floyd. "I started working for Brad when I was 14 years old," said Tolliver. "I help with his daily chores including feeding his cattle. "I also pick rock, spread manure and any other jobs he needs me to do."

After graduation, Tolliver plans to attend Iowa State University and major in some area of agriculture. "For young farmers, it seems you have to have family farming," said Tolliver. "Otherwise, it's hard to get into farming with the price of land and equipment." He went on to say that it's become very discouraging for young farmers like him to really get into farming. "Farming is so expensive," he said. "With big farmers taking up all the land from smaller owners, it's getting hard to find land. "We need some kind of a program to help young farmers to not get discouraged and help us to get started. Otherwise, you have to have the land handed to you by a family member." In regards to the current land prices, Tolliver added, "When you are buying land, you need to know your limits. When is the price too much?"

Jared Tolliver feeds cattle on the Paul Balsley farm. (Press-News photo by Jim Cross.)

TOLLIVER Please turn to page 9C

TOLLIVER Cont. from page 4C How much land would a young farmer want to get started? "Depending on the soil composition and the cost per acre, I would be happy with 100-acres," said Tolliver. "If the price was high, then maybe a little less. "You can have a good profit on a small amount of good ground," said Tolliver. "It's the quality not necessarily the quantity." His favorite crop of choice? Corn. "Well, you have to mix in some beans," he said. "It's rewarding being a young farmer in Iowa. I am helping to feed the world with the corn I help to grow. "Also, by helping to take care of the animals and feeding them the corn I helped to grow, I am also helping to feed the world." Tolliver did admit he didn't realize what it was like to be a farmer when he was young. "I now know there is a cost and sometimes being a farmer is a gamble," said Tolliver. "But, no matter what, I plan to follow my grandpa's slogan: 'I'm going to keep farming until I can't farm no more.'"

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

MARK’S TRACTOR - OSAGE Cont. from page 5C ping system. “It’s going to be the way North America plants corn,” Evans said. He added that Pioneer and Monsanto are setting the bar so that crop yields double by the year 2030. He said his company has had continuous test plots for the past 10 years utilizing the twin-row idea. The outcome has showed that light is utilized more efficiently by the plants, which will result in higher profits for farmers on less land. It allows the right amount of light to reach each plant. Evans said farmers have been planting corn 30 inches apart for the past 60 years, but now it’s time for a change. Corn is still being planted with a 30-inch center, but the single row is replaced by two rows eight inches apart. To convert to twin-row planting, farmers need a planter capable of twin-rows; the combine they are already using for harvest will still work. The same planter can be used for corn or soybeans. The corn has to be planted in a diamond patters so that the root system can ade-

Planter-type comparisons (courtesy of Mark’s Tractor and Implement quately develop, giving it room to expand rather than grow side by side. Great Plains has discovered through test plot research that corn can be planted with a seed population as high as 60,000 seeds per acre because of the space

between the plants. Semi-retired Osage farmer Don Ahrens is one local producer who has engaged in twin-row planting in recent years. He said agronomists, have done

research showing yield increases of 6 to 21 bushels over 30’ rows. Ahrens said that some growers have gone to 22”, 20 “or 15” rows. The problem with this is the requirement of different equipment to handle the change in row spacing. “The twin row concept is still based on 30-inch row spacing - with twin rows 7 inches apart and between-row spacing of 23 inches,” said Ahrens. “ As for yield myself, some years there has been a nice increase and others not as big a difference.” The twin row planter that Ahrens uses was basically created by himself and other farm friends several years ago. He worked with Joe Malecek of Progressive Planting Systems and Mark Taets of Marks Tractor and Implement to modify a Kinze planter. The planter units are on a double frame. The rear units, starting in the center were moved in 3 1/2” off the 30” spacing and the front ones were moved out 3 1/2”. Modifications were made for the drive system, as well as to the meters. In terms of new models, both Taets and Evans remain convinced that twin-row corn is the wave of the future, noting that sales for folks wanting to try twin-row planting continues to increase.

Twin-row planters the big buzz at Mark’s Tractor by David Namanny Press-News Editor In recent years, twin-row corn planting has been generating a buzz not only among agronomists, but on several farms right here in Mitchell County. Many local farmers want to know how twin-row cropping will benefit their operation, what equipment is needed, if additional harvesting equipment is necessary, how crops will fare and if the returns are worth the investment. The answers to those questions can be found by talking to Mark Taets of Mark’s Tractor and Implement of Osage, who sells twin-row planters under the Great Plains brand. He has also conducted test plots of his own and discovered that yields are indeed higher, by as much as 2.5 to 25 bushels per acre, depending on variety. Taets noted that while better plant genetics may be driving the twin row method; he said it just makes sense if a farmer is trying to increase profits with better yields on the same amount of

acreage. “It’s the coming thing,” said Taets. “I know we’ve sold several planters here in Mitchell County and helped modify others.” In the twin row system, crops are planted in twin rows, 7 to 8 inches apart, on 30inch centers, with a staggered seed drop. According to Taets, the seed is allowed more growing room in the pattern. This zigzag seed pattern allows plants and their roots to grow over a larger area, allowing plants to catch and process more sunlight and gain better access to nutrients, with fewer diseases, all resulting in healthier, more uniform crops and improved yields. “Although a different planter is needed, farmers can use the same corn head on their combine that they’re using now,” Taets said. Tom Evans, company representative for Great Plains, said genetics is definitely the force behind the idea of a twin-row cropMark Taets of Mark’s Tractor and Implement shows off the latest Great Plains twin-row planter he offers farmers at his business northwest of Osage. (Press-News photo by David Namanny)

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

Intelligent machinery found at North Country Equipment in Osage by David Namanny Press-News Editor

Randy Norby of North Country Equipment says technology is increasing yields and reducing cost inputs in Mitchell County. (Press-News photo by David Namanny) Unverferth Seed Tenders

Randy Norby of North Country Equipment in Osage has seen a lot of changes in farm equipment technology since he and his family first bought the local John Deere dealership in 1979. Back then, John Deere farm implements had a lot of bells and whistles, but those luxuries over the decades have turned into high-tech systems that make farming more efficient, resulting in lower input costs and higher yields for area producers First, it was the global positioning systems, or GPS, that were all the rage,

but the latest innovations are the new series of John Deere Intelligent Vehicle Systems (IVS). With this latest technology, farmers can doing anything from monitor the moisture levels, seed distribution and yields in each pass, to pushing a button and letting the implement drive itself, guided by a computer program. "There's more lines of computer code in farm equipment today than there was on the first space shuttle," said Norby. "While all the newer models come with it, this newer technology can be added to most of today's equipment. We are seeing a lot of

NORTH COUNTRY - OSAGE Please turn to page 7C

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NORTH COUNTRY - OSAGE Cont. from page 6C that." An additional advantage to the new technology is that the data can be used live or stored and used later for mapping and future planting and harvesting seasons, thus maximizing the use of land and information. One of the more popular features for corn planting is the John Deere RowCommand unit, which makes planting nearly flawless and precise. Controlled by the computer system in the cab and on the planter, farmers can set an electric clutch on each row, up to 16 different sections, configured for individual or row control. "With today's seed costs, no one can afford to waste any," said Norby. "With this new technology, you can put the seed exactly where you want it. Overplanting of point rows and headland rows are no longer a problem." By using in-cab controls when planting corn, the software can pair John Deere's RowCommand with swath control, a new software program which allows farmers to turn planter sections or rows on and off based on GPS. Used in combination, the planting tech-

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Randy Norby sets one of the many IVS computer systems found on the John Deere units he sells at North Country in Osage. (Press-News photo by David Namanny) nology, can reduce overlap and waste, improve machine efficiency and get the job done faster and more accurately. "We've seen a tremendous growth in the technology sales over the past seven years

Plan Carefully today... Harvest BIGGER Later!!

or so," said Norby. "We sell many components every year, and there's also a growing used market for this technology, as younger farmers upgrade."

In 1979, the Norby family (John, Bonnie, Pam, Dana, Steve, and Randy) purchased the John Deere dealership in Osage. It was renamed Norby Green Country, Inc. The existing site, on Highway 9 on the east edge of Osage, was built about 1960 after the dealership had been downtown. Over the years several changes have been made. In 1988 the accounting system was computerized, and later the progression to computers was completed for the parts, service, and sales departments. Also in 1988, a new 7,000 square-foot service area was added to the west of the existing building, more than doubling the available space for repair and setup work. In 1992, a 14 x 60-foot office facility was added on the south side of the existing building, freeing up space to remodel the showroom and parts sales area. In July 2007, Norby Green Country merged with Northwood Equipment in Northwood to create a new John Deere dealership which serves a vast array of customers in Mitchell and Worth Counties and beyond. Recently, in 2011, another 10,000 square feet of service area was added to the building. Currently there are 34 employees at North Country Equipment.

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

Intelligent machinery found at North Country Equipment in Osage by David Namanny Press-News Editor

Randy Norby of North Country Equipment says technology is increasing yields and reducing cost inputs in Mitchell County. (Press-News photo by David Namanny) Unverferth Seed Tenders

Randy Norby of North Country Equipment in Osage has seen a lot of changes in farm equipment technology since he and his family first bought the local John Deere dealership in 1979. Back then, John Deere farm implements had a lot of bells and whistles, but those luxuries over the decades have turned into high-tech systems that make farming more efficient, resulting in lower input costs and higher yields for area producers First, it was the global positioning systems, or GPS, that were all the rage,

but the latest innovations are the new series of John Deere Intelligent Vehicle Systems (IVS). With this latest technology, farmers can doing anything from monitor the moisture levels, seed distribution and yields in each pass, to pushing a button and letting the implement drive itself, guided by a computer program. "There's more lines of computer code in farm equipment today than there was on the first space shuttle," said Norby. "While all the newer models come with it, this newer technology can be added to most of today's equipment. We are seeing a lot of

NORTH COUNTRY - OSAGE Please turn to page 7C

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NORTH COUNTRY - OSAGE Cont. from page 6C that." An additional advantage to the new technology is that the data can be used live or stored and used later for mapping and future planting and harvesting seasons, thus maximizing the use of land and information. One of the more popular features for corn planting is the John Deere RowCommand unit, which makes planting nearly flawless and precise. Controlled by the computer system in the cab and on the planter, farmers can set an electric clutch on each row, up to 16 different sections, configured for individual or row control. "With today's seed costs, no one can afford to waste any," said Norby. "With this new technology, you can put the seed exactly where you want it. Overplanting of point rows and headland rows are no longer a problem." By using in-cab controls when planting corn, the software can pair John Deere's RowCommand with swath control, a new software program which allows farmers to turn planter sections or rows on and off based on GPS. Used in combination, the planting tech-

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Randy Norby sets one of the many IVS computer systems found on the John Deere units he sells at North Country in Osage. (Press-News photo by David Namanny) nology, can reduce overlap and waste, improve machine efficiency and get the job done faster and more accurately. "We've seen a tremendous growth in the technology sales over the past seven years

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or so," said Norby. "We sell many components every year, and there's also a growing used market for this technology, as younger farmers upgrade."

In 1979, the Norby family (John, Bonnie, Pam, Dana, Steve, and Randy) purchased the John Deere dealership in Osage. It was renamed Norby Green Country, Inc. The existing site, on Highway 9 on the east edge of Osage, was built about 1960 after the dealership had been downtown. Over the years several changes have been made. In 1988 the accounting system was computerized, and later the progression to computers was completed for the parts, service, and sales departments. Also in 1988, a new 7,000 square-foot service area was added to the west of the existing building, more than doubling the available space for repair and setup work. In 1992, a 14 x 60-foot office facility was added on the south side of the existing building, freeing up space to remodel the showroom and parts sales area. In July 2007, Norby Green Country merged with Northwood Equipment in Northwood to create a new John Deere dealership which serves a vast array of customers in Mitchell and Worth Counties and beyond. Recently, in 2011, another 10,000 square feet of service area was added to the building. Currently there are 34 employees at North Country Equipment.

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

MARK’S TRACTOR - OSAGE Cont. from page 5C ping system. “It’s going to be the way North America plants corn,” Evans said. He added that Pioneer and Monsanto are setting the bar so that crop yields double by the year 2030. He said his company has had continuous test plots for the past 10 years utilizing the twin-row idea. The outcome has showed that light is utilized more efficiently by the plants, which will result in higher profits for farmers on less land. It allows the right amount of light to reach each plant. Evans said farmers have been planting corn 30 inches apart for the past 60 years, but now it’s time for a change. Corn is still being planted with a 30-inch center, but the single row is replaced by two rows eight inches apart. To convert to twin-row planting, farmers need a planter capable of twin-rows; the combine they are already using for harvest will still work. The same planter can be used for corn or soybeans. The corn has to be planted in a diamond patters so that the root system can ade-

Planter-type comparisons (courtesy of Mark’s Tractor and Implement quately develop, giving it room to expand rather than grow side by side. Great Plains has discovered through test plot research that corn can be planted with a seed population as high as 60,000 seeds per acre because of the space

between the plants. Semi-retired Osage farmer Don Ahrens is one local producer who has engaged in twin-row planting in recent years. He said agronomists, have done

research showing yield increases of 6 to 21 bushels over 30’ rows. Ahrens said that some growers have gone to 22”, 20 “or 15” rows. The problem with this is the requirement of different equipment to handle the change in row spacing. “The twin row concept is still based on 30-inch row spacing - with twin rows 7 inches apart and between-row spacing of 23 inches,” said Ahrens. “ As for yield myself, some years there has been a nice increase and others not as big a difference.” The twin row planter that Ahrens uses was basically created by himself and other farm friends several years ago. He worked with Joe Malecek of Progressive Planting Systems and Mark Taets of Marks Tractor and Implement to modify a Kinze planter. The planter units are on a double frame. The rear units, starting in the center were moved in 3 1/2” off the 30” spacing and the front ones were moved out 3 1/2”. Modifications were made for the drive system, as well as to the meters. In terms of new models, both Taets and Evans remain convinced that twin-row corn is the wave of the future, noting that sales for folks wanting to try twin-row planting continues to increase.

Twin-row planters the big buzz at Mark’s Tractor by David Namanny Press-News Editor In recent years, twin-row corn planting has been generating a buzz not only among agronomists, but on several farms right here in Mitchell County. Many local farmers want to know how twin-row cropping will benefit their operation, what equipment is needed, if additional harvesting equipment is necessary, how crops will fare and if the returns are worth the investment. The answers to those questions can be found by talking to Mark Taets of Mark’s Tractor and Implement of Osage, who sells twin-row planters under the Great Plains brand. He has also conducted test plots of his own and discovered that yields are indeed higher, by as much as 2.5 to 25 bushels per acre, depending on variety. Taets noted that while better plant genetics may be driving the twin row method; he said it just makes sense if a farmer is trying to increase profits with better yields on the same amount of

acreage. “It’s the coming thing,” said Taets. “I know we’ve sold several planters here in Mitchell County and helped modify others.” In the twin row system, crops are planted in twin rows, 7 to 8 inches apart, on 30inch centers, with a staggered seed drop. According to Taets, the seed is allowed more growing room in the pattern. This zigzag seed pattern allows plants and their roots to grow over a larger area, allowing plants to catch and process more sunlight and gain better access to nutrients, with fewer diseases, all resulting in healthier, more uniform crops and improved yields. “Although a different planter is needed, farmers can use the same corn head on their combine that they’re using now,” Taets said. Tom Evans, company representative for Great Plains, said genetics is definitely the force behind the idea of a twin-row cropMark Taets of Mark’s Tractor and Implement shows off the latest Great Plains twin-row planter he offers farmers at his business northwest of Osage. (Press-News photo by David Namanny)

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MARK’S TRACTOR OSAGE Please turn to page 8C


MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

Young Osage area farmer looks to corn for bright future by Jim Cross Press-News Reporter Once you start to talk farming with Osage high school junior Jared Tolliver, it doesn't take long to see that farming is his passion. "I started helping my grandpa on his farm, when I was seven or eight-yearsold," said Tolliver. "I would ride on the tractor, help load and of course, pick rock." Tolliver said he always knew he would be in farming. "I always asked questions," he said. "I wanted to learn everything I could." At the age of 12, Tolliver said his family left farming. But just a couple of years later, he found himself back on the farm, this time at Brad Balsley' farm north of Floyd. "I started working for Brad when I was 14 years old," said Tolliver. "I help with his daily chores including feeding his cattle. "I also pick rock, spread manure and any other jobs he needs me to do."

After graduation, Tolliver plans to attend Iowa State University and major in some area of agriculture. "For young farmers, it seems you have to have family farming," said Tolliver. "Otherwise, it's hard to get into farming with the price of land and equipment." He went on to say that it's become very discouraging for young farmers like him to really get into farming. "Farming is so expensive," he said. "With big farmers taking up all the land from smaller owners, it's getting hard to find land. "We need some kind of a program to help young farmers to not get discouraged and help us to get started. Otherwise, you have to have the land handed to you by a family member." In regards to the current land prices, Tolliver added, "When you are buying land, you need to know your limits. When is the price too much?"

Jared Tolliver feeds cattle on the Paul Balsley farm. (Press-News photo by Jim Cross.)

TOLLIVER Please turn to page 9C

TOLLIVER Cont. from page 4C How much land would a young farmer want to get started? "Depending on the soil composition and the cost per acre, I would be happy with 100-acres," said Tolliver. "If the price was high, then maybe a little less. "You can have a good profit on a small amount of good ground," said Tolliver. "It's the quality not necessarily the quantity." His favorite crop of choice? Corn. "Well, you have to mix in some beans," he said. "It's rewarding being a young farmer in Iowa. I am helping to feed the world with the corn I help to grow. "Also, by helping to take care of the animals and feeding them the corn I helped to grow, I am also helping to feed the world." Tolliver did admit he didn't realize what it was like to be a farmer when he was young. "I now know there is a cost and sometimes being a farmer is a gamble," said Tolliver. "But, no matter what, I plan to follow my grandpa's slogan: 'I'm going to keep farming until I can't farm no more.'"

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

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Even though the tillage practice known as strip till/no till (ST/NT) has been around for several years,they the technique is recently getting more attention and gaining popularity. This past crop year, a local Osage farmer, Dale Hemann, decided to experiment with the ST/NT system on his farm and learned of the many benefits this tillage practice has to offer. Skeptical at first, Dale tried the practice on a limited number of acres. After harvest Dale said that the field he used the ST/NT on was “some of the best corn he raised this year” and found that it was one of the better yielding fields he harvested in 2011. While doing his research, trying to decide whether or not try the ST/NT practice, Dale stopped by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service office (USDA/ NRCS) to gather some of his information. While at the office Dale learned that there are funds available, from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), to help landowner/operators cost share the expense of implementing these new practices on their farms. Since Dale is located in the Spring Creek Watershed he is also eligible for added incentives from the Mississippi River Basin Incentive program offered by USDA/NRCS. This practice typically involves conventional tillage of a narrow strip of ground

Strip till land on the Dale Hemann farm. (6-8” wide), leaving wider untilled strips between that have soil protecting residue left on them. Generally a corn crop is planted into these tilled strips and a soybean crop is planted into the corn stubble the following year using equipment that does not require tillage before planting. This system keeps enough residue on the ground throughout the year to provide excellent soil erosion protection and provides crop production benefits that can only be attained with a conventional tillage system. Soil erosion protection is not the only benefit that producers can earn when using ST/NT. Fuel and time are saved because this practice only requires one pass across the field before planting. The nutrients are placed in the strips when they are installed making them readily available where and when the plants need them. Less equipment is required to perform tillage and planting operations therefore reducing machinery investment.

Last but not least soil quality is improved which increases soil tilth, water absorption and nutrient availability. There have been many improvements in the ST/NT systems used today compared to when this tillage practice was first introduced. Improved design in equipment to perform the strip till operation and satellite guidance technology for improved placement of nutrients and seed have made this tillage practice more attractive. With more success stories from farmers using the ST/NT practice it seems like this is a wise economic and environmental choice. For more information about the strip till/no till practice please take time to visit with Dale or one of the many Mitchell County farmers who are successfully using this system. Stop by and visit with the staff at the Mitchell County USDA/ NRCS office at: 1529 Main St, Osage, or phone: 641732-5504 for more information about funding to help you try this practice on your farm.

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan 25, 2012

Farming a true ‘family affair’ in the early years by Jim Cross Press-News Reporter "As soon as I was able to do things, I was helping with chores on the farm," said Osage's Don Whitcomb. "I also helped with the crops which were mainly corn." Whitcomb's first memory of helping on the family farm was at the age of seventeen in 1926 (he will be celebrating his 103rd birthday this year). The Whitcomb family farm, where Whitcomb still livies, was like many family farms at that time. It sustained the family as well as the animals living on the farm. "We had many different kinds of animals - geese, turkeys, chickens, pigs and beef cows," he said. "We butchered our own meat and grew our own vegetables." One of the most important crops grown on the farm was corn. "We had 100-acres of corn, the same 100-acres that are farmed today," he said. Unlike today, when a farmer orders his

Don Whitcomb looking through one of his many family photo albums of his 102 years of living on his family farm in Mitchell County. (Press-News photo by Jim Cross.) seed corn from his dealer, farmers in the early 1900s had to find their own seed.

Before the first frost, each member of the family would take a sack to the corn-

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family would take the good ears of corn down from the attic and carry them to the machine shed to the hand-cranked corn sheller. "That's how seed corn was developed," he said. "The process was repeated each fall and each spring." He said the process would take two to three days to get the corn in the house in the fall and the same in the spring. "Everyone in the family did their part," he said. "My grandpa lived on the farm and he also helped." Whitcomb had one brother and two sisters helping along with his parents. When it was time to plant, Whitcomb's dad would hook up the Hayes check tworow planter to the horses. "The wheels on the planter turned out so it would press the soil close to the kernel," he said. The planter, developed in 1887, featured the patented Hayes wire reel for rolling and unrolling the check wire. "The rows were planted every 40 inches and then cultivated crossways," said Whitcomb. "My dad would plant from sunrise to sunset. On a good day, he could plant 10-15 acres. It usually took him 10 days to plant, if the weather was good." His father started out cultivating with a one-row cultivator but later moved up to a two-row cultivator that was pulled with three horses. "It was quite a job just getting the horses hitched and ready to go," said Whitcomb. "When you cultivated, you drove the horses with your hands and the cultivator with your feet." He said, once the corn was six inches or taller, the horses would follow the row of corn. "Early on, you would have to use a string, but once it got tall enough, you didn't have to," he said. After spending the growing season

Whitcomb tying shocks during harvestime on the farm. (Contributed photo.) fighting weeds, it came time to harvest. "You needed gloves for your fingers," said Whitcomb, "and a clamp which you attached to your right wrist. "You would then take the corn in your left hand, run the clamp over the corn and then break it off the stalk and throw it into the wagon." He said the goal was to "have an ear of corn in the air at all times." Usually Whitcomb's brother, father and dad would help - sometimes not that many at a time, sometimes just one. "On a good day, we could get 100-

DON WHITCOMB Please turn to page 12C

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field and pick the best ears of corn. "We'd put the sacks in the back of whatever vehicle was in the field and take them back to the house," said Whitcomb. "Then we would carry all of the ears of corn up to the attic and hang them on nails." The corn would hang to dry until the spring. "In the spring, dad would examine each ear of corn," he said. "He would take a kernel from each ear and place it in a moist bag or sack. "He would then put the bag or sack in a warm place and wait for the kernels to sprout. If it didn't sprout, he threw it out." Whitcomb said his father would mark each ear to know where each kernel came from. "There had to be thousands of ears of corn in the attic," said Whitcomb. When it came time for planting, the

DON WHITCOMB Cont. from page 2C

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MITCHELL COUNTY PRESS-NEWS, Osage, IA, Wed., Jan. 25, 2012

DON WHITCOMB Cont. from page 11C bushels of corn done," he said. "We would sometimes have two wagons going at a time. They were narrow wagons with bank boards. "We would have to help shovel the corn into the corncribs. We would lower the end gate and start from the ground until there was enough out of the wagon." Later on the farm, the silos were filled with corn and the surplus was taken to the elevator. "We also used the corn to feed the livestock," said Whitcomb. In the fall, after harvesting, four horses were used to disc the ground. "It had an iron seat, which provided a very bumpy ride," said Whitcomb. Last year was the first year in the history of the farm that cattle was not raised on the property. "This farm has always been known as a livestock farm, but our renter has some physical concerns and decided to not raise cattle," said Whitcomb. "So, all the corn was sold to the elevator." Whitcomb said over the years the coming of the tractor and bigger machinery including corn planters and combines have changed the face of farming.

Whitcomb riding the disc plow many years ago. (contributed photo.)

"I remember our first tractor," he said. "It was a Fordson tractor." In the '20s, Whitcomb's father had a tandem disc harrow. He also added an International combine in 1943. Looking back over the years, Whitcomb says his best memories were of harvest time. "To see the corn come out of the field into the cart was great," he said. "Farming also helped me to learn about life. "It also helped me to exercise more which may be why I am 102." Whitcomb went on to say he wishes smaller farms and smaller equipment would return to help more people find jobs. "But, I don't think that's going to happen," he said. He said one of toughest challenges, as a farmer, was getting his five daughters through college. For the young farmer, Whitcomb offered the following advice: "Get in touch with a farmer and start helping on their farm. "Don't expect to start out big. Start small, and finally, start at the bottom and work your way up. Don't expect to start out at the top."

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A salute to our local producers

INSIDE: Interviews with ...

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A special ag supplement SECTION C

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 VOL. 147 • NO. 4


Iowa Corn 2012