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Articles about Grissom Air Reserve Base, soybean stubble bring comments

soybean tilled field
FRAGILE COMMODITY: Soybean residue is more fragile and has less total volume after harvest than corn residue. Any type of fall tillage of soybean stubble can reduce soil protection over winter.
Readers Report: Many people are concerned about tillage after soybeans last fall; Howard County farmer reports on further impacts of area military activity.

The story "Past explains this present-day yield map" in the December 2016 issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer (Page 4) and online caught Roger Berry’s attention. The Howard County educator and farm management adviser adds some insight to what happened in the area during World War II.

The story explained that Randy Overman, Peru, still has circular spots in one field that don’t yield as well as the rest of the field in most years. He traced the situation back to when the farm was used as auxiliary air strips for the main base at Bunker Hill, which today is Grissom Air Reserve Base. According to Berry, Overman isn’t the only one in the general area who farms land that was once impacted by military activity.

Dear editor,
I noticed a brief mention of the Grissom Air Reserve Base in a recent issue.

One of the farmers who used to live and farm in Howard County, now deceased, told me that during World War II, the government acquired his farm and turned it into a runway for pilot training. Pilots would take off and land on this property, and then do the same thing a few miles north at [what is now] Grissom Air Reserve Base.

Many of the pilots were in the Navy. They were given the nickname of "cornfield sailors."

Roger Berry,
Howard County

Too much tillage
Several people have commented about "Too many soybean fields still tilled," an editorial in the January 2017 issue (Page 10). Each one has lamented the fact that so many fields were tilled up this past fall to lie bare over winter. Some have noted that even vertical tillage after soybeans in the fall destroys lots of fragile soybean residue, especially if the vertical-tillage tool is aggressive.

Here is a letter from an old friend that sums up what many others have said.

Dear editor,
I just had to say thanks after reading the [story about] soybean tilled fields. I think you have written an article on this subject before, and I hope other articles will be written in the future. I agree with you on the reasons that many farmers use for not waiting until spring.

There is at least one other reason that we heard 50 years ago: “We have to be sure of the crop in order to pay for the farm. When we get the farm paid for, we will try no-till.”

I think that most of the [soil] erosion now is sheet erosion, and that is more difficult to put a value on than it was when the tractor would not cross the gullies.

Bert Geswein,
retired soil conservationist,
Clay County

Editor’s note: You’re correct, Bert. We’ve written stories similar to this many times in the past. And don’t worry, we will keep beating the drum for soil conservation, especially when it comes to the wisdom of leaving soybean stubble alone in the fall so it can provide protection over winter.



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