Opinion

New farm equipment for SASWCD

HOULTON, Maine — The Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District recently bought a new piece of farm equipment that, when it arrived, I honestly felt giddy. The feeling reminded me of the years of putting up loose hay before my husband and I finally bought a hay baler that worked (nod if you can relate). 

On that day I nearly wept from happiness. This is different, but still cause for celebration. As some of you have experienced first-hand, the district had been limping along renting out an older, no-till seeder that ultimately met our conservation priorities but had some, to put it nicely, operating idiosyncrasies Thanks to yearly donations and savings from the SASWCD, this spring we began actively looking for an upgrade, and now it’s here.

The new Esch 5610 no-till seeder has a 10-foot planting width, closer seed spacing, is quickly calibrated, and easily operated. Since soil health has been a district priority for several years, the new seeder fits well into our plan of expansion of the machine’s use on row crop farms. 

(Courtesy of Angie Wotton)

This can be incorporated by decreasing tillage in a crop rotation year by no-tilling cover crops into potato ground or after a grain harvest. Integrating no-till into a cropping system can help reduce erosion, increase organic matter and water infiltration, and capture all-important carbon.

It can also eliminate up to four passes over the field. When looking at a farm system as a whole, the no-till seeder can play a valuable part on both crop and livestock farms.

Gene Lawlor, board chairman for the SASWCD, said he believes that farming practices should stand firm on sound conservation principles that lead to positive growth in the long-term health and productivity of our soils. 

“There is no just holding your own in life,” he said. “We are either moving forward or moving backwards.” 

Minimizing tillage moves us forward and strengthens the land. Lawlor added, “Having the new no-till seeder is a great benefit for area farmers and a tribute to the district’s commitment to soil health.”

The seeder is available for rent at a rate of $15 per acre. A YouTube video of how the seeder works can be found at https://youtu.be/E8-sSoym7LA.  For more information, contact the SASWCD at 207-254-4126 or angela.wotton@me.nacdnet.net

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