Spud Growers Farm in Monte Vista this year introduced flowering strips and cattle grazing to its potato operation, and farm manager Doug Messick is seeing how they complement green manure, compost and the Soil Guys biotic blend in the field.

Colorado farm embraces alternatives

Soil Guys newsletter, August 2015

 

A combination of biotic practices on one southern Colorado farm is producing stunning Canela and Pacific Russet potatoes.

Spud Growers Farm in Monte Vista this year introduced flowering strips and cattle grazing to its potato operation, and farm manager Doug Messick is seeing how they complement green manure, compost and the Soil Guys biotic blend in the field.

The roughly 20 acres of flowering strips located both in and around the farm’s 25 circles are providing beneficial insect habitat, which is a tool in combating the aphids that spread the devastating Potato Virus Y (PVY) and are out in full force this season.

The Green Cover Seed flowering mix includes nitrogen fixing clovers; buckwheat, radish and peas. It fosters a proper habitat for beneficial insects like predatory beetles, lacewings and wasps, which are all known aphid predators.

Grazing about 150 head of cattle on the farm’s green manure crop is boosting its nutrient cycling and relationships in the San Luis Valley’s agriculture community.

“This brings farming and ranching together,” Messick said. “We are doing this to improve soil health and the quality of next year’s potato crop. We are letting nature do what it is intended to do.”

The farm, he said, introduced green manure into its rotation because it no longer wanted a monoculture in the fields, and compost along with the Soil Guys biotic blend to begin the transition to a system with limited “cide” and synthetic fertilizer applications.

“I am using less chemicals and no Vydate,” Messick said. “I feel really good about that. There is always the safety factor. These are safe to handle yet they are effective. We are building and improving our environment instead of trying to kill it. We have less inputs and a better quality crop.”

He added, “The combination of practices makes for beautiful potatoes growing in the fields. They look really nice. We are getting great yields and great quality, which is all the things we are in search of.”

This year, the farm purchased a broadcast cover crop spreader to attach to its deep chisel to sow the soil healing plants after harvesting both potatoes and barley, a step in tune with Soil Guys' dynamic methodology.

“They are innovative,” said Messick about Soil Guys and their mission to wean producers off of antibiotic approaches. “They are always looking for new products to improve what we are doing.”

 

 Soil Guys is committed to bringing growers success through biotic management.

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