Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found a yield boost in corn and soybeans following cover crops. Multi-year data shows the yield boost increases as cover crops are planted year after year, a revelation that points to an appealing long-term benefit of the conservation practice.
President’s Note: Organic Small Scale Grain Production
Several months ago I wrote about small scale grain production. This year at the Southern SAWG meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I attended a small scale organic grain production presentation by Meagan Roberts from Western Piedmont Community College in North Carolina. She did an excellent job and pointed out many of the challenges facing new producers.
One is finding seed. Since you are developing a niche market, you will probably be using local varieties. Finding a sufficient quantity of seed can be difficult. In one case, she needed to increase seed for two years before they could plant a large enough field to sell the grain from. She also discussed planting, harvesting, storage, and marketing challenges.
Many of these challenges can be overcome with old equipment, if you can find it in good shape and you have some mechanical ability for repairs. Small grain drills are available for planting. You can use an old Allis-Chalmers All-Crop pull-type combine for harvesting, if you can find one in good condition. Since you are selling grain for human consumption, the grain must be tested for aflatoxin, among other things. This is an additional expense. Storage requirements can be challenging for food grade sales.
Meagan also mentioned a company called Meadows Mills, Inc., in North Carolina, that manufactures new grain grinding equipment. Most of their products are geared toward commercial operations, but they have a small home/light commercial grinder in their catalog. The company has been in business for a long time, and if you find an old antique version of their equipment, you can still buy parts for it!
There is also a German company manufacturing small grain grinding equipment. They manufacture a line of small grinding equipment which looks beautiful. Most of their equipment is for commercial scale, but here are two websites. (Bear in mind that you would need to order this equipment from Europe.)
Rather than go over the entire slide presentation, I have linked to Meagan’s presentation: