Keen Interest in Technology, Strong Business Sense &
Passion for Ag Drive Snake River Sugar’s Chairman
By Don Lilleboe
Being a sugar company agriculturist entails wearing a lot of hats. One of the most important is that of crop advisor, fielding growers’ questions and providing management recommendations on everything from choosing seed varieties to harvest timing and procedures.
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Four years ago, Steve Maier and Ben Bergen set out on the strip-till route for reasons similar to those of a number of other Idaho sugarbeet producers doing so at that time. Their objectives were to (1) minimize wind erosion (and replants) on lighter soils, (2) reduce field passes prior to planting (saving time and fuel), and (3) bolster overall crop productivity. Some of the initial interest among the state’s beet producers has softened during the past year or two — often because of management issues with heavy trash in 22-inch rows. But for Maier and his employee Bergen, the interest in — and benefits of — strip-tilled beets still runs strong on the Maier farm near Rupert.
Results from Year One of Idaho Strip-Tillage Study
By Amber Moore, Don Morishita & Oliver Neher*
The introduction of strip tillage to sugarbeet production in southern Idaho has brought challenges as well as opportunities to local beet growers. One challenge is accounting for chaff (residue) trails left behind by combines. These trails create uneven distribution of residue throughout the field, which can be a challenge for ensuing crop production with strip tillage.
Specifically, growers are concerned that the areas with little residue will be droughty and more susceptible to weed growth, while areas with heavy residue coverage may have more fertilizer and herbicide binding in the residue — and more soil-borne disease pressure under a cooler, more-moist and higher-carbon soil environment.