What does your district offer ‘For Rent’?
If you read about a new practice, don’t assume you can’t try it just because you don’t want to invest a lot of money up front. Trying a new practice may be as easy as visiting your local soil and water conservation district. Many rent out conservation-related items, especially new technology, at reasonable prices so that people can try the practice.
“Our district has two Phillips harrows, plus a strip-till unit,” says Greg Lake, Allen County farmer and full-time employee for the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District. Allen County SWCD has been a leader in purchasing equipment and making it available to people to try before they invest.
• Many soil and water districts rent various pieces of equipment at reasonable rates.
• Items for rent vary from tractor, strip-till unit to staplers for erosion blankets.
• Several districts offer drills for seeding warm-season grasses.
The strip-till unit comes hooked to a 300-hp tractor equipped with autoguidance. It’s also owned by the district.
Meet changing needs
The district constantly re-evaluates which equipment might help farmers do a better job and leave more residue. “We’re considering making a Salford RS vertical-till unit available this spring,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Lake has his eye on a tool new to the U.S. Called the Kelly Diamond Harrow, it’s designed to loosen the soil like the Phillips harrow, he says, only equipped to be more aggressive.
“We’ve found the Phillips harrow works well until a big rain makes the ground hard, then it’s not as effective,” he says. “We’re going to see if this new tool might do a better job under those conditions.”
Seed and mulch
Meanwhile, if you live in southeast Indiana, you could rent a no-till drill from the Ripley County SWCD. It’s great for no-tilling soybeans, but it’s also equipped for seeding warm-season grasses.
“The district also offers a Brillion seeder for rent,” says Duane Drockelman, coordinator of the South Laughery Creek Watershed project. “It’s smaller than the drill, but it does an excellent job of seeding forage crops.”
Right now, the district also owns a straw chopper and blower. It’s available for someone who constructs a new waterway, and wants to mulch it with their own straw.
Walk into the Dubois County SWCD office and you can borrow, at no cost, what’s called a spinning jenny. Its main purpose is to keep wire from getting tangled as you work on fencing. Fencing livestock away from streams and setting up rotational grazing is a key practice in southern Indiana.
You can also borrow a seed slinger to broadcast grass seed at no cost, or rent the 10-foot, no-till Great plains drill with grass attachment, currently for only $7 per acre.
The Dubois County SWCD also offers staplers to install erosion control blankets for $20 each per day, plus staples, at $80 per box of 1,000.
Stop by your local office and see what might be available in your area.
This article published in the April, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.