Roger Wahlgren is a 3rd generation farmer and started on his own in 1971 after completing a tour in the Army. He started small with one field, and had the opportunity to grow as neighbors would retire and rent to him. He slowly built the operation to 2000 acres by the early 90’s. The primary farming practice in the platte valley was ridge till, allowing furrow irrigation with pipe. This is very labor intensive and ridge till does promote some soil erosion. Joe Wahlgren joined the operation in 1993. Many farms had started upgrading irrigation systems to pivot irrigation, but most continued ridge till under them to allow the corners to be irrigated also. The farm continued to grow and by the early 200o’s a portion was set aside to test strip tiII methods and cover cropping systems. The test fields provided ample opportunity for problem solving. Around 2009-2010 the decision was made to change the entire farm to a strip till/ no till rotation. The 3 year rotation of soy, specialty crop, and food grade yellow corn was settled upon. This required the elimination of ridge till under pivot, since we shift the field 15 inches every year. It also meant the corners would become dryland cropland and new pivot irrigation systems would need to he installed where they made sense. The farm has continued to grow, and now operates around 5000 acres and 50 center pivots of various length. The entire operation has been in the same rotation for 12 years now. The benefits from the changes made are many. Our organic matter has risen 1tenth of 1% per year by leaving the residue and not tilling. This has raised our organic matter from 2.1% to 3.3-3.5%. This has been a big part of soil health. Soli erosion and wind erosion have all but been eliminated. Our rainfall infiltration rates have steadily climbed because of this residue duff. The duff also acts to armor coat the ground, lessening compaction, and keeping wetter cooler soils. R & J Wahlgren Farms has been an early adopter of so much technology and practice changes. We continue to strive to find ways to do more with less, and to find ways to insure our future in farming.
Food grade yellow and white corn, soybeans, popcorn, wheat, yellow peas, alfalfa
Starts out with no till soybeans, 15 inch offset to old corn rows. The next spring sees a shallow tilled strip (1.5 inch deep and 5 inch wide) made with a coulter striptill, 15 inches offset to old soybean row. A specialty crop of white corn or popcorn is planted year 2 on these strips. Year 3 sees the same shallow striptill with food grade yellow corn planted on them. The rotation returns to no till soybeans again. All residue is spread, and left on the surface to armor coat the soil.