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Progressive Magazines

Maybe it's time to think outside the box!

by Leon Leavitt

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ANTELOPE VALLEY, Nevada ~ Even though Rob and Christina Wohle grew up in California, they have adapted and made this high altitude(5000 ft) desert hay farm their home.They farm a little under 800 acres, all under pivot, and their yield has just been shy of 5.5 tons per acre-all of it going to the dairy market. His goal in 2004 is to top six tons.


Rob explains,“I deal directly with the dairyman, and he establishes a minimum he would like to have on the TDN test. As long as I meet his requirements, he's happy, so it works out pretty good for both of us." 

Since water is at a premium, it's been disconcerting to say the least, for the Wohles to observe the water run-off from the fields during irrigation. Rob says,"We used to have a big problem with water run-off; we couldn't get the soil to take up the water, no matter what we did.” Earlier this summer, they joined with their next-door neighbors in applying Healthy Soil (Bactifeed),  a new soil enhancer to their fields. A 300-gallon tank of living culture of bacteria and enzymes was placed by the pivot pump.An injector pump fed the mixture into the line at the rate of one gallon/hour. 

Within a few weeks, changes started to occur in the soil profile. “We've noticed a big difference, in that we don't have near the runoff that we used to have. When I take a shovel and cut down through the soil, it is more porous; it looks like pumice, almost,”said Rob."The soil used to be tight and packed, like in plates, but now it looks like you have a million earthworms crawling through it; it's beautiful.”


    Rob's enthusiasm continued as he described a field that used to have borders in it due to a flood, and they were leveled out. He states,"Nothing would grow there for years, and you could still see the slick spots where the borders were. After having these tanks on, you can hardly tell where the borders were.”His wife Christina joins in, "The hay that we planted there was struggling, it was so stressed.That hay is actually starting to come back now, where it didn't completely die out, before we had the bug tanks on them. And where it isn't, grass is filling in.”


    I usually take such comments from folks with a grain of salt, but after walking through the fields and seeing the changes and hearing their testimony, it's caused me to think.Maybe it is time to"go outside the box".Oh,I forgot, the Wohles were able to shut down their pumps 2.5 weeks early. Hhmmm.I wonder what that's worth.

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