Are you able to name one tool on your farm that is essential for your business? According to Ohio farmer, Seth Houser, he can’t farm without the Salford AerWay.
In fact, Houser operates two Salford AerWay models – 15OQ and 15CQ – and says they’re essential to his farm and custom farming business. Located in Wayne County, Ohio he runs 400 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay. 120 of those acres are farmed using an organic management strategy. On top of that, Houser’s custom farming and harvesting business covers 3,000 acres locally. “I can directly attribute yield increases in my field crops and ideal soil tilth to running the AerWay year after year,” says Houser. “I’ve even attracted new customers and have gained custom farming work because farmers have been so impressed by what they’re seeing on my acres.”
The AerWay is a vertical tillage tool, designed for soil aeration and managing soil compaction. With more than 20 years of experience operating Salford AerWay machines, Houser relys on the AerWay to help him accomplish his farming and business goals. His farming career began as a partnership with a local farmer who first introduced Houser to the AerWay in the late 1980s. Since then, he’s operated four different AerWay machines and heavily relies on the AerWay for his tillage practices.
PROOF OF PERFORMANCE
Houser’s farming goals are simple – break compaction, minimize run-off and soil erosion and make a profit. “I want one tool to do as much as it possibly can for me because I need to keep that money to either put it back into the farm or back into my soil, that’s why we have two AerWays,” Houser explains. “They’re so versatile. The single row of AerWay tines is capable of running in our row crops as well as our hay ground. The results we’ve seen in all crop types has been outstanding.
Houser explains his approach to running the AerWay to improve crop yield and field performance in his fields. When it comes to managing corn stalks, his goal is to keep the fodder and debris on top, while loosening the soil to allow moisture to enter throughout the winter ensuring the freezing and thawing can naturally help reduce compaction. Running the AerWay with a rolling basket harrow presses corn stalks down to and aids decomposition. “If we get the corn off and we’ve got time and the weather cooperates, we will run the AerWay immediately behind that the combine or harvester,” he explains.
Pleased with the performance results, Houser uses both his AerWay models for all-season tillage – spring and fall. “I’m able to make 70 bu. soybeans, and last year we saw 270-280 bu. corn without using full tillage methods that most farmers practice in my area,” he says.
The secret to his success is soil health, he puts all his thanks to the AerWay machine. Houser gives another example where he ran his AerWay with the rolling basket through an oat cover crop in the fall before no-till seeding organic wheat into that same field. “I’m proud to say the result was a 110 bu. of organic wheat and I know it was the AerWay that helped me achieve that yield. I didn’t need to work the oat cover crop the way some others would choose to do, I was able to just minimally disrupt the field and the following wheat crop delivered for me,” he says.
And when it comes to forages, Houser has proof of performance. “We all run a lot of heavy equipment over our hay ground, so I’ve tried running the AerWay through our fields after first-cut,” he explains. “I’ve seen tonnage increase just based off of using the AerWay on the organic hay ground because we do not fertilize as most conventional farmers do. I’ve had other farmers ask me what I’m doing because they are impressed with my results. I’ve even attracted customers this way.”
By running the AerWay through Houser’s hay fields, he’s able to disrupt the root structure to ‘wake up’ and reinvigorate the alfalfa to start growing again. By loosening the roots just enough, the soil opens up to allow water and air, giving the crop a boost and building a better root system below ground for a better plant above ground.
INVEST IN TIME AND THE RIGHT TILLAGE TOOL
The trick – if there is one when it comes to field tillage – is to be patient, because, as Houser explains, “the AerWay is working where you can’t see it.”
The AerWay delivers superior results, but farmers need to invest in time, running the machine year after year. “Year three is the tipping point when it comes to seeing results in soil and crop health,” notes Houser, who says that when he starts running the AerWay on new ground for customers, he starts by adding concrete blocks for extra weight to drive the tines into the ground. But, as he runs the tillage tool over the same field year after year, the ground starts to loosen up, retaining moisture and building organic matter. This new soil composition means he can remove the extra weight – proving he’s improving the soil tilth. “The nice thing about the AerWay is that it keeps the soil structure intact while loosening the soil enough that the air and moisture can get down into it and mix things around a little bit,” he says.
Over the years, the AerWay has helped Houser build his farm and custom farming business while improving soil health and correcting compaction concerns. “I think these AerWay tools have, without a doubt brought me to where I am now. They’ve saved me money, they’ve made me money and I’m going to keep using them,” he says. “The AerWay is so versatile and farming in today’s economy means I need to have one tool that can do everything for me.”
Learn more about the Salford AerWay here.
Listen to Seth’s full review of his experience on this week’s episode of From The Field.