Committing to Strip-Till Transforms High Plains Farm

Harold Grall credits good records, strip-till and new technology for his ability to double his farm size while cutting fuel and irrigation water.

Pictured Above: FREQUENT UPKEEP. Texas strip-tiller Harold Grall points to hardfacing on the shanks that is replaced twice a season because of their extensive time in the field. The two Orthman 1tRIPrs Grall uses are both equipped with fertilizer tubes for pre-plant mixtures and anhydrous ammonia application

Harold Grall already had extensive experience growing corn and grain sorghum in the Texas Panhandle when he bought out his mentor, Dale Coleman, and started farming on his own in 1994. At that time, he was farming 3,700 acres of High Plains silt-clay loam just north of Dumas, Texas, and was committed to ridge-till and furrow irrigation.

Today, he and his wife, Stacey, strip-till Hasta Farms’ 8,600 acres of land and have fine-tuned the operation to 90-93% continuous corn growing under 26 center-pivot irrigation systems — 10 of them half-mile-long, full-section rigs.

Grall says while he’s farming nearly twice the land today, he burns about 70% of the diesel fuel he used in the late 1990s.

“In 1997, we had 4,500 acres of row crops and burned 30,772 gallons of diesel fuel,” he says. “In 2015, we had 7,000 acres of row crops, and our fuel use was 22,033 gallons.”

His corn grows on 3-4 gallons per minute of irrigation water per acre, compared with 6 gallons per minute required in the 1990s, and his soil test results show his farm has doubled the organic matter it had 20 years ago.

Last season, which brought generous moisture, Hasta Farms binned a bumper crop…

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Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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