Jerry, Roy, Ken and Rodney Rulon make up Rulon Enterprises, Cicero, Ind., Even though they no-till most of their large crop acreage, you won't find them without anything to do in the fall after harvest.
The first place to look for them on a late fall day would be in one of their fields, installing tile. It's a practice they started several years ago, and their goal is to install system tile drainage in as many of their fields that need it, as soon as possible. Obviously, they're firm believers in the value of well-drained soils.
Experts would add that drainage is probably even more important in no-till operations. One drawback to no-till is often thought to be dealing with cool, wetter soils in the spring. Soil covered by residue tends to dry more slowly, meaning the field may not be ready to plant as quickly as if it were tilled.
Installing 'system tile systems' refers to laying out a plan of laterals and mains for an entire field, not just trying to pick up wet spots or wet draws with a few isolated tiled lines. How close tile lines are spaced in systematic installations depends partially upon the type and drainage characteristics of the major soil types in the field.
The Rulons purchased their own tiling equipment several years ago. Tiling in the fall and winter is as natural to them as fall tillage is to someone still in conventional farming, who either chisel plows or moldboard plows in the fall. However, it's not the only activity that goes on in the fall on their farm. Rodney specializes in taking care of soil testing. He tests the entire farm on rotation on one-acre grids.
The Rulons will discuss why they believe so strongly in tiling, plus a host of other topics, when the Indiana Farm Management Tour visits their farm next week, on Thursday, June 29. They are slated to be the second stop on the second day of the driving tour. Tour goers will move from Mike Shuter's farm in Madison County near Pendleton to Rulon Enterprises in Hamilton County.
Lunch is slated at the Rulon site. After mini-stops and a discussion with the family abut management aspects of their farm operation, tour goers can head for home. Or they can add an optional stop to their tour experience by visiting nearby Beck's Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind. Becks specializes in conducting a number of field-size demonstration plots on a variety of topics that farmers wonder about. Typically, they're testing practices that farmer customers might be thinking about trying on their own farms, but haven't yet implemented.
Those plots will be on of the highlights that tour visitors who opt to go to Becks will see.
For tour information, contact your county Extension office. Reservations and $10 are required for lunch at the Rulons on the second day of the tour.