Apache Seed Farms
Southwest Oklahoma producer Alan Mindemann and his wife Tina farm forage and cover crop seed, in addition to commodity grains and contract grains near Apache, Oklahoma. Alan serves on the board of directors for Oklahoma Oil Seeds Commission, the Oklahoma Sorghum Commission, and No-Till on the Plains. Alan first began using no-till in 1996 in an area with only 31″ to 32″ inches of annual rainfall. His main crops are wheat, corn, sesame, mungbeans, cowpeas, millet, milo, cotton, sunflowers, soybeans and cover crops.
The Mindemanns have hosted numerous visitors and tour groups at their farm throughout the years to help educate people about soil health management practices. He also partners with Oklahoma State University’s extension services on research and education projects.
Because the average annual precipitation is so low in his area, Alan says he strategically plants no-till winter wheat and winter canola in the fall, corn in the spring and double-crop milo, sunflowers, corn or cowpeas in the summer if he has adequate moisture. “You need to know your available moisture,” he says. “I count on only receiving half my annual growing-season rainfall.” Alan also says using a diverse cover crop mix has helped to lessen yield variability caused by changing weather conditions.
“My country is all wheat. That’s the way it’s been for years, but things are slowly beginning to change with more local farmers switching to no-till and rotations,” Mindemann told No-Till Farmer magazine. “I didn’t want to go the route of all wheat because too many guys have not been able to make it by going that route.”
For Alan, being a good steward of the land isn’t something to be taken lightly. “I started no till in the very beginning (before any of his neighbors did) and we’ve grown to where we are today. On my farm, I have proven that the right thing for the land, and for the community as a whole – clean water and clean air, is also the most profitable thing to do,” he told the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation.
Soil health management practices have helped Alan reduce run-off by improving infiltration rates. “If we have flooding like we did in May, when we received 22 inches of rain in the month, we don’t lose our soil,” he said. “Even if water runs over our field, which it actually did in several locations where creeks flooded, the soil stays put.” Higher quality soil has also produced other benefits as well, including higher yields. “We began using cover crops in 2005 as an erosion control measure and a nutrient cycling scheme. Allowing crops to return nutrients to the soil naturally means we use fewer chemical inputs.”
Alan believes his community benefits from farmers and ranchers serving as good stewards of their land. “When the ground is covered we don’t create dust, which benefits everyone down wind,” he explained. “The county does not have to clean my ditches out after every big rain, which costs everyone. My fields do not contribute to the silt in a municipal lake that sits in the middle of several of my farms; and the runoff does not end up in the water supply. It all benefits society as a whole.”