CHURUBUSCO — Chuck Zumbrun has been farming off and on for nearly 40 years. He recently swapped farming notes with a visiting farmer from Australia.
As a fourth-generation farmer, Zumbrun connected through social media with Bryan Granshaw, a third-generation farmer from Queensland, Australia.
The two were able to come together to share ideas about soil sustainability and management through the concept of companion cropping.
Having two farmers get together to chat about the challenges of farm life is not that unusual. But in this case these two farmers live several time zones apart. It may appear they have little in common, yet they share many of the same concerns when it comes to the environment and the soil.
Granshaw, a sugar cane farmer, lives in Dalbeg. He is touring the U.S. and Canada during his eight-week study of farm life.
Zumbrun, who is interested in the companion crop theory and has used the planting method on a limited bases, invited Granshaw as a guest to his Whitley County farm. Granshaw’s three-day stay allowed the two men to share with other area farmers the benefits of companion cropping.
Companion cropping is the idea of planting different crops together in order to assist in pest and weed control, greater moisture content in the soil, and the breaking up of disease build up.
Other benefits include increased crop productivity along with a greater sustainability with the soil.
The concept of companion cropping is something relatively new on the Zumbrun farm, where Zumbrun co-farms with his sister-in-law Lana. Prior to full-time farming that started seven years ago, Zumbrun was working in the engineering and computer field.
“My brother Dave (and Lana) were farming. When he passed away seven years ago I came back to it full-time,” said Zumbrun.
Companion cropping and its benefits were highly visible last week when Zumbrun and Granshaw toured a previous corn crop.
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