As planting nears, we need to be assured that our liquid handling systems are working well. It’s a tricky call as to when we can put water in these systems and not risk having them frozen and cracking components. Once testing is done the equipment is stored in a closed machine shed during freezing nights yet to come.
April 1 and 2 were the days we felt comfortable with this call. The planter handles liquid fertilizer, specifically Ammonium Thio Sulfate (ATS), that is banded as a narrow stream over the seed once the furrow is closed. The rain will then take the nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) down to the roots. We apply 8.3 gallons/acre to get a total of 24 #/Acre of S on the field. The N is just an added bonus to the S application and is subtracted from the total N we put on our fields so we don’t over apply our nitrogen. The fertilizer application is controlled by our John Deere GS3 monitor mounted in the cab. We also have a controller for insecticide application using the Smart Box system as well as a Precision Planting 20/20 monitor system tied to an iPad for precise monitoring of seed placement.
Our Top Air sprayer handles the bulk of our chemical applications for weed control. It needs to be in top notch condition for application of herbicides soon after planting. The soybean pre-emerge herbicide has a 3 day window to be applied so it won’t damage emerging seedlings.
Last week we experienced an extremely warm week for mid-March. We took advantage of it by taking the planter out of storage, power washing it and servicing it in the shop. We’re still waiting for non-critical parts that are back-ordered. We need to run water through the fertilizer system to test it out but basically we’re ready for planting.
On the way home from a parts run to Wabasso, we had the largest flock of geese that I’ve been this close to, fly right over our vehicle. I was amazed at the patterns inside the flock of vees inside vees. I pulled over as quickly as I could to snap a couple photos with my iPhone. I thought I’d share the photo with others.
A lot of meetings dot my calendar for the month of February. It started on February 4th with Winter Crops & Soils Day at the SWROC in Lamberton, MN. We learned about reducing pest management inputs, how phosphorous moves to surface waters, what works and doesn’t work for soybean yield enhancers and protectors and had an overview of crop production profitability.
MNICCA Winter Meeting
Not slowing down much, the next day I attended the MNICCA (MN Independent Crop Consultants Association’s) Winter Educational Meeting. As their Executive Director, I help with membership and organizing of events such as this. Guest speakers were Dan Kaiser and Ken Ostlie from the U of M as well as Bayer representatives addressing the bee issue in regards to neonicotinoid insecticides. They had panel discussions regarding UAVs as well as addressing independent crop consultants relationships to industry, especially in regard to local coops.
No missing a beat, the next Monday, February 9th found us in Mankato, MN at the 6th Annual Minnesota Crop Nutrient Management Conference. Another informative day. Subjects included fertilizer use efficiency, fertilizer pricing, rate of change in soil test values for P & K, dealing with $3 corn. There were also breakout sessions in the afternoon with various fertilizer related topics.
Our final stop on this journey of meetings was at the Redwood County Corn and Soybean Growers annual meeting in Wabasso, MN. After a morning of ice covered roads, plans went forward to hold the meeting that evening despite the weather. Dinner was served, an annual meeting was held with new, ambitious members being elected to the board. The night was topped off with Trent Loos speaking about agriculture and how farmers need to be their own advocates for what and how they farm.
After much of the snow melted away we were presented with a stark comparison of wind erosion on our Ridge Till field versus the neighbors well worked field. If you click on the photo to the left to enlarge, you will see almost black covered snow compared to our nearby ditch. The photo to the right is a shot down the field.
From this photo you’d think that it’s a beautiful spring or fall day. The bi-fold shop door is open and the combine is ready for maintenance. It would be a shame to shut the door with such beautiful, sunny weather upon us.
Well, this photo was taken on January 26, 2015 on our farm. It was 46 degrees outside and the shop door did stay open for a couple hours that afternoon. We also brought the snow blower out of the shed for some PTO maintenance. Not much snow has come but we did have a problem to take care of and what better time than when you can work with the door open.
Here’s the photo taken from inside the shop to prove to you that it was indeed winter. Not much snow but it’s there all the same.