Where did 2021 Go?

Yes, farming did happen in 2021 at Otto Farms, Inc. But, I just wasn’t into the extra time it takes to keep this website current while planning my exit from farming. Now, mind you, I thought this exit would be in three more years, but God had other plans. After meeting with my financial counselor and accountant to plan “retirement” things just kind of fell together in July bringing about the decision to call 2021 the final year of my farming career!

I will share some pictures with of of my “last year” of farming and move on to the upcoming auction that will be held on March 31, 2022.

2021 should have been a stressful year. We started the year with very little water in the ground. It failed to rain significantly.

March1.08
April1.41
May1.98
June1.3
July0.7
August4.03
September0.2
October2.79
13.49
Summer 2021 Rainfall

The rain in August saved our soybeans and we actually yielded above average on some fields! Corn was another story. Only one field yielded well but not well enough to save us from collecting crop insurance because of poor average corn yields.

I’m not sure what plans I have for this website in the future but I will keep it alive for a while until I figure that out. Farming has been a big part of my entire life. What happens next is left in God’s hands.

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The crops are up!

The soybeans are up! It’s a messy look but we expect great results! The system we installed to minimize overlap shuts off every 30″ of seeder width as it crosses into planted ground. Here’s a great example of the results!

Now that soybeans are up, post emerge spraying is the next step for weed control.

Spraying Soybeans

Y-dropping fertilizer on corn in our second year went much better than in 2019. We had a one day window in 2019 and struggled to get fertilizer on. In 2020, we had a much wider window of opportunity. We also decided to try applying at a smaller height stage to widen the window and it worked well.

Taking short cuts on chemical can sometimes get us in trouble. This year, we had to cultivate two fields because of weed pressure. One of the fields, was wiped out by hail a few years ago and we didn’t realize how much seed is still in the soil from the weeds that took over that year. The other field had a lot of lambsquarters coming and it was too late to spray.

Weed Control and Fertilization

With the late planting start, we were unable to achieve good weed control with our vertical till machine on some fields. The weeds were larger than 3″ and they just slipped through without being fully uprooted. On a couple of fields we had to use a pass with chemical to know out the weeds to give the soybeans a good start without competition.

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Liming in January

It’s unusual to get field work done in the middle of winter in Minnesota. January of 2019 was the exception for us. We are farming a field that has never been grid sampled for fertility. From our past experiences of using this practice since the mid 1980s, we know that grid sampling is the only way to know what is going on in the field on a smaller scale. The field is broken down into 440′ x 440′ grids that are each sampled independently. A map is then generated that shows what each grid needs for fertilizer. Some findings are interesting and show how past farming practices still are visible today.

A couple discoveries of note in this field:
1. The 160 acres was farmed by two different owners for many years. This shows up most dramatically in the pH and zinc levels. The south 80 has extremely low pH in a large number of the grids. The north 80 has extremely low zinc levels in a large number of the grids
2. You can use the Phosphorous levels as an indicator of where the farm site was located and where they hauled the manure. The P levels are much higher in these areas even decades later.

We visited with the coop about our spring fertilizer needs in early January and asked them if lime was ever applied in the winter. They said that usually it could be done in March if conditions allow. A day later they called to say that the applicator was able to do the lime right now if we had an area that they could access to pile the lime without getting stuck in snow drifts. We took the snow blower to the field and cleared a path. They hauled lime in on Saturday, January 11 and spread it on Monday.

Out Comes the Old

push tankAfter sitting in the back of the shed for many years, we dusted off our 400 gallon water tank on a 2 wheel carrier. A few years back we added inboard saddle tanks to our 8301T planting tractor and abandoned this rig to make things less cumbersome. Since that time, we are putting on more product per acre and stopping to fill more often. We are hoping this will solve some efficiency problems without being too cumbersome. It makes a mighty long rig going down the field.