On March 30, Dennis and I had the privilege of touring the Beck’s headquarters in Atlanta, IN (just north of Indianapolis). Beck’s has not had a presence in Minnesota before 2018.
Last fall we go our first Practical Farm Research book from them in the mail. I was quite impressed with the effort they put into helping farmers make decisions that affect their bottom line. A couple of Beck’s billboards also appeared on the south edge of Redwood Falls. I didn’t know much more than this for a couple of months. I get to know Jacob Tintes, one of the people on the ground in MN working hard to set up a dealer network. In visiting with him, I was informed that there could be an opportunity to tour the headquarters and through some questions at one of the top guys there. When Jacob called me to offer the opportunity to get on a jet in New Ulm and take a day trip to Indiana, Dennis and I jumped at the opportunity.
The trip left quite an impression. I have never had such an in depth education on a seed company as I had on that day. My confidence in them has been boosted to a very high level. Since we have our seed purchased made for 2018, we will not be doing any large scale planting of Beck’s hybrids but we will definitely be looking at them in our test plot this spring.
On a side note, we had a crazy realization coming home. We were flying above the snow line from the last winter storm. The south side of the plane had snow and the north side was basically snow free.
I’m sitting in the office on April 14, 2018 looking at through snow covered windows at a persistent blizzard. Biggest storm of the winter for us! It started yesterday with a wintry mix of rain/ice pellets/snow pellets/snow. Through the night it became all snow. We had a lull this morning to get the steer chores done and now we wait out the storm.
I figure that this is as good of time as any to get caught up on some of our winter happenings. Winter was going so well until we hit March and April. These scenes have been all too common since.
We spent some time, in early March in the shop getting some small projects out of the way. Lawn mowers were gone through and a portable auger was refurbished with all new bearings.
On March 20 we did catch a nice break, where the yard wasn’t too soft, and pulled the planter out of the shed to get it ready for the 2018 planting season. After power washing the dust off of it, we moved it into the comfortable environment of the shop.
We did take some time to attend the 2018 Soybean Symposium at the U of M Landscape Arboretum. There were great topics and plenty of discussion that revolve around soybean quality and trade.
A big thank you to all the U of M staff for putting on a fantastic field day at Morris, MN today! Jodi DeJong-Hughes led this multi-station field day. Five different stations were set up to focus on Tillage and Technology:
New tillage technology
Planter set–up for moderate residue levels
Residue management of corn–soybean rotations
Tillage influence on soil properties
Building soil health with improved soil structure
These sessions were followed by equipment field demonstrations showing chisel plow tillage with various points, vertical tillage and strip tillage.
The weather couldn’t have been nicer for a field day. Upper 60s, slight breeze and partly cloudy. It was a great chance to meet old friends and make new connections as well.
Here’s the U of M’s description of the day:
Crop producers and other agricultural professionals can see the latest in variable depth tillage equipment, watch side–by–side field demonstrations by national and regional manufacturers, and learn how to build soil structure for maximum soil productivity. Other highlights include the following:
Discover how strip tillage can fit into your rotation and individual soil situations.
Check out proper planter set–up for improved crop emergence and residue management.
Discuss how to save time and money while building soil productivity.
Visit with equipment reps about their new products and services.
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.
We had a narrow window of opportunity on Saturday, April 26th to get some corn planted. On Tuesday we had worked up 40 acres in anticipation of getting started but last minute equipment issues stopped this from happening. After a rain delay, things dried out once again and we headed to the field Saturday afternoon. With rain in the forecast for most of the next week, we wanted to get something in the ground so any hidden problems could be dealt with during the break. 55 acres later we quit around 9pm and headed home to tuck things away before the rain fell.
I started the month of February with a trip to Atlanta for the MapShots conference. Timing couldn’t have been better. The conference dates were sandwiched between the two Atlanta snow events that shut down the city.
Otto Farms has been using MapShots software for many years to do field mapping as well as data collection and analysis. MapShots has spent the past 3+ years transitioning to a new cloud based platform with many new features for our farming operation. We will be able to access most of our data from any computer connected to the interned including iPads in the field. This is very exciting for us! I have been looking forward to this happening for a few years already. MapShots has done a fantastic job of modularizing the software so customers can purchase what they need for their operation. I’m really looking forward to transitioning to the new software through the summer and using it exclusively in 2015.
Had a great meeting on Friday, February hosted by the Nicollet and Sibley Counties U of M Extension. Jody DeJong-Hughes put presented on many soil related topics. It was an intensive 8 hour class designed to provide a basic understanding of soil science principles.
Links to some of Jodi’s publications: Soil Compaction, The Soil is Alive!, Tires, Traction & Compaction
A big thank you to all involved.