Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aaaand They're Off . .

. . . like a herd of turtles.  Yesterday we started planting corn and soybeans.  Joe and the guys had been testing and checking all of the monitors and computers in all of tractors the past few weeks so when the soil dried,
Joe setting up one of the planter's monitors
the rain stopped and soil condition were good we could get planting.  Well, Monday was the day to start.  The guys got the planter loaded with seed and were getting ready to pull away from the shed when the GPS system on the planter tractor started wavering. 

Loading planter with seed corn.
So, the Joe, Dad and Derk sat in the tractor for the next two hours working over the phones with equipment suppliers trying to figure what was wrong.  Making a very long story short, eventually the GPS equipment started working and Dad was off to plant corn.

Yes, three grown men can fit in a tractor cab.
The GPS/auto steer was not working in the soil finisher tractor either.  That does not make Rollie happy but at least Rollie could still run the soil finisher. 

We use GPS equipment to run the shut offs on our planter.  You have to remember because of our rolling land we farm on the contour - meaning we farm around a hill not up and over.  This helps with soil preservation.  Anyway, our planter is 16 rows (40 feet) wide and when we plant on the contour Dad needs to be able to shut off rows quickly to avoid double and triple planting parts of a field and save money on very expensive seed.  With GPS, the computers on the equipment shut off and turn on the rows as need be.  We also do some variable rate planting.  This means we vary the seeding rate of the seed corn across a field based on yield potential and soil fertility.  This is also controlled by computers and the GPS equipment is necessary.

Trying to figure out why the GPS equipment won't work!

At one precision ag forum I was reading this morning there were farmers commenting on our same problem from Texas to northwest Minnesota and Kansas to Illinois.  At least we were in good company.  Our problem was geomagnetic activity.  Yep, it went right over my head as well.  What it amounts to is that the sun is messing with our planting season!  I am now signed up for Geomagnetic A-Index of 100 or greater, Geomagnetic K-index of 6, 7, 8, and 9 Alerts and Warnings through NOAA and the Space Weather Prediction Center.  Really.  I am not making this up. 

I have heard the phrase "A slave to technology" mentioned before.  I think we might be at that point. 

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