Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Activities

Friday night Joe and Dad snuck out to a field to try apply anhydrous ammonia (NH3).  They decided is was do-able but we needed to be selective as to where we going to go.   By Saturday morning everyone was pretty confident on how the NH3 was going on the field so we got two applicators going.

#3 and Grandpa knifing NH3

Stan and #1 knifing NH3 in another tractor/applicator. 
Stan said one of the best things about auto steer is being
able to eat lunch to still run the tractor.

We use NH3 as our main source of nitrogen for our corn crop for a couple of reasons.  1.  It's the cheapest nitrogen product on a per pound of nitrogen basis.  2.  In our soils, the crops responds best to anhydrous ammonia compared to dry urea or liquid 28%. 


Here is the monitor we use to apply the NH3.  The top number is the pounds of nitrogen applied per acre.  We are applying 135 lbs/acre.  That is sufficient for corn following soybeans.  The second number is the number of acres that has been applied with this tank.  So this tank has put out 20.08 acres with of nitrogen.  The third number down is one I don't consider to relevant unless your a techie like my dad.  And the bottom number is the speed of the tractor which was 6.8 mph.  the green picture to the left of the numbers is a picture of the field showing the swaths the tractor and applicator have made. 

This is the auto steer monitor.  It shows the path the tractor is on as well as where the unit has been.


The auto steer isn't 100% driver free, especially in northeast Iowa where farms are not square and farming is done on the contour along with terraces and waterways.  So the driver does have to keep the tractor directed but it does help the driver avoid overlaps.   And it also gives the driver more time to goof around in the cab with his grandson.

 The tool bar is 47.5 feet wide and has 4 auto shutoffs that shut down the different sections of the tool bar as the swath narrows or widens.  Again, this is something that comes in very handy when farming on the contour. 
To keep the applicators going we need to haul NH3 tanks from the fertilizer facility back to the field.  Babushka (my mom) was hauling with the help of son #2.  She drove with #2 hooked and unhooked the tanks.
The thing about spring is that when it's fit to "go" everyone goes.   Sometimes the fertilizer facility runs out of NH3 as the facility can only hold so much and so the operators try to keep trucks delivering product but one never knows for sure when the weather and soil with all be fit and so sometimes there is a shortage until the next tanker comes in.  But it gives Chuck and #1 a chance to visit with the neighbors while waiting.

While most of the crew was on NH3 detail, Joe sprayed our corn fields that are going to soybeans with burndown.  Burndown is slang term for the herbicides we spray on the fields to prevent weeds from coming up before and after we have the soybeans planted.  We notill our soybeans meaning we don't do any tillage to the field after harvest in the fall or in the spring prior to planting the soybeans.  This is a soil conservation practice.  So, in order to keep weeds from competing against the soybeans, we use herbicides.

So, what did I do this weekend?  Well, I tended the seed warehouse.  Unfortunately, alfalfa growers are discovering that the winter was very tough on alfalfa stands so fields need to be ripped and new fields need to be planted.   Son #2 and I also burned terraces.  Here are a couple of pictures of our handy work.

We burn terraces every few years to control certain insects like hopvine borers and common stalk borers that live in bromegrass but also love seedling corn plants.  Also, after so many years the old grass builds up just like in your lawn.  Since we can't run a dethatcher across the terrace like you would in the lawn, we burn instead.

Throw in a Junior High track meet and that about sums up our weekend. 

This week's weather doesn't sound conducive to spring field work so we will be looking for windows of opportunity to get more field work done whenever possible.

Until next time,

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Video

Those great US dairy families showing their passion for their cows and the product they produce!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Maybe Spring Is Going to Arrive

It's still chilly outside this morning but signs of spring are starting to come through the long purgatory between winter and spring.

Thunder and Lightning are a week old. They
were born within hours of each other as a
low front went through. I love how
new borns are so shiny!
Derk helped me to get safety equipment installed
in the seed treating room.

The chicks are now in that teenage/awkward stage. 

The feather peonies and day lilies are
starting to slowly peek out.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Check This Out


Today, please click over to Confessions of a Farm Wife.  It's real easy to do - look to the right side of the screen and scroll done to My Blog List - it's just below Links I Like.  My Blog List has several kindred agricultural bloggers listed that I enjoy reading. 

Emily, the author of Confessions of a Farm Wife, shares her thoughts on GMOs and our food.  I agree with her take on this subject matter that is near and dear to my heart.

You can also click on the big Common Ground box to the right of this entry.  This will take you to the Common Ground website that will give you more factual information on GMOs and a plethora of ag related topics.

Best regards,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Staying warm at last night's track meet.


They're just running fast so they can get
their clothes back on.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crop Progress Report

Yesterday I mentioned that we are behind schedule as far as field work and planting goes.   I know we are behind schedule because I live it and remember the weather and corn crop from year to year just like every other farmer out there.  But, a chicken farmer in Arkansas who needs to purchase corn for his birds feed may want to know how the Midwest corn crop is progressing so he can decide if he should start contracting corn early in case there is a short corn crop due to delayed planting. 

So, today I thought I would enlighten you on one of the many reports that our United States government releases each week to keep all citizens abreast to the progress of our nations food supply.  (Doesn't that sound very official?  I just made it up.)  That sounds much more daunting than it really is but if you're curious about US Ag's progress through out the year and you like numbers the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) website is worth checking out.


This is the link to the USDA's April 22, 2013 Crop Progress Report:

This report includes crops from corn to sugar beets to cotton and the major states that grow these crops.  The report comes out every Monday at 4:00pm during the growing season which is designated to be between April 1st and November 30th.  I know, I know, farmers in Texas have been planting corn since February, but this is one of the few times that Iowa gets to beat Texas at something. 

This is the summarized version of the info on the corn progress report that came out yesterday. 

Today’s USDA Crop Progress Report indicates the U.S. corn crop is 4% planted compared with 26% this week 2012 and 16% 5-year average. 
IA – 0% done; last yr=  8%; 5-yr= 14%
IL – 1% done; last yr= 56%; 5-yr= 24%
IN – 1% done; last yr= 43%; 5-yr= 16%
MN – 0% done; last yr= 10%; 5-yr= 11%
NE – 0% done; last yr= 13%; 5-yr=  8%
US – 4% done; last yr= 26%; 5-yr= 16%

I really don't know what the % accuracy is on this report.  But I do know that this info makes me nervous and Joe grumpy.  (It just reminds us that we have a whole lot of work to get done really soon to get caught up to where we should be.)  Grain merchandisers follow this information right along with the growing season weather outlooks.  This report does influence of the price of commodities and this does effect the price of your food, fuel and clothing ever so slightly.  BUT REMEMBER:  For every dollar you spend on food the US farmer get about $.11 of that.

If you go to the USDA's Report Page:
you will see a plethora of reports available there again being the statistics kind of girl I like reading the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin.  It goes back into the 1970's.  I see that during the week in October 1971, when my sister was born, Iowa and Illinois corn farmers had great weather for harvesting.  Hmmm, I'm wondering if Dad stuck around at the hospital and waited for the delivery or if he dropped Mom off and went back to combining? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

No Progress

A year ago we had all of our anhydrous ammonia applied to our corn ground and we had been planting corn for four days straight already. 

Planting corn spring 2012
Well, this isn't the case this year. 
What a difference a year can make!  Here is the same field as of this morning.  We have not been able to start our anhydrous application yet so needless to say we haven't started planting yet. 
We like to plant corn when the soil conditions are ideal and the soil temperature is pushing 50 F.  But the ground is so saturated that I haven't made an attempt to even slop my way out into the field to take a temp reading.  But considering we have skiffs of snow on the ground yesterday morning I don't think the soil temps are much above 40F. 
This is an intake pipe that
we use to help remove excess water from one of our fields.  This intake pipe is attached to a tile line about six feet under ground.  Tile used in conjunction with terraces is a great soil conservation practice as this tool helps hold and slowing release water from a slope.  Otherwise gravity will wash soil away with fast moving water.  But this week this intake pipe is working as a pressure release valve as the tile lines are full of water.  So, we now have a Roman water fountain!

There is always a silver lining to situations like this.  The soils in much of Iowa had been depleted last year due to the drought so the subsoils are being recharged for the 2013 growing season.  We have been able to calibrated and real calibrate monitors and computers used in the anhydrous applicator tractor, the corn planter tractors, the soil finisher tractor, the Hagie sprayer and a few other monitors that I'm not sure we will even be using this spring.  Plus, we have been able to do inventory checks on pretty much all of the seed in the warehouse.  I have also been keeping up on laundry and book work because once spring does break there will only be time for spring planting responsibilities.
Things are a little more tolerable considering that this delayed spring is effecting the entire Midwest.  Misery loves company you could say.  But knowing that we aren't the only ones dealing with this weather does make the situation easier to handle. 
So, what are you doing with your rainy, cold, wet days? 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Video

Once again the Texas  A&M student advocacy group Farmers Fight have a great video to share.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yesterday, Sunday, was the best day of the year so far.  The sun shined most of the day and everyone was outside with only a light jacket.  It made me think that maybe spring will come this year.  A year ago we were done applying anhydrous ammonia (our nitrogen source for our corn crop) and preparing to start planting corn.

Today we are in our shirt sleeves.  We started delivering soybean seed treatment products to other Pioneer seed dealers in the area, making sure the seed tenders are ready for the spring hauling season, and going over the seed treater.  We use seed treatments on our soybean seed to protect the soybean seedlings from diseases and insects in the spring.

Todd from Independent Inputs working on our
seed treater computer programs making sure all is up to snuff
before "the season" gets started.   By calibrating our seed
treater we don't over apply or under apply the protection
products to the soybean seed.  This is good for the
pocket book and great for the environment.

Travis working on a seed tender.

Chuck helping the snow melt away a little faster.

Joe helping me with inventory in the seed warehouse.

Travis and Derk still working on the seed
tender.  Looks like Gary and Judy will be make a parts run today.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Video Saturday

Here is a video from Americas Farmers - a web site sponsored by Monsanto - that gives insight into what Joe Public thinks about farmers.  I found it good food for thought (pun intended).

Have a great weekend!