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,

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