Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, fertilizer, food, genetic modification, GMO, Minnesota, nitrogen, science, Soybeans, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, farm, Minnesota, nitrogen fertilizers, science, Soybeans, weather, Weed control
As much as some would like to stuff it back in, the GMO genie is out of the bottle. The use of genetic modifications in sciences of all kinds will continue to come. Medical breakthroughs will help us to lengthen life. Our food plants will grow faster, use less fertilizer and water. Our food will grow faster on less feed. Our companion animals will live longer and be more helpful. All because of genetic modifications that are either now being developed or will be in the future.
My specific focus, on the crops raised here in Southwestern Minnesota, will also see some changes. Here are some I’ll especially be looking forward to;
- Drought tolerance and efficient water usage will increase.
- Use of fertilizers will decrease as plants become more efficient.
- Plants will be breed to take their nitrogen from the air eliminating the need for nitrogen fertilizers that are currently produced by the oil industry.
- More plants will be developed for specific industries with corn varieties specific for feed stocks in industry and livestock feed, and changes in the oil and meal content of soybeans.
- Disease tolerant varieties of crops will be developed quicker as new crop diseases and insect pests develop or move to new areas.
- More crops will be developed that contain needed vitamins and minerals so that those in countries facing vitamin and mineral deficiencies will live a healthier life.
These are just a few of the discoveries we have to look forward to. The future advantages of genetic modification far outweigh the potential problems. It is going to be an exciting future.
Filed under: Fall, Farm, fertilizer, harvest, Minnesota, nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, seasons, tillage, weather | Tags: Corn, fall, farm, harvest, machines, Minnesota, repairs, Soybeans, weather
Harvest is over, but farm work is not. Many seem to feel that when a farmer finishes his harvest, the year is over for him, in a way it is, but it is not. When we finish harvest, we start getting ready for the next year. This is especially true here in Minnesota where the cold sets in and stops all cropping activity. I can usually plan on the ground freezing solid the first week in December, the most common date, December 5th. We will not get enough warm weather to melt snow and start field work until April. If we can get into the field by April 20, we are happy, this year rains kept us out of the field until May 1. It is possible for us to get some warm weather that may start field work early, but that is rare. We had one year where some farmers were able to plant oats and wheat in January, but that is the exception. So, contrary to popular myth we do not have 6 months of winter here in Minnesota, with 6 months of tough sledding, we have only 4 months of winter, and March can, at times, be very nice.
So what are we doing to prepare for the next crop? For most farmers this includes some type of tillage to help bury the residue of the last crop. This not only makes it easier for the next crop to grow, it buries the plant material so it will not blow away over the winter, and allows plant material to start to break down so it will provide nutrients for the next crop. This tillage can include chopping, disking and moldboard plowing in the extreme of one end, to just letting it lie on the other. We are somewhere in between, where corn was planted in the spring we use a heavy disk to turn over the top few inches of soil, yet leave much of the plant material near or on the surface. In soybean stubble we use a strip till rig to place fertilizer for the next crop and leave most of the ground undisturbed.
Fertilizing for the next crop is a big part of our planning for the next year. Phosphorus and potassium, plus a few micro nutrients, can be expected to stay put in the soil, so we will place most of those nutrients in the soil now. They tie to plant and soil particles and don’t move until a plant uses them. Nitrogen can be a bit of a different story.
I like to place a little nitrogen down in the fall, and the rest in two extra doses in the growing season. Nitrogen is only somewhat stable in the soil. Cold weather helps to keep it from going off into the air or water. When you have a very wet spring like this last one, much of your nitrogen can leach out into the ground water. Most years this is not a problem, so many farmers take the chance and put down their nitrogen in the fall when it is less expensive. For me, I have found that I can use less nitrogen and get a better yield by applying it later, even though it will cost me more. This year that approach payed off, but that is not always the case.
Livestock farmers have extra chores to take care of after harvest. These chores include cleaning barns and spreading the manure and used bedding, and harvesting some of the left over plant materials for winter bedding. Manure tends to break down slowly, and will act like a slow release fertilizer. It is rarely possible to spread livestock waste on standing crops, thus the extra spring and fall rush for livestock owners.
We also have some cleaning to do of our machinery before storage, and a few repairs that could not be, or were not, done during the harvest. Cleaning out the dust and litter from a machine helps to keep out mice who want to have a warm winter bed (and who chew on wires and hoses), and also helps you to identify possible repairs before they get worse. Having harvest end early really assists in the cleaning and proper storage of our machinery.
So today I’ll have an easy Sunday. I’ll do a little yard and garden work, then I start getting ready for the harvest of 2012. It is only 11 months until the next harvest after all.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, Minnesota, nitrogen, rain, tillage, weather, wind | Tags: Corn, farm, hot, Minnesota, Planting, pond, rain, summer, weather, wind
June is now over and I couldn’t be happier.
It’s been a difficult month here on the farm. Over six inches rain made field work difficult. We struggled to get our crops planted in May, but the last of the beans were not planted until early June. When the rains came, the weeds went nuts. Because of the rain we couldn’t get in to the field to control them. Luckily we put down a pre-emerge chemical that controlled most of the weeds in the corn, but the bean fields are in real need of attention.
Most of our corn is looking good despite all of the rain. Some of it is over three feet high now.
Although most of the puddles have dried up, sometimes you can still find water in places you least expect it.
There are all to many places where the corn is yellow and short. They can show up anywhere that water could not get away. We still have spots that can surprise you. Places where drainage tile has problems or there is not enough tile to get rid of all of the water we had.
One of the first things we had to do when things dried up was get the last of the nitrogen on. Corn is about to really grow and it needs it’s nitrogen now.
We’re using liquid nitrogen to give the boost our corn needs. A disk cuts a slot and the nitrogen is forced under pressure into the slot.
Now that the nitrogen is on we’ve done some cultivating in the corn on corn field. That job can be done even when the wind is blowing. It does not get all of the weeds, but it helps get one thing we cannot get with chemicals, the volunteer corn we didn’t get harvested last year and is now growing.
Now that the wind has gone down I’ve been able to spray for weeds in the bean fields. Unfortunately the AC is out in that tractor. When you step out of the cab and 95 degrees with high humidity feels good you know it’s hot in there. A few more days with out much rain and we’ll have the weeds back under control.
Hopefully we’ll get just enough rain to keep us going, and enough sun also.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, Minnesota, nitrogen, rain, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, Minnesota, mud, muddy fields, rain, spring, weather
I remember a cartoon in a farm magazine many years ago. It showed a young boy standing in a corn field putting clothing on a corn stalk. He was side dressing the corn.
Today we started side dressing nitrogen on our corn. The ground is finally dry enough to get through some of our fields. I prefer to add nitrogen to our corn several times in the course of the year. Some nitrogen is put on in the fall, some is added with the pre-emergence weed killer after planting, but most of it is applied when the corn is between one and two feet high. This means that the nitrogen is added closest to when it is to be used by the plant.
We are lucky enough that the weed control chemical we put down did a great job. It will save me a trip across later on. In this wet year that is very important.
I was pleased to see that some of the corn is approaching knee high. With over two weeks to go before the fourth of July there is hope that corn will be at a near normal growth stage for the year.
There is still too much chance of rain in the forecast. We need some drying days to get the crop work done. There are parts of fields that are too wet to get a tractor through, and many more that are just barely passable. For now I’ll be trying to get the nitrogen on my corn before it gets too tall. Dry weather will help greatly.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, Minnesota, nitrogen, planting, rain, Soybeans, spring, summer, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, Minnesota, Planting, rain, Soybeans, spring, summer, weather, Weed control
The warmth of summer has helped crops develop quickly. All would be well if the exceptionally wet weather was not keeping us from some needed field work. We need to add some nitrogen to the corn, and the weeds need to be sprayed in the soybean fields.
On Tuesday we got 3 inches of rain. Some area fields got as much as 7 inches. Area rivers have risen 2 to 3 feet and many low areas still have water standing in them.
Most of our fields have dried out now but some area farms have lots of water still in the low spots.
This bean field near my dad’s was planted only days before the rain. You can see that the water was much higher. Also evident are the corn stalks from last years crop that floated up and moved to the down wind side of the pond. It is likely that these beans will have to be replanted to have a chance at getting a crop. Some area low spots have already been planted twice and are now under water again.
Our last planted corn field and the first planted soybeans stand side by side. We were able to get a pre-emergence herbicide applied on the corn but not the beans. The weed pressure in the corn is low because of that, but the weeds are really starting to take over the bean field.
The above and below photos shows the difference that a few days can make when the weather conditions are good. Soybeans planted 2 days apart have one more set of leaves forming on the earlier planted beans than the later planted ones.
We hope we can dodge the rains for a few days to get the crop work done. The weather report is still wet so the next few days could be busy if rain does not fall. Either way the soil has enough water for a few weeks. The challenge is to get in when conditions are right.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, Minnesota, nitrogen, rain, Soybeans, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, fertilizer, nitrogen, rain, Soybeans
The effects of last weeks storms still linger. Low areas of fields have standing water in them days after the last storm, in some cases a lot of water. Rivers and creeks are over their banks and are reluctant to go down. Soybean and corn plants can take only so much water and then they need to get their feet dry. We’ll see how much damage this creates.
We were caught with our last application of nitrogen still on the truck. Nitrogen is required for a good harvest and the corn crop has grown too tall for normal application methods. We have talked to the co-op and they will apply the nitrogen with a high-wheeled sprayer with drop nozzles. The drops will get the nitrogen to the ground where the rain can wash it into the root zone. It’s not the preferred method, but it works.
Why wait so long to put on the last of the fertilizer? Because a late application of nitrogen gets the fertilizer to the plant when it needs it with less chance for nitrogen loss. A late application also means we can use less fertilizer, thus saving money. This is the first time I’ve been caught by rain so I could not apply the nitrogen myself.
Farming is a gamble. You weigh the options, make a choice, and then you live with it. Sometimes you get lucky, some times you don’t.
Filed under: Farm, fertilizer, home addition, house, Minnesota, nitrogen, rain | Tags: farm, rain, screen porch, weather, Weed control
I finished spraying the beans. I was supposed to get the nitrogen applicator to side dress the corn fields today but the applicator is still in use at another farm. While I waited I worked on the screen porch. The floor is now on the porch and I need to make another lumber run.
We have a severe storm warning for tonight along with a forecast for a 90% chance of rain. If we do not get too much rain I can get at the nitrogen application soon. We could just be sitting here waiting for things to dry up again. All the time the corn is growing and soon it could be too tall to get into the field. Oh well, we’ll do what we can.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, home addition, house, Minnesota, nitrogen, rain, Soybeans, tillage, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, fertilizer, rain, screen porch, Soybeans, weather
OK, now this is getting to be too much. It has rained for most of the days in the month of June and I have work that must be done before the corn is too tall, and time is running out. Our best hope for nice weather is Wednesday, and then it is supposed to rain again.
I got a good start on spraying the weeds in the corn, but I need another day to finish. The soybean fields already have weeds taller than the beans. This is frustrating.
Also on the to do list is the last application of nitrogen and cultivating corn. With my dad taking off a week for a trip west, I’ll be hustling when the weather clears. The corn is growing fast enough that I may not be able to get all of these jobs done.
If it was not raining, I could at least start work on the screen porch. Due to the rain the block work is not yet done, and I will need dry weather to do a decent job of backfilling dirt in the trench. I have the lumber here to start building, but no sun, more rain, makes for a frustrating day.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, hunger, nitrogen, phosphorus, planting, potash, science, Soybeans, tillage
I’m perplexed. As a modern day crop farmer I’ve used Nitrogen, Potash and Phosphorus fertilizer all of my life. Lately many have been writing about something called Chemical Fertilizer and calling it something bad. When I was in school we were taught that Nitrogen, Potash and Phosphorus are elements not chemicals. What is it that makes these bad?
Many are hanging a Chemical label on products used on the farm to make them sound bad. I don’t understand it. Modern man owes his life to chemicals. We use them in so much of modern life and they have helped us in so many ways.
Fertilizer is a simplified form of the organic products we still use in many cases. Nitrogen is drawn from the air, Potash and Phosphorus are mined from the earth. The fact that they are purified is the only thing that makes it possible to sell them commercially in large amounts.
The loss of these major fertilizers, as some propose, will mean a lot to those who are going hungry. I have a problem when people who have never missed a meal, try to tell the world that we cannot use every possible means to feed the hungry. Without the help of modern science we will need much more land to feed the world. Land we just do not have.