This Farm Week in Pictures brings you a week full of planting! We are nearly done. Corn finished up early in the week and we spent about two days on popcorn. We are working on soybeans now, and they should be done in a few days if we don’t see rain. Tomorrow we start with our no-till/cover crop field. It’s our first go with that system so it will be interesting to see how the planter handles the residue. I’m sure it will do just fine once we dial everything in.
You know I post a ton of pictures on Facebook right? If you’re not following me there already at The Farmer’s Life please do! I post pictures from the farm regularly so you’ll see even more than what you see here.
Keep it Clean
Since we grow popcorn and soybeans for seed production it is very important that both planting and harvesting equipment are free of other crop seed. Here we are stripping the planter down to switch from corn to popcorn. Just a few corn kernels in a 1000 bushel truckload of popcorn can get you rejected at the plant. This is also why we try to avoid planting popcorn in a field that was corn the previous year. If we do we’ll have to seek out any volunteer corn plants and cut them out by hand.
Up The Irons!
I’m going to take a wild guess that I might be the only person at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on September 7th who ordered Iron Maiden tickets from a tractor cab while planting popcorn. And a couple of weeks back I got some tickets for September 8th in St. Louis! \m/
The Eagles Have Landed
See the dark spot in the tall tree? That is a bald eagle nest. We have had a family of eagles living down in the river bottom for several years now. They can be seen cruising up and down the river if you pay attention. They used to live on the other side of the river, but their tree fell down. We were worried they would move on, but they stayed close to us. A few years back were we able to see babies in the nest!
The Deep End
A few weeks ago I showed you the flooding in the river bottom field as the Wabash River took on all of April’s rainfall. How deep did it get? That stuff caught up in the branches is crop residue from our field and you can see it’s nearly as high as the tractor hood.
In the Trenches
I grabbed this shot from the rear of the planter just before the closing wheels do their job of shutting the furrow over the seed. Here you can see the trench formed by the disc openers and how the sidewalls are firmed up by the gauge wheels. You can spot a couple of popcorn kernels in the trench.
I Just Shipped My Pants
Most of our soybeans come in bulk, but we don’t always get all of them in the nice Pro Boxes you saw above. These bags have a draw string on the bottom that will release all the beans from the bag. I don’t like these things. The forklift has to be raised really high to get the bags in the seed tender, and I don’t like having literally a ton of soybeans dangling that high off the ground. We have put the bags into empty boxes before, but at this time we only had the one empty popcorn box.
And this is just one more reason I have to hate bags now. This one broke. We aren’t sure how. Maybe the front loops slipped off the forks leaving only two points to hold the full weight of the bag. I was running the forklift and I thought the wagon would tip over or the top panel on the opposite side would bust open. Luckily that didn’t happen and even better no one was hurt or really in position to be hurt.
The rear tarp bow was the only thing to sustain damage from the broken bag. No big deal. At least that bag was the sixth bag going into the wagon meaning there was seed piled up to the bottom of the bend in the bow. I don’t want to think about what might have happened if the first bag in had broken.
I posted this on social media channels and just told everyone to stay tuned. A lot of people were worried my tablet would fall off or get damaged by all the dust flying around. But my goal wasn’t to record the planter running in the field. I just wanted to show everyone how we fill it!
Everyone wants to know what the white powder is so I’ll tell you before you ask. It’s talcum powder. Talc helps the seeds flow through the seed meter especially seed coated with a treatment to protect against bugs and disease like these seeds.
Precision Agriculture at Work
This is one screen I have set up on the monitor in the tractor. What all is going on here? The white highlighted line is the track I’ve set up for the tractor to follow. If you’ve been following me even for just a little while you should know by now that most of our equipment essentially drives itself. I can make curved lines as well with multiple curves. The lines will extrapolate themselves at selected intervals in both directions from the original track. In this case 60′ wide since the planter is 60′ wide.
The blue area is where I have already planted. The other colors are different seeding rates that the planter will automatically adjust to as it rolls across them on the map. Dad and I entered these rates via software on our computer based on multiple years of GPS-based yield data from previous harvests. The pink line is the border of the field which I actually loaded on accident. I don’t want the borders in there when I’m planting because the swath control will shut rows down that go outside the border. Not all the borders are perfect and they can “drift”, at least from a digital standpoint over time. What is swath control you say?
Swath control does what it says by controlling the swath of a given piece of equipment. For planting that means whenever I’m coming to an area where I’ve already planted the planter will shut off two rows at a time. It does not matter if I’m perpendicular to the end rows I’ve planted or at a steep angle to a ditch bank or overlapping a curved set of rows around a driveway like you see I’m about to do pictured above. Our system is set up to shut off rows in sets of two to prevent making gaps. You’d rather have a tiny bit of overlap than a space not planted. Those overlapped areas are the dark blue sections on the map. You can imagine there would be a lot more dark blue without swath control. This definitely saves us seed which is one of our biggest expenses. And this tech isn’t just for seed. It can stop overlap of fertilizer and pesticides as well or any other input around the farm provided the machinery is properly equipped.
Delay of Game
We use a shop vac to clean out the planter when we don’t have to strip it down to change the seed plates. This comes in very handy when planting test plots in corn or when we are switching varieties of soybeans we raise for seed production. Definitely a time saver over pulling all 24 boxes out and dumping them. We discovered we have an attachment for the vac with just the right angle to get every last seed out of the hopper.
My truck doing truck stuff. Hit 259,000 miles this weekend. Those bags of soybeans in the back state their origin as Indiana. I think they are the same variety we raised last year for seed, so there is chance these beans are making a second appearance on our farm!
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
Sunday is usually a day off for us even during planting and harvest. We decided to work today anyway because planting is a touch late this year and there is rain in the forecast. This is how the day started. I probably ran for some time Saturday night like this in the dark without knowing. The temporary solution was to just remove the wheel and tire along with the arm that supports it and keep on planting. Aside from that wing sagging a little in the raised position you couldn’t tell much difference. In the meantime Dad found someone to fix the hole in the tire which isn’t all that easy on a Sunday.
There’s a very good chance planting will wrap up in the coming week. Maybe in just 2 or 3 days if the rains holds off. See you next week!