Farm Week in Pictures 04/19/2014

It’s almost time.  This looks to be the last week we have on the farm ahead of the 2014 planting season.  We are scrambling to get a lot of things done before we hit the fields full-time.  We’ve been tuning up the new field we bought, fertilizing, and doing various jobs that need our attention before we won’t have to time for them.  Take a look!

Tweet Gone Viral

If you’ve been reading this blog or following me on social media you ought to know by now about the quadcopter.  I acquired it this winter for crop scouting purposes, but it’s going to have an impact on the way I present things online.  Just because I could I flew the copter from the cab of the 8360R while it handled steering itself with GPS.  I posted a picture of me doing this on twitter, and as of this writing it was retweeted 278 times and favorited over 500 times!  That is by far the most activity I’ve ever had on a tweet!  I the novelty of the post and the use of the #GoPro hashtag set it off.  Looks for lots more like this in the future!  I hope it will bring a better understanding of our equipment to people who are not familiar.

DJI Phantom 2 via


Combatting Soil Compaction

Deep Tillage via thefarmerslife.comThis is the real work I was doing when I was not messing around with the quadcopter.  We decided to get out the ripper we bought recently to attack some soil compaction in a few areas frequently trafficked by our worst soil compactors.  The grain cart and the combine are the heaviest pieces of equipment in the field and they follow the same paths many times to get to waiting trucks.  When the soil probe pictures hits the red zone (two readings for different probe tips) we have a compaction issue that limits crop root growth.  A few times I found root-stopping compaction only 3 inches deep!  We used to rip every acre about every three years.  Now as we are into more minimum and no-till, we want to hit the main problem areas.


Almost There

Seed Plates via thefarmerslife.comThe plates for corn were put in the planter’s seed meters.  Normally we plant corn first and then soybeans, but we adjust as the season progresses.



Corn Stalks via thefarmerslife.comA drainage inlet in a waterway needed corn stalks pulled away.  I actually discovered this needed when I was flying my Phantom over the waterway to scout for sinkholes that may have developed over the winter.  Looked like it wouldn’t hurt to burn a few piles of stalks here.  Water tends to move loose crop residue to low ares.

Clean Your Pipes

Plugged Drainage via thefarmerslife.comWe actually found a small sinkhole in another field we were flagging off for a test plot.  You can see how the drain tile line is nearly filled with dirt.  This usually occurs because a hole has developed in the line.  However, when we dug up this line all we couldn’t find that it went beyond this point.  We could only conclude that whoever installed this didn’t put a cap at the end, or the cap has somehow come off.  It’s capped off now and since this soil inside is fairly fresh and not rock hard we hope it will clean itself out after a big rain, and return to full flow.


Feeling Fertile

Fertilizer via thefarmerslife.comHere I was putting anhydrous ammonia (Nitrogen fertilizer) on the area where the test plot mentioned previously will be planted.  Anhydrous means without water so as the fertilizer exits the knives in the toolbar it bonds quickly with soil moisture.  After running the test plot I ran another wagon over some end rows and field corners.  This is all the preplant we will do this year.  We have some more N on other fields being spread as a dry product in ammonium sulfate, but most of our corn crop will be feed N after planting.

Soybean Stubble via thefarmerslife.comSoybean stubble was giving me some issues accumulating between the closing discs on the outer rows on either end of the bar.  I just removed 4 of the discs to let more residue flow by and my problem was solved.  Tillage will manage residue, but the tools are really great when it comes to piles like this.


Cleaning Up New Ground

Rocks via thefarmerslife.comNormally we’d use a tractor with a loader, but this time Dad and I spend a couple of hours picking up rocks on the new farm and loading them on a trailer.  There are some high spots in this field with lots of rocks laying on top.  Every rock on that trailer is one less rock that can hit the disc openers on the planter!

JCB Backhoe via thefarmerslife.comOur new grapple was put to the test last week.  The new farm with the rocks also has plenty of brush that hasn’t been managed much in the past.  There are quite a few houses along the West side of this field so we’ve been knocking on doors too.  Backyards have crept out over the years too.  We don’t want to upset anyone, but we probably technically own 10′ or so of several yards.  So far everyone we’ve met has been very nice, and we’ve even cleaned up some junk and old brush piles for people.  They are glad to see the stuff go, and we’ve got the equipment to make short work of what would have been a big project for them.  We’re not here to disrupt the neighborhood.  We just want clean up a little bit!

Next week I think I will be posting planting pictures!

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    1. That’s right. I can remember from soil science classes at Purdue studying the two glacial periods here. The first was the Illinoian which got down into the Southern part of the state. More recently the Wisconsin glacial period crossed the Northern part where we farm. As you drive through Indiana you can tell by the terrain where the second glacier did not reach as the Southern part of the start is not nearly as flat as the Northern areas.

  1. Your 8360R is pretty much my ultimate dream tractor! Would take that any day over a Ferrari or Bentley car LOL!! Your blog, twitter and Facebook are a great view into the farmers life. I grew up on a farm in Nebraska and miss farming just about every day of my life right now. I miss the freedom and independence of farming. I know there are lots of other stresses that farming puts on you but in the end, farming is once heck of a good way to live and enjoy family and life. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, David. I was just thinking over the weekend about posting a picture of the 8360R to Facebook with some text added that we could have a Ferrari with change to spare but we bought this instead. Too bad the Ferrari doesn’t pay it’s way like the tractor does!

      I don’t really have any stress farming now. I went to work in town at a “real” job for five years after college. Farming is the life for me!

      1. If there is any way I can get back into farming down the road I would love to do it. I came from a 400 acre farm in Nebraska and it’s too small to make a living off of full time, especially since my dad is still in farming. With land prices the way they are it’s next to impossible to purchase your own land and renting land is hard because it’s so competitive and because the large operations are so efficient they can offer higher rent prices, so it’s really hard to break into from scratch. I figure the only way I can get into it would be to work for a farmer full time, but it’s not the same as owning your own operation and calling the shots. I guess I can keep dreaming though!

        1. I suppose get in where you can. I wonder if you could get into some more diversified or profitable things on the 400 acres to make that work? Our relatives in Hawaii raise lettuce, romaine, and onions on 20 acres.

  2. Keep it comin’, Brian. I’m getting a good re-education from your blog. I haven’t been down on the farm since I was a teen and that’s been way too long ago. Hope your family has a good crop year.

  3. Glad to hear that the neighbors at your new farm are being reasonable – I’m sure you’re being reasonable as well, and probably giving up a bit a farmable land to preserve the peace.
    There appears to be a school adjacent to your new farm with a pretty wide brush line. How are you dealing with them? Preserving a brush line or taking it down?

    1. Haven’t talked to the school yet. There’s a few feet we can easily clean up, but there’s also a fence we don’t want to damage.

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