We had a busy week on the farm. We tended to our field borders, walked popcorn for rocks, inspected the growing crop, learned about the latest tech, fixed broken things, and I finished the week by heading over to Illinois for some additional education on unmanned aerial vehicle use in agriculture.
Protecting the Border
Each year after planting is over we drive around the edges of all our fields in an effort to keep weeds and brush at bay. We use a brush killer product like Crossbow or a generic version of it which is usually cheaper. Not unlike buying the drugstore brand of Tylenol or Advil, etc. Since this herbicide takes out broadleaf plants we have to be careful around soybean crops because it will kill them too. So if a neighbor has soybeans on the other side of the property line we’ll be extra careful not to spray them, or we’ll just pass that area up to be on the safe side. We try to knock all the borders back in the spring in order to keep pesky weeds from going to seed.
Brush like mulberries are tougher to keep back, but it’s good to keep them from snarling up fence lines and hanging their branches out over our fields. Brush killer contains 2,4-D which won’t kill grass, and that’s good. Grass is great at preventing erosion and it also helps keep weeds down along property lines and borders. We happen to have a lot of open ditches along our fields so we also spray the banks to knock down weeds and let grass thrive.This is the ultra high tech rig we have been using for a few years to spray fence rows. It’s just an old 3pt hitch mounted sprayer tank with a handheld spray gun mounted to a trailer along with an old air ride semi tractor seat we had. A 12V pump just plugs into the bumper of a pickup truck. Turning on the clearance lights powers the pump. It’s not pretty, but it’s simple and it works!
We spent a few afternoons walking our new field picking up the many rocks laying on the surface. By the end of the week we had covered the 86 acres while getting a great view of how the popcorn growing in this field is pregressing.
Tools of the Future
I spent Thursday at the Beck Center on the Purdue research farm learing about ag technology during Successful Farming’s “Tools of the Future” event. It was a pretty good event. Some of it was a bit of a sales pitch, but I brought home some things to think about for our operation. I was most interested in emerging planter technology like electric drive seed meters, and planters than can switch hybrids on the move to capitalize on soil conditions within a field. We have some fields that would defintely benefit from being able to switch hybrids on the move. For example we have some ground that goes from very productive soil to pure sand ridges in one pass. If I could instantly switch to a more drought tolerant corn or bean on the ridges we could bring up the productivity in those areas while focusing high yielding seeds on the best parts of the fields. Drones were also a hot topic.
In this picture I’m taking in a presentation from Climate Corp concerning their Climate Basic program. It’s pretty cool to be able to see rainfall totals for all your fields by looking on your computer or mobile device. There are several services like this, and you’d be surprised how accurate the precipitation estimates are getting.
Luna Moth on the Loose!
I watered my parents’ potted plants while they were taking some time in Indianapolis during Dad’s birthday. One day I walked up to the house and spotted this awesome luna moth hanging out near the kitchen door. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these!
Mr. Fix It
The red Freightliner had a little bit of a leaky coolant issue. The culprit was a rubber coupler between two metal pipes. It had become rotten for lack of a better word. It was soft and squishy and not doing its job anymore. Not very well anyway. So Grandpa and I drained the coolant which turned out to be brown and rusty instead of green and clean. We put on a new coupler, and filled the truck with new coolant. Good as new!
It’s been hot an humid out for about two weeks now. That can be uncomfortable for humans, but as long as soil moisture is good corn loves this weather! The amount a vegetation in corn fields around here can be seen increasing by the day. This is a shot of our corn follwoing corn no-till field. It appears to be doing very well!
Drones on the Range
On Saturday I went to Bloomington, Illinois to obtain some more knowledge about unmanned aerial vehicles in agriculture. Some readers may know I have a small quadcopter with a GoPro that I’m using to learn the ropes this season. In the future I’m eager to get different types of imagery to work with that we would use to assess plant health when we can still get in the field to take actions that can help us boost yield and use inputs like fertilizer more effectively.
Althought this class covered more advanced topics than the first of Chad’s classes I attended last December, some of the students had not yet taken delivery of a ship or had much flying experience. Here everyone is learning how to calibrate the compass on their Phantoms after we updated them all with the latest firmware over the internet. I’ve already done this with mine several times, so I helped some of the new people get up and running.
What do you think of our week? Leave a comment below!