Spring is planting season!
"Friends with Tractors" by Rodney Atkins
Once the ground warms up and dries out in the spring we need to till it to create a good seed bed for the seed. For most of our ground we practice a form of conservation tillage known as strip tillage. This form of tillage only works the ground where the seed will be placed, therefore leaving 2/3 of the ground untouched. We use GPS in our tractors to map the rows so the planter will be able to follow the exact tracks.
The benefits to strip tillage are mainly minimally disturbing the soil. This helps to protect the worm tunnels and homes of other bugs that live in the soil, so they can perform their job better, making the soil healthier. It also helps to reduce compaction through the worm tunnels, and less trips over the field. Through the strip tiller, we are able to apply fertilizer directly into the seedbed, giving the corn incentive to grow its roots to reach this fertilizer.
One of the downfalls to strip tillage is it takes longer for the soil to warm up and dry out in the spring. This is because there is less newly exposed surface area than there is with conventional tillage, making it harder for the suns rays to reach it.
Spring of 2019 was unlike any spring that we have ever seen. The ground was so wet that we were unable to even access our fields until late May. Due to this, we chisel plowed and disced some of our acres that had been strip tilled for many years. Seen down below is a picture of the chisel plow. We plowed at an angle to hopefully break up the compaction that was there, and hope to return to our normal tillage practices in Spring of 2020
Chisel plowing. We plowed using GPS to ensure that our rows were straight, and that we were not missing or overlapping any plowed ground. This helps us to be more efficient and save on fuel costs.
Discing over plowed ground. This helps to break up clumps and make it easier for the plant to emerge.
Putting seed in the ground!!!! Planting season is early mornings and late nights, but it is so worth it when the corn comes up!
And then we have corn popping out of the ground!!! Now we wait and watch all summer long while our corn grows higher and higher.
This is our strip-tiller as viewed from the side. You can see the white tanks that contain liquid nitrogen as fertilizer. Nitrogen is essential for plant development,. If the soil lacks in nitrogen, the plants will be a very light green and growth will be stunted.
This is our strip-tiller and tractor as viewed from the back. You can see the chains that help to break up the soil clumps and make the ground smoother.
This is what the ground looks like after it has been strip-tilled. Only 1/3 of the ground is actually worked up, and all of the corn stalks on the ground will help to keep moisture and heat in the soil. The corn will be planted in the middle of the dark brown strips.