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Farming

How Spring Planting is (not) Going

I’d like to tell you how spring planting is going, but it pretty much takes just one word.

Wet.

rainy day1

We were hardly in the field at all in the month of May, and have spent less than 48 hours planting since June began.

It won't stop raining and we can't start planting! {DaddysTractor.com}

Not really our ideal situation.

And sadly, the rain isn’t even all that great for the crops we planted in April.  Several of our corn fields have large patches of yellow-tinged leaves where the plants are water-logged and roots don’t have oxygen.  Even without standing water, the corn is drowning.

rainy day2

Thankfully, most of the corn is likely to pull out of this and be fine (oh please, oh please, oh please be fine), but the irony!

It won't stop raining and we can't start planting! {DaddysTractor.com}

So Daddy is spending his time fixing equipment.  There’s been trouble with trucks, several of the farm pick-ups and also the semis.  Once we get a couple of working pick-ups I should be able to borrow one and leave my mini van in the shop to fix a nasty scratch. 😛  So there are silver linings.

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How a Vietnamese Picnic Ties to Agriculture

This weekend I went to a Vietnamese picnic- all in the name of agriculture, of course!

Agriculture in Viet Nam

My Ag Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT) class focuses mainly on the agriculture of Missouri, but in the global world we live in it’s really not that simple!  Every class takes a trip to DC, as well as one overseas trip at the end of the program.  My husband when to China; next year I’ll be visiting VietNam!

To prep for the trip the Vietnamese Student Association at MU put together a presentation and picnic for us!  We heard from professors, PhD candidates, and a post-doc student about the agriculture in VietNam, as well as subjects closely related, like geography and finance.  (But truly, between the accent and the topic, I have no idea what the nice professor of international finance was talking about…)

Agriculture in Viet Nam

VietNam has gone from a third world country to a developing nation in a rather short amount of time.  They still have many challenges, which is why many of the students we met were post-grad.  The country is looking for highly educated people to help move the nation forward– and ag tech is going to be huge for them.

Agriculture in Viet Nam

This was my favorite slide of the day.  These are pictures of their “new” technology.  Top left is a “harvester,” not even a combine.  In the pic on the top right the pole in-between the two workers is actually a tree limb.  Still, even with their ag looking like this, they are anxious for the advantages of genetically modified crops.

Agriculture in VietNam

And since food, of course, is what we’re working for in agriculture, it was an important part of our education to eat some!

Agriculture in Viet Nam

I’ll admit to being worried, but actually I loved it!  It’s not spicy like Tai food, and not as… similar as all Chinese dishes seem to me.  There were many flavors, lots of them fresh veggies with herbs like mint.  I din’t quite understand how the dishes were supposed to go together- the noodles went in a sauce which made it like soup which was for dipping the little rolls in the bottom right corner, as well as adding to the veggies in the top pic? But I loved all of it, and even braved the dessert (very center pic) which was like tapioca with coconut milk along with boiled peanuts, corn, and mushrooms.  Confession, one of my mushrooms was julienned so long and thin it looked like a worm.  I did not eat it.

Our trip is scheduled for July of 2016, so I’ve got a year to add to my Pinterest board of Vietnamese culture.  And if you want to follow me on Instagram and Twitter (both @daddystractor) I promise I’ll post lots while we’re there!

I can’t wait!

Categories: Farming | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Home Team

Despite being a fan of the hashtag #ForeverRoyal, I’ve never really jumped on the  bandwagon of our championship Kansas City baseball team.  But even though sports aren’t my thing, you will find me cheering loudly for a farmer’s “home team.”

In the world of agriculture the rivalry between Case IH and John Deere is as hotly disputed as the Yankees versus the Red Socks.  I’ve never posted a picture of my family proudly posing in Case IH red without receiving a few helpful comments from people who would take up arms for John Deere’s signature green.

If It Ain't Red It Stays in the Shed

My blog. My rules. 

And like sports rivalries, it’s all in good fun.

Mostly. 🙂

While there are other players on the field, (Kubota, New Holland) John Deere and Case IH represent the two largest makers of farm equipment.  They manufacture huge tractors to lawn mowers, combines, planters, etc..  They also often represent different ways to solve a problem.  Like a few years ago when the big push was to reduce emissions in tractor engines the two companies went in very different directions.  But often as not a farmer’s allegiance has more to do with what his grandfather bought!

Case IH vs. John Deere

John Deere is a great American success story, with a bankrupt blacksmith opening a new shop and solving a major problem for Midwestern farmers.   When demand for his self-scouring steel plow outgrew his little shop he opened a factory– then another and another.  During the depression, the story goes, John Deere did not repossess a single piece of equipment from farmers going through hard times.  And thus John Deere loyalty was born.

Case’s following was earned in a different way.  The company began as a maker of steam engines and has bought and acquired various companies like Farmall and International Harvester along its not-quite 200 year journey. The history isn’t as easy to trace, but its commitment from customers can often be found in its prices.  Most often you’ll hear farmers saying “I can’t afford to pay more for green paint.”  If John Deere is Apple then Case would be Android.

Case IH vs. John Deere

Actually, I’d say the rivalry between farm companies is even more intense than sports teams.  When was the last time you invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on a sports team and then depended on them for your livelihood?

So root for your home team.  Leave a comment and tell me to whom are you #ForeverLoyal.

#IAmCaseIH #NothingRunsLikeADeere

 

Categories: Family, Farming | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Do Conventional Farmers Use Environmentally Friendly Practices?

Today is Earth Day which seems like the perfect time to answer a question I hear a lot.  Do conventional farmers use environmentally friendly farming practices?

Many people equate “environmentally sustainable” with “organic.”  I’m sure this is largely true, but organic is more about how you grow the plants than how you take care of the land.

But I’d rather not get out the boxing gloves with organic.  Instead I want to answer the question; what do conventional farmers do to take care of the land?

Actually, they do a lot.

DSC_0276

Here’s a photo I snapped of Daddy’s tractor planting corn.  You can see the green of our cover crop, which, sadly, was supposed to be wheat.  And while the failure of our second wheat crop is disappointing, the nice thing here is that you can see the fresh marks of the corn planter clearly in the green.

Many people think of organic farmers as being more environmentally friendly.  What about conventionally grown food?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The red arrow shows the marks from where the planter has just put seeds.  The yellow arrow shows the odd shape of untouched wheat grass between the planter rows.

Why in the world would we do that?

Well, it’s environmentally friendly.  Our land is hilly, so to keep soil from washing into streams we use terraces to keep the soil where it belongs.  Terraces are an awkward shape and they cut an otherwise rectangular field into weird shapes as well.  Farmers have to plant and harvest on one side of the terrace at a time.  We start planting by tracing the outline of the field (end rows) and then we trace both sides of the terraces.  Finally we finish planting by filling in those blank spaces the yellow arrow points out.

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor! {DaddysTractor.com}

The use of technology is also a major part of being a good steward.  The GPS monitor shows us exactly where the tractor has planted and what little triangle somewhere as been forgotten.  The planter also uses a pretty impressive system that shuts off each row individually as it drives over ground that has already been planted.  That saves us lots of seed, as well as confusion when it’s time to harvest double planted ground.

Planting with terraces is a pain.  However, protecting streams and our water supply is important to us (we drink water too) and it’s beneficial because soil that washes away is our best top soil.  Those are two big reasons you’ll find conventional farmers practicing soil conservation!

Here are other posts that describe why it’s always Earth Day on a farm.

Farm Ugly! How farmers are taking care of the land. {DaddysTractor.com}

1.) Farming Ugly!  Cover crops help prevent soil erosion, control weeds naturally, and enrich soil.

Farmers taking care of the land {daddystractor.com}

2.) Terraces and no-till, best practices on our farm.

Another way farmers are taking care of the land. {DaddysTractor.com}

3.) Another farmer planting hay on terraces and waterways.

If you’re a farmer, what other practices do you use?  If you’re not, what questions do you have?

Categories: Agvocacy, Farming | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hope Springs Eternal

For a farmer, spring is hope.  No matter how poorly last year’s crop grew, despite the prices at the grain elevator, and against the odds of droughts, hail, insects, flood, and other calamities, we put seeds in the ground.

Everyone gets excited about spring planting on the farm!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Last week Daddy showed up in the field that is our front yard (at bedtime, please ignore the pajama-clad kids) to plant the first test rows.

Planting begins on the farm (and everyone's excited!  {DaddysTractor.com}

He drove the tractor a few yards into the field and stopped to see how the planter was working.

Planting begins on the farm (and everyone's excited!  {DaddysTractor.com} Planting begins on the farm (and everyone's excited!  {DaddysTractor.com} Planting begins on the farm (and everyone's excited!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Daddy looks in the rows created by the planter to see how deep the seeds are, how close together they fell into the ground, if there are spaces where the planter skipped seeds or dropped a double.

Planting begins on the farm (and everyone's excited!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Daddy has invested equipment from a company called Precision Planting that creates add-ons for your tractor and planter to ensure that every seed is placed as precisely as possible.  For crops like corn, that can make an impact.

Planting begins on the farm (and everyone's excited!  {DaddysTractor.com}

He’s also checking to see if the wheels on the back of the planter are doing a good job covering the seeds back up with soil.  If you look carefully at the above photo you’ll notice one round, black wheel paired with one spiky looking one.

The ground was too wet to use the spiky wheels, so Daddy had to take the planter back to the shed and changed each spike wheel to a matching black one.

When he came back the next morning I was able to grab a few pics of him unfolding the planter.  This piece of machinery is 60 feet wide and couldn’t possibly get down the road like that!

Spring planting on the farm.

This planter folds in three places, with the two side sections bending forward to align next to the bar that pulls it behind the tractor.

Spring planting on the farm.

The sections swing out and the bar that pulls behind the tractor actually shortens to give more control while Daddy is driving.

Spring planting on the farm.

When the sections lock into place its ready, planting more hope in the ground as it goes.

 

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