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Monday
May262014

Time to say goodbye

As with most of the bloggers , I've found that I just don't have time to keep up my posts anymore.  So, I'm going to be shutting down "rows upon rows" with this post. If I can get things better organized I might start up again, or start a new blog with a different subject.

  I'd like to thank all of you that have been kind enough to read my blog, comment on my posts, and make this an enjoyable experience for me.  I hope that reading this blog has helped you see that farming is still a family business, and that we try hard to grow safe and abundant crops. When you hear about the latest food scare, remember to check things out completely and try to get both sides of the story.  If you do that, all my writing will have been worth it.  Thanks again!

Plierman

Thursday
May222014

Honey Bees

You've probably heard or read about the crisis with honey bees in America.  The colonies are dying out and no one is sure why. I heard that the amount lost has gone down the last year, but we're still losing honey bees.  Of course, bees are extremely important for all kinds of food and it's essential to keep the bees.

Several things are being looked at that may or may not be causeing the problem, and one of them is the insecticide that we have on corn seed.  I thought I'd show you what they're talking about and how they think this may be causing damage.

Here is corn seed in the planter box.  You can see it doesn't look like corn at all.  It's a greenish blue color!  This is because it's coated with insecticide to protect the seed from insects that feed on the seed, and funguses etc.  Now how can this effect bee's when this is put under ground?  You can also see that the seed is a dull color and there's some white powder on it.  This is talc.  We have to put talc on the seed so that it lubricates the planting meters.  It's necessary to make things work.  Otherwise, eventually, the planter will gum up.

We also use vacuum planters which use a vacuum to pull the seed against a plate and then when the seed goes past the vacuum it drops down the tube into the ground. Vacuums need an outlet to blow the air out and that's on the fan on the planter.

The theory is that right after we load a planter and when we start it up we can have talc blow out of the vacuum.  Along with that talc is some of this insecticide that has stuck to the talc.  Somehow this blows on the wind and gets to a place it effects the bees.  We're told to be very careful with this around bee hives and to be careful when loading our planters also so that we don't have talc flying around.  Some companies are expirimenting with some different systems that can help eliminate a lot of this problem, but it will be awhile until they are readily available.  Again, this is just a theory, but something we farmers have to pay attention to.  Bees are too important to ignore.

 

New Amie's Corner!

Monday
May192014

Planting ridges

I've talked about ridges in the past and how we clear off the top of the ridges to plant.  Here, I have a video showing the row cleaners on the planter working to clear the dirt off.  The video is taken off of a monitor, and the wheels are moving so fast that they appear to be standing still. I'm sorry for the quality, but it's the best I can do off the monitor.

 

This still photo shows the difference between rows before and after the tops have been cleaned off and planted.  You can see that we have a nice clean slice of soil where the seed is planted, and that this small space will heat up fast with the sun and provides a perfect seed bed.  For a lot of farmers, this doesn't look nice, because everything isn't black dirt, but I think it looks great.  Much less work, much less fuel, and much more "trash" left so that the soil doesn't erode and we preserve moisture.  I'm still sold on ridges after close to 25 years with them.

Thursday
May152014

Flying

I purchased an RC quad-copter this spring with the idea of eventually using it in my farming operations.    I'm just using it for fun for now, and hopefully,  I'll be able to fly it well enough to use for my farming.  It should be very usefull for checking fields, and I'd like to eventually get an infrared camera to use, since you can tell the health of your crops using infrared.

Below, is a short video of the second time I had it up.  As you can see, it's pretty amatuerish, but hopefully I'll get better.  After this video, I flew it a bit more and it crashed into some wildlife land. Aptly named, because it was getting dark and I was pretty wild.  Fortunately, I found it, and immediately decided I have to figure out some lights so I can find it easier if there's a next time.  I hope there's not.

Monday
May122014

What do all those little lights mean?

We finally got started planting, though we've been and are being delayed because of rain.  I'm not complaining though, since we've been so terribly dry that the moisture is a blessing. It remains cold though, and that's the problem we're dealing with this year.

I have a different tractor this year which I'm enjoying, but also learning about also.  Lot's of new things to check out and learn, as every piece of different equipment does things a little bit differently.  I thought I'd explain a couple of the screens we use while we plant.

This is the screen that's built into the tractor.  There are several different configurations that can be set up to track different things. It's mostly self-explanatory, as you can see it's showing how many acres an hour I'm doing, the gallons per hour of fuel I'm using, the hours of fuel I have left, and the hours I have on the tractor engine.  The time and outside temperature are shown, along with oil pressure, water temperature,and oil temperature along the left side. You can also see the four hydraulic outlets and the three point hitch in their own little boxes in the center.  These show oil flow when being used, and the "C" on the right shows that they're set for continuous run.  That is, they're running hydraulic motors.  Number four shows a 20 by it, and that means that when I pull back the lever, the oil will flow for 20 seconds before stopping.  This is to raise and lower equipment.  The three point hitch or "rockshaft" raises and lowers the planter and shows a "0" to the right and "command" on top of it's section.  This llows me to set the time it raises and lowers, the speed, how high it will raise, how low it will drop etc.  All of this information is available at all times.

 

This image shows the "greenstar" display, which shows the planter information and GPS information. The top box shows the planter and the little graph shows the individual rows and how many seeds per acre they're planting.  My goal in this field is 32,000 seeds per acre.  You can see that #'s 1,3,5,6, and 9 are planting a bit heavy at this moment.  The graph is constantly moving up and down and in the upper right hand corner you can see the average I'm planting is 32,200 seeds per acre. I'm doing 4.8 miles an hour, and the upper right hand box shows what field I'm on.  The lower half of the screen shows a map and a tractor icon showing the guidence system.  The flags are rocks (that have since been picked.)  The lower right hand boxes show information for the guidence system, the red circle showing I'm recording things, I'm in RTK mode (sub-inch accuracy) and arrows that I can press to shift the tracking one way or another.  The lower left image of the map shows "0 inch" at the top, and that means that I'm tracking exactly on the path that I set up last year.  If I'm off, it shows by how much and in which directiont.  It will vary a bit, but stays the course very well.

This final (blurry I'm afraid) shows the controls on the arm rest of the seat.  These are what I use to control the operations of the tractor, hydraulics, etc.  Very nice when you finally figure them all out!