Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring is here to stay!

I hope spring is here for good, anyway.
I walked into the machine shed yesterday to put the wheelbarrow back and was stunned by the sight of the corn planter!

I hollered at the kids to come stand next to it so that I could snap this wild picture, thinking it would be amazing to see the magnitude of this beast!

The corn planter is relatively new to our operation, the guys up-graded to a John Deere model a few years ago and it has been relatively smooth sailing ever since getting rid of the old one.  The planter plants 16 rows at a time and the big yellow tank on the front applies fertilizer.  The little arms folded over (at the ends) fold down and make marks in the soil to show where you should line up the planter on the next pass down the field.  So, yeah, add another 10  feet on each end when it's all unfolded!!!  The guys don't use these markers much anymore, since most of the planting is done using GPS!   The planter folds in on itself so that it can get in and out of the shed and travel down the road, but the guys have been replacing the "row clutches", which are devices that monitor how much seed is planted in each of the rows.  The purpose of the row clutch is to prevent over population of seed and cut back on waste (seed corn is $PRICEY$)!

We plant a few different varieties, there is quite a bit of science involved in picking seed: from soil type to what was planted in the field the previous year.  Also, we don't want to put all of  our "eggs in one basket".  Some varieties of seed withstand high winds better, some are more bug-resistant than others.  By planting a variety, we are spreading our risk, should any sort of calamity arise.

And, the of course we must plant our refuge corn, as well.  Farmers who plant Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO corn)--like we do-- must plant a certain percentage of non-GMO corn for the insects that the GMO corn is specifically grown to resist have a place to live.  While this may seem counter-productive, farmers are inherently environmentalists and understand that EVERYTHING -good, bad, or ugly- plays an important role in the ecosystem.

If you'd like more information on GMOs, here's an interesting article on creating a GMO from "Popular Science" magazine.

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