How Cover Crops Double as a Good Farming and Wildlife Practice.

Cover crops are a newer method of farming that prolongs the health and productivity of soil with strategic planting. For farmers this sounds like a great idea when it’s available for implementation, but today we are exploring another demographic that thoroughly enjoy cover crops. Any guesses? How about wildlife. From deer enjoying the variety of eating options that are rich in essential nutrients to smaller rodents utilizing the additional cover, these farming method may have more of a wildlife impact than most would consider.

Where and When Should I Plant a Cover Crop?

Whether you are planting in a field or in your food plot there is a certain planting time for your cover crop. They can be planted following your harvest of your cash crops like corn or soybeans. Before September 15 will provide the best results for these crops. The earlier you choose the cover crops for your area the better, it gives you more time for research as well as insures you get the right variety. It is essential that you take time to learn about the cover crops you are using, if you manage your cover crops poorly you most likely will end up with a poor result.

Why to Consider Planting Cover Crops from a farming perspective?

As mentioned before cover crops help to contain weeds, build up your soils and reduce erosion. But they are also used in a different facet like wildlife conservation. Brassicas and tuber plants can also help with breaking hardpan. A hardpan is a layer of compaction that is hard for roots to grow through, but these cover crops can assist in breaking the hardpan apart. This will make it easier from future plant to grow. Cover crops are often a key role for organic farmers to keep their soil stable, within the strict organic guidelines.

Courtesy of Jacob Hofer

Examples of Cover Crops.

Depending on the soil type and directed mission, there can be many options for cover crops that also double as a wildlife drawing sanctuary. For instance; rye, wheat, barley and oats are commonly used according to Sare Org. All of those grass cover crops are high carbohydrates giving nutrients and energy for animals preparing for winter.  

Leveraging Cover Crops for Wildlife Benefits

Earlier in the article, it was mentioned that cover crops can often bring in wildlife and essentially work as a food plot and double as a farming technique. For some who farm and also hunt, implementing a cover crop plan could save on traditional food plot or wildlife plots.

 
Courtesy of Jacob Hofer

Measuring Success

With the use of cover crops bringing in more wildlife it could be helpful to see what animals are visiting your property. A trail camera could be a great addition to help you monitor the new activity. In your fields there will also be a helpful hold of nitrogen and other nutrients for the next years crop. It is pressing that hunters and farmers strive to keep wildlife management a main priority. This wildlife helps to improve the diversity of your area, for yourself as well as future generations. 

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My name is Miranda Wright and I am currently a junior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture Science with a minor in Agriculture Economics. I am from Henry, Illinois where I grew up on a grain and cattle operation. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post!

 

Get the Most Out of Your Fertilizer

As the weather starts to warm up, farmers everywhere are getting restless to start work in the field. Putting seed in the ground is at the top of the to-do list for a majority of farmers at this point in time. In the spring it is easy to put other aspects of a cropping system to the side. One of the most important inputs in any cropping system is fertilizer. Producers should have a plan for nutrient management before the seed goes into the ground. However, due to unexpected events, the initial plan may change throughout the growing season. It is important to have a backup plan in case this happens.

When planning for nutrient management, it is helpful to analyze the four R’s of nutrient management. The four R’s refer to the right source, right rate, right time, and right place. Sticking to the four R’s allows producers to utilize their inputs more efficiently, while minimizing their environmental impact.

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Image Credit: http://www.nutrientstewardship.com/4rs

 

Right Source

The right fertilizer source can vary based on the crop, crop rotation, tillage, and soil characteristics. The fertilizer needs to meet the nutrient needs of the crop. Fertilizers can come in solid and liquid forms. Each form has its own benefits. Nutrients in liquid fertilizers are dissolved, or suspended, in water and are readily available to the plant at the time of application. Liquid fertilizers are great for side dressing or starter applications. Dry fertilizers are excellent for preplant applications. Controlled release nitrogen fertilizers can be used in wet fields that are prone to denitrification, leachable soils, and areas that will need a constant nitrogen supply. Blended fertilizers allow producers to fine tune their nutrient inputs by controlling the levels of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in the blend. Blends must be properly mixed and handled to ensure a uniform application.

Right Rate

Choosing the right fertilizer rate can save the producer money on input costs and decrease the amount of nutrients leaving the soil through runoff and leaching. Yield and nutrient intake are directly related. The goal is to provide the crop with enough nutrients to produce an economic yield. For corn, nitrogen rates are typically based off of potential yield. Generally, corn requires 0.7-1.0 lbs. of nitrogen per acre to produce one bushel of grain. Tissue tests and canopy sensing technology are relatively new ways to assess plant health and nitrogen needs during the growing season. These technologies allow producers to adjust nitrogen rates more precisely and get the most benefit from their input. Phosphorus and potassium rates can be determined by analyzing soil samples and nutrient removal from grain and biomass.Unlike nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium persist in the soil and levels can be built up over several years. If the P and K reserve levels are adequate, the nutrient coming into the field should not exceed the nutrients leaving the field as yield.

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Image Credit: University of Illinois Extension

 

Right Time

Nutrients should be applied when plants will utilize them the most. Timing of application plays a bigger role for nitrogen than phosphorus or potassium due to denitrification. All or a majority of the nitrogen for the growing season can be applied before planting. This ensures that all the nitrogen that the corn plant needs is in the field. However, there is a higher risk of losing nitrogen to denitrification during wet conditions when all the nitrogen is applied at one time. Nitrogen application can be split throughout the growing season to decrease nutrient loss. With a split application, a majority of the nitrogen is applied preplant and the rest is applied when the corn plant reaches V8 and is taking in nutrients at a higher rate. The first application acts as a buffer to protect the producer from adverse weather events that can delay the second application. The benefit of a split application is the ability to adjust nutrient rates based on real time field and plant conditions.

Right Place

Fertilizer must be placed near the root system in order for crops to fully utilize the nutrient inputs. Broadcast application followed by tillage will put the nutrients deeper in the soil profile near the root zone. Starter fertilizer is placed directly in the seed bed and provides nourishment for the young plant as soon as it germinates. Sidedress applications place nutrients in the root zone or next to the base of the plant, which allows the plant to access readily available nutrients when it needs them the most. Placing fertilizer below the soil surface dramatically decreases nutrient loss from erosion, runoff, and volatilization. For a no-till system, fertilizer injection is the best option due to crop residue preventing soil contact for surface applied fertilizers.

 Learn more about the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Here

 

About the Author:

My name is Tanner Carlson and I am from Roseville, Illinois. I am a graduate of Monmouth-Roseville High School and I am currently a senior at WIU majoring in Agriculture Science and minoring in Agronomy. In addition to my education at WIU, I have an A.A.S. in Agribusiness Management from Black Hawk College.

Government Conservation Programs: Is There Assistance for You?

Ever heard of the Dust Bowl and the Dirty Thirties? It was a significant time in our history that has shaped agriculture into how we operate today. In the 1930’s the agriculture Image result for quotes about conservationindustry in the US was brought forth with a tough challenge: how do we save our soils from being blown away? Too much tillage from the invention of the plow had caused a depletion of soil structure and left no living cover, leaving it vulnerable to be blown away. Something had to be done. The solution started back in 1933 when a man named Hugh Hammond Bennett planned a great speech on a day that would startle the capital. This would be the day when dust from states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas would blow on the steps of the capital during his speech to politicians on how something had to be done about the vast amounts of erosion problems. Bennett’s point was made and the lawmakers formed the Soil Erosion Service, now known as Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). This agency is formatted under the farm bill and branched from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Average Day at NRCS Office

Broadly speaking, the Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and private landowners. Farmers that want to receive

Terrace being constructed to decrease erosion. Photo Credit: Caleb Waters, Lake Geode Watershed Coordinator

government benefits, need to follow a conservation plan that is determined by their local NRCS office. The employees of the office will carry out random compliance checks to determine if operators are following their plans. Also, concerned landowners are constantly calling the office for conservation assistance. NRCS employees normally will meet with these landowners and discuss options to solve their conservation concerns. There may not always be financial assistance for them, but NRCS employees will always steer them in the right direction.

Technicians will spend time estimating, surveying, designing, and staking out conservation structures that will address environmental concerns. Common stuctures in our location consist of waterways, terraces, ponds, and basins. The technician will spend time designing these structures to withstand historic rainfalls. They will assist contractors to make sure projects are being built properly.

Available Government Programs and Services

  1. EQUIP- The Environmental Quality Incentives Program financially helps landowners improve their soil sustainability and water quality, as well as helping them implement grazing, wetlands, and wildlife practices. This program has been successfully responsible for providing conservation practices to thousands of landowners over the years.
  2. CSP- The Conservation Stewardship Program gives inncentives for producers to improve their existing practices and adopt more beneficial conservation practices.
  3. CRP- The Conservation Reserve Program is a program that is assisted with NRCS employees. It allows landowners to receive rental payments for a certain amount of years under a contract, in exchange for environmentally vulnerable agriculture land. The land will be planted with a permanent cover for conservation improvement.

These are three common programs of the many different conservation programs available for landowners. They have solved many problems like the dust bowl and have been

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Above Photo: Constructed waterway designed to reduce sediment erosion. Photo Credit: Caleb Waters, Lake Geode Watershed Coordinator

improving water quality. Programs like these give producers options and great incentives to improve the quality of their land. They prevent some regulation on agriculture producers by giving them a neutral medium. The commodity demand is going to keep increasing with the increasing population. The land we have now is the land we will have in 100 years from now. Producers have to be good land stewards and take care of our natural resources. Interested landowners should contact their local NRCS office to explore some available conservation options.

Bio: Professional Headshot

Hello, my name is John Wischmeier and I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University. I started my college career at Southeastern Community College and I am graduating in May of this year with my Bachelor’s degree here at WIU. I am studying agriculture business and going to minor in agronomy. I was raised on a crop and livestock farm located near a small town of Sperry, Iowa. I have worked with NRCS for two summers and learned many benefits of conservation. My time is winding down here at WIU, but it has been great time and I have made many enjoyable experiences.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Tracks vs.Tires: The Compaction Debate

As technology and equipment size continues to increase, the need for compatible force across the ground persists. Farmer’s want to protect the soil and the assets it holds. Compaction can cause unnecessary soil degradation. The soil aggregates or particles are crushed which reduces pore space for infiltration of water, air, drainage and nutrients. Soil compaction is affected by the repeated passes in the field that a tractor, combine, or other implement can make. These can cause intensive harm to the root zone for the crop.When the soil is tilled, there is the potential of reducing protective residues, depending on type of tillage performed. Many farmers are trying to limit compaction by transferring to the use of tracked equipment in their operations. Sustainability of the soil for the future generations is an important aspect to the farm to survive and that is why farmer’s are looking for advancements.

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Arends-Awe, Inc. Equipment                                                Pieced together by Katie Boston

Track Advantages

  • Better quality flotation over the soil
  • Decreased power hop
  • Easier for implement hook-up
  • Compaction zone is spread over a zone and less point pressure occurs

Track Disadvantages

  • Reduced steering control with heavier loads
  • Rough ride or vibration on hard surfaces (roadways)
  • Build up of soil within the track which could cause damage to inner parts
  • High purchase and repair price

“When it comes to cost, the addition of tracks on wheeled combine has a $75,000 price tag.” – Brent Newbery, Parts Manager at Arends-Awe, Inc. in Winchester, Illinois.

Tire Advantages

  • Increased stability in muddy conditions
  • Higher steering control with heavier loads
  • Ability to lug, if the tractor slips, traction is able to be regained
  • Depending on tire, there can be float or minimal abrasion of the topsoil

Tire Disadvantages

  • Tends to cause a higher rate of compaction due to lugs on the tire
  • Smaller contact patches going across rows instead of length wise
  • Rutting can occur
  • Centralized compaction

Radial Tires: Ply cords run radially. The ply transmits the pressure from the thread and the belts. These belts help restrict tire growth and stabilizes the tread. The tread and cords can run independently. Bias Tires: Consists of multiple rubber plies overlapping each other. The thick layer is less flexible, but has the potential for float.

“Over-sized or high-flotation tires are hard to beat.” Kevin Lutz who is a technical manager at Michelin North American Agricultural Tires. These tires are called “floater tires,” they are almost twice as large as a standard tire, used on combines.

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Agricultural. Michelinman.com

A farmer that prefers tires, will normally choose a radial tire to help minimize the equipment’s footprint. A track is also considered a radial design. A standard radial tire features a large air chamber within the tire that allows for lower pressure while carrying a heavier load, this will help reduce the effects of soil compaction. Some research would suggest that the best tire is one that provides a broad, flat tread, to increase traction, reduce slippage, and improve fuel efficiency.

According to Successful Farming magazine, farmers can help reduce compaction by controlling traffic, crop rotations of fibrous and tap roots, build up soil organic matter each rotation, and limit traffic in wet conditions.

In regards to statistics to figure if technology has decreased compaction, in a study done between a Claas Terra Trac System verses a North American track system in No-Till magazine concluded that the North American track reduced soil movement within 4 to 23 inches by 65%. This trail was performed by Kevin Lutz and Dirk Ansorge in 2007.

The future of track and tire technology looks bright. Currently Mitas has introduced a PneuTrac system that allows a tire to have the capabilities a track does for traction and footprint and the ride quality and lugging capabilities of a tire.

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Mitas PneuTrac system from Farm-equipment.com

 

Whether a farmer chooses to use, tracks, tires, floaters, or this new PnueTrac system, the possibilities are endless for advancements. In the end, the decision is up to the farmer. There are the considerations of cost, efficiency, future generations, and time that every farmer is conscious of. The technology of the future will help classify this debate, but for now – power to the farmer.

 

 

 

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My name is Katie Boston and I am studying Agricultural Business with a minor in Agronomy at Western Illinois University.  In May I will graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree. I am from Jacksonville, Illinois and since 2013 I have been working at Arends-Awe, Inc as a part-time administrative assistant. I grew up on a crop and swine farm east of town and have a strong passion for agriculture.

Thank you for reading my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Reaping What You Sow

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With the continued falling grain prices and pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) nutrient management has become a bigger issue for farmers now more than ever.

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Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico

 

Illinois has just recently adopted a program known as the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Implementation. The reason that this program was adopted was to improve Illinois water quality. Illinois is one of many states contributing to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Monica Bruckner at Montana State University, “the dead zone is an area approximately 6,000 to 7,000 square miles.” The reason it has been given the name “dead zone” is because aquatic life cannot survive within this area. The dead zone is caused by an increase of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in the Mississippi River that eventually dump into the Gulf. Agriculture is not the sole cause of the leaching of these nutrients into the river. Sewage treatment plants and home gardening fertilizer also leach these nutrients into the Mississippi.

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            Farmers have to continue to become innovators when it comes to nutrient management. Just recently a law suit was brought against farmers in three counties upstream of the Des Moines water works in Iowa. Bill Stowe the manager of the Des Moines Water Works, explained why they are suing these counties upstream in an interview with Iowa public radio. Stowe explained “the source of these nitrates is pretty clear. Farmers spread nitrogen fertilizer on their corn fields, it turns into nitrate and then it commonly runs into streams through networks of underground tile pipes that drain the soil.” Stowe then continued to explain “Those drainage systems are managed, in some cases, by county governments, and Des Moines Water Works is now proceeding on the theory that those governments can be held legally responsible for the pollution that their pipes carry. When they build these artificial drainage districts that take water, polluted water, quickly into the Raccoon River, they have a responsibility to us and others as downstream users.” Stowe ends this interview by stating “We need to get down to specific steps that they need to take. If they aren’t willing, we’ll see them in federal court.” Agriculture will continue to have an increase in public pressure. It is important that farmers take their nutrient management plan seriously. If farmers do not take it seriously we may start seeing strict regulations when it comes to applying our fertilizer.

            It is not only for fear of regulations and public scrutiny that farmers should want to continue to improve their nutrient management plan. It is also in the best interest for their wallet as well. As grain prices continue to fall, farmers need to look at ways to maximize their input costs. With fertilizer being a top input cost for farmers, they need to ensure they are maximizing yield without over applying. There are many different ways that farmers can be more precise when it comes to choosing the right fertilizer rate. The first thing farmers should start with is a soil test. Soil tests measures how much macro and micro nutrients are in the soil. It also measures the PH of the soil and the soil electrical conductivity. There are two main types of soil sampling that are used today, zone soil sampling and grid soil sampling. Zone soil sampling is the method of soil sampling that has been around the longest. It consists of taking a number of soil samples in different zones across the entire field. In order to establish a zone it requires some pre existing information of the field, like a soil map, topography or a yield map to establish different zones. Grid soil sampling is newer and it does not include any prior information of the field.  Murray Welden states in an article with Corn + Soybean digest that grid soil sampling takes a sample generally every 2-3 acres. This is very beneficial because there are many differences in soil in every field. When we are sampling every 2-3 acres then treating every 2-3 acres specifically we can be more precise.

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Zone Soil Sampling
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Grid Soil Sampling

 

 

When it comes to applying fertilizer, most is applied in the fall. Fall is more convenient for farmers to get their nutrients on because they do not have to worry about trying to apply it during the spring before planting. Applying all of your fertilizer  in the fall is more convenient but when this is done it is more prone to leaching and volatilization. This is especially true for nitrogen. The main form of nitrogen that we apply is in the form of anhydrous ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia is 82% nitrogen. thahn7j297The only problem when “fall applying” is that it gives it more time to leach out of the soil with rain into our ground water. There are a few different steps that farmers can take to prohibit this process from happening. The first thing a farmer can do is wait until the soil temperature is below 50 degrees. When the soil temperature is below 50 degrees it does not allow the nitrogen to turn into nitrate which is easily lost with water. Another step farmers can take to prevent the loss of nitrogen is using a nitrogen inhibitor such as N-serve. N-serve detours the nitrogen turning into the form of nitrate which as stated is easily lost with water. Farmers can also think about split applying their nitrogen. Split applying is best explained as applying half or three fourths of  nitrogen in the spring or fall and then applying the rest of the nitrogen during the growing season, when the crop is taking up nutrients. They can band the nitrogen between the rows or have it flown on with a plane in the form of a pellet. All of these processes will help minimize the loss of nitrates into our water.

Another nutrient that is commonly lost is phosphorus. Phosphate is mostly lost with soil through erosion. Some ways to prevent soil erosion is to plant grass water ways where water commonly flows out of fields. Reducing tillage, planting cover crops and planting grass borders around fields are all ways to prevent erosion which will also prevent the loss of phosphate.

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Erosion
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Grass Waterway

 

If farmers do not continue to be innovative with their nutrient management programs we could see more regulations and lawsuits in the future.  

Works cited:

“The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone.” Dead Zone. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/deadzone/index.html&gt;.

Masters, Clay. “Paying The Price for Clean Water in Des Moines.” Iowa Public Radio. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <http://iowapublicradio.org/post/paying-price-clean-water-des-moines#stream/0&gt;.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Fowl Farming

There are many types of farming practices that we think about daily as agriculturalists. Examples being your standard conventional farming, no-till, organic, etc. In these practices we are all after a common goal, to produce high healthy yields for a profit. Some people have a different outlook and strategies on how to produce those yields. What if there is another type of farming out there, a type of farming that is not trying to produce high bushel crop, but instead, high yields of waterfowl and wildlife. I’m talking about a farming practice for the conservationists, for the guys that like to duck, deer, pheasant, quail, and turkey hunt. This is a farming practice that is for hunting purposes. Basically planting a crop and leaving it to the wildlife as a food source.  Some might be a little confused by this strategy and think that planting a crop and maybe not even harvesting it is absurd.  In someway this is true, but our vision is habitat. We are doing this to create a healthy environment not only for wildfowl, but for ourselves as well.

The main focus here is waterfowl, focusing directly towards duck hunters. The only thing we are trying to achieve is to have a good waterfowl population for our own hunting/recreational pleasure. A lot of people want an area for waterfowl to stage and relax. Some guys may or may not know how to achieve this, but most all of them do not see the small benefits this creates. “Cells” are your first plan of attack, it doesn’t matter how many or how big, that all depends on how much room you have. Lets say you have 80 acres that you want to turn into waterfowl habitat. Making a levee around your 80 acres then levee off each crop section. You want to split it up into your “cell” sections. Example being 4 sections of 20 acres or 2 sections of 40 acres, how you split it is up to you.  We want to do this that way you have a crop rotation of moist soil crops and a grain crop. Most of us know that corn in the dominant plant when it comes to staging waterfowl. This is all true, but planting corn year after year starts to deplete your nutrients in your soil, and more and more fertilizer goes on for a better corn crop. What you might try is planting millet, milo, buckwheat, flax seed, natural grasses, even wheat, in three of the cells, and plant one cell with corn. What this will do is provide early season food and late season food. Early season being your grass species and your corn late season when they need that high energy from starch to migrate. As temperatures rise and drop, these different types of food provide ducks with what they need. They will fluctuate from moist soil plants early in the year to corn later in the year when temperatures begin to become cold. If you create something like this I can promise you will hold waterfowl for years to come. “If you have food and habitat, you will have ducks, if you have food, habitat, and weather, you will have a lot of ducks”-Frank Bellrose

The grass species will act as a filter for water that you pump or drain in. Cleaner water is a must for our ecosystem and yes as stewards of the land we are getting better about water quality. These grasses will act as a natural watershed, which is an adopted practice being brought up by many farmers. There is even some government funding for these practices. What the grasses will do is filter out most of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with other nutrients in the water, grass species will actually take up and use these nutrients in their own growth. With water being on your millet or Milo this will also provide habit for waterfowl. Grass species are also excellent for keeping fertile soil. Taller the plant gets the deeper roots go, when in time with crop rotation each year,  you will have a healthier corn plant. Remember the more root depth you get the healthier the plant you have. The clean water that has been depleted of excess nitrogen and other nutrients can be flooded onto your corn acres. The corn cell you can do what you want with. If you want to pick it and make some yield off of it you can or leave it standing that’s your choice to make, it still provides food and habitat.

Using grasses in your cells you provide healthier soil and water quality for years to come. Management of these areas are crucial in order to get the outcome you are looking for. If you rotate crops every year with grasses and corn, you will have a much better corn crop, much more fertile soil and much better water quality, with low inputs of fertilizer, and yes a high yield in waterfowl and wildlife numbers.

by:  Jason Hire

I am an Ag Science major at Western Illinois University. I love everything there is about agriculture, though I didn’t grow up on a farm I grew up hunting with my dad and grandfather. I guess this is where my love of Ag came from because I wanted to give something back to nature. The only way I could think of was learning how to grow crops better.

 

Farming Technology.. How it has evolved from the Horse and Plow

If you ask your grandparents about how they farmed when they were young they will more than likely tell you that they used horses and plows or plowed an 80 acre field with the ole John Deere Model A. I was born in 1994 and it wasn’t long after my birth that I was riding in the tractors with my grandpa or dad. Technology was very different back then only being 22 years ago. I still remember the story of my mom looking out our front door and seeing me go down the road in my grandpa’s old gray Ford truck following him to the field. Farming technology is something that will never change and will only keep getting better and more advanced. The days of the horse and plows were a long time ago and the new era of farming technology is here and is getting more and more precise. Technology is needed in today’s society in order to increase food production for the increasing population. In this blog I am going to talk about some of the main features of Precision Farming and how it has evolved.

Photos by Jacob Thompson

  • Auto-trac guidance made it possible for farmers to work longer hours and have less stress by letting them focus more on decisions and watching their implements in case of breakdowns. John Deere first developed hands free guidance in 1992.

Back in the day when mold board plowing was roaring, farmers guidance for a straight line was running one of the rear tractor tires in the previous pass. Then for planting everyone used markers on their planters, as some still use them today. Although some farmers still use old technology, some have adapted to new high tech updates, for example: Auto-trac guidance, row shut off clutches, VRT(variable rate technology), high speed planters, swath control for spraying, multiple variety planters, driver-less tractors. John Deeres first type of hands free auto steer was developed in the early 1990s and was accurate within a couple feet and as gotten more and more accurate since then. Today farmers can run different guidance’s for different accuracy levels, RTK,SF1 and SF2. RTK guidance is guaranteed for accuracy within an inch or two and its the highest priced and the most accurate. RTK is used most in strip-till operations, so they can plant their corn row right on top of their anhydrous ammonia row. Some of the most high tech guidance systems can cost up to $20,000. SF1 and SF2 are less accurate than RTK systems but are still very reliable.

Image result for john deere rtk  Image result for john deere row shutoff Photos by John Deere

Row shutoff technology has been very popular in the past couple years because it shuts off individual rows when the monitor detects a recently planted pass. Accuracy for row shut off can be up to 3 inches. The more accurate the more money the farmer can save by getting as much seed into his field without worrying about overlap, overlap can reduce yield and increase seed cost. Row shut off and swath control are very similar. Swath control is used mainly on sprayers to reduce overlap of chemicals. Just like row shut off on planters, overlapping when spraying can be costly as well. If you overlap when spraying you are applying more product than whats needed and you can potentially cause harm to the crop from having to much chemical. Row shutoff and swath control are very handy in fields where point rows are needed.

What would farming be like today if there wasn’t all this fancy technology that works perfectly(sarcasm). Farmers revolve their operations around technology so they are able to make better economical decisions for future applications. 40 years ago their wasn’t much technology and their yields were lower because of it. Farming technology has led to a dramatic increase in productivity and yields over the past 20 years and it will always keep getting better and also more complicated. Like they say, if farming was easy everyone would want to do it.

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My name is Jacob Thompson, I am a senior and have been here at WIU for all 4 years. I am from Jacksonville, Illinois and graduated from Jacksonville High School in 2013. I have a job here in Macomb working for Kelso Brothers Farms and have been there for 4 years. I also farm at home with my dad and run our own cow herd. I am the co-owner of a fencing business (Agri-Pro Fencing) as well as custom hay. My mom and dad have been very supportive of my decisions here at Western and so have my sisters who are both alumni. After I graduate in May, I hope to go home and farm as well as run the businesses and increase our Angus cow herd. My life would be completely different if I hadn’t come here 3 1/2 years ago and I’m very appreciative of the professors here as well as my friends I’ve met along the way. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Thank You