It's growing day 10 already and I am just now telling the story of planting #My60Acres! Many of you will remember from last year that my farmer husband gave me full access to take over one, 60 acre field on our home farm.
Last year #My60Acres was planted to corn (you can read that story here). I delayed planting a few days (because I didn't want to take time off from my day job) and it cost me in yield at harvest time because I hit some wet, cold weather right after planting.
I was determined not to make the same mistake this year so when I was super swamped with other obligations on the day my husband said it was time to plant, I did what had to be done.
I delegated! (That's leadership potential FYI).
Matt started planting the morning of Memorial Day while I was making a mad dash to Sam's Club and washing sheep to get ready for a show the next weekend.
I was able to join him for the last half of planting, and he welcomed me up and hopped right over into the buddy seat to let me take the wheel.
We planted Pfister 39R29 soybeans, to a population of 170,000 plants per acre. You can visit that link to see the unique features of this particular seed and get an idea what we look at when selecting which seed we will use.
Soybeans themselves were initially grown as a forage crop until they gained popularity as a row crop in the 1940's. Missouri now ranks number 8 for total soybean production but soybean's are Missouri's number one crop! You can understand why by visiting the Missouri Soybean Association online!
Once I took the wheel, I needed a refresher on how to run the tractor because it had been a year since I planted.
Our auto-steer GPS unit will "lock in" the wheel for super straight rows once we set it, but I still had to pick up my marker, pick the planter up, and actually turn the tractor at the end of each row. Once turned around, I would use a visual of the field and computer monitor (as well as the clear and stern audio of my husband's voice) to line everything back up and set the auto-steer.
This year was so exciting for me because I am a nut about cover crops. Cover crops, which I discuss here, are crops we plant in between our cash crops to keep the ground covered. This minimizes erosion and run-off and helps us build the health of our soil and the environment surrounding our fields.
Last year before harvest we had had an airplane apply triticale, rye, forage turnips and buckwheat.
This year we planted soybeans right into the growing cover crop, mostly triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid) at this point. The corn stalks we left in the field continue to provide nutrients for all the bugs in our soils through the winter.
The growing triticale helped to minimize weed growth on the field.
The triticale roots shoot down, breaking up the soil even better than a plow and accessing nutrients down deep, pulling them up to where the soybeans will be able to use them. That cover also meant when those winds were blowing and rains pounding down our soil wasn't blowing or washing- that triticale held it right in place!
The cover crops were sprayed to be terminated the day after planting but will stay in the field. They will break down throughout the growing season, returning valuable nutrients to the soil- just as my beans need them to grow!
Stay in touch with me on Facebook and the blog for updates on #My60Acreas and this year's soybean crop!
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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