Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hide and Seek

Anna enjoys (mostly) riding on the tractor. In fact she told me last time that "when I am grown-up and am a cowgirl, I am going to drive tractor just like you!" Her new goal in life is to be a cowgirl ever since she saw one on Caillou (and yes, she HAS officially asked for a pony.)

Her latest game to play is hide and seek which she will play with anyone anywhere. Here is a picture of her hiding from me after instructing me to count.

Some Scenes From Dryland Corn Planting

Last week I planted some dryland corn for Rod.

Loading up the planter; the white powder is talc and is used on treated seed so it doesn't gum up the planter.

This is the rate chart in my planter manual. We went with 15.6 K

I had not figured I would use my GPS while planting since I have row markers, but it turns out that the "second opinion" really came in handy sometimes.

This is my rate monitor. Looks like I need a little more vacuum.


This is why prairie dogs are so hated.

In Which Another* Riley County High School Football Player Walks On To Kansas State; Gets Selected in the Second Round Of the NFL Draft.

Mr. Jordy Nelson
5th selection of the second round.
#36 overall.
#3 wide receiver selected.
#2 Big Twelve player selected.
(The first was CB Aqib Talib. I wonder what would happen if they played each other?)
#1 Pick by the Green Bay Packers.

*Jon McGraw

Friday, April 25, 2008

In Which lobiwan Celebrates Earth Day.

My new sprayer arrived at the dealer in GCK on earth day.

Earlier this spring I decided that it was time to upgrade my sprayer. I was mainly motivated by the price of generic Roundup, which has gone from 12.50 a gallon a year ago to 32.50 today. Unfortunately I cannot stop using Roundup because I am an environmentalist. The use of Roundup in a no-till system saves soil, water, and fuel as well as greatly reducing the carbon dioxide emissions from the soil which result from tillage (as always I gladly accept any cash you want to send me to offset your carbon use). All of this from a chemical which is five times less toxic to mammals than table salt (even organic table salt ;) ), and is chemically inactive as soon as it comes in contact with soil. But I digress.

Features of the new sprayer that I am excited about:

Sixty foot boom. My current sprayer has a forty-five foot boom. This will not only save me fuel, but also reduce the chance for overlaps and skips when I apply chemicals.

Rate controller. The rate controller will automatically adjust the amount sprayed with fluctuations in speed to ensure that I am always applying the target rate. On my old sprayer I would use a formula to come up with the right speed and pressure to make my target application rate. Now I will enter in my target rate into the controller, and it will do the rest, constantly adjusting the flow rate to ensure accuracy.

Accu-Boom. This system will keep track of what areas have been sprayed (using GPS) and automatically turn on and off the individual boom sections for me. This is much more accurate than my guesstimates on when to turn on the individual boom sections. Of course if all my fields were square this would be nearly worthless but since we farm in circles this will save a lot of chemical.

Six section boom. Since I will have Accu-Boom to do the work for me, I can have six separate boom sections that can be turned on and off individually.

Hydraulically adjustable boom height. This isn't that big of a deal since I can adjust the height using the three-point hitch, but it does provide shock absorption so I will be able to run faster through the field.

Compact "T" style tank. This tank design makes the sprayer shorter front to back which centers the weight of the sprayer closer to the tractor. This should keep the tractor better balanced front to back, which should reduce compaction from the rear axle (even with the additional weight from the larger boom.)

Views from the back.

Views from the front.

The new sprayer(below) has a air shock breakaway mechanism which will work much better than the crude system on the old sprayer (above.)

The difference between the simplicity of the old sprayer (above) and the complexity of the new sprayer (below) is accuracy, which equals money in my pock...--I mean a better environment for my children's children.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wheat and Water.

A view from our back patio last week.

In this picture you can see the mechanism to reverse the sprinkler at home. It is something that needs to be monitored, because over time the sprinkler will push enough mud in front of it in its wheel track so that it is too high to interact with the barrier. About once or twice a year you have to shovel out the wheel track to keep it working right.

Notice the boots.

Friday, April 04, 2008

And Then a Miracle Occurs...(Desperate Times Part 5)

Well! Not only has the majority of the Groundhog wheat emerged, it has jointed. This is big news because the difference between winter wheat, (which we grow in Kansas) and spring wheat, (grown farther north) is the need to vernalize. The plant has to go through X amount of cold weather for X amount of time before it will make the physiological changes necessary to produce a seed head. The only way to tell if this has happened for sure is if the wheat plant joints, or starts to push up a stalk. So a big danger in planting wheat in February is that it won't get quite enough cold weather to vernalize. Looking East

Looking west. You can also see that the wheat that was planted in October which DID sprout, pretty much sprouted at the same time as the February planted wheat. I should also point out that I took these pictures from the worst spot in the field, so most of the stand is actually better than what you can see here.

Here is an example of the wheat close up. Behind this row you can see pretty good examples of the damage blowing sand does to baby wheat plants, as well as one seed which never had a chance. That seed was planted about a little over an inch and a half deep, so you can imagine the amount of wind erosion which has taken place just since February. Hopefully the wheat will be able to hold its ground (literally) from here on out.

In this picture I have pointed out the leaf collars which indicate that the plant has jointed. I tried to take a picture of the whole plant pulled out of the ground for you to see, but they were blurry.

15 points if you can identify the source of this post title.