Sunday, May 8, 2022

Drilling Forage Peas

 We spent the last two days putting in the peas after field had finally dried out enough to get a tractor through. Dad disc'd it first and I followed drilling in Admiral DS Forage Peas. The peas will be harvested around the first of August, after which we'll drill in Kernza, a perennial wheat "grass". We hope to have our first Kernza harvest a year later, selling what we've grown through the Perennial Promise Growers Co-op.

It was the first time I'd used the Loup monitor. It went fairly well, though there were some adjustments that I made about half way through the field to get everything set properly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Grain Bin Pad: Finished

(Click on any picture to make it bigger.)


After the concrete foundation is poured they'll bring the grade around the concrete up to the finished level (what I and the dog are standing on).

Screenshot of the bin foundation plan section.


Here's a link the pdf of the bin foundation specs provided by Sukup, the bin manufacturer.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Historical Growing Degree Days (GDD) ::: It's Been Cold

The short version, taken from the next to last line in the chart at the bottom of this post, is that we've (Cumberland is the nearest weather station listed) had 26 GDD this year vs. the 10 yr. historical average of 108. 

Growing Degree Days - How Does 2022 Measure Up?

After a warm and early start to the 2021 growing season, spring 2022 has felt abnormally cold. The month of April has offered fewer than five days of weather suitable for fieldwork, dashing hopes of an early planting window. Spring tillage in Wisconsin is currently three weeks behind last year and 11 days behind the five-year average, at only 8% complete.

A comparison of growing degree days (GDDs) in the last decade verifies that 2022 accumulations from January 1 to April 27 (using modified base 50°F calculation method) are indeed well below both 10-year averages and 30-year normals. Accumulations for 10 Wisconsin locations from Beloit to Wausau show a departure from normal ranging from 55-120 GDDs, which is equal to 11-23 calendar days at this time of year. Recall that GDDs accumulate slowly in spring when nightly temperatures often fall below freezing. Most of Wisconsin accumulates just 3-6 heat units per day in late April.

As an example, Madison has accumulated only 94 GDDs as of April 27.  The 30-year normal for Madison is 177 GDDs. When the difference of 83 GDDs is converted to calendar days, it equals 17 calendar days (if 5 GDDs accumulate per day). At Madison, only two of the last 10 springs have been colder: 2013 and 2018. The same general trend also applies to the other nine Wisconsin locations listed in the table below.

In summary, current GDDs corroborate the perception that spring 2022 has been chillier than normal.  For much of Wisconsin, it has been the third coldest January-April period in the last decade, behind 2018 and 2013. Growing degree days for 24 Wisconsin locations are provided on the DATCP GDDs page and will be updated each Monday and Thursday through September.

Grain Bin Pad is Almost Finished

It's been cold and wet, pushing back the construction of the grain bin by several weeks. Today they finished building the pad; the last step is for them to excavate part of the new pad for the new bin foundation and then top the whole thing off with rocks/gravel.

I hope that they can pour the concrete soon, with the metal bin put up soon after.

This far north bin pads are "floating" rather than having a foundation that goes down below the frost line, which in this area is about six and a half feet. This saves quite a bit on concrete and excavating costs but means that the underlying soil needs to be well drained and compacted. In this case there's about 7' of sand/fill added to most of the bin pad (55' x 120'), as well as 3-4' of sand added to a low lying area that crosses the access road to our neighbors property. I'm using the same road to get to both the bin area and my new shed, so I wanted to make sure it was well built. To that end they put in about 60' of culvert to drain water under the road.


(Click on any picture to make it bigger.)

Looking north.

Looking west.
Looking southwest.

The videos below are from the last two days of the pad's construction. Here's a link to some of the videos from earlier stages of construction, which I posted almost 5 weeks ago.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Photos of Grain Bin Pad Construction

The borrow pit in the field adjacent to the pad where they found some of the sand used to build up the pad. Unfortunately there wasn't enough good quality sand, too much clay, and they had to truck in about half of the material.

The pad, with the borrow pit in the background. The piles of topsoil behind the equipment were later spread back over the borrow pit. The water in the foreground will be rerouted through a culvert.


Half of the borrow pit, ultimately they would dig down about 10 feet.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Spring is Here (?)

I've still got snow here (and it was  -10ยบ F a few nights ago) but its warming up which means we can start working on some farm projects.

A contractor has started excavating for the new grain bin pad, it'll be a 36' diameter by 35' foot to the peak bin holding 22,000 bushels. The concrete should get poured around mid April, the bin will go up the first part of May.
I wrote a little bit about the reasons why I decided to have this bin built, here.

I'm putting my new (to me) broadcast seeder to frost seed winter camelina on about 75 acres of corn stubble; the camelina is intended to be a green manure that'll be mowed then disced ahead of planting soybeans in the first part of June.
Winter camelina is a "new" seed. It is primarily used around here as a cover crop and is typically applied after the harvest in the fall. That didn't work for me. Instead I'm using its ability to grow in the cold to take advantage of the roughly 2 months of growing weather starting now and ending at the end of May. It will be an experiment in building soil biology. Other farmers have tried it with acceptable results. I'm interested in how I can use plants at a farm scale, even if they don't "make" me money.

[some background, possibly incomplete, on what I'd like the camelina to do below the ground.]

Plants need nutrients, many of them are already in the soil, just not in a form that the plant can digest. I have turkey litter applied for some of those nutrients, but I'd like to reduce my dependence on this input. By having something growing in the ground, once it decays/dies, beneficial microbes and fungi will eat the residue. What those small organisms excrete becomes, among other things, nutrients and minerals that are in a form that is digestible by future plants that are grown there. Instead of cows or sheep I'm raising microscopic critters.