Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Tillage, Traction, and Compaction

 Interesting, and helpful, video as we get ready to do a small amount of fall tillage on the soybean ground. As I've said before, all the end rows are compacted due to years (decades?) of heavy equipment turning around on it, and, in the 5 years I've owned it, we've only had a disc on the whole field, never a chisel plow.

About half of the bean ground that we just harvested has heavy foxtail pressure. Foxtail likes wet, compacted, anaerobic soils, so we'll go over that with the chisel plow as well.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Construction Update # ? The Latest on the Farmhouse

 The only work I've done on the farmhouse this year has been to switch the romex electrical wire over to metal pipe (to protect against mice/squirrel damage). That is almost done, I'm so close, just have to run the final 8 pairs of 12 gauge wires from the final distribution box back to the panel. Once done that will give me enough safe power (I've been running everything for the past year off of three 12 gauge extension cords) to use electric space heaters to warm the small part of the first floor you see that I've sectioned off. There is no practical way for me to finish construction enough to seal off the rest of the first floor so that I can use the masonry heater (that I built) this winter. 

I haven't had time to do anything else - the farm, with it's own buildings and equipment, never mind the actual field work, has taken all my time. So I continue to camp out.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

End of Year From the Garden


I still have about 30 feet of potatoes to dig up. They're under about 6" (and rising) of snow right now. I'm guessing I'll have one more chance to dig them up before everything freezes solid for the winter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Harvest is Done

 This was my first year where I did every step involved in organic production on a group of fields, from primary tillage, planting and cultivation, all the way through harvest. In addition I did this with a lot of new (to me) equipment. I'm happy with the outcome and calling it a success.

The last field was the one I had the most reservations about, primarily because, despite all the work I did cultivating, it had a lot of weeds *in* the rows. Because of that I wasn't sure how the harvest would turn out.  After it was over all I can say is - The combine is an amazing machine. Literally finding needles (soybeans) in a haystack (weeds, soybean stems and stubble).

Before - lots of 6' tall foxtail (video here):

After - lots of chopped up residue:

Here's the video that the above screenshot is from:

After combining the last field I put the bean header on the cart and drove the 18 foot wide combine home in snow flurries, about 12 miles on the 2 lane state highway.  I parked the combine in the new machine shed until I can give it a thorough cleaning with the leaf blower and vacuum. Mice love soybean dust and residue, which as you can imagine, gets everywhere. They also chew up control wires inside the combine which are expensive and time consuming to repair.

Check out this fascinating bit of history - How they farmed grain in the pre-modern world

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Weedy Beans

 It snowed a bit right after I took the video, though none stuck around. I need some sun and wind to dry all that material out before I can run it through the combine. Hopefully in a couple of days. Once these 35 acres are combined, I'm done harvesting for the year. 

I feel like I've worked hard on these weeds over the last 5 years by growing different crops and trying different agronomic practices. Here's what I've done/will do to try and reduce the foxtail, which is prevalent in about 1/2 of the field - Grew clover/oats, sorghum sudan, tillage radish; chisel plow end rows, put in a grass waterway to help with drainage, spread lime to raise the pH. I did what I thought was a perfect job of tine weeding this year. Almost all the weeds are in the row, so evidently I didn't. 

I'm guessing that there is at least a 10 bushel/acre hit to my yield, due in large part to weeds. I'll move on. Next year this ground will be in (spring) wheat, underseeded with red clover.

I welcome the advice and support of other organic farmers. Geiger Farm, who I only know through YouTube, is one of them. He left the following comment on the video I put on our YouTube page titled "Weedy Beans".

Run hard! I have had worse to combine. Through time, foxtail will disappear, as you learn to not encourage it. For me, it LOVES compaction, low pH, working ground wet, soil crusting, and planting too early in cool weather! The combine will eat it like candy and next year is a new start🙂!


Monday, October 12, 2020

Combining Beans - First Field is Done

As the combine (a Deere 9560sts w/625F head) is new to me, I'm still working out the settings to try and get the best grain sample. The interaction of the head with the concaves, rotor, fan, chaffer, and seives in the combine is complicated.

We've always known that the end rows were compacted. Seeing how the foxtail, which likes wet, compact soil, thrives there makes the problem easy to see. This is an ongoing issue with at least half of our ground. All the heavy equipment turning around over the decades has had an impact. [punny, no?] With conventional/chemical, the herbicide would knock back the foxtail so that the beans would have a chance to get ahead of the weeds. Even if they grew poorly there, they had a chance. Now that it's organic, I'll have to do something different. It's been suggested that I put it in hay/grass.  I could have it mowed off/hayed by a neighbor, but not all the end rows are accessible without going through the cash crop. 

Once all the beans are off we'll chisel plow the end rows to try and "open them up". Next year the bean ground will be in wheat, underseeded with red clover. I might leave the clover in the end rows for a couple of years, hoping that its roots can break up some more of the compacted ground.

This slick animation shows how the crop flows through the combine. 

It rained last night, so we'll have to wait a couple of days before going back to combine the remaining 60 acres of beans. In the meantime I'm trying to get some turkey litter to spread (at 2 tons/acre or a little less than 200 tons total) on the soybean residue for next years wheat. Time for coffee and phone calls.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Do We Have a Lot of "Bot" Viewers?

 According to the "Stats" page for the site, there are about 250 views per day. Almost all of them are Referred by an "Other" URL and are using an "Other" operating system. 

Hard to tell what's going on, or if it even matters.

On the off chance that a human reads this, Hi!

Almost Ready to Combine Beans

 Hopefully in a few days we'll be combining. It's a 2007 Deere 9560 STS with a 625F head and this will be the first time I've used it . It's the nicest piece of equipment that I have.

 (click on any picture to make it bigger)

There's a problem with calibrating the header, a Deere technician is coming out tomorrow to help fix it, and I still need to get the Crary Air System (the large black duct that runs across the front of the head) hooked up and working.

Dad/Gramps and I have been spending a lot of time getting everything ready.