Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Spring is Here (?)

I've still got snow here (and it was  -10º 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.



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