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Soybeans- the No-Till Method

June 2, 2010

Good Morning, Dear Reader. With a brief hiatus on Sunday, being a day of rest for some, and some rain showers to interrupt the others on Monday, the flurry of activity has continued. The planters were running, and the giant spraying machines were making the rounds, too.

John Deere Tractor and Planter

Bean planting rig ready to hit the field

The rig above has been loaded with about 1500 pounds of soybean seed.  That’s about 30 bags with (if your reporter recalls correctly) 130,000 seeds per bag.  These seeds will be planted into a field that has had potash (fertilizer) applied to it, but where the ground has not been tilled.  Farmers refer to this as *No Till Bean Drilling*.

No till bean driiling

Green tractor disappears in untilled bean field

That big green rig with the yellow wheels disappears amongst the greenery of the untilled bean field.  Last year this field was planted in soybeans,  and the existing vegetation is allowed to remain after harvest to prevent soil erosion.  One advantage of leaving the soil undisturbed is the reduced use of diesel fuel.  One disadvantage is that more herbicide might have to be applied.  Farmers in this area practice both methods.

Drilling beans the not till way

Watch out for the big swale!

Now, Dear Reader, if you have been watching the photos carefully, you are probably thinking that no beans are going to grow in that thick patch of swale, and you would be right! The driver carefully lifted the rig as it entered the swale and then set it back down on this side of it.  The swale is a conservation measure, a giveback of sorts, that holds water during very wet times.  Wildlife like these micro-environments as they provide cover and feed.

Adjustment required

Uh, oh! An adjustment is required.

The driver noticed one disk dragging slightly, and had to stop to make an adjustment.  Farmers usually carry an assortment of tools so that they can correct problems, make adjustments and get back to business.  This correction took less than 5 minutes.

Adjusting a disk on planter

A quick adjustment

And then it was back to the business of drilling beans.

View from tractor cab

And the bean drilling continues

Farmers are the world’s greatest gamblers.  Their daily decisions affect crops, and thus, profits.  One of the decisions that they must make is “To till, or not to till?”.  but there are so many more.  Shall we apply fertilizer?  Shall we spray for weeds?  Will there be enough time to plant this field before the rains start?  And experience can make all the difference in reaching a successful outcome.

Is rain on the horizon?

What is this group of clouds telling me?

So there you have it Dear Reader.  Now go out there and make it a great day!

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