Seeding Update

At work this week, someone asked me how seeding was going.  Rather than just say “fine” and carry on with the day, I chose to take the opportunity to really respond.  Here is what I said, and why:

Doing

  • We have been fertilizing the fields of fall rye
  • We have started seeding our cereals (wheat and oats).
  • We have been preparing fields for planting sunflowers.
  • We have been planning for preparation and planting of soybeans.
  • We have been dealing with electronics issues in our planter tractor.

Praying

We badly need rain to help our crops germinate.  Since we do not have irrigation, we are relying on Mother Nature for some rain, after the dry winter and month of April.

This conversation highlighted how farmers manage multiple tasks and priorities at once.  It also highlighted that Mother Nature plays a role in our planning, actions and reactions.  Finally, and most importantly, it highlighted the opportunity that FarmFemmes have, through everyday conversations.  Time is precious and days are busy, but it pays to take the time to talk to people about what modern agriculture is all about.

Drone Pics

It goes without saying that seeding is a crazy busy time, which means today's post is light on words and big on photos.  Feel free to comment with photo ideas - or link us to your cool drone photos so that we can try to capture more unique and interesting shots.

Seeding soybeans

Seeding soybeans

Rolling the soybean field

Rolling the soybean field

Practice makes perfect???  Testing out auto tracking - haven't got it mastered yet.

Practice makes perfect???  Testing out auto tracking - haven't got it mastered yet.

Seeds!

A seeder is a big deal!  The seeder gives you all of the potential you will ever have to produce a great crop.  This spring we invested in a new-to-us seeder, which means there is a learning curve as we get the seeding tool set up to work with our tractor and seed cart.  Since every farm is unique, our seeder needed some changes to adapt it to our farming practices.  For instance, we changed out the granular fertilizer set up to a liquid fertilizer set up.  There were also some logistical changes required, like the length of hydraulic hoses necessary to make all of the connections.

After about a week of making changes, and then changes to the changes, the completed seeding train has been hooked together and tested.  Of course, the true test comes when we pull into our first field and start putting seeds in the ground.  To a certain extent, farmers feel that buzz and anticipation every year.  However, having a different seeding tool adds another dimension to the anticipation.  We know how much is at stake, so we want to be sure that we get things right – the seeder is where it all starts.

Various Vallotton Farms seeding combinations 2010-Present

Happy seeding.

Deciding What to Seed

On a beautiful summer day, when you are out taking a drive, you notice the patchwork of different crops that are passing by your windows. 

FLAX-CANOLA.png

However, this patchwork isn’t just a thing of beauty.  It is also the result of complex strategy.  Farmers consider many factors when they decide what to seed on each field – and the seeding plan for this spring began months ago.  As we get ready to put seeds in the ground, here are just a few of the factors that impact crop rotation decisions:

Crop soil requirements: Different plants use, and replenish, different nutrients from the soil.  Some crops are best suited for a smaller range of soil types.  Being strategic about crop sequencing changes the need for fertilizers and helps to maintain soil health.

Diversity of crops: Seeding a number of different crops spreads risk as different crops are more resistant to various weather stressors.  Seeding diverse crops also spreads out harvest because of the different lengths of growing seasons.  However, every time equipment is switched between crops it requires a more time-consuming cleaning process.

Harvest time requirements: Harvest is a busy time, so matching people power to work load requirements is critical.  For instance, the physical location of fields and bins impacts the time spent moving grain off the field, so it makes sense to plant high volume crops closer to on-farm storage.

Number of buyers: Planting crops with more buyers makes it easier to market the crop, especially for increased flexibility in choosing delivery times.

Seed availability: Some crops, and some crop varieties, are in high demand.  This means that farmers must book, and sometimes pay for, the seed far in advance to ensure it is available for them to plant.

Crops.jpg

Crop prices: World demands for various crops change as weather patterns and eating preferences change.  Crop prices fluctuate day to day, but they also show long-term trends factor into planning for financial sustainability.

Every farmer considers a matrix of factors when creating their seeding plan.  Luckily, each farmer values these factors differently, which results in the beautiful patchwork of crops we enjoy looking at, and eating.