Another planting season is finished. It is a wonderful feeling to have the seeds in the ground for another growing season. The weather this spring has been cold and wet so it did take a bit longer than we had hoped to finish up planting. The weather has now turned around and the warmth is turning the fields green with the little sprouts of corn. With this warm weather the fields can change over night into green as far as you can seen.
There are three main pieces of equipment use during planting. The first machine into the fields in the spring is a big powerful tractor pulling a very large digger. We use what is called a quad trac tractor since it has 4 tracts. The benefit of using tracs is decreased compaction of the soil and increased traction. With such a large machine it is important to decrease the compaction of the soil as much as possible. Seeds will not grow well in soil that has been packed. The tracs decrease compaction by increasing the amount of the wheel that is touching the ground at one time and therefor spreading out the weight of the tractor over more area. This increased contact with the ground also increases the traction of the tractor.
This powerful tractor pulls a very large digger whose job is to loosen up and prepair the seed bed. In the fall we use a deep digger to incorporated the plant matter from the previous growing season into the soil. In the spring only the top layer of the soil need to be loosened up to add air to the soil and prepare it for the seeds.
Believe it or not but this huge tractor drives itself down the field with the use of GPS. The driver programs in an angle that they would like the field dug in and the tractor will follow that angle throughout the field. The driver does need to turn the tractor around and raise and lower the digger in the back. I remember the first time I road along and watched my husband take his hands off the wheel and the tractor went straight as an arrow down the field. The main reason GPS is used in field work so jobs and be done with precision. For digging the use of GPS can cut down on the use of fuel by preventing overlapping passes down the field.
The last piece of equipment that goes through the field during planting is the roller. The roller is something newer that has been implemented in the last few years. The roller is used only on soybean ground to flatten and slightly compact the soil. There are a few reasons for doing this. First reason has to do with harvest time. Soybeans are plants that grow close to the ground. During harvest the combine head it placed close to the ground as it goes through the field to collect as many beans as possible. By rolling and flattening the ground in the spring you and prevent damage to the combine head and be able to use it closer to the ground. The other reason for rolling is that it provides the soybean seed nice contact with the soil increasing it's ability to get moisture and nutrients needed for growth.
Planting take lots of time, patients, and knowledge. The prayer is that the fruits from these seeds placed in the ground with care will be plentiful and feed many throughout the world.