Picking rocks is one of few jobs on the farm that is still very labor intensive and has changed very little over the years. Some farmers utilize migrant workers to help collect the rocks in their fields. We choose to pick the rocks ourselves and it takes us about 5-7 good days of walking the fields to get all the rocks.
You might wonder why we put so much time and energy into ridding our fields of rocks and why there are so many year after year. The reason we pick rocks is prevent damage to the combine in the fall by having a rock go through it. A combine is a very expensive piece of machinery and during harvest the combine head rides low to the ground and could pick up a rock. Another reason is to remove any rocks that could be hindering a corn plant from growing. The rocks each year are push up to the surface by the freezing and thawing of the soil. The fall and spring tillage bring the rocks to the top.
While out picking rocks I have imagined machines or contraptions that could pick the rocks for us or dissolve the rocks on the field. The truth is that rock picking is going to be done the same way it has been done for many years to come. Picking rocks may not be fun but it is part of caring for the land we are using to grow food on. We need to take care of the land the best we can to enable it to be its most productive.