Thursday, October 30, 2014

Waste Not

        Corn harvest 2014 is well underway and in fact it has taken me a little while to get to this that the men are telling me they hope to be done combining corn tomorrow at noon. They have been putting in some long nights and there will still be some midnight oil burned for the next week as they finish up tillage. Corn harvest is a little late this year because the corn has been a little wet and we have been trying to give it as much time as possible to dry in the fields. In order for the corn to store well and not rot in the bins it needs to be at a percise moisture inside the kernel. If the corn is taken out of the field above this moisture it needs to be put through a drying system which heats the corn to remove the extra moisture. This adds costs and take away from the crop profit so if the corn dries in the field it is better. As with many parts of farming we are constantly playing a little guessing game with the weather. We need to watch signs and made wise decisions on how long we feel we can wait to take the crop out. The last thing we want is corn out in snowdrifts.
      The corn that we harvest goes into animal feed, human food, and fuel production. Corn is a vital part of life as we know it. It is grown in all 50 states. Now it might be true that the corn kernels are the most important part of the crop that is taken from the corn fields in the fall but it is not the only part of the plants that we use.
               Once the combine goes through the field it leave behind the corn stalks and husks chopped up and spread out over the field. In most of our fields the corn plants are worked back into the soil. This adds the organic matter back in and increases the fertility of the soil. On some of our fields we use a rake to pile the corn stalks into rows and then use a baler to form the stalks into tight neat bales that will store and transport easily. The corn stalks make excellent bedding for the cattle over the winter and are also added to some of our feed rations as roughage. This year we made over 400 bales in a few short days. It is so beautiful out in the field.

           This time of  year the grass starts to get short and sparse in the pastures. Here we are running home a herd of cows from our back pasture over the harvested bean field. There are always some old 'boss' cows that have done this year after year and can lead the way. Instead of putting all these cows in the yard and use up feed we fenced in a portion of the harvested corn field and let them eat straight out of the field. The cows find the corn the combine missed and eat some of the corn husks and stalks. The cows do such a good job that the next spring there is next to no volunteer corn, corn that comes up in the bean field from corn kernels left on the ground from the previous fall.
        Here you can see the cows in the field behind the kids. They look so happy and peaceful.

        After the corn stalks have been used as bedding for the winter we will load them into the manure spreader and bring them back out to this field and spread them out so that they can be worked back into the soil. As farmer we are very concerned in using all the resources we are given and making sure our land is kept in the best health and production it can. Thinking of new and different ways to increase the efficiency of our farms is what will keep them productive well into the future.

1 comment:

  1. Awww! The kids look so adorable in the field, and while nibbling on those carrots. They feel so at home. Anyway, I hope the harvest went perfectly well. Thank you for sharing the gorgeous pictures! Wishing you and everyone in your family the best of health!

    Darren Lanphere @ Mirr Ranch Group