Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 7: Starting for Next Year

The crop is home, safely dried, and in the bin. Now is the time of year when we start fertilizing the fields for next year's crop.  Just like vegetables and other crops, corn and soybeans need some form of fertilizer.  Will they grow without fertilizer?....Sure, but not very well.  I'm guessing they would end up looking like the jungle my one year attempt at sweet corn evolved into, which in my mind isn't a very productive use of the land. 
For livestock farmers, its time to empty the pits.  Manure is organic fertilizer.  When you buy organic, its fertilized with, more likely than not, manure. No, its not particularly glamorous, but incredibly sustainable.  Farmers are the original recyclers; we've just evolved beyond the pitchfork, wheelbarrow, and garden.
We now have bigger pitchforks and bigger wheelbarrows
a drag hose manure applicator
a tanker manure wagon

and bigger gardens (corn fields).

For better or worse, I am somewhat of an expert in this area. I've spent a LOT of time calculating and helping farmers put a plan in place for how to rotate this fertilizer around the farm.  I've been called the Manure Queen.  When worked into a rotation, livestock farmers can fertilize the ground that they need to feed the livestock with the livestock themselves. Its truly one of the most natural cycles out there.  Manure contains Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (N, P, and K), and these are the 3 main nutrients we need to grow corn.  We analyze the manure, and use that analysis to figure how much goes where in order to properly furnish next year's corn crop with what it needs to grow. 
Brent is spending his time going back and forth with the big orange wagon between our manure storage and an alfalfa field that will be rotated back to corn next spring.  It will take him 3 good weeks to finish the job, so here's hoping the weather cooperates enough to get this job finished before the ground freezes.

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