Friday, June 28, 2013

Conservation in Action Tour

First, here is an update on what has been happening on the farm: 

  1. Planting:  We finished up planting soybeans on Saturday, June 22nd. Thank goodness! It's in God's hands now!
  2. We loaded pigs out of our barn yesterday.  340 (not so little) piggies went to the market! :) 
  3. We’ve been keeping up on the spraying in between rains.
  4. We are finishing up side-dressing anhydrous to our corn.

Yesterday, I got to attend a "Conservation in Action" tour in Kossuth County. The tour was just that: tours of real farmers that implement real conservation practices on their farms. We saw:

  • Wetlands
    • The wetlands we looked at were in different conservation programs, but the basic concept is that they help create a reservoir to hold water and filter out excess nutrients (so they don’t flow downstream). 

2013-06-27 Conservation in Action Wetland BLOG

  • Hog Facilities
    • The farmers use all of the manure generated from the pigs as their main nutrient source for crop growth on their farms. Along with those nutrients, they also have a plan that shows an estimate of how much soil is eroded off of each field (called the RUSLE2) and the risk of phosphorus loss on each field (called the P-Index). They are required to meet certain levels to apply manure.
  • High Tunnel Greenhouse
    • This greenhouse was funded through EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) through NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service). Vegetables are grown in it and sold locally. I wish I could grow and maintain a garden like her!

2013-06-27 Conservation in Action High Tunnel BLOG

  • Windbreaks
    • The windbreaks we saw were mostly used around their livestock facilities. Windbreaks help protect the livestock from wind/snow, create a filter for odor/dust (so it doesn't blow off-site), and (in my opinion) make the farms look pretty!
  • Strip Tillage
    • Strip Tillage is a reduced tillage program. It is a combination of conventional tillage (leaving little residue on the top of the soil) and no-till (leaving all the residue on the soil). It literally leaves a strip of soil to plant in, while the inner rows have trash/residue to prevent soil loss.

2013-06-27 Conservation in Action High Strip Till Bar BLOG

There were more conservation practices talked about, but these were some of the highlights. On our own farm we have a wetland; we use the same principles and practices as the hog facilities mentioned above; we have implemented windbreaks; and we utilize strip tillage.

Conservation is not a "one size fits all" package. Iowa is diverse in landscape which also means that while some practices work here, they may not work for someone else. We work with others and learn from one another (the good and the bad) because we have love and passion for our land.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This is the Spring that Never Ends….(Name that tune!)

Okay, okay.  It will end.  I have no doubt about that.  However, it seems that planting is taking quite a while this year! 

We started planting corn on May 14th (Three Cheers for Planting).  We finished corn on May 24th and started planting soybeans that same day.  We still have quite a few soybeans left to plant. 

AJ was out today getting random acres planted to soybeans.  There are still a lot of wet areas in our fields, so we are trying to get the dry areas planted at the very least.  This mostly means more driving and turning around than actual planting! 

2013-06-20 Planting BLOG

On the acres that are dry and planted, we are side-dressing anhydrous and spraying both corn and beans (for weeds). 

2013-06-20 Side-Dressing BLOG

Of course we are getting in the tractor as much as we possibly can.  I have to compete with some pretty cute kids, and have only gotten to ride a couple of times this spring! 

2013-06-19 Tractor Ride BLOG

I know that we are not the only farmers with a long, drawn out spring.  I also understand that it could be worse.  The only way to stay sane farming is to count our blessings every day.  It’s amazing and beautiful to watch them grow.

2013-06-20 Blog Collage

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

World Pork Expo 2013

2013 06 05 Welcome to the WPX BLOG

I am able to attend the World Pork Expo every year and have been for 7 years now.  The WPX is like the state fair all about pork with attendees from all around the world. 

I can’t really tell you for sure what everyone else in the industry does at the expo, but I can give you an idea of what I do while there.

Like I’ve said before, I Work With Manure.  When I attend the expo, I’m mainly going for my job…and to get a free meal consisting mainly of pork. :)  We normally get an idea of what other companies we work with will be down there and whether or not we can meet up with some of them.  It’s a really good time to be able to catch up on some random tasks/projects that we’d all rather talk about in person.  So, even though there is a lot to see, this is a lot of what we do:

2013 06 05 WPX 01 BLOG

We talk.  We network. We learn.  Every year there are a lot of new technologies, research, ideas, etc. that we talk about and try to figure out what works best for us.  I can’t (and won’t) speak for everyone in the pork industry, but as I walk around the show it is pretty clear that a lot of thought goes into the people, the pigs, and the environment. 

I’m proud to be a pork producer!

2013 06 05 WPX 03 BLOG