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Monday, April 30, 2012

Spoon Feeding Nitrogen to Corn Plants

This last week has been another week of take care of odds and ends that need to be done before the next season begins.  In the middle of all my activities, I tried to keep up with the news on the latest BSE case (mad cow disease).  From what I could tell, the media has done a really good job of keeping the information factual and balanced.

The Farmer decided it was time to spoon feed nitrogen to the corn crop.  We give nitrogen to the corn when we plant it and then we give it some more as it grows through the season.  Here is a picture of my ride for 2 days.  It was another of those balancing mother duties and getting grandparents to help out.  My oldest needed to go back to the doctor to make sure his ear infection had cleared up all the way.  Well, since The Farmer needed to get this nitrogen on the corn before the rain that was predicted for the weekend fell, my wonderful father volunteered to take him to the doctor so I could continue to haul nitrogen (My dad is telling everyone I have a fear of doctor’s offices which is not true, I just have work to do).  Thankfully, the ear infection is totally cleared up and we are going in full force again.  Well, here is a picture of us filling the sprayer.  I can haul 1000 gallons of fertilizer at a time and the sprayer holds 1250 gallons. 

The Farmer was applying 49 gallons of nitrogen per minute when he was going through the field.  He was applying the nitrogen through these tubes to put the nitrogen in a stream in between the corn rows.  If we would spray the nitrogen on the plants, it would burn the leaves of the plants and really set them back.  We try to apply the nitrogen before a rain is predicted so the rain will wash the nitrogen into the ground where the roots can utilize it. 

We could apply all the nitrogen the corn needs for the year before we plant the corn, but when we get a large rain the water moves the nitrogen away from where the corn needs it.  It is our way to protect the investment that we and our landlords put into fertilizer.  Fertilizer is one of the biggest expenses we have and the price is closely tied to the price of gas and natural gas.  The Farmer’s sprayer is a high tech piece of machinery.  I have tried not to learn how to run it, but I think he is going to try to teach me this year.  It actually has a computer that tracks its location through satellites and when he gets to the end of a field, the boom automatically shuts off.  If the field isn’t square, it can shut of the sections of the boom individually so he doesn’t overlap his applications.

We built a new barn this last year to house our fertilizer tanks.  We built concrete containment that will hold the contents of 110% of the largest tank.  It holds spills if I overfill the nurse trailer or if a tank leaks.   It keeps fertilizer from getting into the ground water if we have a leak and saves us money and the environment if it happens. 

When I was delivering the next to last load to the field, I got to thinking about how well I was doing keeping up with The Farmer and he didn’t have to wait on me as in the year’s past.  It suddenly hit me, for the last nine years, I have had a passenger in the truck with me and my youngest is in school all day this year.  I didn’t have someone asking for a snack, needing to go potty, or not wanting to get back in the car seat.  It was amazing how much I could get done in a day, but it was also kind of lonely.  I think a couple of my friends wondered why I called to chat with them.  The Farmer’s cousin used to laugh when I had the truck full of car seats, pulling the nurse trailer, he said I had a mobile nursery. 

Although, having the kids with me for the last nine years greatly increased the stress level during busy times of the year and slowed me down, I would not have traded that time for anything.  I know that my kids are only young once.  I feel very blessed that I have two sons that tell me on a regular basis that I am “the best mom ever.”  If being a little slow to get some of my work done was the cost to hear that multiple times a week, it was worth every minute of it.