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Monday, October 28, 2013

Flat Aggie travels back to Nebraska for Corn Harvest

Last Spring, my friends Aaron and Liz hosted Flat Aggie and explained soil testing, EM Sleds, and how we all can be farmers.  This time around, they talk about harvest and planting cover crops complete with a couple of videos.  I feel so lucky to have great farming friends that want to share their farms with school kids through this virtual tour.-KFM

Where: Eastern Nebraska
Average Temperature for mid-October: High 66, Low 39
Average Annual Precipitation: about 30”
Soil Type: Ranges from sandy to sandy-loam to clay-loam

In the past couple weeks, we have enjoyed showing Flat Aggie our farm operation and the surrounding area. Our farm is located in eastern Nebraska near a small town named Mead about 45 miles north of Lincoln, NE, which is the state’s capital. Here, we grow corn and soybeans. Most farmers in Nebraska grow rotation crops.  (Rotation crops involve growing a different crop than the previous year on the same piece of land.) For example, a common rotation crop in eastern Nebraska is corn followed by soybeans the next year. Did you know there are different types of corn plants? Some corn is raised specifically to use as popcorn, while other corn is grown to feed cattle, pigs and chickens. The corn your mom or dad buys at the grocery store is called sweet corn and is picked when the stalks are still green.

Flat Aggie arrived at an excellent time, just as we were beginning to harvest corn and soybeans. It’s a good thing he wore some good work boots because we had a lot of work to do in the fields. Every morning work begins around 7:30 when the sun comes up and usually ends well after dark. The guys stay in the field all day until they decide to rest for the night. 

 We start harvesting soybeans first.

Once we combine the soybeans we transfer them to the semi.   
  Next we take the soybeans to our local coop.  The big silver cylinder is called a grain bin and can hold over 500,000 bushels of soybeans (or corn). With each truckload, we deliver about 1,000 bushels of soybeans. Many farmers will bring truckload after truckload of grain to fill up these grain bins. Later, the coop will move the grain onto a train and send it out for delivery.

  At the coop we empty our semi and then head back to the field.   
We just started harvesting corn.
Here is a video of how we store the corn on our farm.

 In the last few weeks, we have had to take some days off because of rain.  When it rains we need to wait for the soil to dry out for a few days so we won’t compact the soil.  The tractors and the combine that we drive in the field are so heavy, if we drive in the field when it is wet, the soil will begin to be very hard almost like cement.  When the soil gets compacted, the plant’s roots won’t grow through it.
Another job that we are doing on the farm right now is planting cover crops. 

We plant the cover crop as soon as the field gets harvested so that the seeds can germinate and grow as much as possible before the weather gets too cold that the plants stop growing. (Some of the cover crop will start growing again in the spring after the ground warms up a bit.)  

Here is a picture of some of the seeds that we are planting this year.    

The cover crop we planted this year is a mix of several types of plants. Each type has a “job” or “task” to accomplish. 
All of the plants that grow will help improve our soils so that we can do a better job growing our rotation crop next year. Cover crops work together to produce more nutrients in the soil, create more beneficial microorganisms, encourage earth worms, reduce soil erosion and improve water infiltration. Sometimes we can fence in cattle to eat some of the cover too. Eventually, we will have to kill the cover crop so that we can plant the corn or soybeans in the field. 

Here is a picture of our cover crop that has had the most time to grow - about one month now.
Sometimes we break down and have to spend some time fixing our equipment.
The crops in our area are very slow to be harvested this year due to the weather.  Since we plant our wheat after we harvest our corn and soybeans, our wheat has been slow to get planted.  Our wheat hasn’t sprouted out of the ground yet, so we included a picture of some wheat from one of our farmer friends in Southwest Nebraska, about a 5 hour drive west of us. The wheat is beginning to poke through the ground. This wheat was planted into the corn that was harvested last year. (Photo courtesy of Julie,
 We had a great time showing Flat Aggie around our farm and we have to say we are very excited about the next farm he went to from here.

Thanks for letting us show Flat Aggie around,
Aaron and Liz

Farmer Math:

1.  Flat Aggie helped harvest 2 fields of soybeans and 3 fields of corn.  How many fields did they harvest in all during the visit?

2.   If they harvest 2 fields in one day each 40 acres, how many acres did they harvest?

3.   If we have an 80 acre field and we have harvested 62 acres, how many acres are left to harvest.

4.   If a semi truck can carry 56000 pounds of soybeans and a bushel of soybeans weighs 60 pounds, how many bushels of soybeans are on a semi truck?

5.   Flat Aggie is helping cut soybeans.  The combine is harvesting 10 acres per hour.  Assuming the combine does not stop of break down, how long will it take to harvest a 130 acre field?

6.    Flat Aggie helped harvest a 100 acre field.  It produced 5,600 bushels.  Can you figure the average yield of the field in bushels per acre?

1.  5 fields   2.  80 acres   3.  18 acres   4.  933.33 bushels   5. 13 hours   6. 56 bushels per acre

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