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Thursday, May 14, 2015

#TBT Row Cultivation

How has farming changed over the years?  A. LOT.  It is hard to answer in just one post, so on Thursdays we try to take a look back at how different parts of our farm and ranch have changed.  Just a little snapshot of one thing that is different from how our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers farmed. Be sure to look at the other #TBT posts on this blog to see other things that have changed.

Back in the day before crops that could tolerate certain herbicides, farmers spent hour upon hour in the fields cultivating between the rows.  This did a good job of hoeing out the weeds in between the rows, but not the weeds that grew too close to the row or in the row.

My Grandpa Dale on his tractor with a front mount cultivator.

This job was very time consuming and not for someone with a short attention span.  The tractor driver had to drive very carefully or they would cultivate out the growing crop...the width of the cultivator.  We often joked calling this cultivator blight. Texting and driving would not be recommended.

My mom loved to cultivate the soybeans and milo.  She spent hours on a tractor like the one above.  She would come home with some crazy ideas for our 4-H projects after spending a couple of weeks on the tractor by herself. :)  She always insisted on driving the tractor without a cab.  She said she could see so much better.  All that sun exposure has really caused damage on lots of farmers over the years. 

My mom often had a sprayer loaded with a dilution of Roundup to spray on Johnsongrass and Bindweed that she found as she was cultivating.  She would have to stop the tractor and aim very carefully and often she didn't kill the whole patch.  Those noxious weeds are very much controllable thanks to crops like Round Up Ready soybeans and corn.

Today's herbicides are more specific than those even 20 years ago.  While for the past 15 years we have planted some GMO corn and soybeans that can be sprayed with certain herbicides and not die, we still plant some soybeans that are not genetically modified.  We use herbicides before the seeds sprout and we use a few select herbicides for weeds the early herbicide may have missed.  It is possible that my mom is the only farmer FarmHer out there that misses row cultivation.

What would you like me to show that has changed on our farm?  Do you farm and know of something special on your farm that has changed?  All farms evolve at a different pace and this is just how our farm changed.
- A Kansas Farm Mom

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