The Useful Duck!

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

More No-till planting

No Photos! Forgot camera. Non no-till enthusiasts will be pleased by that, after all how many photos of dirt do you really want to see?
I planted 35 acres Saturday. Really nice ground, Willamette soil type. Should have pretty high fertility. I could feel the silty loam just trying to see if I could make a mud ball, trying to figure out if I could plant. I couldn't quite get the mud-ball to stick together and we have a forecast for a week of rain so I told the farmer that I'm game if you are, and away we went.
I really wanted to the best job possible. Fellow is a nice guy. Has had some experience with a John Deere no-till drill but is really just learning about no-till. Ground was former wheat field with most of the stubble gone. There was quite a bit of ground cover, still fairly green, a pretty good mat of residue on top to the ground. I planted Montezuma oats at 118lbs, 10 gallons of 10-34 fert. Around 5lbs of sluggo slug bait. The planting depth was 1" to 1 1/2." I wanted to plant a little more shallow, more like 1/2"-3/4" but the ground was wet enough that the openers were just slicing a groove and not covering very well at shallow depths. I adjusted my depth a couple times. Went a little faster and a raised press wheel at the end so I probably averaged more in the "1 range. Makes me nervous to see a trench with seed sitting in the bottom.
Had problems with the slugbait. I should not have put it on. It always plugs up my small seeds. I needed to go back to the drill today and cover it up so the slugbait doesn't get wet and swell up. Sometimes I think the people who engineered my Great Plains drill needed to use it a little more.
But then I did try out a John Deere drill first. I was thinking about that while planting. Farmer I was planting for was trying one out. I rented the same drill and picked it up next to this field I think.
The John Deere 1590 was a big letdown. I am always amazed at John Deere people. John Deere has never been a leader in agriculture, they are the sort to sit back and let the small companies do the research and then they come in with more money and make the design their own.
The 1590 no-till drill is probably a good example. It looks like a great idea. It has single disk openers with rubber wheels on each side much like a corn planter. Unfortuantly the rubber wheels have a gap inside so that wet soil can pack between the wheel and the single disk. Then the seed drops a too slight an angle so if you get any moisture or a little mud at the lip of the seed boot they will and do plug up. I have even heard of plugups on steep hillsides where there is not enough angle for the seed to drop. They have the openers set on two gangs. This looks good, you can see it all, but it is a bear to work on. Plus you can't really turn for dragging everything sideways. The other problem in wet soil is if you just lift wet cold dirt up and slide the seed under it and then pack it back down with no soil disturbance it just tends to set there packed into the cold wet soil. The other drills which work the ground place loose soil over the top of the seed which then warms up faster.
In the end, the trials which I have seen, the brand of drill made no difference in the bushels per acre. So I guess it is all meaning less. Unless, like myself you went from 12 acres and hour with a Great Plains, to scooping 2000lbs of wheat out of a John Deere because it was too wet for it to plant. And then spending three days with a pressure washer trying to get the piece of crap clean.
But, I digress.
I did 35 acres in kind of marginal conditions. It is pouring right now so I think I did the right thing. I should not worry so much about other people's fields...
In other news, Spent the day playing trains and Lincoln Logs with sick daughter. We have a railway line entending from living room to dining room. It is a small house but on the other hand it is a pretty big toy rail road! Perhaps pictures will follow...

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