Monthly Archives: July 2010

Is there a requirement that one must become a complete jerk to be a green tractor mechanic? 

Oh for one competent green tractor mechanic that doesn’t come with the attitude.  Then again those without the attitude hardly know its a tractor……….

Parts changers they be.  Not a mechanic one. 

Ah, I feel better………..

Sorry gang, but there will be slow posting this week. 

Finished up cleaning out the gain bin, hauling wheat, putting machinery up, PT, DR and field day.

I will try to get a few things nailed to the wall this week, but it will be thin in comparison to other weeks.

KR

I LOVE this commercial.  I would watch more TV if all commercials were like this!

There is a lot of press on RTK right now.  RTK is that super accurate GPS correction, survey grade, to plus or minus a half centimeter.  It is pretty impressive.  It is also pretty expensive.  It is also, in my opinion, being over sold.

Accuracy is addictive.  Just ask any target shooter.  I admit that accuracy with a rifle is addictive.  Being able to cut the same hole at 100 yards with my rifle is a goal.  Its more about the man than the machine with a firearm.  Yes the tolerances in the action and barrel along with the consistency in the load help to get better accuracy, but its more about if you can hold still, hold that same point of aim, and control the trigger than anything else.

With GPS, it’s all about the correction signal, not the GPS signal.  It is all the machine and nothing to do with the man, minus the initial calibration, which a lot of people don’t do correctly.  The more accurate the correction signal to the GPS unit, the more precise your implement will be in the field….assuming you calibrated it correctly. 

And what are you doing with that level of accuracy?  If you are not saving A B lines and moving them from machine to machine, or if you’re not employing management practices that require you to be that accurate, like ridge till, or you’re not using the mountain of data that is collected by the controller with that type of accuracy, then you have just blown a bunch of money for something that is underused. 

I use the analogy that its like using a Barret .50 cal Sniper Rifle to shoot chipmunks.  Impressive, but a bit of overkill at $10 something a shot vs. a .22 at something like $0.10 per shot.  Yeah, you have to be a little more accurate with your .22 than the .50 cal, but the chipmunks can’t tell if they have been shot by one or the other. 

So, why then do so many farmers bypass the WAAS system with its lower accuracy level to do RTK when they don’t do anything other then drive straight?  Like the illustration above, you have to be a bit more precise in you calibrations but no one can tell the difference in +-.5 cm vs. +-3 inches at 6o mph while driving by your fields.  A lot of times that pass-to-pass accuracy is even better with WAAS, than what is advertised.  Again, it’s in the calibration of the machine, not the correction signal.

Don’t get me wrong, when it is properly employed, RTK can make your life and farm more profitable.  But I have yet to see a farm that exploits RTK to its fullest potential.  Most of the time, its just used to match up equipment of different widths for convenience of planting or harvest.  And if that is the only use you have for RTK, you’re losing out on a bunch of real benefits other than being able to run your 12 row planters and combine with your 8 row head. 

He who learns to exploit the accuracy and data goldmine of RTK will win the race to greater profits.  And those that don’t are shooting chipmunks with a .50 cal, impressive but wasteful and expensive toys.

Yea, that’s right, the top 25% of farmers are, on the average, only 5% better than the rest of the crowd.

Think about that for a minute. What does that mean? Well, it means that being consistent is everything. It means that being or doing good in a bad year makes all the difference in the world. It means that the last 25% are so far behind…. well lets just say that they are in trouble. It means that this business of farming is a lot of up and down turns.

It also means that the margins are slim at the top…………..no matter what the size.

The last three days have provided us with two inches of rain out of three rain events.  There is no water standing anywhere and the ditches have no water in them, which means it all is soaking in. 

But for the second time this year I have seen one of those funny cloud formations.  I am sure there is a name for it, but I haven’t had time to look it up yet. 

Agwired has a bit on the Precision Ag Conference going on in Denver.  I also have a buddy who is out there.  I read with interest the post on AgWired and I could almost guess what my buddy’s comments were going to be word for word.

You see, the problem with Precision Ag right now is that there is nothing fresh.  Most of the academic types have fallen by the wayside, more because they just didn’t grasp the concepts of PA outside the bounds of the university system, than anything else.  Even with that there are still some of the same people trying to push the same research and principles, that might work in small plot or research, but don’t translate to the field.  When I say field I mean the farmers from one side of a state to the other.  Precision Ag is still talked about in the theory stage or “in a year or two when we develop the tools”.

It seems like it is always next year……..at least for those of us who have been out on the bleeding edge…..doesn’t it?

Precision Ag has to be site specific or it fails.  I think Dr Kholsa says it right when he says in the AgWired blog ” precision agriculture is putting the right inputs in the right place, at the right time, and in the right manner.”

But what Dr Kholsa says and what many sell and preach is two different things.  Big Iron and many of the smaller “toy” companies are still pushing things out into the field that are not necessarily what we need or want.  Yet they know better than we do, after all they spent lots of money to make it……..even when it doesn’t work right.  And all the consolidation that is taking place is also limiting our choices and ability to get what we need in the field vs. what they think we need or what to sell.

I hope there are more people like Dr Kholsa at the conference.  But I predicted my buddy’s comment on the conference to a T. “The same old group of people selling the same old group of ideas for 20 years now.  Nothing new at all.” 

Sad.  I was hoping for one fresh idea at least……..

Are you hungry yet?

Well, we have wild turkeys on the farm now.  I saw two last weekend and Matthew saw one last week. 

Turkeys are pretty destructive animals to row crops.  Deer are too, but deer seem to have a rhyme and reason to their grazing.  Turkeys, on the other hand, seem to pick a row and go right down it…………eating and tearing out the crop and letting it lay.  Not good.

I can’t say that I am all that excited about the turkeys showing up…………

The last few days have drove home some realities from some meetings I went to last winter. 

Most people do believe that their food comes from a box, a bag, or the phone book.  It is amazing how little people, especially city/urban people know about food.  They seem to love their misconceptions and hold to them regardless of how much truth you tell them. 

At one meeting this winter they said that 70% of Americans don’t know what they are going to eat for their evening meal at 4 pm.  That number seems to be low, based on my experiences over the last few days.  I would say that 90% don’t have a clue what they are going to eat at the evening meal.  That being said, very few if any of them ever sit down to eat with their families.  Sad.

There is a difference between stupid and ignorant.  Stupid is that you can’t learn or just won’t learn.  Ignorant is that you just don’t know because you have never learned, or needed to learn a subject. 

I guess I am just amazed at how stupid people are these days about agriculture.

While watching my screen saver the other day, which is just family pictures and guns, Trooper John noted that he was worried about me.  Scared that I might be a “gun nut”. 

Well……

While at Physical Therapy the other day I picked up a copy of Field and Stream, not something I usually do, not that I don’t like Field and Stream, its just not on my list of normal reading. It seems to me to be geared to the yuppie crowd of outdoor hunters and fishermen. That’s just my opinion.

They had a short article in that issue of how to know if you’re a gun nut. It’s pretty good but a bit yuppie for me. Anyway, I adapted the list to fit my own criteria of how you know you’re a gun nut.

You know you’re a gun nut when:* You go to a gun show and you’re afraid you will see an old gun you owned and bust into tears * Hulls and brass on the ground are money to you, not litter. You pick them up even if they are not a caliber you own. * You miss your old hunting dog more than you miss your old school friends * There are only two things that are more fun than a good argument about knock down power or cartridges, and they are both not legal. * There are three men’s hands you would like to shake but cant: John Moses Browning, Charlton Heston and Gunny Sgt Carlos Hathcock. * You wonder why there is nobody like Elmer Keith anymore. * Quigley Down Under is the most awesome gun movie ever made * Used guns are a fine thing: They have a past. They are often good deals and someone has already put the first scratch on them. * You are old enough to remember when you were a kid you took your guns to school and it was considered normal. * You wonder if your grandkids will take as good a care of your guns when your gone as you have taken care of your grandpa’s guns. * Whenever you stop at any gun store, you always buy a box of ammo even if you don’t need it, “just in-case”. * When someone tells you you’re missing a target, you nod politely. If they tell you why you’re missing, you listen carefully. * You try Herb Parson style shots when nobody is looking, with your favorite shotgun. * Guns can’t love you back, but they never complain either. * You never have too many guns!

Ok Trooper John, you got me…………..I am a Gun Nut!

Red Green strikes again………….

I woke up this morning to a half inch or rain. Wonderful! Would take some more but that is great. The double crop beans are progressing right along but still have a ways to go to top the wheat straw yet. I will post pictures of the double crop beans in the canola stubble in a few days.

I didn’t post a Sunday video………..so here it is……….

Crops:

I have looked at several fields of early corn this week and last week and there are pollination issues in lots of areas.  The hot dry weather and low humidity are also taking its toll on the later planted corn.  I saw several fields yesterday that were rolled up and turning white.  Some were knee high others were trying to put a tassel out.  There are also a lot of compaction issues in some of these fields in some areas due to the constant early rain and replanting.  Long silks are also another concern in some areas as this is a sign of trouble pollinating.   

There are also lots and lots of soybeans that are “yellow”.  At first you might think of Round Up Flash but most of these fields the plants have very small root systems or restricted root systems and we are seeing nutrient deficiencies because of the root system.  Some fields are growing out of it but others are going backwards.  At this stage of the game with the temps and low humidity we need a rain on both the corn and beans.  I have also had a report of some tissue test on these beans showing low K and B due to the small root systems.  I saw one field of later planted beans that looked wilted yesterday evening.  

Safety:

Please be safe out there guys.  Yesterday I saw a farmer driving a Rogator almost take the door off a car in town.  He was driving to fast to start with and weaving in and out of the “parking lane” along the side of the road.  Slow down not only in your equipment but in the heat.  Several reports of farmers getting “sun poisoning” and heat sickness.  I know we need to spray and bale hay and mow but please take care of yourselves while you’re doing it. 

Spraying Food for Thought!

From the Frank James blog.  Round Up kills non Round Up corn pretty good…………….(link)…  Don’t let this happen to you.  Know your hybrids and communicate that to the operator of the sprayer, custom applicator, chemical company or service company.

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