Monthly Archives: March 2011

Well it started off as a wet snowing morning again here in Southern Illinois so I found myself inside at the desk sorting out soils sample maps for what needs to be spring sampled.

The nightmare of it is that the particular farm I was working on this morning is like trying to undo a rats nest of bailing twine.  Farms that are renamed, sold and split are making me pull my hair out.  I figure I had better get use to it as this is going to be more common as farmers get larger and compettion for rent ground gets tougher.  There still is the fact that these 20yr old plat books and hand drawn maps are an added unneeded addition to the mess.

Digital maps make this process a 20 minute job and not a 4-6 hour one like it has turned into.  Why cant everyone use GPS, GIS, Google Maps and all the other nice, neat and clean ways to handle data.  It just makes sense to handle data like this GIS and not paper in files with food stains and water marks.  This is why I went GIS/digital years ago……..and have not regretted it one bit.  Matter of fact it makes life as a soil sampler easy.

A hand drawn road map and field map on part of a fast food sack doesn’t get it.  At least for me it doesn’t.  After the last two hours, anyone who shows up here and needs a plat book map to do anything is so low tech that they will be showed the door.  Get digital or get out.  Make my life and yours a whole lot simpler.  At least show me that your in the 21 Century…………



It was 81 here on Tuesday…………snowing this morning. Welcome to Southern Illinois!

I couldnt resist the temptation, I hooked up the little tractor to the little disc and went and disc up the garden.

OK that wasnt a big deal.  But I took pictures with my cell phone and sent them to some friends and told them the ground was working like a lettuce bed.

Actually, it was working like a lettuce bed, that was part of what I disc up…..

On March 19, 2011 Robertson Farms began weather data collection using a Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station pictured below.  We are streaming our observations live to the internet.  You can now access real time and daily total weather data from our farm in Benton.

Click the link below to see weather conditions at the farm in Benton, Illinois


Robertson Farms DAILY SUMMARY

The Davis Vantage Pro 2 wireless unit features a rain gauge, thermometer, barometer, humidity, wind speed and direction instruments.  The wireless unit attaches to our internet modem so that weather is collected and stored online.  With the alarm feature I can have text or email messages sent when temperature or rainfall per hour exceed a level I set.  It also keeps a running summary of the daily totals.

I would like to see other farmers in the area get set up with these weather stations.  They are a great tool for record keeping, predicting insect and disease pressure as well as keeping track of growing degree days for crops.

Please visit the CURRENT FARM WEATHER page on our site to see what the weather is here NE of Benton.

Yesterday was “the day” for spraying wheat.  “The day” means that we were going to get it done right, wrong or indifferent.  Time and weather were causing problems. Time in that the wheat was growing to the point that if it got much bigger I was going to miss my window to spray and weather was if it rained one more time we were going to miss our window…….

A lot of farmers and fertilizer/chemical dealers in the area are using ATV spreaders and sprayers the last few days because of the wet conditions.  I am also getting reports that they are getting stuck on a pretty regular basis.  And having wheel tracks every 20-30 ft in the field is not that appealing to me either.  So I called Browns down at Galatia and told them to bring the big rig.  I am glad I made that call.

You might say that I had a long time to spray Harmony, a herbicide for control of wild garlic.  Yes I still had time for that but I also had fields that needed some Olympus Flex herbicide for control of Downy Brome.

It wasn’t exactly dry but the sprayer traveled well.  We ran in the “tram lines” or ruts from last years spraying of the canola crop that was in this field.

It looks worse that it was as the water was standing in the ruts.  Nice thing about the sprayer here is those 90 ft booms really cut down on the wheel tracks.

There was little growing in the wheel tracks anyway, so loss was minimal but it still makes thing look bad from the road.  But in a few weeks we will put on the balance of our nitrogen and with a little growth, you will never see the wheel tracks.

And all we have to do is follow the same wheel tracks………….wet or not


I got to get some of these………

Here is my mug in the local paper. The ad was run as part of the local Farm Bureau’s Ag Day campaign.  Click on the photo for a higher resolution image to read……..

March is now half over and I have got nothing done since the first of the year. Nothing. I know, I have had a lot on my plate and my family has had a lot on their plate from Christmas until this last week it seems.

Plus the weather sucks……………yes it sucks. I am so tired of grey days, grey wet days and grey wet cold days. I need some sun.

But, still as I look around the farm, the office, the shed, the garage and the house I see a whole lot of stuff that I was supposed to get done, needed to get done, and should have done by now. Every day or so I make a list and it gets longer not shorter. I think I am approaching the point where I don’t really care if I get any of it done now.

Ok, I have gotten some stuff done between all the family issues and the weather. So I made a list and rated them on a scale of 1 to 10 on how I feel about that accomplishment. 1 –  being a complete waste of time, 10 –  being glad I got it done, went, participated or achieved it etc.

Went to some CCA meetings and tried to keep my head up and stay awake. A zero, zipp, nada, 0. Other than a few hand shakes and good conversation between some people I had not seen in a while, it was time I will never get back. These meeting are designed to suck the life out of you I believe.

I spoke at the Farm Futures meeting, got “rave reviews” and was honored to be asked and to get the opportunity to speak. A 10++++ Always a good meeting, good time, good thinking, good conversation and good everything. The highlight of my winter.

Matthew and I did get the boom on my sprayer straightened out and welded back and painted. I will give that a 9. Glad its done. Glad Matthew helped me and glad it is ready to go, even if nothing else in the shed is ready.

Went to the BSPC meeting and spoke. Hmmm……..a 5. Part of the meeting was fair, part was great, and part of it was like watching paint dry. Almost as much time and money getting to and from the meeting as the meeting cost. I was sick and my mind was elsewhere.

Soil sampling. A 3. I only have about 30% of my spring work done. Had days that I could have worked but was attending to more important things with family. Behind.

My Website, Twitter and Facebook. A -5. I have not had time and most of the time was not in the mood to Twitter or update by website. Facebook has turned into a family alert system and gripe session for me. Trying to get a better attitude, but it aint happening with the grey sky…….sorry folks. I need to get back in the game, but don’t feel like playing.

And here I sit trying to do some recommendations, get some VRT maps done, get a house torn down, make some room for equipment to work on, get some computers ready for spring, spray wheat if it ever dries up and do lots and lots of other stuff that should have been done two months ago.

And I lost a hour with the time change………….great.

About three inches of rain yesterday. Just what we needed right now. NOT!

Anyway, another grey day here in southern Illinois.


A tornado hits an unsuspecting lawnmower mechanic in Theodore, Alabama. Folks, this is why you buy a weather radio, have it set to alert you, and keep it TURNED ON.

I opened and read with horror my local Farm Bureau paper today.  What made me so mad was a short, one paragraph article by a member company with the headline “Fungicides on Wheat are Recommended“.

Statements like these and the reasoning following in the paragraph were a blanket recommendation for the application of fungicides because this company saw a yield increase in test plots in 2010.

There was no mention of IPM, scouting, disease pressure warranting an application or even the hint of what, if any, disease pressure was at this time.  Only that based on 2010 you should apply a fungicide to your wheat.

The lack of ethics in this recommendation, the lack of reasoning or justification for the recommendation other than “it worked in 2010” is what causes the anti-groups to get up in arms about Ag’s use of chemicals in growing food.

Comments like this is also why I don’t buy products or services from companies like this.  If they have no regard for the environment and making sound ethical recommendations based on IPM, scouting or other relevant reasons for making a chemical application, they don’t need my money or support.

Most importantly, and sadly, with comments and articles like this, they don’t support farmers or agriculture…

Well all at once its March 8th and the panic has started.  Looking out the back door it doesn’t look much like a warm and dry farming March does it?

OK, not really a panic but a realization that its almost time to farm.  OK, not really time to farm, maybe 20 days away at the fewest and 50 days at the most, it all depends on the rain.

And rain is in the forecast, again, for tonight and tomorrow.  Even with water standing in the fields, between the ridges and in the wheel tracks of the wheat fields more is on the way.  I dont need it right now, I need a day or two of dry to get some wheat sprayed.

The panic time is upon us, or at least some of us, as we get deeper into March.  Wonder what is going to happen when April gets here?

“As to instruction, most institutions are more interested in student turnover than in student perfection. Only a few Masters are dedicated to excellence.” Col Jeff Cooper

Amen Brother!


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