We all remember times when we were full of hope as we executed a strategically planned project, event, or proposal. That’s how farmers feel every time they begin a new growing season. Hope abounds during Springtime planting!
What Will This Year Hold?
Excitement fills the air. The sky is crystal blue and the leaves are that light green color that tells you they have just begun their life. Courageous farmers have tried new methods and are anxious to see if their risks will pay off. Will they see more sustainability from their resources this year? Will they have a higher yield in the Fall?
Busy Hours Through the Winter
Farmers have spent the winter analyzing the market to determine which crops will bring the highest price, planning how many acres of which crops to plant and preparing equipment for long hours of operation. I remember listening to my dad discussing new ideas for the next growing season and wondering why he was already planning for next year when it seemed so far away to me as a child.
Getting the Land Ready
Now it’s time to get the land ready by draining the water off the rice fields and spraying herbicides to kill the weeds in row crop fields like cotton, soybeans and corn before they plant.
For years farmers began the pre-planting season by tilling the soil, which is done by driving a tractor over each field several times to prepare the soil. The tractor pulled a plow to loosen the ground and kill the weeds that had grown through the winter. Farmers have realized that these multiple passes over the fields cause soil erosion and is an unnecessary fuel expense.
Many, in fact, have moved away from this annual practice in order to keep the nutrients in the soil for the crops to consume. Also, the breaking up of the ground releases the greenhouse gases that are stored under the surface. So, by moving to "no till" farming, valuable nutrients are preserved and greenhouse gases are contained.
Once the seed has been purchased, it’s time to get started. Most seeds are placed in the soil with a planter, which is an implement or attachment that is pulled behind a tractor. This one fascinating piece of equipment opens up a furrow, sprays a liquid starter fertilizer, drops the seed, and then covers the seed all in one fluid motion.
Rice is planted using a slightly different type of planter. One large hopper holds the rice seed for a tractor and small tubes are attached to many drop points that are strategically spaced across the implement. Tracks, instead of tires, are used on the tractors because the soil is moist for rice and tires would make deep ruts.
Time to Watch and Wait
Everything is in full swing now. In a few short days, green sprigs will break through the surface reaching to the sun for life and growth. Hope for a bountiful harvest abounds.