Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lessons Learned

Yesterday was quite a blend of farming to social life. The weather was favorable so Sable and I headed towards Dayton to inspect fields for seed.

Take this field for example, it is off color and has dead spots. What happened?

Take the Gulf oil spill, what will we learn?

Where I am today is after a lifetime of successes and failures. Did I learn my lesson? I just wrote a large email to a friend who is struggling with his notill yields. It fits perfectly with this picture, the oil spill and learning your lesson.

First of all, this field obviously has drainage problems. Every field that received too much water too fast has spots like this and the whole field may be "off color." I wouldn't trade any of my fields for this one. Drainage is expensive but they say you pay for drainage whether you implement improvements or not. Lesson learned. I have more work to do.

Second, I know after walking thise field for years that this field is not fertilized properly. I know how to improve the stand, the color, the yield and the resulting net profit or loss. That starts with a good soil test using the proper method and backing it up with a tissue test. This field is prime for tissue testing but I can tell you it is going to low in lots of things.

Third, it is not inoculated. I never plant a legume without the best strain of rhizobia bacteria I can find. I even add beneficial soil fungi to the seed to improve its chances of healthy growth. That field isn't healthy or happy.

Fourth, it is planted late. That is directly related to problem one, the lack of internal soil drainage. Here we use surface AND subsurface drainage and proper soil amendments make those improvements work even better.

In defense of the field, the weeds are controlled. It is not a healthy environment for anything to grow. My number one problem is weeds and you can see why. This field needs a lot of healthy competition!

I got to see old friends I haven't seen in awhile. I caught one in his shop, one in his barn and sat down beside the third at the Cincinnati Red's game. We were sweating to the music in Great American Ballpark when a Washington National hits a foul ball right at us in the third deck and the next thing I know, LuAnn has the ball in her hand! We were stunned.

Every day is chance to work and play and learn. That has always been my mission.

Yesterday was no exception.

Lesson Learned!

Ed Winkle


  1. But the BP oil spill is an object lesson in corruption, the inability of bureaucracy to fix anything, the uselessness of excess regulation, and most importantly, the is not the same America that won WWII.
    I know all about that field. We have a farm just like it. It is too hard to come up with the cash to boost the fertility, to buy the lime, soil testing just makes you depressed, you can't afford tile, you can't visualize success. It is harder to fix a problem that to start over from scratch. So perhaps the problem is in the farmer mindset. Perhaps there are parallels...

  2. 一個人的際遇在第一次總是最深刻的,有時候甚至會讓人的心變成永遠的絕緣。............................................................

  3. But you have to start somewhere, Budde, how can you farm it when you know you are going to end up like this? Yes, it is mindset. Maybe I came into this with a whole different mindset because of my background and experience? I can honestly say I have never NOT improved a field I farmed. Not one got me but some just made more money than others.

  4. I think it is easier to start from scratch than to rebuild after some bad years. Your example would be coming from ag education and getting to put into practice all you have been teaching, or a someone starting a new farm. Being undercapitalized and perhaps a bit over-extended it hard on the mental state which is key to making it all work. It is that attention to detail, "being on top of things" that gets you into the frame of mind that gets that little extra out that makes the profit!

  5. That makes a lot of sense and I see your point. It is no fun to talk to "beat up" farmers, they have just been beat too much for me to be comfortable with. I empathize but that is not where I am at.

  6. My point exactly!
    Of course they don't want to talk to chipper enthusiastic and successful farmers either!