Thursday, November 4, 2010

Howard Patton Vists the NCRS

So we were pleased to welcome Mr. Howard Patton, Liquid Area Manager Extrodinaire from Sunray, Texas. Actually Howard has a sister in Midland, MI that he and wife Genelle were visiting. But being in the neighborhood, they dropped by for a visit yesterday, and of course Howard wandered over to the NCRS for a cup of coffee and a look around at all of the new things going on. It was cold and cloudy when we stopped by Farm 7. Now these rolled up drainage tile bundles and the whole tile process were foreign to Howard as the need to get rid of excess water from snowmelt and rainfall is not a common practice in the Texas Panhandle. So it was an educational visit after all. On this day the tiling crew was getting ready to start the tiling process and were digging holes to find the old tile and planning for the tracks and main locations. There was a sugarbeet field across the road on the north side of Farm 7, and they were in the process of loading the beets into trucks for transport to the sugar plant in Bay City which is about 80 miles away. Now this is not a common way of loading sugarbeets, at least around here. This grower makes a windrow of beets at the end of the field along the road and then uses this special tool called a Euro Maus to load the beets into trucks. There is a screw roller on the front that draws the beets into the front and places them onto the belts that carry them to the truck. It is a pretty fast process taking only a few minutes to load this big 2-trailer truck. This Maus has been in the area for a few years, but I had not seen it in operation. The common practice is to load the beets into the trucks in the field directly from the beet lifter. This can lead to all kinds of ruts and compaction, plus down time waiting for the trucks to return. This way they can keep harvesting as the beets are piled and loaded with the Maus later. Pretty cool process. Howard watches and agrees.

Today they actually started laying the buried tile with the big machine below. This was the same outfit that tiled Farms 4 and 5 last spring, and they did a great job. The machine is quite fast, but they have a lot of ground to cover as Farm 7 alone is 180 acres.

Fortunately the tile lines run perpendicular to the crop row direction. So the tile will affect all of the test plots equally. Had the tile run the same direction as the rows, the plots right over the tile would have had an advantage. I have seen crops in fields with this arrangement and the rows over the tile are always a little taller than the other rows between the tile, especially in wet years.
These tracks really look tall when they are fresh. We hope to get in this fall and disk them down. Weather is our focus now as the good field working time is running short. So hopefully the crew can keep going for awhile. Forecast looks good for the most part. Good luck guys.