Saturday, May 10, 2014

Finishing the Week at the NCRS

So after the ambitious start of planting at the start of the week, there were several more days of rain that pretty much closed down field operations.  Although they were able to finish the potatoes.  One event that occurred was an NCRS tour by the county drain commission on Thursday afternoon.  They had a big regional meeting at the AgroLiquid office in town and some came out to see what is going on at the farm.  Nick and I explained what it is we do there, and I pointed out some of the drainage issues that we have faced and corrected, and some that we are still facing.  We have had drainage tile installed on six of the twelve farms that make up the North Central Research Station.  Like here on Farm 7, we not only have to deal with our own rainwater runoff, but runoff from several hundred surrounding acres that finds its way here.  We have had catch basins installed and planted grass waterways to divert runoff.  It's not cheap. I still chuckle at one of the college interns we had at the farm last year who was from the Texas Panhandle.  Tiling ground was an out-of-this-world concept to him as he couldn't believe that people here actually had to remove water from fields where they most often couldn't get enough water into their fields back home.
Here we are on the West side of Farm 10, that we started farming in 2012.  Well we are at a culvert that drains many acres of a dairy farm to the West.  That first year there was terrible erosion and wash through our field from this.  So we had the field tiled, put in a catch basin at the culvert and buried pvc drain pipe from the catch basin to a county drain at the other end of this field.  And brought in rocks to place around it to try and hold the soil.  And planted a grass water way to further manage surface drainage.  Water can be both a friend and aggravation.  
 This is how it looks now. I have a picture somewhere of the way it was before that I will show sometime.
In other news, I went out to the farm on Friday to get some stuff.  Brian said that the specialty crop interns were were picking asparagus from that experiment.  Well when I got there they were just leaving.  This site below has asparagus, strawberries, various landscape trees and other stuff too. Leaves are just starting to unroll from buds now.  I will say that one thing that Brian has found is that foliar applications to the asparagus ferns after the season will increase yield the next year.  I thought that was interesting.  Yes I did.
I like asparagus.  Steamed and still firm.  Soggy asparagus is gross.  But I grabbed some from them for home consumption as they headed out.
One thing that has to be done soon is on Farm 12, the so-called demonstration farm featured on our Research Field Days.  Well it has unusual soil in that there is a high organic matter soil of about 12 inches over sand.  Must have been a swamp or something in the past.  (I keep my eyes out for dinosaur bones.)  So last year was the first year there, and it did dry out by late summer.  So we knew that irrigation was necessary.  After considering several overhead options, it was decided to install subsurface drip irrigation.  It was much less expensive too.  One catch though, you had to install it yourself.  Well, the tape burying device showed up Friday, so with around 50 acres to do, it was decided to get started right away.  It was a little wet, but went well.  This rig set the tape 60 inches apart and 14" deep.  
Here is the tape going into the ground.  They say this will last up to 20 years.  Let's see, mark your calendars for 2034 to check the blog for an update on this.  I know I will.
The plan is to have a line of tape under each row.  But we plant in 30" rows, and this machine is set for 60" spacing.  So that meant having to come back and make another run splitting the tracks to make 30" rows.  Thank goodness for gps guidance and autotrack steering or this would not have been possible.  It will all be recorded on the Greenstar system so that the planter can go right over these rows.  Well that's the plan anyway.  After all of this, there is still a header manifold line that must be installed to feed the buried lines.  Life is sure complicated.  But hopefully very rewarding here.
Well my work here was done.  Although not much work for me, but the NCRS crew pushed on into the night.