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Spring fertilizer plans changing fast

Boltoch-iStock-Thinkstock flooded pasture
Flooding is a symbol of problems with soil health and permeability. Solving those problems brings many benefits.
I was quite proud of the jump start I’d gotten on 2019 crop plans – until monsoon rains forced us to start over.

It’s funny how plans can change exclusively due to weather. It’s something I’m still getting used to on the farm. In my jobs before farming, work hours were set, never changing even if Mother Nature let loose with a three-inch downpour.

I’m a planner by nature, so it annoys me when I have plans set in stone and they don’t materialize because of weather. Take for example, our fertilizer plan for the 2019 corn crop.

Last November, we met a few times with our agronomist and I then delivered the plan to him on a silver platter. Every farm and field had a perfect plan, each one different and specific to the farm. Dry fertilizer decisions for us are a little more complicated than a simple two-year spread before a corn crop. Some fields are corn-after-corn, and some fields have had various forms of manure applied. A few fields are so high in fertility that we are taking a year off from dry fertilizer.

I was quite proud of the jump start I’d gotten on 2019 -- and that’s about the time the rains set in. As of this writing, our fields have either been wet or frozen for almost five months. Little fertilizer work has been done, and I’ve thrown the fertilizer plans out the window.

Strip till lessons

We did strip till some fields last fall, which has also been learning lesson. There was a time I thought strip till would work well for us, but after several three-inch downpours this winter I’m thinking otherwise. Growing up, I heard my dad talk about how he hated erosion, and now I’m morphing into him because I’m mortified when our fields erode. I didn’t think fall strip tilled fields could erode so much, but that’s what happened this winter. I’m ready to say goodbye to the strip till bar.  

What once I thought was a perfect plan ended up not working out. And, it’s probably for the best. We met again with our agronomist, and now have a plan B in place. Now I think the new plan is better than the so called perfect one I had in November.

While Mother Nature will continue to mess up my plans, I’m learning to embrace change and adapt for the good of our farm.

 The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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