Posts tagged planting
Sustainability Spotlight: Industry Perspective

Last December, Marvin showed up on my parents’ doorstep.

Marvin works for ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company – although nobody ever calls them by their full name) as a marketing agent who procures grain from local farmers.

He and his company want to sustainably source wheat in Central Kansas, but “sustainable” first needs to be defined. Thus ADM is looking for producers willing to share information about their farming practices.  The goal of this  Field to Market program is to determine the most profitable - yet environmentally friendly - way to raise wheat. ADM, in turn, wants to partner with these farms to purchase this sustainably grown grain.

Read More
Nitrogen Fertilizer, a Comparison

A few weeks ago I wrote about how nitrogren fertilizer is an essential part of farming because it is an essential part of protein, and thus nutrition for humans.

Across farming philosophies - from conventional to progressive to organic to local - the fact that nitrogen is essential to life is an undisputed fact. Beyond that agreement, however, opinions begin to differ regarding exactly what type of fertilizer is best to use.

While I can in  no way compare to a trained agronomist's opinion, I'd like to offer a (very) brief overview of the options farmers have today about what types of nitrogen fertilizer are available and review a few of the pros and cons of each.

Read More
Nitrogen: the Building Block of Building Blocks

Protein.

I've ranted over its popularity in the American diet. I've warned that we're getting way more protein than we need (although so far there's no evidence that this is necessarily harmful). Yet still for most humans on the planet today, lack of protein remains a major source of malnutrition.

Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink. This pretty accurately describes our relationship with atmospheric nitrogen. There's lots of it, but it's not in a form that is available for plants to use. Nitrogen as fertilizer comes from one of three places: 1) recycled nitrogen, 2) fixed nitrogen, and 3) synthesized nitrogen.

Read More
Crop Rotation

In case you hadn't noticed, winter is upon us. Snow has blanketed the fields, temperatures have dropped, and the days are short.

So what happens on a farm when the ground is frozen? More than you'd think.

Like all the other seasons, winter is a thread in the tapestry of the life of a farm. While the planting is finished and there are no combines in the field, the soil is not dead.

Although you may think that nothing grows in the winter, this is not necessarily true. My dad follows a precise crop rotation strategy that dictate whether a field lies fallow over the winter or has winter wheat at the beginning of its growth.

Read More
Fall: Harvest, Planting, and My (Dad's) Happy Place

Fall is a busy time on a Kansas farm. It's the place on the calendar where harvest and planting intersect.

Unlike wheat harvest, which wraps up in less than two weeks, fall harvest lasts from September until all of the crops are harvested. Which, depending on the weather, can be anywhere from November to early January (although that's unusual and not really ideal).

While the rest of the world is thinking about pumpkins and spiced cider, my dad is in the field on every dry day and praying for rain after he's planted the wheat.

Read More