Feeding the Corn

My apologies, the pictures for this entry are not of our equipment, as I just didn't get a chance to get out and take any while we were sidedressing. But they are very similar to what we do to feed our corn. The round metal things are called coulters, they run between the rows of corn and open up a small slot in the ground for the nitrogen to flow into. The small white tubes are what the nitrogen flows through and then dribbles out of directly behind the coulter. The entire thing mounted on the back of the tractor is called a toolbar.

The corn has been growing fast around the farm lately.  A lot of rain, warm weather, and sunshine will do that.  Applying crop nutrients, such as nitrogen, helps us to help nature.  Giving corn an extra boost of food, creates more yield per acre and increases our efficiency.  This allows the consumer to enjoy cheap food prices in the grocery store.  Did you know that the percentage of  income that Americans spend on food has shrunk from 23% to 9.5% since 1929?

There are many ways to fertilize corn.  Anhydrous,  dry urea, or manure are common forms.  We prefer to use liquid 28% nitrogen.  The 28 is kept in big tanks on the tractor, it flows through hoses and is dribbled near the row, right where the corn can take advantage of it.  The rate at which the fertilizer is applied can be controlled based on the variety of corn, and the fertility of the soil.  Often, if a field has had manure applied to it, it makes it unnecessary to apply additional nitrogen, or at the very lease, it reduces the rate needed.  Another way we reduce the amount of nitrogen needed is to plant soybeans.  The beans will “fix” nitrogen in the soil and make it available to the corn that is planted in their place next year.

A better view of the coulter and fertilizer delivery system.

We work closely with our agronomist to determine how much nitrogen to give to the corn.  It is costly, but when applied properly, will benefit the amount of corn we get from an acre.  Half of what the corn needs will be applied when the corn is planted.  The other half gets applied when the corn is around ankle to knee-high.

After we apply fertilizer, it’s pretty much up to mother nature to make the corn grow.  Soon after the corn gets it’s nitrogen, it will grow big enough to shade the soil between the rows and prevent any more weeds from growing.  The corn truly becomes at the mercy of the weather until it’s harvest time.

Just like I make sure my kids are getting the right nutrients to grow, I also make sure the corn is getting what it needs to be productive. (Oh, and yes, the kids are getting over pink eye in this picture)


One response to this post.

  1. […] then asked what Feedwagon Guy does on the farm: “Sidedresses and whatever I tell him to do.”  Hmmm… Russell the preschool manager, I guess. Even […]

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