April – Preparing for Spring Planting

March 27, 2023

Spring planting is right around the corner and that means time is ticking for our last-minute equipment repairs and maintenance. Last month’s March Maintenance post, we were working on the side-dress toolbar and the air-seeder which are both now complete! We won’t need to use the toolbar until after the spring season, but we wanted to finish it before chaos ensues with planting… So, here’s an update for our plan during the month of April.

The new 8RX should be here by the end of March, and that’ll be a huge help. Our old 8RX will strictly attend to tillage and things like that. While the new 8RX with integrated fertilizer tanks will be doing planting and side-dressing. Currently, we’re working on re-designing one of our starter-fertilizer-systems so that the weight is more evenly distributed when the center tank becomes our starter tank. Before it was in the front of the tractor and now the tanks are all behind. Basically, with the new 8RX we’ll be able to pump the fertilizer from the tanks to apply our nitrogen which is really nice. This new system has exact rate tanks which holds up to 1000 gallons of nitrogen and 500 gallons of starter — a liquid booster that’s put in the furrow to kickstart the seed.

Our biggest maintenance job right now is to finish the plumbing for the corn starter. But we have a couple other equipment pieces in the shop, like the 8345R which has some electrical issues. We’ll be working with John Deere to figure that out — mechanical issues are one thing, but we have experts come in for stuff like that. We’re also fixing up on the new-to-us fertilizer conveyor, and the corn planter is in for routine maintenance.

Next up, we plan on calibrating our spreader truck for the dry fertilizer. Essentially, this entails that we measure and fill the tank with the product and lay out catch buckets over a field. Then, we drive over the buckets and they’ll catch the product. We weigh it once it’s caught so that we can see how much it spreads and so that we can ensure it spreads evenly. Some people skip this step but we always like to make sure we are optimizing our machinery. Plus, since its a new truck, we want to see how far it spreads.

On our trips up to Winona, MN, we’ll sell corn and bring back fertilizer. Fertilizer is cheaper up there because we’re getting it from the source. We have another 10,000 bushel of corn headed to Didion, an ethanol plant, because we were able to lock in a good price. Rich, Shaun, and I are all working on maintaining equipment and preparing for spring planting. Tyler is finalizing the budget for the 2023 crop, he’ll be relieved once he gets that done. He tracks products each year because it gives us a good idea for what we should be selling commodities for.

Planting soybeans will start on the 20th and then corn the 25th or whenever the soil temperature permits. Tyler’s VRT (Variable Rate Technology) prescription planning is complete. Each tractor will have a plan, so people know what they’re doing, and where. For an optimal harvest, we will oftentimes vary the planting rate depending on the yield potential and/or soil potential. We’re ready for that warmer weather and can’t wait to get out into the fields!

[Written by Paul Koberstein]

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