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Posts Tagged ‘hardpan’

     Oh, hello folks, daydreaming a bit for a minute there. Agronomy, that’s the word I was trying to think of! Almost majored in it college, but got sidetracked by the distractions of my age you might say. It’s like scientific agriculture; the application of soil and plant sciences to soil management and crop production. I’m sure book-learning would have been useful, but hands-on is a pretty good teacher, too. Some call it the school of trial and error. But, I have improved the farmland over the years and boosted production with experiential understanding of agronomic principles. Sounds sophisticated, don’t it. 

     First principle I learned sounds simple; get your seed in the ground! You know, a sower has got to sow. When I was a hired hand years ago for old ‘Shep’ Shepherd, one chore in the Spring was to follow after the planter to make sure it functioned properly. Most of the time it did, but sometimes it would spit out seed by the way side. Birds came and devoured it up…had a field day you might say. Other times, mechanical gears in the planter boxes might not rotate properly resulting potentially in some field bare spots. Can you imagine spending your time, labor and fuel preparing the soil and then having nothing come up! Well, news would get around mighty quick. Not real economical to have to re-plant either.   

     The second agronomic principle has to do with coming to know your fields. You find out where the seeps are over time, and where the loamy and hardpan soils are on the farm. Loam soils generally contain more nutrients and humus and have better water infiltration and drainage. They are considered ideal for agricultural crops.

     Hardpan or stony ground on the other hand is a compacted and often clayey layer in soil. It is disadvantageous to farming, interfering with the circulation of moisture in the soil and with the penetration and growth of roots through the soil.  A seed may readily spring up, but having no depth of soil it withers away or is less productive when the heat is on, so to speak. Mingling organic matter like manure helps over time and attracts earthworms for break-up if you have a source, and real tolerant adjacent neighbors.   

     Weather…well what are you going to do, except pray. It obviously affects planting, harvesting and agronomic crop production.  Willa Mae’s borrowed reader (it’s like a farmers’ almanac or something’) says “the sun rises on the evil and on the good, and that it rains on the just and on the unjust.” Well, you know then, one day it seems like I’m evil and unjust, and the next day seems like I’m good and just. Sometimes when it gets too wet or too dry, I wish I could be a little more evil and unjust!

     Variance from moderate conditions affects agricultural weed management as well. Ag-chemicals performance is subject to timing, proper application, absorption and dilution. Ineffective weed management may result in the choking out of that which was sown, causing the seed to become unfruitful. A good analogy would be how day-to-day anxieties press in on each of us sometimes and our yield goes down to nothin’. You know, we become like teats on a boar.  Hey, it happened to Ole Lester Blackwood. He tried to get rich a little too quick you might say and gambled plantin’ money away in the futures markets. Things went south in a gully-washer…and his wife left him. Staggered him bad. He is down, you can tell. He mopes around and does a little work for Beno down at the machine shop. I think his place is going to be auctioned at the County courthouse.

     Most of the time, it pays to be content and just focus on who or what brought you to the barbeque. If you get to know your fields, get your seed in the ground, pray for good weather, and stay attentive to effective weed management, over time you can see some thirty, some sixty, and some even a hundred times as much as has been sown. It’s a little bit of agronomic science, a lot of laboring in the fields, and some providence. Really that is what farming’s all about.

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