What would you like to learn about Farming?

Its no secret, the 2014 planting season is just around the corner.  With our future first day of #plant14 (the hashtag many farmers use to discuss the 2014 planting season on twitter) coming up in a few weeks, I turn to you, my readers, to guide this blogs subject matter until I can post live updates from the field.

That being said,  my question to you is:

What would you like to learn about Farming?

I set up a brief poll with a few options for you to choose from, or you can add your own.  Anything goes, and you can pick more than one option, however you can only vote once.  The subject with the highest number of votes will get posted first and so on.

 

 

Thank you for Voting and be sure to check back often for the results!

Country Sunrises

If you have been following me on social media, you may know that I post a few sunrise and sunset pics from time to time. Some are edited to enhance their natural beauty while some are left in their natural state. Either way, these pics have generally been a big hit on my farms Facebook Page as well as Instagram and Twitter. So I thought I would put a few of them up here for everyone to enjoy.

Also, don’t forget, if you would like to follow me on social media please click on the site you prefer on the right of this page.

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Check back for more country sunrise and sunset pics in the future! No two are ever alike, and no two will ever be the same!

Thank you for stopping by and God Bless!

Matt

How Farmers Use GPS and VRT Technology To Plant Efficiently

As the weather continues to warm up and spring arrives, farmers all across the nation will begin to plant their 2014 crops.  Have you ever wondered how a planter works?  While the basic mechanics of a planter are relatively simple, the increased use of modern computer controls help make planters themselves more precise every year.

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Through the use of GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and VRT (Variable Rate Technology) farmers are able to plant seeds in more precise ways than ever before.  Today, farmers can program their planters to plant precisely the correct amount of seed in specific parts of their fields as determined by factors such as changing soil types, changing elevations, as well as past yield history from a specific field

So how does precision planting work?

For the purposes of this post, I will use one of our fields called “Home Place East” (HPE) and use the last few years of Yield Mapping Data we collected as our main variable.  This field covers 160 acres.

To understand how this method of planting works, we first we need to understand what Yield Mapping is and how yield maps are created.  Yield Mapping is done in the fall as we harvest our crops.  Our combine has an integrated GPS computer system which senses the amount of grain coming into the combine as we are harvesting, references its current location in the field as well as other data, such as grain moisture, elevation and which Variety we are harvesting in that said location every few seconds.  As you may imagine, this creates a huge amount of data.  I have a short video on Yield Mapping on YouTube that can be viewed by clicking here.

After the field is completely harvested I then download the data from the combine and upload it into my laptop.  After uploading, the data is formed into a map similar to how a radar map looks, as shown below. 

The Yield Map for HPE for Corn Harvest 2013

The Yield Map for HPE for Corn Harvest 2013


These maps show the areas in the field where yields were higher (Greens) and where they were lower (Reds)

In order to make a quality planting plan for 2014, I incorporate data from Yield Maps like this one from multiple years.  In this case I will combine data from the years of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2103

Multiple Years of Yield Mapping Data

Multiple Years of Yield Mapping Data

These maps reflect the yield results from 2 years of drought as well as an high yielding year and an average year which will make a very nice representation of what the field is capable of producing.  From this point, I create a Composite Map which groups these four yield maps together and averages them into one map, shown below:

A Composite Yield Map of 2010-2013 Yields from HPE

A Composite Yield Map of 2010-2013 Yields from HPE

This map helps show the areas in the field that have consistently produced higher yields (Greens), areas that have had consistently lower yields (Reds) as well as everything in between (Yellows and Oranges)

Up until this point, we are simply viewing the data, but now we can apply this accurate data to our planting plans for 2014.

I set the maps up to have  15 statistical ranges, each with their own color in the above map.  For planting purposes I will assign a planting population for the 2014 soybean crop.  When planting soybeans off of maps like these, the best producing areas will receive less seeds per acre while the lower yielding areas will receive more seeds per acre.  Doing so helps to best utilize the soybean’s and plant’s potential without stressing either.  Here is an example:

Assigning Planting Populations based off of the composite map

Assigning Planting Populations based off of the composite map

The resulting map looks like this:

Resulting Planting Prescription Map for Soybean Planting 2014 on HPE

Resulting Planting Prescription Map for Soybean Planting 2014 on HPE

As you may notice in the summary below the map, the average planting rate is just over 129,000 seeds per acre with this map.  If we decided not to use this map, we would plant 145,000 seeds per acre on a flat rate across the entire farm.

So lets do some quick math:

145,000 seeds per acre * 160 acres = 23,200,000 Total Seeds Needed

129000 seeds per acre *160 acres = 20,640,000 Total Seeds Needed

This equates to a savings of around 2,560,000 Seeds, the equivalent of 18 bags of seed costing $55 each.

Total Cost Savings = $990 for this 160 acre field.

By using this map for planting, we not only place the correct amount of seeds precisely where they will yield the most in the field but we lower our needed amount of seeds and our input costs as well.


The map below shows our final planting prescription for 2014 Soybean Planting for this field.  I will take this map data and upload it into the planters computer rate controller and prep it for planting the field.

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This spring, as #plant14 rolls on, each of our fields will have a map like this uploaded into the planters controllers.  As I drive across the field with the planter, the planter will know where to place precise amount of seeds using VRT.  As I drive from a green to yellow area on this map, the planter will automatically increase the seeds population and decrease populations when driving from yellows to greens.

I hope this answers a few questions you may have had, but if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments or email me at boucherfarmsil@yahoo.com

I also highly encourage you to follow along as farmers from all across the world plant their crops by using the #plant14 hashtag on twitter.

Thank you and God Bless

Matt Boucher

Scouting Winter Wheat With a UAS (Drone) “The Results”

A few days ago I posted about Scouting our field Winter Wheat that may or may not make it to harvest due to the extreme winter we had this past season.   It can be viewed by clicking here: Scouting Winter Wheat with a UAS (Drone).  To quickly recap, we have two wheat fields on our farm.  One sits up on some higher ground and looks fairly good, while this field is on some lower lying and “tighter” soils.  This field  is usually wetter and requires a bit more attention annually than our other fields do.  So this past Sunday I went out to check out how that field was doing, but the field was too muddy to be conventionally scouted  by foot or ATV.

Healthy Winter Wheat Growing in our field

Healthy Winter Wheat beginning to grow in our field after one of the harshest winters on record

With limited Scouting options at this point, I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring out our latest Crop Scouting tool and put it to good use.  Having purchased this new tool during this fierce winter, the opportunity to use it to its full ability hasn’t presented itself to date, until now.

Our latest and most advanced crop scouting tool to date, a DJI Phantom 2 with a gopro camera and more

Our latest and most advanced crop scouting tool to date, a DJI Phantom 2 with a GoPro camera and additional options to crop scout more efficiently.

With the Phantom 2, I was able to fly over my field in minutes, and learn exactly what was going on, from a whole different perspective, all without stepping foot into it.

This picture shows the wetter (darker) and drier (lighter colored) spots in the field.  Generally, Wheat prefers drier soils.

This picture shows the wetter (darker) and drier (lighter colored) spots in the field. Generally, Wheat prefers drier soils.

Within minutes of flying the field, which only took 10 minutes of flight time, I was able to see the wetter areas in the field where the wheat could have potentially been drowned out by thawing snow and falling spring rains as well as see where some of the greenest areas are in the field.  (at the Wheat’s current height, it is hard to see)

I flew twice that day.  The first time I flew around 350′ high, (a UAS is legal to fly to 400′ high) to determine the extent of potential water damage to the wheat, and then a second time at a much lower altitude to determine how much new green growth there was.

Click on the picture or the link below to watch the video of Scouting with the UAS over the field.  

Scouting Winter Wheat Video

Snapshot 4 (4-9-2014 12-30 PM)

The video explains much of what my concerns are and what I learned from the images the UAS took.

After the results were downloaded and analyzed, I have determined that this field is indeed under a lot of stress, but with the warmer weather coming, I remain hopeful.  I plan on going back to fly over it again in a week to ten days and reevaluate the field.  At that point, we will either decide to keep the field as is or terminate it and plant corn directly into it.

Check back in a week to see what we decide to do!

 

Thank you and God Bless,

Matt Boucher

Friday Farm Flicks 4/11/14

This week was an eventful one on the farm. As the weather has begun to warm up and so has the activity on the farm.

This past Sunday, my cousins took their Steers to a show and decided to take a #selfie! Only this was no ordinary selfie:

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It was a #cowfie!

This weeks good weather also meant it was time to evaluate the health of our winter wheat crop after this brutal winter has passed. So I took out my new crop scouting tool and took to the skies to get a birds eye view of the field.  You can watch the crop scouting video here  http://youtu.be/6OKMBJl8Wzk20140408-235630.jpg

 

 

Just like your car or truck, every so often it is time to trade a tractor in for something else that better suits your needs. The “new to us” tractor on the right has a new home here on the farm while the one on the left has a bright future ahead of it on another farm.

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This newer model will provide us with a bit more horsepower, better fuel economy and better maneuverability in the fields.

 

 

On a parts run to our local tool store I picked up a battery operated grease gun. This is our 2nd one if this style.

We prefer them over other similar models largely due to their quality and battery life.

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This week has been a busy week for the seed division of Boucher Farms, called Potential Ag. Not only have we been deliver ins quality seed corn and soybeans to other local customers to plant this season, but in addition we have provided a few farmers with waterway mixes as well which will help control soil erosion and general runoffs from their fields!

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There are few things better than watching the sunrise from your front porch on a nice spring day!

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Lastly, I highly encourage you to follow us and many other farmers through the planting season by searching for #plant14 on FB, Twitter, Google+ and more. I also created a special place for #plant14 posts on this blog. By following #plant14 you will be able to keep up to date on what is going on this planting season with thousands of farmers all across the globe.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

Scouting Winter Wheat with a UAS (Drone)

This past Sunday was one of the nicest days we have had to date this spring. That being said, it was time to take advantage of it and check out how our winter wheat crop was doing.

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This picture was taken last fall of one of our wheat fields before the winter settled in.

Winter wheat gets planted in the fall right after we harvest our soybeans. The wheat then grows fairly quickly but becomes dormant as soon as the weather turns cold.

As much of the midwest and beyond would agree, this year was an especially hard winter, and it had the potential to be very hard on the wheat as well. That being said, I am not sure if one of our wheat fields will make it through due to damage from the cold.

Whats the best way to determine if it will make it you ask?  The answer is simple, to scout the field.  Basically, we go out into the fields to see how it is coming along, and see how it is beginning to green up. New green growth is good while seeing brown leaves much to be desired. The problem is, the fields are still too muddy to walk, that means we have to use alternate methods to check on the wheat’s health.

Usually this involves a simple and quick method of scouting, which involves driving along the road to get a look at the crop. As you may imagine, you can only see so much from the seat of the truck while driving down the road.

This year, I have a new crop scouting tool to help me more accurately keep an eye on our fields.Phantom 2 in flight close up

You can see the entire UAS kit by clicking here (instagram) http://instagram.com/p/mgYhp5hiys/

So this past Sunday, I flew our wheat field with the hopes of learning how our wheat handled the winter weather and to determine if it will be good enough to keep or to plant into another crop for this growing season. With this UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) aka Drone, I can quickly fly my 80 acre field, download the images it takes and make a decision as to the future of the crop.

Check back soon as I will post what I have found while flying the field!

Meanwhile, check out a few other videos I have taken with my UAS (Drone) on our YouTube Channel by visiting:  http://www.youtube.com/boucherfarmsil

Thank you and God Bless!

Matt Boucher

Friday Farm Flicks 4/19/13

Due to all the rain we have experiencing recently, our farm has been in slow gear. Usually we are done planting corn and finishing up planting soybeans at this time of the year but this year we have yet to turn a fleck of soil due to the cold and rain.
Rain is a good thing, and I won’t complain about getting a good shower now and again after experiencing the effects of #drought11 and #drought12, but this week was a little much.

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Locally, roads have been closed and or washed out, our local hospital has had to be evacuated due to flood waters and many houses in town have had flooding issues, not to mention our farm fields are flooded as well. Not so locally, Chris Neimann, a farmer friend of mine in Nebraska, has been fighting continued snowfall and cold temps as he cares for his cattle. Indiana has been no different. Farmer, Brian Scott’s (The Farmers Life)) local water levels have been rising as well, giving his newly installed field tile a workout.

Flooding? Heavy Rainfall? Barn cat don’t care, Barn Cat don’t give a sh**! He is out cold on our comfy forklift seat.

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This week has been largely marked by flooding, here’s a few pics of our farm fields:

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Under this whirlpool is a surface drain for our field tile. It’s clearly working overtime today.

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One may correctly assume #drought12 is over for IL and IN, however Nebraska is still under the effects of the drought.

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Sadly this weeks post cannot go by without sending prayers out to those affected by the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. The factual details are still pouring in but many people lost their lives and countless others were injured. Watch the video of the explosion here, but I must warn you, it is shocking and breathtaking to say the least.

In the weeks to come, we hope to get going in the fields and begin to get our #farmerstan on but maybe not quite like this guy:

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Have a great weekend everyone!