It's been a busy weekend, but I wanted to take some time to recap some of the things that we worked on Friday. We had a BUNCH of meetings on Monday at the farm with the various professional that we work with to help us make good choices for our land and resources. This year we are planning to grow our 1st crop of corn! Previously Jonathan and I purchased all of the feed that we feed our cows from my father in law. Growing our own crops (at least part of our feed needs) will allow us to save money as we can work to grow feed at a lower cost than we can purchase it...not that my father in law ripped us off, but now we can use our own labor instead of paying him and our own manure instead of giving it away to neighbors.
We work with our local cooperative's agronomy department, which helps us mange our soils and crops. We pulled soil samples a few weeks ago to determine the quality of the soil in our field. The good news is that with the management of manure in the previous years resulted in some very fertile soils that will only require a small amount of commercial fertilizer to get the corn started. The remaining nutrients are already in the soil thanks to cow manure from last fall! Another excellent bonus is that this lower level of commercial fertilizer will not only reduce the total cost of growing corn but increase the biological activity of the soil microbes (bacteria) which break down cow manure and crop residue (leaves and stalks left over from last year). We were excited to hear this news and even more excited to get into the fields to get that corn planted!
We also work with a private practice agronomist/manure management specialist. His name is Al, and he helps us keep track of so many things on our farm regarding manure. Al has been sampling our manure for the past few years, making sure that we don't over or under apply manure to our soils. This insures that we will always apply our cow manure at the appropriate rate. We have even calibrated all of our manure spreaders so we know how many pounds/tons of manure we apply per acre. One project that we have our friend Al working on right now, is recalculating our manure management plan. Our manure management plan is a document of many pages which accounts for the amount of manure that our cows produce each year and how many acres that are required in order to apply that manure. A series of manure samples, soil samples, and calculations are included and used to determine those acres. As our herd has grown this past winter, we have to re-calcualte the manure management plan, making sure yet again that we do not over apply manure.
Maintaining our soils is our number one goal. Manure is not a pollutant when used properly, but instead a GREAT fertilizer which grows some of the best corn in the area! I even use manure to grow my flowers, fruits and vegetables....and I have an amazing crop each year!