6 Ways Farmers Can Prepare For Planting Season During the Winter
January 16, 2018
It may not be time to hit the fields just yet, but there’s plenty to do before that time comes. Whether it’s evaluating the right seed for each field or doing tractor maintenance, winter is the perfect time to prepare for the growing season. The tips below will help you hit the ground running and optimize your yields.
Look Into New Technology
Sometimes even a small addition to your equipment can make a big difference, and now is the time to investigate new products. Whether it’s for cultivating, planting or spraying, taking note of new technology and researching how to apply it to your fields can pay off down the road.
Precision agricultural equipment like the ProTrakker Guidance System can give you more control of your planting accuracy, and start your season on the right note with the most optimal growing conditions. Perfect placement of nutrients and seed is the advanced guidance that ProTrakker can provide.
Inspect Your Spring Equipment
If it’s been a while since you got up close and personal with your planting and fertilizer equipment, you’re not alone. However, taking the time for a thorough inspection can save you from problems in the spring. Ensure that all parts are performing well, clean and free of clogs to prevent uneven distribution.
Winter can be harsh on machinery, so make sure your electronics, technology and safety systems are all working before you head out to the field. On ProTrakker systems, inspect the hydraulic lines for wear and cracks, and replace damaged or worn components as necessary. The earlier you do an equipment inspection, the more time you’ll have to make repairs, order replacements, or just feel confident heading into planting season.
Spend Time Selecting Seed
Although early order seed has most likely come and gone, we can still evaluate the right hybrids for the right acres. While every farmer wants to find a hybrid that gets high yields every year without fail, none have yet achieved that status. Despite well-manicured, top-yielding test plots in your area that may convince you otherwise, every hybrid has its drawbacks. Researching a seed’s strengths and weaknesses while taking the time to evaluate your own plot results will help you find the seed strategy that works for you.
Prepare A Fertilizer Plan
The ground may be frozen at the moment, but now is a great time to dig into your soil samples and evaluate the soil health of your fields. Knowing the nutrient content levels and what the soil consists of, along with your yield goals for each field, will inform your fertilizer decision.
Review Your Crop Protection Plan
As you are making fertilizer and seed plans, it is also important to develop a crop protection strategy. Seedling health will determine the success of the entire season, so staying on top of problems that may arise is paramount. Considering factors like the history of crop disease in your area, what has worked for you and others to fight these issues, and how circumstances have changed since last year will help as you think about crop protection.
Also remember to allow your seed enough time to reach maturity before harvest, and be aware of possible restrictions on certain areas that may necessitate a change in approach (for example, finding ways to avoid heavy equipment in a certain area). As always, what works for others may not work for you — always keep in mind the unique aspects of your geographic area, which may include certain topographical challenges, diseases, weeds and pests you are more likely to encounter.
Research New Fields
Lastly, be sure to look into the history of any new fields you are planting. New areas bring new growing challenges, and failing to test soil before renting land can result in an uncertainty of the field’s past fertilizer application that makes the process more difficult. Bringing yourself up to speed on the soil health of new fields in the winter will save growing season headaches, and lead to even higher yields.
While planting season is still several months away, taking the time to go through these steps now will make it go as effectively and smoothly as possible. If all goes well, you’ll end up with less seed waste, more accurate rows and higher yields when harvest comes around.