The 2020 planting season will be here before you know it. Making sure your operation is ready for the spring ahead is a big priority during the off-season. The official first day of spring begins on March 19th this year. To provide some ideas on preparations growers can take before heading out to the field, the E4 team has put together five tips to help prepare you for the new season.
1. Farm Management
To be more focused during planting, take care of the operational management and administrative tasks while in the off-season (taxes, contract negotiations, etc.). Once the season gets busy, attending to these additional duties will only add more stress. You may also consider bringing in specialists that can work with you on the planning and budgeting side of your operation. Consultants – such as E4 Crop Intelligence – can help manage your farm with services that will allow you to make informed business decisions and set goals for reaching success like data analysis, fine tuning your crop plan, goal setting, and making informed, fact-based business decisions.
2. Assess Soil Condition
During the winter, snowfall and rain accumulation can affect the soil condition and make planting a challenge. When getting closer to spring, evaluate the state of the topsoil. Look for any damage or compaction that could’ve resulted from the previous harvest. Determining the soil’s condition before heading out into the field will prevent adding further degradation to the ground.
Also, you might want to consider testing the pH and nutrient levels of your field before planting. Crop consultants can conduct soil tests to help you measure the field’s fertility. The data retrieved from the test can provide insight on customized seed and fertilizer prescriptions. E4 Crop Intelligence provides this service too.
3. Form A Seed Selection and Fertilizer Strategy
Spending the time to evaluate and determine what you are going to plant requires looking at a lot of different variables. Be sure to secure and order your seeds in a timely manner. In lockstep with making a decision on seed, it’s a great idea to also consider which fertilizers you will need. To have a better picture of what is required, reach out to crop consultants for a second opinion.
4. Examine Farm Equipment
All your diligent planning can be wasted if your equipment fails to deliver the results. Diligently inspect your machinery and implements. Take care of any repairs and routine maintenance. Dealing with significant repairs during planting can set you back considerably. Ensure that critical planter components – such as the planter meters and opener disks – are calibrated and maintained. In addition, test machinery hazard lights and check the slow-moving vehicle reflector for signs of fading.
5. Stay Safe
An all-important preparation tip is to ensure that you are taking the necessary safety precautions before heading into the field. Consider including two fire extinguishers on your machinery, one placed inside the cab, and one equipped outside. If you currently have a setup like this, check to see if the extinguishers need to be recharged or replaced. Also, make sure you have a first aid kit on hand and assemble other personal protective equipment so you are prepared when using chemicals.