The lead cow has already headed off the beaten path. The herd won’t be far behind. It’s a little like turning a battleship, the rudder moves long before the bow. But once it’s done Neptune knows even if  Jupiter has yet to discern the course’s correction. Like a turning battleship the herd is best respected in it’s inevitable direction. Or you’ll likely be pulled down into it’s path and eventually discarded a broken corps into it’s wake. The herd wants to know what’s growing in it’s pasture. It’s useless to not tell them. They’ve already had a whiff, and you should see the size of those nostrils. Not to mention ears and eyes. Eyes big enough to see the smallest print. Or the absence of enough print. The customer is always right. If you don’t want them all up in your face you better put the information right up in their face. Let them turn it over and find out right there on the label. If you want it on their table better come clean on the label.

Without a label you’re liable to eat something you don’t want to. So I think businesses and individuals who sell things to be eaten or consumed by the body in any way would be pertinent if they listed any and all ingredients and where they’re from on the label. I don’t care if it’s the law or not. It shouldn’t have to be the law, it should be part and parcel to good business management to freely give out any and all information about what goes into the product being sold. There’s a big push on to create laws to force  companies to admit if their products contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms. The very fact that so many purveyors of these products are willing to expend large amounts of money fighting these grass roots led labeling initiatives is like a loud siren with bright flashing lights. What on earth are they trying to hide? What do they expect the consumer’s reaction to this opposition to be?

I would argue that by obviously fighting hard to nip this GMO labeling effort in the bud they are De-facto admitting that there’s something negative about GMOs. Mabe something that slipped by during it’s adoption. I have been openly growing Roundup Ready soybeans since the third or fourth year they were made available to plant. Prior to Roundup Ready beans we were spending too much money on pre and post applied weed control chemicals to effectively compete with conventionally grown beans.  Tillage was still much cheaper than a total chemical way to kill weeds. Planting in clean tilled soil allowed your beans to compete evenly with weeds and harrowing, rotary hoeing and multiple cultivator passes could knock down and keep down any weeds the soil incorporated chemicals let slip by. The dry soil mulch that needed to be maintained caused tons and tons of soil to be unduly eroded away to streams.

No till saves soil. Round Ready made no till cheap and easy. Maybe that was the goal. Make this so cheap and easy that the farmer can’t refuse to use it. Give him the window to see what this no till system can do for their soils and consequential yields. Now that we know how could we ever go back to tillage? Even though many of the same problem weeds have developed a tolerance to Roundup herbicide. Even though the costs to control these Roundup Ready weeds is climbing back up to where we were before Roundup Ready. We can see the erosion still even with no till, we will never willingly go backwards like tillage represents again. Some of us are thinking of converting to cover crops to smother out the problem weeds and add other benefits to the soil. Some are going back to soil applied pre-emergent chemicals during April’s rainy season so the rain can incorporate them into the soil instead of tillage. Some quit growing beans.

Whether it be by label through popular demand or whether it be through evolving agronomic realities The Roundup Ready era is over. That said the GMO era is alive and well. Coming soon is something new for the no tiller. In the pipeline for soybean seed are two new GMO created traits. One is Dicamba Ready stacked on top of Roundup Ready. Dicamba is a herbicide nearly as old if not older than Roundup. So there are probably already a slew of weeds that have developed resistance to it’s chemistry. Good luck with the shelf life of that. The other newly GMO created trait for beans is a new formulation of 2-4-D  called 2-4-D Choline Ready. I’m not sure if it’s stacked on top of Roundup Ready or not. But given the fact that Choline is a very important substance to our health I’m not sure it will be safe whether seed companies “science” says it is or not. If they’ve slipped Roundup Ready problems past us this long I don’t think we can trust this 2-4-D Choline out of the gate.


Another May Day

Take out the word car and insert the word tractor and I think you understand the psyche of the average farmer. It’s not for any but a few good reasons. We spend far more time in our tractor than we do any other place. We plant there. We mow there, rake there, bale there. We spray there. We haul in our grain there. We do our chores there. We sleep there, although we seldom admit it since we are usually still dragging something through the field at the same time. Nowadays the tractors are connected to the internet. But that’s not where I’m writing this from. I’m writing from the comfort of my office. Bedroom. Whatever I call it. I guess it depends on if I’m at my desk or if I’m in bed sleeping.

I farmed for a whole year back in 1984 to earn enough money to buy my first tractor. Even though I was looking for a John Deere 4020 I ended up buying an IH  856. They are both rated at about 100 horse power, the size I needed to join in my older brother’s operation at the time. I used it to pull a 24 foot wide spring tooth harrow to incorporate into the soil the Treflan weed killer we used to spray on cornstalks going to soybeans. Treflan was used pre-plant to kill grasses and small seeded broad leaf weeds. First we would disk down the last year’s cornstalks with my brother’s JD 4620 and a 21 foot cone bladed JD disk. Then we would mount a pair of saddle tanks 200 gallons each onto the side frames of the 4620 between the front wheels and the rear dual wheels. They held the chemical mixture as we sprayed Treflan from the front of the disk while we were disking the old cornstalks the second time.

The next pass across the field was with my IH 856 and a Noble brand spring tooth harrow to do the second incorporation pass. Treflan had to be double incorporated (worked) into the soil about four inches in. The disking pass as we sprayed was the first, my spring tooth harrowing pass was the second. Then and only then would we drill soybean seed with my brother’s JD 4320 and a three point mounted Great Plains Drill. My brother would always drill going along the longest straightest side of the field and working across to the shortest, no matter which way the hills laid. After we had apparently worn the ground out with all these passes we would go over it one more time with an old JD 50 and a twenty four foot spiked tooth harrow following the contours of the hills so any sudden heavy rains wouldn’t follow the drill tracks up and down the hills.

That old spiked tooth harrow would be broken down and loaded into the back of an old pickup truck to move it from farm to farm. Usually that was my job since I was the last Mfer hired. It took three men and four tractors (four men would have been nice since I had to run both the 856 and the 50) just to drill soybean seed back in those days. Eating up time, manpower, tractor power, fuel, iron, and money to simply get the crop in the ground. Today I do it all with one tractor and a no-till drill. One pass. One man. One fuel tank. One bank account. One long lonely day. That’s if I ever get this corn planted. I no-till that in with one tractor also. The same IH 1466 that pulls the no-till drill I use today.

The sun came up shining bright today. The rumor is the tile laying guys are moving into the neighborhood. At one o’clock this afternoon we are going to have a little get together to arrange the tiling we are getting done. Across the creek and up one of the draws on this side of the creek are needing some additional tiling to compensate for all the water that sinks into the soil with this no-till farming we do these days. Pellets in pellets out. We may resume hauling corn out of the bins also today. The trucker had gravel delivered to the spot we were stuck in the other day. He said something about it being cheaper than semi truck axles. I was thinking the same thing.

Well, that about sums it up. Another typical spring day here in the corn patch. May I have another please.

Then, there …….