Prioritizing the Long List of Spring Field Work

Prioritizing the Long List of Spring Field Work

Springs are becoming shorter

Recent data from Iowa State University is validating what we have all been thinking – our springs are getting shorter. According to ISU, from 1964 to 2019 the average number of days suitable for spring work has dropped from 48 days to 35 days when looking at a time period of April 2nd to June 17th. That equates to about one full day lost every four years. Therefore, growers need to plan and prioritize spring operations closely. Growers should think about the following five ways an operation can adjust for fewer spring days
– Reduce the number of operations and total hours of field time needed each season.
– Outsource some operations.
– Improve efficiency of each operation to maximize running time (auto-steer, seed tenders, etc.).
– Invest in the correct size of machinery for your operation to maximize number of acres covered each day.
– Install artificial drainage where needed to extend number of days suitable for field work.

Managing Tillage

With the current combination of tight profit margins and a possibility of a tight spring window, growers are already inquiring about cutting extra passes such as tillage. However, there is not a ‘One-size-fits-all’ answer when it comes to tillage. Different operations and or even sometimes fields within one operation will need different management strategies. Take the following points into consideration before cutting a tillage pass.

– Soybeans show minimal yield response to tillage. If cuts are needed then acres going to soybean should be looked at first.
– Nitrogen loss needs to be managed. In general, tillage is beneficial to protect nitrogen from loss due to volatilization or run off in spring rains but surface applications can be done successfully. Make sure to use a urease inhibitor when applying N to the surface to slow potential loss.
– Weed control plans may have to change.  Tillage is an important part of controlling early emerging weeds such as marestail, changing the program to include a burndown herbicide can supply that control.