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Adopt A Wheat Field Home Page
February 8

photo 33

Here’s our area being fertilized with liquid nitrogen fertilizer. Most farmers will "topdress" nitrogen fertilizer in the late winter or early spring to help the wheat grow vigorously and produce more grain. It is called topdressing because the fertilizer is applied to the soil surface and it is not worked into the soil. If you remember the August 17, 1999 pictures, nitrogen and phosphorus were being applied, but that fertilizer was being placed in the soil. You might ask why we didn’t put all the fertilizer on August 17th. Some farmers apply all their fertilizer before planting, while others split the fertilizer applications. If you put all the fertilizers on before planting some might be lost and you’ve wasted money. But if you split the applications the plants will have enough fertilizer for fall growth and there will be more added when the wheat starts growing in the spring. Today, we are putting on about 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Also, a herbicide is being applied with the fertilizer to save the number of trips across the field. The herbicide will prevent weeds from growing, but it won’t hurt the wheat plants. This machine is called a Spra-Coupe and the spray boom is 51 feet from one side to the other. Let’s take a closer look at the Spra-Coupe applying the fertilizer.

photo 34

You might be wondering where the spray tank is that holds all the liquid fertilizer. If you look closely you can see the yellowish tank, which holds about 200 gallons of liquid, just behind the white cab where the driver is sitting (there’s really someone in the cab, you can just barely see him). If you look at the left side of the spray boom or arm you can see the spray mist of the fertilizer that’s being applied. You certainly wouldn’t want to apply fertilizers and herbicides on a windy day. Now, let’s look at a closeup of the wheat.

photo 35

The plants look pretty good. You can see some leaf tips have a purplish color, which is due to the cool nights. Today is a beautiful day and the temperature is near 60 F. If we have many days like this the wheat will start growing actively. We don’t want it to start growing too early, because the weather could become very cold again and that could hurt the wheat plants. Did you notice how powdery the soil surface looks? The freezing and thawing of the soil surface dries it out and that makes it powdery and dusty. If we have a windy day those soil particles could be blown away easily. We need more snow or rain to keep the surface moist so the soil particles won’t blow away.


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