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October 12


general viewWell, we are finally going to harvest some soybeans! It's been about 145 days since we planted this field back in May. I thought we might want one last look at our field. The soybeans are dry. They are are about 10% moisture.
general rowHere's another look at our row. By the way, I counted the number of pods on both plants that we watched all season. The first plant had 75 pods and the second plant had 117 pods. Not bad, especially when you consider I was pretty worried if we were going to have any pods because it was so hot and dry. 
a machine that seperates plants and grainThis is a combine. This machine takes in the plants and separates the grain (In our case, soybeans are the grain!) from the pods and other plant parts.

reel turningThis part of the combine is called the header. There is a sickle bar that cuts the plants off near the soil surface and the black reel pulls the plants into the main part of the combine (which is under the cab). You can see by the blur that the reel is turning. 
plant parts or residue going awayAfter the grain has been separated from the plants, the plant parts or residue is spread out over the field. That's why it is so dusty. Here's a completely unrelated question for you...if the combine is heading west, which way is the wind coming from? That's right, from the north. 
residueHere's the residue spread over the soil surface. This residue protects the soil from erosion during the winter months. We could plant wheat into this residue quite easily without even tilling the soil, in fact, I think that's what we are going to do in a few days. 
dumping grainAfter the combine's grain bin is full, the grain is dumped into a big farm truck, Then we'll continue to cut the rest of the field. As it turns out, our field yielded better than we thought it would. The yield for our field was 37 bushels per acre. That's not great, but not too shabby in a dry year. A bushel of soybean weighs 60 pounds and the price a farmer receives for each bushel varies from year to year, but at this time the local price is about $4.00 per bushel. You're probably wondering how much money did we make on our field? Well, 37 bushels times $4.00 per bushel is $148 per acre. Sounds pretty good, huh? Not so fast, it's not all profit. It costs money to buy the seed, plant the seed, fertilizer, herbicides to kill weeds, and to harvest the field. These are called variable costs and they add up to about $90 to $100 per acre. So, at the most we made $48.00 per acre (but that's not counting land costs, taxes, etc. that we don't have to pay that a real farmer would have to pay). 

grain in to truckAfter the truck is full, we're going to put these soybeans in a bin and store them for awhile. A farmer would either haul the grain to the elevator to sell the grain or store the grain in grain bins.

Well, that's the end of the story. Or is it? What happens to soybeans after they leave the farm? Can you think of anything made from soybeans? 

Soybean Scene

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