Right now we’re overcast and foggy — it’s kind of a miserable day. I’m doing a couple of maintenance things and paperwork, just trying to get ready for the season.
We had a couple big snowstorms roll through a few weeks, but it was pretty typical of our winters — the first one was probably 6 inches, the second one was maybe another 3–4. It was a wet snow, and we’ve had nice weather since so a lot of it’s gone now.
Unfortunately, the snow will have very little effect on the water restrictions here. The restrictions for 2015 have already been set — last year they were set for the next three years: 10½ inches.
We haven’t had a chance to do field prep yet, but we’re hoping to do our field prep in mid-March. And then let the madness begin again.
‘Til then, we’re getting moved along on repairs on machinery. I need to spend some time in the office getting my maps organized and deciding what has to get done and in what order. It’s always a struggle for me to have all the prescription maps ready for when the time comes.
In terms of priorities of fieldwork, I actually like to focus on getting my hillier dryland stuff done first. It gives a greater potential window for rain to happen between prep work and planting in a no-till environment. And the flatter-area stuff can get pushed back that area doesn’t need rainfall so much — we can rely on irrigation.
Discovery Group and Strategies for 2015
Starting tomorrow, we’ll be in Louisville to meet with the Discovery Group for AgVenture. And that will really help focus our efforts. It’s a brainstorming session and I hope there are some good ideas for what we can try on my farm. For me it’s easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day stuff. I need to really sit down and talk with others to get an idea of what we’re going to do going forward.
But my greatest goal at this point is to stay in the black for ’15 — and it ties my hand a little bit on what we can do from a research perspective because of the economics.
What I’m most interested in trying is a heavy emphasis on variable rate irrigation and remote soil sensors. We did some last year but really didn’t use the technology to the best of its ability.
The remote sensors simply send soil moisture conditions to the cloud. You’re able to pull that data from anywhere and make irrigation decisions from it. Right now we’re trying to figure out the best route to go, which might be putting multiple low-tech sensors in the field — one for each zone, so about three per field. It gives you more readings, which will help us figure out the best timing of water applications and nitrogen applications dependent on variety to variety.
It’s something that, with the water restrictions, we’re really going to put more emphasis on. Just to be more efficient with what we’re doing.