Spring Planting

Like the start of a big race, or the beginning of a championship game, farmers in Minnesota are anxiously awaiting the initiation of full-scale field. Above normal temperatures throughout most of early April have farm operators poised to start tillage practices, and to begin planting corn. However, heavy rainfall that fell across extreme Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa during the first week of April, followed by some smaller rainfall events, has kept most fields too wet to begin spring fieldwork. Further north where rainfall amounts were less, there has been some initiation of spring fieldwork. Some early peas have been planted, and some small grain and alfalfa have been seeded, in areas with drier field conditions. In some areas, there has also been some initial tillage work and spring applications of anhydrous fertilizer, as well as some reports of corn being planted.

Earth Day
On Saturday, April 22, Earth Day will be recognized across the U.S. For over three decades, this event has been a time for all U.S. citizens to reflect on our country’s environmental resources, and what we can do individually and as communities to help enhance our environment for the next generation. In recent years, it has become fashionable to point the finger of blame at agriculture and farmers for many environmental issues. However, in reality farmers have been some of the best environmental stewards in the U.S. in the past couple of decades. This has been accomplished with a relatively small investment of Federal tax dollars.

Consider the following environmental facts about U.S. agriculture:

  • Since 1982, the soil erosion rate on U.S. cropland has been reduced by over 40 percent.
  • Conservation tillage is now used on about 37 percent of all cropland in the U.S.
  • Farm owners have enrolled approximately 35 million acres in the CRP Program.
  • From 1997 to 2002, U.S. farmers and ranchers added 131,400 acres of new wetlands.
  • More than half of all U.S. producers intentionally provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Each year farmers plant hundreds of thousands of trees through SWCD tree planting programs.

Correction
Every so often, we make a mistake. In last week’s Focus On Ag column, we quoted average Custom Rates for 2006 according to the annual “Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey.” All the listed custom rates were correct, except the Custom Farming average rates. We listed the high end of the reported rates, rather than the average rates. Sorry for the inconvenience. Following are the average Custom Farming rates for 2006:

Custom Farming Rates:
(Includes tillage, planting and harvesting costs)
Corn – $82.90/acre (Range: $65-100/acre)
Soybeans – $76.25/acre (Range: $60-95/acre)
Small Grain – $60.70/acre (Range: $60-65/acre)

Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.