Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sun, Rain, Seeds and Soil Produce Dinner
March 20, 2014 by John Parker | No Comments

March 25 is National Ag Day, an important day for all of everyone to observe. One may not realize it, but all people are involved…

March 25 is National Ag Day, an important day for all of everyone to observe. One may not realize it, but all people are involved in agriculture if they enjoy a good meal from the abundant food that comes from the country’s farms. Let’s look at an example of how some of that food is produced.

One of these days it will warm up. The sun will shine. The huge piles of snow will melt and there will be some warm rains. Area farm fields will be getting dry enough and soils warm enough that seeds will grow.

Local farmers will then be out there working day and night to get those seeds in the ground. Corn, soybeans, perhaps a few oats or spelt will be planted. Gardeners, with both small and large plots, will also be spending much time getting seed beds ready and planting their variety of seeds.

Stop to think about what takes place on area farms and gardens in the spring. It is an amazing process. Those tiny seeds along with energy from the sun’s rays, warm rain to nourish the seed growth and soils with the right nutrients will eventually grow into the crops that will become the food supply.

But, it takes something more than that interesting combination of sun, rain and fertile soils. It takes that hardworking farmer or gardener with the interest and know-how to put them together in the right way to grow into those crops.

First, the right seed has to be selected for the different crops to be planted. Certain fields may need different seeds, or market conditions may dictate changes. Weather conditions may also change those decisions when fewer growing days are available to get a crop.

Making sure that soils have the right nutrients to grow the crop to be planted is another step. Many farmers make sure of this by testing their soils for those nutrients. Some farmers, based on records of last year’s yields from their fields, will use their own experience and good judgment about soil nutrients.

When weather conditions are right, a good seedbed has to be prepared for the seed. It is important that when the seed goes in the soil, it has good contact with the soil so it has access to the right “food” to germinate and grow.

Correct seed placement is a critical operation on farms. Some farmers believe that planting is one of their most important operations. Planting at the right depth, good soil contact and fertilizer in the right place are critical.

Many improvements are being made in planters. One hears about the importance of “precision” planting these days. Problem is these new planters with all the improvements are not cheap.

After the seed is properly planted, weed control is the next concern. Too many weeds will take nutrients from the crop and lower yields. Newly planted fields have to be watched for insect and disease damage. Some farmers “scout” their fields regularly for these problems.

All summer long they watch the weather and hope for the right combination of rain and sun to grow and mature those seeds they planted in the spring. Year in and year out they will get a crop, but not always the best because of weather.

Celebrate National Ag Day on March 25 by taking time to talk to a farmer to get an understanding of what goes into growing the food on one’s table.

Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and an independent agricultural writer.

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