Flat Aggie has been busy on her visit to AJ Farms in Pratt, Kansas. Pratt is located in South Central Kansas (between Dodge City and Wichita). Pratt gets 28 inches of rain per year. The July high is around 93 degrees and the January low is 21 degrees.
AJ Farms has both irrigated and non-irrigated (dryland) farm ground. We use center pivot irrigation and all the center pivots can be monitored and controlled from a smartphone, Ipad, or computer. (http://www.myfieldnet.com/remote-management) On our farm we also use GPS and other technology. Some of the technology used collects data from the field (yield and acres harvested). This data is important as we plan for next year’s crop. We take into consideration what variety of seed to plant, how much fertilizer to apply, and other management decisions.
The crops we grow on our farm include: hard red winter wheat, corn, soybeans, grain sorghum (milo), cotton, alfalfa, brome hay, sorghum, and sudan (feed). The livestock on the farm include: horses, cattle, sheep, and chickens. Most all the grain will be delivered to a local grain elevator. The crop is harvested by a combine. The grain cart takes the grain from the combine to the semi/grain trailer, then it is hauled to the grain elevator. At the grain elevator, the crop can either be sold at time of delivery or stored until later. If the grain is stored for more than thirty days, the elevator will charge the farmer a storage fee. We only have four grain bins on the farm to store seed wheat and corn.
The cotton will be striped and made into modules. These modules will be left at the field until the cotton gin comes and gets them and takes them to be ginned. Once the cotton is ginned, the bales of cotton are then taken to a warehouse until they are sold.
During the month of October and November, the work on the farm has consisted of planting (sowing) hard red winter wheat, harvesting corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. Cotton harvest will begin by the middle of November. Calves have been weaned from the cow and the cows have been moved from summer pasture to milo stalks. The 50 head of ewes are now pregnant and will begin lambing in January until March.
Additionally, time is spent in the office working on paperwork, entering ledger sheets from crop harvest, doing end of year tax planning, and paying bills. On the farm, we pay a lot of the bills by logging onto the website of the companies. The ledger sheets from grain elevator are all verified to make sure all the grain is in our account. Again, this is done by logging onto the website to verify those bushels.
The ewes are kept in a large pen and fed hay, alfalfa, and corn. All this feed is grown on our farm. The ration for the ewes will change as they get closer to lambing. Also, the lambing barn is being prepared for the arrival of the lambs. The barn is cleaned out and lambing jugs (pens) are set up.
Now is also the time of year that my husband and I will be going to meetings to learn. These meetings will include Kansas Farm Bureau, Farming for the Future (Farmers and ranchers are currently experiencing one of the biggest downturns in history with many parallels to the 1980’s. Planning for the future is critical for the short-term viability of the farm business but also for the long-term growth and sustainability of the farming legacy), and other meetings to keep up to date on what is happening in the agriculture industry.
As we finish the harvest with the combine, grain cart, and other equipment, it will all be cleaned up and kept in the big shed for the winter. Winter time is when the equipment will be checked over to make sure everything is ready to go for next harvest.
Thank you to my host Anita and family! Anita does Agriculture in the Classroom visits and Flat Aggie joined her as she did a lesson on corn. The corn lesson was presented to 120 kindergarten students. http://kscorn.com/k-6-curriculum/1st-grade-curriculum/ The students learned the parts of the corn crop, the different types of corn grown in Kansas, and what all non food products corn are used in.