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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Look! Up In the Sky! Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? ......Oh! It IS a Plane!

If you have found yourself driving around in the country lately, you might think you are missing an air show.  Small planes, Bi-wing planes, and even helicopters are out and about, swooping over fields, and leaving mysterious trails behind them.

What are they doing?

Is this part of a flight school lesson?

Nope. This time of year, they are most likely planting seeds!

What?  How can a plane plant seeds?

Well, this works along the lines of any volunteer trees growing in your yards or tree lines.  Those seeds get there via birds.  It's part of their "elimination process."  We all know that plants grow best when fertilized right?

The seeds planted by aircraft trickle down through the leaves of the plants in the fields, wiggle down to the ground, and most of them start putting on roots and sprouting.

This is how many farmers plant cover crops for the winter months.  Once the field is harvested, these new plants will emerge, start growing, and, as they are intended to do, secure the field's top soil for next year.  Wheat, rye, and radishes are just a few of the plants used as cover crop.

Out here in the country, sometimes it looks like we have black snow, but it is actually snow with the top soil from our fields blown over it.  Good top soil is crucial to growing a good crop, so we use these cover crops a lot to help our ground stay put.

Another benefit from cover crops is the nutrients they bring back to the ground.  Eventually these plants will die and/or be worked back into the ground before planting.  They work as a compost to add important minerals and fertilizer back in to our fields.

Pretty cool right?  Using planes also keeps our tractors from running across the field, saving us both fuel and compaction on the ground.  Every time you run a machine through your field, you pack down the ground.  After a while the soil becomes hard and resistant to planting; the seeds just cannot work themselves down in to the ground to get a good root hold.

The sound of these planes also gets your heart rate going when you first hear them.  As you can see, the wind mills don't seem to be a problem, but they do make the plane look a bit like a toy rather than the real thing.

If you want to be real ornery and if you have kids in the vehicle with you, totally engrossed in some digital game or movie, get your timing just right so that the plane flies right over you.  The sound will make your darlings snap out of their virtual world in a nano-second! ;-)

Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. I love this post. I actually am just learning more about cover crops. My husband I and I have cattle, but the crops thing is a bit foreign to me. The other day a farmer close to us was using a plane to planet barley! Hope your harvest goes great.

    1. Thanks for the comment Crystal! I have to tell you that a lot of people around here used a white radish for a cover crop because its fruit or whatever (the radish) grows down and helps break up the soil because it is a pretty good-sized root vegetable. However, when these plants die off, the odor from them can peal paint off a wall. NASTY! We usually sow wheat. We also raise feeder cattle. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Cool photos! The wind turbines make a great shot even alone. Nice little farming lesson. :-)

  3. very cool.. I didn't know that. : )



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