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Grain Farming in the Midwest



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12/3/08, Urbana, OH - We hit the road at about 9:15 am and traveled about 17 miles today. 

All day long was an endless parade of harvested corn and soybean fields. In the picture to the right, I could look off in the distance and without turning my head, I could see mile after mile of corn stubble.

With today’s hybrid, Roundup Ready seeds, no till farming and computerized, GPS tracking, the farmer can harvest up to 250 bushels of corn per acre.  Seed is planted and fertilizer is applied to optimize every square foot of the field.  The combine uses an accurate GPS signal to tell a computer program what the harvest rate is at each section of the field.  Together with soil samples, the farmer can than apply the correct quantity of seed and fertilizer to optimize production.

Large scale farmers have elaborate grain storage and drying systems to allow them to get the best price for their crops.

The old fence rows and multiple types of crops is largely a thing of the past.  With good farm land here is central Ohio going for around $8,000/acre, these farmers are normally only planting soybeans and corn.

Tonight, we’re camped in the city of Urbana, at a Case farm machinery distributor. The wagon and horses are right next to combines that cost $222,000 and come with a corn head that can harvest 8 rows at a time, and a soybean head that is about 30 feet wide.  The glow of lights you see behind the horse is a Walmart. Except for the fact that we don’t have an outlet to plug in and recharge the batteries, this is actually a pretty good camping spot.

Local Haflinger breeder, Jim Clark was kind enough to bring me over 6 real nice bales of alfalfa hay - Thanks Jim.

A lady from the Urbana Newspaper was on her way to photograph the wagon today and had a car accident.  I saw her later and she’s fine and in the finest “Jimmie Olson” tradition, she still managed to get her pictures. We should be in the Urbana paper tomorrow.  So far, the last 5 towns we passed with over 5,000 people have run articles on the horses and wagon.  Most have been front page articles - good news sells too.


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