It seemed to fly by this year, but maybe my husband would disagree, the weather didn't cooperate for a few days in there so that put us out of the field. But, a few weeks ago we finished the last of our soybeans.
To farmers sustainability is really important. I really believe in using what we grow and eating what we raise and using their resources (manure) to continue to grow our crops. I like using every resource we have, it's what makes us sustainable.
If you remember from my posts on corn silage we chop corn silage for feed in the winter time to feed our cattle. We also fill our bunkers with corn for the winter too. But, soybeans are a little different.
We don't feed soybeans on our farm, although some farmers do feed soybeans to cattle it's not a very practice in our area. The two industries that use soybeans the most are the poultry and pork industries.
Do you ever plan out your garden before the season gets here? How often do you plant things in the exact same spot as last year? Some crops you might, but for the most part everything I have ever learned, or read, has said how important it is to rotate your plants around in your garden and how it can help you produce more efficiently with the nutrients in your soil. Different plants all have different nutrient needs. So, if a plant needs a lot of nutrients it's going to pull a whole lot of nutrients from the soil. Like corn. If you continue to plant corn over and over in a field then the nitrogen levels will start to deplete in that field, which will mean more fertilizer application will be needed to have healthy plant growth.
Soybeans are called a nitrogen fixating plant. Meaning that instead of just taking nutrients out of the soil, like a lot of plants, it actually puts some nutrients back in. Crop rotation is a really good plan to help cut down on the fertilizer that's applied to the soil, which also cuts down on un-needed fertilizers costs. And let me tell you, fertilizer is not cheap. I promise.
Organic farmers tend to use some sort of crop rotation on their farm in order to spread less fertilizer and spray less pesticides, however, keep in mind that they are also allowed to use over 20 different types of fertilizers and pesticides on their farm as approved by the USDA. It's all about the origin of those pesticides, or where they come from.
We do farm conventionally, but crop rotation is a practice that we use. A crop rotation could be every other year. Meaning a farm might plant corn this year in a field and next year plant soybeans in the same field. But, for the most part, if I remember correctly, it's more common to see farms on a two year crop rotation plan. Meaning they might plant corn for two years and then soybeans for two years. But, crop rotation can also depend heavily on the soil in the region where you live.
So, instead of feeding soybeans to our cattle we typically sell soybeans to be used for livestock feeds, soy foods, biodiesels, lubricants, and I am sure there are a million other things too. If we don't sell them right away we will store them in a grain bin and sell them later in the year.
And, since we finished soybeans we didn't waste any time before we swapped out our combine for corn and got rolling with that!
Happy Harvest! And I hope all my farmers and farmwives out there are being safe!