This Week’s Headlines
Setting the record straight (Editorial)
It was in church, as worshipers gathered before the service and shared the moments during sociability.
The talk between the two men turned to farming in the days of their grandfathers and how things have changed.
One mentioned how his son had priced a new combine at $80,000. The other said he had the sales receipt of a combine purchased by his father-in-law for $975.
Farming has not only changed in the equipment marketplace but in the world of production where government regulations often dictate what a farmer can do and when he can do it, and are issued in such abundance that they are often misunderstood.
For example, overheard at recent farmers’ meetings:
1) “The Maryland Department of Agriculture will not accept forage radish as a cover crop;”
2) “I often have to harvest soybeans too late to qualify for the planting of a cover crop;” and
3) “Nitrogen applications are prohibited on beans.”
Intrigued, we turned to Royden Powell at MDA. He is the agency’s assistant secretary for resource conservation.
To set the record straight, he fired back the following.
1) “Forage radishes continue to be an eligible crop planted as part of the MDA Cover Crop Program. There are no changes related to forage radishes in the upcoming program for which farmers recently applied;”
2) “Soybeans continue to be an eligible previous crop within the Cover Crop program. To the extent, a farmer can harvest his soybeans and get his cover crop planted by Nov. 5, it is acceptable within the Cover Crop Program. There is a policy change in the upcoming program that affects soybean acreage. Double crop soybeans will no longer be eligible to be aerially seeded in the program. Through the field checks conducted by soil conservation district staff after planting, we have found for several years certain problems with germination and stand of the cover crop when flown into double crop beans. As a result, we withdrew this option from the program. Full season beans remain eligible for aerial seeding — which must be completed by Oct. 1. Double crop and full season beans may be planted with ground equipment up until the Nov. 5th planting deadline. What you may be hearing are concerns about being able to get double crop beans harvested in time to get cover crops planted by November 5;” and
3) “Within the nutrient management recommendations from the University of Maryland, which are the technical basis for the MDA regulatory program, there is no recommendation for nitrogen on soybeans. As a legume, soybeans will naturally fix nitrogen from the soil to meet plant nutritional needs. With that said, there is a provision that allows organic sources of nitrogen, such as manure, to be applied to soybeans. Because organic sources of N also contain phosphorus, up to 50 pounds of N may be applied from organic sources in order to meet the phosphorus needs of the crop, based on a soil test. If your soil test says you don’t need P, you would not apply any manure — and therefore no N.”
That’s the way it is these days out in farm country.
But hey, flip the coin.
You hop in a combine, turn the ignition switch, set a few dials and adjust a few instrument panels and it will drive itself across the field.
In straight rows, too.