BAXTER, Iowa – Last week producers across the state scrambled to get their crops in the ground before the widespread showers in this week’s forecast.
On Thursday, just south of Baxter in central Iowa, farmer Brock Hansen, above, was racing to get this year’s soybean crop in the ground. Hansen had already planted all of his corn and a quarter of his soybeans ahead of forecasted rainfall. But even working under pressure, Hansen said planting this year has been a breeze compared to last year.
“This spring has been ten times better than last spring,” says Hansen. “Last spring there was a great window for planting early on; there was that concern of that snow that we had coming in around the 5th of May last year. We personally held off planting last year because of that snow. If we had that decision back, we would have planted prior to that snow last year. So this year, when the planting date was around, and the soil conditions were accurate and everything lined up, we went after it this year, and we’ve been fairly aggressive about getting things put in the ground this year.”
Rainfall is an issue for Hansen for a different reason: erosion. Topsoil can take centuries to form, and Hansen said he’s working to keep his right where it’s at: on his field.
“We did some cover crops last year,” Hansen says. “We drilled everything in behind, on bean stubble and cornstalks. The stand didn’t come out as well as we’d hoped, but it served its purpose. We had some, about a week ago we had three and a half, four inches of rain; the rain came really good, but it did a nice job of holding the soil as well.”
Hansen views the soil not just as an asset, but more akin to an investment.
“The land, to us, is like the working man in town’s 401k: if we don’t take care of it, it’s not going to take care of us,” explains Hansen. “It does take time for us to learn and to be able to adapt [new conservation measures] into our farming operations, but we all are trying to do a good job, and continue to be sustainable, and continue to do a very good conservation job.”