Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Manure in the Moonlight

I pulled my first "all nighter" on my farm last Friday night, spending eight hours applying manure in the moonlight.

Knowing in advance that I would be attempting something I had never tried, I smartly took a little time off from my regular work schedule and caught a couple of naps during the day. I started churning up the contents of our SlurryStore a few minutes after 6pm and was discharging my first load from the honeywagon by 6:30. Eight hours and twenty loads later, I called it a night at 2:30 am. I actually pulled into my driveway as my father was leaving his to go start milking our cows.

There were several reasons I needed and wanted to spread this way. First of all, one of our recently harvested hay fields needed the fertilizer. Also, our SlurryStore was nearing its storage capacity and needed to be drawn down before we dedicated all of our "non-cow" time and equipment to corn harvest. The only access we have to and from our manure storage involves driving through our loafing barn, so by waiting until evening I gave the cows a chance to clear out and return to the pasture once the temperature had cooled. Finally, I really wanted to test out the demo GPS unit the Alabama Precision Ag team had sent me, and what better way than to use it in the dark?

It worked great! I hit my target of one load (3000-3200 gallons) per acre, and completely covered the area of the field I was attempting to apply on. And, of course, I couldn't have effectively (or safely) applied manure in the dark if not for the unit's lightbar guidance and coverage mapping.

So as of right now, the hay field's bermudagrass is green, the SlurryStore is half-emptied, and I'm buying into the thought that GPS technology is a viable tool for even small dairy farms like mine.


Katie Olthoff said...

Very cool! I would have been seriously curious if I saw you out in the field during those hours at this time of year! Now, during harvest, not so unusual, but the end of August? Weirdo. :)

Will Gilmer said...

There were a handful of cars that I met on the road between 11pm-2am, and I'm sure they were wondering what was going on. Of course, I was also wondering what they were doing out in the sticks that time of night.

Nancy Grossi ~ Churned In Cali ~ The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Hey Will! We just got a new tank put on our manure truck and it's larger than the last...which is great! Never thought I'd be excited about a manure truck:) It was great meeting you at the AgChat conference this week and I enjoyed your presentation as well.

Will Gilmer said...

It's crazy how excited we can get about things like that, but I guess it just goes with the territory! Thanks for the nice comment, and I'm glad I finally got to meet you as well!

Katie said...

Hi Will, I missed Chicago and meeting you but just wanted to let you know I love your videos, blog and how you are telling your farm story. Your crop rotation and seasons are so different that ours in North Dakota. It's very informative how you are sharing your story.
Katie from North Dakota (but a huge SEC fan! Go UGA Dawgs!)