December - March
After some good food and family time over the holidays, our team returns to services the tractors and equipment to prepare for planting. Meanwhile the fields contain a cover crop to maintain a living root.
During the Winter, we mentally and physically prepare for the new year and new crop. All of the data is gathered and compiled after harvest from the; tractors, Green Star Systems (auto steer), moisture probes, irrigation systems, financials, grain management systems, and fertility strategies.
The information is layered on top of Satellite images and soil maps and carefully reviewed to see what worked and what we can do differently to improve every individual acre and bushel Granstrom Farms manages.
Fertility strategies are then decided, and supplies and seed is ordered.
Utilizing a plethora of different cover crop species, creates biodiversity in the soil. This also provides a living root to be present during the winter months to minimize erosion and maximize the carbon sequestration. Granstrom Farms also uses fuel efficient tier 4 compliant tractors to help reduce emissions but overall tries to minimize tillage passes.
In the shop, the team works hard to service the tractors and equipment to gear up for planting. The building is heated using a waste oil stove and they use rechargeable and solar batteries, as well as washable shop rags instead of paper towels in efforts to work sustainably.
Organic Non-Gmo hybrids of seed are carefully selected for each field to maximize the soil's potential, based on the data collected from the previous year.
Different soil types are determined through Electro Conductivity Grid Sampling and directly correlates to the type of hybrid seed that might work best.
The hybrid seeds are organic and Non-Gmo. They have been developed over years of careful cross - breeding, without the use of any gene guns of gene splicing.
The seeds are then planted using variable rate population. in better soil, seeds are planted closer together in a higher population density. In worse soil, seeds are planted further apart in a lower population density. Therefore, matching the soil to the amount of plants it can handle.
These specific planting prescriptions (specific hybrids and population rates) are applied to individual fields via fully automated systems installed in the tractors and planters.
The beginning of the growing season is the most critical time to get things right. Sprouting crops are very fragile, they can be damaged by high winds, choked out by weeds, or dry up quickly. Developing a good healthy root system is important to set a foundation for the plant.
A penetrometer is used to measure soil compaction, if the soil too compact the roots might not be able to push through. Adding water can help soften the soil and making sure the soil is adequately watered is vital.
Throughout the growing season state of the art soil probes continue to collect data about weather and what is happening in the different layers of soil down to about 10 feet below the surface.
This helps establish the variable irrigation prescriptions that are applied to the pivots. The pivots are equipped with automated computerized control panels and can be remotely controlled, preventing water waste and runoff. The amount of water being pumped onto the field is measured and tracked using a flow meter.
For organic fertility Granstrom Farms works with other local companies to use livestock manure and compost made from local urban waste applied before and as sidedress to planting. Compost tea and compost tea extract are also used along with fish emulsion and is applied by foliar application. These types of fertility aid soil health and stimulates microbial activity.
Granstrom Farms is also experimenting with double cropping to try and shade soil with crop canopy to help with weed control and decrease evaporation. This also adds more root structure to the soil aiding in increasing the soils organic matter, which adds carbon increasing water holding capacity exponetionally.
When the grain reaches the right moisture content, the combines roll out! The team works long hours from sun up into the night some days, racing the fast approaching winter.
Yield data collected by the combine provides analytical tools to maximize yield and minimize inputs.
The grain is extracted from the fields and hauled to exclusively organic certified grain storage facilities.
The high tech bin sites are outfitted with automated bin fans that run at night or the most energy efficient time of the day. Other parts of the system monitor grain temperature and quaility to reduce spoilage and waste.