Chilly Friday

Friday, March 16, 2018

It was much colder outside today than yesterday, and the cloudiness and wind increased the chill in the air.  Even so, it was a busy day for a Friday in mid-March.  We took the time to service our field cultivator.  We found the rolling basket on the back had some broken mounting bolts that needed to be replaced.  That task took more time and energy than the other maintenance, which was to check and pack the wheel bearings, inspect for worn-out sweeps, and to correct the tire pressures.   We even had to make a trip to town to find the right-sized bolts to replace the broken ones.

John and Brandon performed the maintenance on the field cultivator today. It’s too big to unfold inside our shop, so the task was pretty cold today. I assisted some as their ‘gopher’.

We got a call from our DeKalb/Asgrow dealer, and he requested we send the seed trailer over to CPS where the seed is receiving its fungicide treatment.  When we send the trailer there, it reduces the number of big bags he has to transport back to his inventory.  So, it’s a win-win when we can pick up our seed at the treatment plant.

First load of soybean seed is now in our inventory. Really looks nice in the hopper trailer.

The electrician came by today to survey his part in the replacement of our old grain leg.  He offered some suggestions for powering the pit auger.  He took measurements, and evaluated the requirements to get the new system powered.

We were mostly pleased with the Boilermakers’ play in their NCAA first-round game vs Cal State-Fullerton today.  It is a relief to get a win under our belts.  We’ve learned over the years never to think that a Purdue win in the tourney is automatic!  Purdue’s center, Isaac Haas, has been reported that he is out for the rest of the tournament, due to a fractured elbow.  Doggone it.

Have a happy weekend.  Rain is predicted for tonight.  100% chance, they say.   Time will tell.

We are inching closer and closer to #plant18.

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Keep going

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Today, the shop work includes correcting the tire pressures on the JD 9520R tractor.  We found all manner of tire pressures among the 8 big tires… from 13 to 30 psi.  Now, John and Brandon are adjusting those to be uniform and according to the manufacturer’s specs.   So, not only should the tires wear more uniformly, but they will ride better, and they will pull the load for the tractor as they were designed to do.  We are told to adjust the pressure in each tire to 15 psi–both fronts and rears.

John works at correcting tire pressures on the 9520R.

On a tire that fat, it takes a few minutes to pump in an appropriate amount of air…


John wrapped up the installation of the N-ject control systems on the 9520R, making it ready for its first field work, the application of nitrogen with the JD 2510H applicator.   We are completing the upload of nitrogen prescriptions to the Gen 4 screen, and then the machine should be ‘all set’ to go to the fields.  It has been a bumpy ride to learn the quirks of the Gen 4 information system, but we have been diligent… and we’ve had some very helpful consultants from the dealer and John Deere Stellar Support.

We had snow flurries again last evening, just before dark.  It didn’t last long, but the big, fluffy flakes looked pretty nice.  The frost was heavy on the ground and on the roofs this morning.  By this afternoon, the brilliant sunshine concealed the chilly afternoon temperature of 42ºF (6C).   It looks nice out the window, but the wind makes it brisk when you go out.

Upon inspecting the 2018 wheat fields, we are pretty pleased with that crop’s progress.  The topdress nitrogen went down on that crop in early February, and now the wheat plants have a deep, rich, and healthy green color.   At the appropriate point in time, there will be a herbicide and a fungicide application made to the wheat fields.  Harvest will come about mid-June.   We will cooperate with a neighbor who will come in behind the combines to bale up the wheat straw.  Then, we will immediately plant no-till double-crop (DCB) soybeans in the wheat stubble.

Ross is thinking that if the weather warms a bit, and it stays dry, that we will begin pre-plant nitrogen applications (for 2018 corn) next week.

Look out!  #plant18 is almost here!

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A step

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Yesterday evening, we finally made a breakthrough with the JD Gen 4 screen.  We were able to get it to read and accept planting prescriptions that were written in JD Operations Center.  (OpCtr).  We had been experiencing a difficulty inside the Gen 4 that would ‘balk’ at accepting the prescriptions, and call for a reboot just as you thought it was going to work.  With some considerable diligence from John, as well as Nick and Shane and Isaac from Hutsons….and some phone advice from Stellar Support… we discovered the glitch, and found the way to make the prescriptions work.  There was an aversion in the system to special characters in the labels of field names and in the names of the prescriptions themselves…once we removed the character apostrophe (‘) from those items, it all seems to work now.

For many years, we have been writing our prescriptions in JD’s previous desktop software, Apex.  (and before that, JD Office!)  With the addition of the Gen 4 screen in the 9520R, it would not accept prescriptions from Apex, so a new method needed to be learned.

This machine is just about ready to load with soybeans and head to the field!

Next step in the learning curve for me is the set up of the air cart in the Gen 4 screen.  Most of it looks familiar, but I will need some assistance in setting up the delays associated with section control–that operates differently in Gen 4 from the previous GreenStar 2630 to which we’ve been accustomed for several years.   I must learn this quickly, for John needs to hitch this tractor to the JD 2510H applicator and get it ready for ammonia applications, perhaps as early as next week!

Preparations for #plant18 are moving along… even if it’s frosty out there this morning!


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More prep

Friday, March 9,2018

Work continues on preparation for #plant18.  This afternoon’s task was to service and inspect the JD 2510H toolbar–one of the machines we use to apply nitrogen for our corn.  Brandon and John are giving it a thorough going-over.

Each row unit must be inspected and serviced, along with the folding frame. Lubrication of the moving parts and hinges are part of this work

The final load of 2017 corn was sent to market today.  We are now officially MT.  As another farmer told me today, “Now, the price can go up.”

Out it goes…

Our local HS basketball team, the South Knox Spartans, has advanced to the 2nd tier of the Indiana tournament (2A).  They will play at Paoli tomorrow, and if they get afternoon and evening wins, they will effectively be in the “Final Four” of the tourney, and advance to the Semi-State game on the following Saturday–one win there puts them in the Indiana State Final game on March 23…at the second-to-none Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.   Best of luck to the Spartans tomorrow.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

There are snow flurries in the air, and here I am, writing planting prescriptions for the soybean air drill.  The creation of these maps is going better this year, for we are doing them in JD Operations Center (OpCtr) rather than in JD Apex as in the past.  We have encountered some difficulty in getting the Gen 4 screen in the new 9520R tractor to communicate with the air cart…but we have a team of Greenstar specialists from Hutson’s on the case.  They have been in contact with corporate John Deere, and are developing a strategy to get the two machines able to ‘connect’ properly.  It was balking at accepting the prescriptions, too, and now that Ray the technician is here rebooting the Gen 4 screen, we are hopeful that things will work out A-OK.  Of course, there will be some recapture needed of the set-up information.  It may still take a few days to iron out the wrinkles.

This technology of using prescriptions for soybean planting populations goes back many years with us.  We have grown dependent on this technology.  Using variable-rate planting has saved us 10% in seed costs, compared to planting a single rate across our fields.  So, we have a great incentive to make this work right!   It was a little discouraging yesterday, but the folks from Hutson’s are zeroing in on the problem.  I’m more confident today, that we will be able to plant the 2018 soybean crop in the manner in which we prefer.

We will also use this new tractor to apply much of our preplant nitrogen.  The prescriptions for that will be written in Climate Corp’s FieldView software.  That will get uploaded to JD OpCtr, and from there, we will send the information wirelessly to the tractor.

The technology is terrific when it works as designed.

We have almost finished making the transition to a new office computer.  The last component of the transfer was the email.  We are moving with this change to a more integrated information system, utilizing Microsoft Office 365.  There will now be a seamless connection among the email, contact information, calendars, and documents.   Another learning curve involved, but it’s really neat to see what this will do.

This week, technology wise,  has been like drinking from a fire hose.

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Next steps

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

We brought home the soybean air drill and the nitrogen toolbar this morning.  It was a mostly sunny and dry day, with dry roads, so we traveled to the Huey farm east of Wheatland where we store these two machines, and we hooked them up and brought them home.  The nitrogen toolbar will have some set-up to do, since John is using it on a different tractor this spring.  The same is true with the air drill, and there will be a marked difference in the way the Greenstar system operates in the tractor.  It has the new Gen 4 screen, and I will need to learn how to set up and operate it.   It’s still fun to learn these new things.

Here we are, poised to begin the short trip down to the Huey farm to retrieve some important machines for spring work.

Now that the air drill is back home and hooked up to its tractor, I can begin to perform the setup of the “run” screens and learn (again) how to operate this drill!

Brandon has the final load of corn on the Vanna (white Mack) truck, ready for delivery on Friday.  We will then be MT of all 2017 grain.

Jake, Matt, and their crew from Montgomery Welding are now on site to begin the tear-down of the old grain leg, and the subsequent erection of its replacement.   Exciting end-of-winter activity here at Carnahan & Sons.

The replacement of the 1973 Creamer Metal Products grain leg has begun.

The belt and and its buckets are out of the old leg

Brandon is getting the blue nitrogen toolbar into shape…

We found small patches of snow on the ground when we started our day.  Just a few minutes ago, there were flurries in the air!  The wind makes the air seem sharper than the 38 degrees out there.

13 days until spring arrives!


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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We are making some changes.  First one is in the office.  Our 10-year-old Windows 7 computer has begun to sputter a bit, locking up occasionally, and causing some frustration.  So, we are moving up to a new Windows 10 computer.  The rolling over of the information has been aided by using the internet, and by using a large external hard drive.  We have had to call in our consultant, Tim Trotter, to assist in the moving of the email system, so that none of the historical messages will be lost.  We will be transitioning to a new email system as soon as Tim can get it set up.  We should be fully operational (like the Star Wars battle station) in a day or two.  We set up the new computer on the cabinet behind the desk, as a temporary site until the transition is complete.  Then, we will move the new machine to its rightful place on the desk.

Looking across the desk int he morning, the new computer is on the cabinet until we get it fully set up.

In the afternoon, the switch has been made, with the new computer on the desk, and the old one on the cabinet. Still waiting to make the transfer of email programming.

Another transition we are making is from John Deere Apex to Operations Center.  With the addition of the new 9520R tractor that has a Gen 4 screen inside, those set-ups must be made from OpCtr, not Apex.  We attended a training session last week to learn more  about OpCtr, and we have decided to move ahead with that system.  OpCtr has been around for a few years, but now we are diving into it fully.  It appears that John Deere is limiting their support of the old Apex system, and planning for most customers to move to the cloud-based OpCtr.  So, very soon, we will begin writing our 2018 planting and nitrogen prescriptions, and we will now do that in  OpCtr, not in Apex like we have done for many years.  Another change.  We will soon know if it is an improvement– today it seems like it will be.

In other news, John had to replace the spark plug wires  on the Gator.  It was running very rough.  But the change he made makes the Gator run smooth as silk again.

John worked his magic again on the Gator. Runs great again now.

Things keep changing and evolving at the farm.  Not a bad thing…

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