Matt took these pictures the past couple of years in the territory he works around Seward, Nebraska. You’ll see a bit of a difference in their farming practices than what we do in Ohio. Irrigation is critical in Nebraska because they only receive 25-30 inches of rain per year in the eastern part of the state and less than 20 inches of rain in the western part of the state. Because of this, many farmers have pivots (irrigators) to supply the water necessary to grow a bountiful crop. Ohio’s average is 38 to 43 inches.
This is what 78 bushel per acre soybeans look like while harvesting. This field has been irrigated. Our bean yield is usually 35 to 60 bushels per acre (bu/ac).
This is high moisture feedlot corn being harvested for cattle feed.
You can see how green they harvest it in Nebraska for cattle feed. The dairy here in Ohio chops our corn as silage for cattle feed instead of harvesting it like this farmer does. You can see the corn piling up at the top of the combine.
This is just a beautiful picture of a bountiful harvest.
This is a field near Henderson, Nebraska, that is almost a mile long. To have a field that long in Ohio is a very rare occurrence, but it would be sweet!
Here is a field that has been planted with the corn just beginning to emerge through the soil surface.
These soybeans are planted in 30-inch rows compared to ours at 7 inches.
Nebraska is not completely flat. There are lots of rolling hills.
That is not rain! It’s sand blowing across the Platte Valley. Notice the gravel road. There are lots and lots of those roads in the area Matt lives and works in.
Nebraska may not get many inches of rain, but when they do . . .
A tornado and hail went though this farmer’s land in 2011. That pivot is now upside down and destroyed and the corn has been torn up pretty badly as well. Not a good day.
An irrigated corn field. Irrigation of 0.5-2 inches of water is used early in the growing season to help get the crop off to a good start if conditions are dry. Once spring rains stop and the crop is growing well, depending on how much water is in the soil, most farmers start watering their crops with the pivot around mid June. The amount of water applied each week is based off the growth stage (size of the corn) as well as the weather conditions (hot & dry or humid & wet) that effect how much water the corn is using each day. Many farmers in Nebraska have an agronomist (like Matt) that check their fields weekly in the summer. An agronomist can use a soil probe down to 3 feet deep and by feeling the soil and knowing the soil type (sand, silt, or clay), estimate how much water is left for the corn to use. If conditions are dry and hot, corn in late July and early August can use over 1/3 inch per day of water. Many farmers in eastern Nebraska apply 9-18 inches of water each year with pivots depending on how much rain is received. Most pivots are about 1/4 mile long and rotate in a circle covering about 130-150 acres of the 160 acres in a quarter section of land. It takes 27,154 gallons to supply 1 inch of water to 1 acre. Thus a 1 inch pass with the pivot on 130 acres can use over 3,500,000 gallons of water! Depending on the well capacity, it typically takes 3-4 days to apply 1 inch of water with a pivot. Most irrigation wells use either a diesel, gas, or electric motor to pump water at 600-1,100 gallons per minute and the pivot moves slowly in a circle by electric driven wheels as the water is pumped. Farmers using irrigation stay busy in the summer checking pivots and well motors several times each day to make sure they are running correctly and to service them. So the next time you’re in an airplane flying over the Midwest, look for the circles in the farmland – those are irrigated fields!
A little taller corn.
Matt’s field office.