A quick count through the calendar pages reveals 100 days until April 1 and the Boy Scout motto would remind us to plan well and be prepared to handle the spring planting tasks as accurately and efficiently as possible. Much time and effort has gone into cropping plans, seed selection, soil sampling, fertilizer plans and data analysis since harvest but here are a few additional items that might pay big dividends during the heat of the battle next spring.
Create a list of the key vendors and retailers that will be involved with your operation and reserve some time to visit with each one and discuss your communication plans. Employees that you have worked with in the past may have taken other responsibilities and new employees may be filling important service rolls and will play an important role this cropping season. It is a good time to update phone contacts, email addresses and learn the preferred method of contact and the main responsibilities for key individuals.
Provide your vendors with names and contact information for your staff and their responsibilities such as field prep, fertilizer applications, herbicide management, planter operation and data management.
Discuss field maps and cropping plans with each one and point out best routes to access fields, best field entrances, preferred loading areas and best places to park equipment that is left overnight or parked during a weather delay. Remind them of safety concerns such as overhead powerlines that may interfere with applicator booms, narrow field entrances and low weight capacity bridges that may not be suitable for trucks and equipment. As much as possible, try to direct traffic away from homes, children’s play areas and light vehicle traffic. Keep heavy equipment away from underground obstacles such as water meters, septic systems, drainage systems or other utilities that may not be designed to support heavy loads.
Consider data handling and transfer for items such as variable rate maps/recommendations, planter files, hybrid and variety selections and any operating files that may be needed for herbicide applications. Consider sharing desired GPS headings, field obstacles or auto steer navigational information that will assist vendors in their work. Have a plan in place for sharing needed electronic data with the proper operators at the proper time so equipment is prepared to run when the time is right.
Please keep the lines of communication open and help everyone implement the plan as safely and efficiently as possible this spring.