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Cultivating

Agriculture.com Staff 07/23/2008 @ 9:55am

I was watching the sprayer go across the field and remembering it was a while ago that part of weed control included cultivating. Cultivating is a task that is a now a memory. How many farms like ours have a cultivator sitting in a corner of a shed that was parked there thinking it would be used next season and that season never arrived?

Has it been that long ago since we attached the cultivator to the tractor? Then I realized my son is part of a generation of farmers that has not used a cultivator. Now I am starting to feel old.

If cultivators have the same status as threshing machines, does that mean their only use will be for a few days at some farm show devoted to those nostalgic days of yesteryear? Has the cultivator become a relic of the past?

I do wonder that if I needed parts for it, if I could get them. Do they even make new cultivators anymore?

However, I am not ready to see my cultivator cut up for scrap yet. I am also not ready to think about using it again either.

The cultivator covered 30 feet at a time and the sprayer covers 60 feet. The cultivator moved at about half the speed of the sprayer too, maybe less. We won't talk about my occasional mistakes when I would take out several rows of corn or soybeans when I wasn't paying attention to my driving while cultivating.

Today's herbicides take out the weeds in between the rows plus the weeds between the plants. The cultivator was only good for between the rows unless we go back to wire checking like the generation of farmers before me who were able to cultivate a field in any direction.

Before you start thinking that cultivating is now a part of the past, how about this thought? It is appearing that corncobs will be the next crop we harvest as cellulosic ethanol is developed and cobs will be a new source for biofuel.

Does this mean that when we harvest our corn crop we will separate the corn from the cob in the field and haul out two crops? Or will we harvest our corn like we did long ago and haul the entire ear of corn out of the field to be delivered to the ethanol plant where they will grind everything? In other words, we are back in the business of ear corn with corn pickers and cribs. Is that possible?

I may be sitting in a room by myself right now, but I can hear the groans of farmers clear across the Corn Belt at this minute with the idea that harvesting ear corn could be a future possibility. That would be a shakeup to the combine, bin, and drier industry as we build corncribs. Would our semi trucks have to pull flare boxes?

If ear corn were to become common again, what is to say that for some reason, cultivating will once again be the thing to do? Although I can't come up with a single reason why cultivating would look like a good idea.

Let's all stick around and find out what the future holds. Someday we may be as the farmers of long ago who wire checked when planting so we can cultivate in either direction across the field. We will do it with our GPS and a tractor with auto steer. Auto steer was just made for cultivating in all directions. We will go forward into the past.

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