Follow the field: Spraying

What does it take to get that loaf of bread into your hands? Wheat grown by a farmer is ground into flour and used to make that bread. Rewind the process and you begin with a wheat seed. Wheat is the cornerstone of many of the world’s most basic foods. This spring I decided to start a new blog series called Follow the field. I’ll be following one of my family’s wheat fields from seeding to harvest. On the farm we name all our fields for identification purposes and because it’s easier to give directions to that particular field. The field I’m following is the Giesbrecht field located near Snowflake, Man., only a few miles from the North Dakota border. Every few weeks I’ll post an update on the field’s progress including photos. I’ll try to keep the posts as short and simple as possible. The purpose is to educate readers who aren’t familiar with the process. So please join me on this journey… from field to fork.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Seeding. Click here to read the blog post if you missed it. Today I’m going to talk briefly about Spraying, an important part of growing a crop. My young farmer brother Derek does all the spraying on our family farm. Spraying can be a stressful job as you’re working with thousands of dollars worth of products and you don’t want to mess up and waste it. Spraying costs farmers a lot of money but is necessary to control disease, weeds and insects, and ensure a healthy, uniform crop. Each field is usually sprayed more than once, each time addressing a different concern (disease, weed or insect). The product is mixed with water and then applied to the field. As you can see in the photos below, we haul huge water tanks on a flat deck trailer. We get the water from a nearby community well.
To spray the crop my brother uses our high boy sprayer, which is light-weight, has narrow wheels and stands high above the crop, as you can see the photos below. The narrow wheels mean less crop gets trampled by the sprayer. As you can also see, the sprayer has very long booms coming out each side, which covers a large area. This means less passes have to be made in the field. 
With all the excess moisture in Manitoba this year, some farmers have chosen to spray their fields by air. This is commonly known as crop dusting. Doing this will avoid making big ruts in the soft soil of your field. But this is generally a more expensive option as you have to pay an aerial applicator to do it for you. By the way, there’s a new show on the History Channel called Dust Up, which features three crop dusters from Saskatchewan. Check your local listings for show times.   
Spraying wheat. This is a full length shot of the sprayer from the front.
Spraying wheat. This is a more close up shot of the back of the sprayer.
The semi and flat deck trailer hauling the water tanks.

I just had to throw in this close up photo of our winter wheat, which is looking good this year. There’s winter wheat and spring wheat. In Manitoba, winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested the following July or August. Whereas, spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.

Close up photo of our winter wheat.

If you have any questions, please let me know. And stay tuned for the next post in the Follow the field blog series.


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