Join us for a ride in the combine as we harvest field corn with a southern Minnesota farmer! Together we will explore the common uses of field corn, learn more about technology used in agriculture, and get an up close tour of the combine used to harvest the crop. Tune in with your class to bring a whole new meaning to the harvest season! This virtual field trip is geared towards K-5th grade.
About Ponwith Farms
Meet Ryan and Emily Ponwith of Ponwith Farms. Emily was a fifth grade teacher prior to becoming a Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Regional Curriculum Specialist. Although Emily and Ryan farm together, Ryan carries many roles on the farm. Together they have three children who assist with the farm work.
Corn: A Relative of Grass
The field corn is related to the grass you have at home in your lawn. The biggest difference in these corn species is that your lawn puts on a seed head where the field corn puts on a cob. On a typical ear of corn, there is approximately 600 kernels on each corn cob.
Corn can take almost six months to grow to the nine foot tall plant shown in the video. One plant could potentially provide 3-4 ears, however, farmers want one big ear per plant.
About Field Corn
Sweet corn is a different variety that you can eat with your family as a delicious treat for dinner. Field corn is a different species. It doesn't have as much sugar in it. This corn speciality is starch and energy. The reason this is grown is for fuel, fiber and food. On the Ponwith Farms, their corn goes to an ethanol plant in Janesville, Minnesota that goes into vehicles on the road.
The rest of the corn that is left after being used at an ethanol plant is distillers grain. Distillers grain is a great source of food for livestock. Corn kernel can also be used for feed. It will get ground up at a feed mill with additional ingredients to be added in to feed livestock.
Let's Check Out the Combine
The combine's job is to take the husk into the corn head and remove the ear from the plant. The ear is brought to the center of the combine and processes it to take the kernels off of the cob. The leftovers (chaff) is disbursed back onto the field.
For more about combines, make sure to check the video above as Ryan and Emily provide great information about combines in terms that are easy for everyone to understand.