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Thursday, January 11, 2018

GMO Labeling

As I was walking through the store this week the label on the "Simply Orange' brand of juice caught my eye.  It was labeled Non-GMO.  This is certainly not a lie, but very misleading labeling because there is no such thing as GMO oranges.  They are trying to get people to buy their product or pay extra for it because of a misleading statement.  I saw their TV ad  a few days later and they were touting their honesty.  I do not consider this an honest way to sell a product. 

Further thought has lead me to consider that we may be better off if this type of labeling was regulated.  In the past, I have said that consumers should educate themselves and buy accordingly.  I think it might be better to have consistent standards rather than let companies mislead their potential customers. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Crop Progress in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim

Here was a big concern for La Nina, but we are having good rains in Brazil in general, I believe we are calmer with the weather than we were 30 days ago. In Argentina, there are predictions of hot flashes starting on January 11.
Here in Brazil, at least for the time being, we have a very good climate for the development of soybeans, but for the second harvest corn there should be a reduction of planted area due to the delay in soybean planting.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Year End Photos

This is the Dicamba year, so we will start off with that. 
Dicamba Damaged Beans

Pineapple Weed was a new one on me

Sometimes you don't know why the rain gauge seems off

Scenic Barn Near Mt. Olive

Pella Iowa Balloon Races

Tulip Time in Pella Iowa

Short Corn didn't seem to affect yield 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Soil Surveys and Precision Agriculture

Winter meeting have begun and we have been busy with them.  Two weeks ago at the 2nd annual AgData Conference in Iowa City we heard two presentations about the shortcomings using soil surveys to define management zones for precision agriculture.  Tom McGraw, consulting soil scientist brought up the issue in his presentation on the Flaw of averages.  Afterward, I had a discussion with him about the topic.  His comment was that the USDA Soil Survey is the best in the world, but it is not good enough in many cases, to make site specific management decisions.  The Veris tool is a popular way to define management zones based on Electrical conductivity and soil color.  I have seen the Veris work very well and I have seen it not work well. 

Shannon Gomes, like me an old USDA soil scientist made a similar presentation later on.  Gomes is using lots of deep soil borings and an EM meter to define ones.  Gomes says that rather than try to use all the standard soil features to define ones, we can narrow it down to a few such as topsoil texture, color and depth, subsoil texture and dept, available water holding capacity,  and cation exchange capacity.  His methodology sounded kind of expensive, but considering that the work should last, until further refinement is necessary, perhaps it is not too bad.  Gomes did mention that he is looking over all at the five factors of soil formation.  They are:

  1. Parent Material
  2. Biota (including native vegetation)
  3. Topography
  4. Climate
  5. Time
We try to refine the soil survey in by using GPS to define the boundaries between soils that have similar management considerations based on the five factors of soil formation.  We sometimes end up with rather large ones that contain similar soils,  The large zones are broken down further to end up with 10 acre or smaller zones.  Our process is not expensive, but require us to be o n the ground, and it requires a trained eye.  The photograph below shows zone boundaries as I have defined them in Pike County.  The purple lines are the Soil Survey lines.  You can see that we are gaining signifigant refinement with a relatively simple process. 

Pike County Soil Survey vs GPS defined zones. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Randy Dowdy Program

Last week were invited to attend a presentation b champion corn grower Randy Dowdy.  Linco-Precision was a co-sponsor and invited us to the program.  dowdy may have made on of the best farmer presentations I have heard.  He had 4 main points.   He uses drainage to remove excess water. He uses irrigation when water is short.  He does a lot of soil testing and tissue testing in order to fine tune his fertility program.  He likes to spread his risks by spreading out his planting dates in a 3 to 4 week period. He pushes his soil fertility to the maximum.  He advocates for 1 pound of nitrogen for every bushel of corn. 

I listened and tried to figure a program that would work in Illinois.  Despite having decent annual rainfall amounts, we really do not have a good source of irrigation water except in the major river bottoms.  I am an advocate for drainage.  We can drain our fields economically.  His discussion about tissue sampling is leading me to consider offering a revised program that includes tissue sampling.

I was surprised that he is not pushing high populations although he is using narrow and twin row spacings to maximize sunlight to the plant. 

Dowdy was thought provoking and interesting,  While I am not sure how to implement his program entirely, I think we can learn some things from him.  If you get a chance to hear him speak, go for it. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Frequency of Soil Sampling

We like to sample every year.  We do not squawk too much when clients want to go with every other year.  If  you go further out than that it is difficult to track changes accurately.  It is also difficult to determine if your soil test results are influenced by environmental issues.  In reading my Corn Soybean Digest this week  found an article with the headline that Grid Data improves decisions.   While I take exception to the thought that grid sampling is the best way to monitor fertility levels,  found it interesting the Antonio Mallarino of Iowa State University advocated for sampling more often than every 4 years.   Dr. Mallarino is probably the foremost authority on soil testing.  He had done lots of research on soil testing and sampling from just about every angle you can think of.  His opinions are to be respected even when I disagree with him. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Crop Progress in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

I wanted to write to you to tell you how the soybean planting ended in most of the Brazilian states. In the South there were many rains and it disrupted the planting, mainly the corn was very harmed. In the Central-West (Mato Grosso) The rains had a slight delay to arrive, that delayed the planting beyond the ideal window in about 35%. Delay in planting historically means that there is a high chance of production dropping by about 15-20% in these non-ideal planted areas. They have not yet planted the states of Bahia, Piaui, Maranhão and Tocaontis and part of Minas Gerais, these states make up North and Northeast. There is a lot of caution because La Ninã is firming and has forecast of lack of rain or little rain from 15/12/2017 until the end of January of 2018, that would be a greater aggravation because we already had problems to plant within the ideal window. As the planting of soybeans has spread beyond the ideal, consequently the planting of second-crop maize will be less, because the producers will not risk much.