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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gypsum as a Sulfur Source?

I read about using gypsum as a sulfur source in No-Till Farmer.  This may or may not be a good idea.  If you need calcium to offset the effects of excessive magnesium, it is a great idea.  If you already have excessive calcium, you could contribute to low magnesium issues. Know what is going on with your soil before applying any amendment.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad

I went to visit my Dad today for his 86th birthday.  We celebrated with ham sandwiches, coffee, cookies and a shot of rum.  My brother stopped by to extend birthday wishes as well along with a couple of his friends.  He has a John Deere A in his shop that he is working to restore.  He hopes to get it running this winter and get it ready to paint in the spring.  Seems like a big undertaking, but it seemed to put a bit of a spark in his eye.  I am thankful he is still around and healthy. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How Often to Soil Test

No-Till Farmer released the results of a poll on frequency of soil testing among no-tillers.  Of those responding to the poll, 21% said yearly, and 25% said every other year.  I am surprised that 46% test that frequently.  We still get odd looks when we say we want to test every year.  It is true that you can do some mathematical calculations and come up with fertilizer needs, but soil tests are affected by moisture and temperature.  By testing every year, you learn if your soils are up to snuff under all environmental conditions.  Your soils don't read crop removal charts.  those charts are based on averages.  things could be very different on your farm. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fall Sampling Over?

I am not sure, but it looks like fall sampling season may be over.  For the last 6 weeks, it has been more like winter sampling season.  Below is my stack of winter reading.  That stack has been bigger in past years.  I hope to glean a few good blog ideas from that stack.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another Use for Corn.

With a record crop, it seems another use for corn is a good thing.  According to the State Journal-Register, a plant is under construction in Galva that will extract a protein called zein from corn. The protein will be used in food, pharmaceuticals and variety of other things. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wet Harvest

This year's harvest would be memorable even if we had not harvested the largest crop ever. Wet weather and later than usual planting dates drove the harvest into late November and for some into December. I saw a rather large field of beans being harvested today.

The photos below are very representative of how many of our late harvested fields look.  Wet weather plays a role, but maybe too much deep tillage as well.   Deep tilling every year every year creates a nive rooting medium, but is can also create a loose base.

If you have deep ruts as below, how do you fix them.  I have seen some have success by tilling parallel to the ruts to close them up a bit and then going at an angle to level them off.  Certainly you should wait for drier or frozen conditions before trying anything, but water in the ruts will be slow to go away.

In the end, I don't think you can till deep enough to remove this kind of compaction.  Deep rooted cover crops may be needed to correct the compaction in the long term.   

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Brown Snake

It was very cold in November.  December weather has moderated somewhat, but I was still suprised to see the little brown snake below slithering along trying to stay out of my way.  He curled up to attack when I got close to try and photograph him.
Brown Snake