Search This Blog

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gluten Free Peanuts

I found another obvious Certified Gluten Free product.  The peanuts below were at a local superstore.  If you are on a Gluten Free diet, should you know what foods are safe?  This product does have warning in fine print that it contains peanuts.  Hmm if it is named peanuts, shouldn't it be obvious?  How much did the lawyers who made these obvious observations get for their brilliance?  And is it a surprise that people are confused about their food?  Lets see the peanuts are gluten free, so they must be good for you.  Wait a minute, the contain peanuts so maybe they are bad for you.

It might be a good idea to put gluten free on products that normally contain gluten such as bread or pasta, but come on folks, if it is meat or peanuts you should know, especially if your physician says you should avoid gluten.  I am curious as to when I might be able to buy meat free apples. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Smithsonian is Preserving Agricultural History

No Till Farmer publicized that the National Museum of American History Announces Initiative to Preserve Agricultural Heritage and Document Farm Innovation.  If you have a story or pictures to share, you can go to American Enterprise website to share.  Everyone has a story. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Update on What is Happening in Brazil

 By Eduardo Paim:

Here in my state (Mato Grosso) the government has not released information closing the soybean harvest, but some companies are saying we will have a reduction of 5% to 8% in soybean production. We have a few areas to be harvested.
There are continued production problems in Bahia. We're having good rains for the winter corn. If we have two more 40mm rainfall in the month of April we will produce a lot of corn, another thing that is helping the corn is cool climate in the state of Mato Grosso. The rains were not even here!
I am enclosing pictures of soybeans that looked today, the crop has not been fully harvested because we are having rain every day for the past 10 days. It may be noted that grains are ugly.
Today companies do not have to expect to see prices here to the USDA. Here we have only 25% of soybeans to sell, the other 75% farmers have sold. Prices should improve in Brazil for lack of soybeans, but need to lower freight rates. For corn prices are very low, U $ 7.45 bag of 60Kg in my city of Rondonopolis, in December 2012 the company paid in corn U $ 10.60, shipping July 2013.
We have queues of trucks, problems of bad roads and lack of good ports!

Happy Easter to you there and may the Lord Jesus bless everyone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sprayer Nozzles

People who apply their own crop protectants should be looking more closely than ever at nozzle selection.  There are plenty of reasons to abandon those flat fan nozzles.
  • Larger nozzles have less drift problems
  • Different materials call for different nozzles.  Be sure to check your label.
  • Be sure to calibrate your spayer
  • Use nozzle shutoffs and guidance to avoid overlap
University of Kentucky put out this information on Sprayer Nozzle Selection and Calibration
Iowa State University offers the following advice for Sprayer Nozzle Selection for Pesticide Performance and Drift Reduction
TeeJet offers and Interactive Nozzle Selection Guide on their website. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passing of the Seasons

I was expecting maybe to see twinges of green in this month's photo, but our weather has fooled us for now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Continuous Corn Yield Penalty

I have written more than once about the continuous Corn yield penalty.  No-Till Farmer offered this article on Understanding The Continuous Corn Yield Penalty .  University of Illinois researchers peg the cause on N availability, corn stover accumulation, and unfavorable weather.  This goes a little bit against conventional wisdom that the disease and insect cycles are a factor. However I find little argument with the conclusions.  The researchers also found that the yield penalty continued to get worse each year of their seven year study.  I wrote a blog in October on Corn Following Corn.  It looks like I should add residue management to my suggestions on how to grow continuous corn.  It looks like incorporation of residue to speed up decomposition would be advantageous. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

I took a little trip to Valmeyer today for our family Easter gathering.  I am spending the night because of road conditions.  The photo below is on the family farm.  I always like the look of corn stalks sticking up through the snow. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Snow on the way

Photo below was on March 21 2012.  Contrast that with maybe a foot of snow expected in the next 2 days.

Friday, March 22, 2013

IPAD in the field

I used the IPAD as my GPS yesterday.  It is an IPAD2 WIFI only so it is the least expensive available new.  I had to add a Garmin Glo receiver.   GISroam is my app.  It worked great.  It had good visibility and because it is fairly light weight it is stable on the 4 wheeler. 

I have also loaded field boundaries and sample zones for some customers.  I have them set up to keep track of crop protectant applications.
IPAD on 4 wheeler

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Typical Early Spring Sampling Day

I worked today between Elkhart and Mt. Pulaski.  It was a typical early spring sampling day.  That means cold and not everything goes right.  Temperature was right at 20 degrees when I got to the field; 29 when I finished up.  I had a flat tire on my 4 wheeler and my little air compressor would not work, so I had to drive about 10 miles to get air in Mt. Pulaski.  Little towns closer only had big grain elevators.  Bare ground was frozen about 4 inches deep.  Most of the field I sampled probed OK if I probed through some residue, but about 50 acres was tilled and bare, so I needed to hammer the probe through the frost.

What about sampling could soils?  Does that affect the results?  Maybe, but this is usually my first farm of the year, so if we are tracking it, the soils are always cold.  I have sampled in the past on this farm with snow on the ground.  By sampling at the same time every year we should assure consistent results. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soybean Yield Challenge

If you like contests, the Soybean Yield Challenge is a good one.  The contest is sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association.  It is a good chance to showcase your best management techniques.  There are categories for FFA and College students as well.  Check it out.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What is happening in Brazil This week.

By Eduardo Paim:
Government of Brazil will buy corn to put in stock,  I believe that prices will not improve for this reason ..

Here in Brazil the government will buy corn because it has no stocks, last year the price was good for exports and Brazil ran out of stocks and the people who depend on these stocks did without products such as corn, beans and rice.

There will be buying corn from the GOV. on 27/03/13 for refueling. Stocks mainly NORTH and EAST are very low and many people who rely on public stocks were not accomodated last year for lack of product, this occurred because of the large quantity and product that was exported !
The price will be announced at least 2 days before the auction date, and the amount is 50 million Kg
After price is set, the producer the right to deliver for a price, will have to give guarantee of 5% of the transaction value or a bank guarantee letter.
Delivery 08/04/13 until 08/05/13, after CONAB checked and accepted by the producer will receive within 10 business days.

States to store:
Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe.
 Soybeans were planted early as well, then there was little rain until 12/01/13 to 08/12/12 but this did not hurt production at this stage because the plant was developing, it was beneficial to the further development of roots. The AIBA (Association of Farmers and Irrigators of Bahia) believes that early soy should be between 35 and 40 bags per Ha, the problem occurred in the second Indian summer, when the grain filling (good rains at flowering occurred).
Right now the Western Bahia has had no rain for 30 days and another problem is the attack of caterpillars.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Illinois - The Timber State?

I know we think of Illinois as the Prairie State, but last week's FarmWeek News had an article entitled "Timber: An Illinois cash crop, but value could grow."  The article points out that 13.4% of the land area in Illinois is timber and much of it is privately held.  One of the points that the article makes is that timber sellers who hire a forester to help them with their sale make from 25 to 220 % more than people who do not hire a forester.  That looks like a no-brainer to me.  The article points out the decline in the number of foresters employed by the state, but it does not mention that professional foresters are available to help with management plans too.  Check with your local NRCS office for financial assistance or hire someone on your own.  A management plan can help you plan culling, planting, and pruning practices that will add value to your timber resource.  The pay-off is often long term, but it can be significant. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Forage Production

Last year, the drought cut into hay production seriously.  I expect lots of cows out there are looking forward to spring.  Grazing your forages may be less labor intensive than haying.  I agree that efficient grazing in an intensive system may be the best way to feed grazing animals, but there are plenty of reasons to make hay instead.  First and foremost is, the grazing animals may have a hard time keeping up with growth in the spring.

Timing of harvest is critical to having high quality digestible feed.  Legumes should be harvested in mid-bud to early bloom (10%) stage.  Last year we had haying going on in March because of the early start to spring.  It is also best if grass is cut as soon as it reaches the boot stage.  Keeping forages in the vegetative state rather than the reproductive state makes for the most nutritious product.  Fertility is also and issue.  Forages tend to be big potassium feeders.  IT is almost impossible to apply too much potassium, but as with any crop, soil test first to see if you really need fertilizer.

The other big question is weather.  Can you find a dry 2 or three days to get the crop dried out.  It is easier now than in the past because most harvesters crimp the hay.  Breaking the stems dries them out faster.  Hay can also be treated with preservatives to allow for higher moisture in harvest.  Crimping and treatments also serve to keep the leaves better attached.  Leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant. 

Good luck getting the weather to cooperate. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Garden Tilled

We are not sure but the garden in front of the office may be the first spring tillage in Macoupin County. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

First Day of Spring Sampling Season

I worked near Litchfield today.  I checked soil moisture down to 40 inches.  Soil is moist but not saturated.  Tile are just dribbling or not running at all.  Tile removes excess water, so the dribbling tile tell me that moisture is just about right.  The surface was starting to dry out, but in depressions and water courses, it was fairly wet.  So far it looks like we are off to a good start.  It is interesting that last year at this time, lot of field work was underway and there was some corn planted. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lime in the spring?

I have read 2 articles about lime in the spring.  Fall is a popular time to apply lime.  Usually, winter moisture can help dissolve the lime and get it activated.  Lime is important because it affects the availability of the rest of your nutrients.  If soil tests call for more than 4 tons of lime, we usually recommend just 4 tons.  A re-check will tell you if you need more lime.  I dry years like we jut passed through, lime may not dissolve as expected.  In that case patience might be in order.  If your soil called for over 2 tons of lime, you should probably get after that as soon as possible.  Corn seems to handle acidity better than soybeans, so if you need to prioritize, maybe you can put the lime where it is needed the most.  In general keep in mind that lime is the one soil amendment that makes all the rest of them work.  Microbes also need favoragle calcium and magnesium levels to work properly.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Corn Soil Insecticide

Prairie Farmer reports that Corn Soil Insecticide Use Rises.  The article provides some good food for thought.  This is an interesting headline in the days when seed companies seem to keep adding to the traits on their traited hybrids.  The article says that insecticide treated corn acres are due to increase by 40% this year.  Researchers have found that soil insecticide in general increases corn yields by 5 to 10 bushels per acre, easily paying for the treatment and then some.  Corn following corn, refuges, and refuge in the bag products are to blame at least partly.  Does this expected increase also reflect insect resistance to Bt products.  How quickly will insects develop resistance to insecticides?  Some of the experts in the article are saying that you may not need Bt corn.  In our area, corn - soybean rotations are common and the rotation helps fight the rootworms.  We are lucky in that we do not have Western Corn rootworm beetles, at least not to any extent.  They are the ones who have evolved to live in soybean stubble as well as corn stubble.  If you are not using Bt traits, should you try to go completely non-GMO and see if you can get the premium price?  Will the seedcorn companies supply the non-GMO products if more producers want to plant them?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Soybean Harvest wrapped up in Mato Grosso

 By Eduardo Paim.

Here in Brazil things are not changing much, with continued good rains that are helping the corn and soybean harvest in 2013 is at the end in my state (Mato Grosso).
I believe that if the rains do not change we are going to have a lot of corn!
The problem now is that Brazil's ports are full queues of trucks, the railways are paralyzed by lack of space at the ports to dump soybeans.
The trucks that go to ports and queues are taking back the railways, it is causing a lack of trucks and freight in the country is getting too expensive; it has risen about 100%.
We're not seeing the producers selling soybeans. They are waiting to end the month of March to see if it normalizes prices and freight prices start getting good!
Due to the expensive freight and lack of space in ports to store soybeans, we are seeing China buy too much soy in the U.S. We only have 30% of our soybeans ready to sell in Brazil, producers believe that the price will greatly improve!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rainfall Last 60 Days

Rainfall maps below seem to indicate that precipitation for the last 60 days has been reasonable.  The Mississippi River at St. Louis is expected to reach 27 feet.  That is more than enough for navigation at this time.  Last year at this time some people were getting very anxious to plant.  The earliest corn in our area was planted March 13.  I don't think March planted corn will work this year.  Topsoil is much too wet. 
Last 60 Days Rainfall

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spreading the Gospel…..So to Speak.

By Randy Darr - President - Soil Right Consulting Services, Inc.  

I had the opportunity last week to return to my alma mater, Western Illinois University, and speak to the nutrient management class taught by Dr. Joel Gruver.  It is always fun to go to speak to groups about what we do and why we do it.  I feel that it is important to spread the news about not only our work but the absolute awesomeness of being allowed to work with and learn about God’s creation.  I have spoken to a whole myriad of groups through the years and I always try to relate how wonderful and important agriculture is to the world.
I impressed upon the students that there will be many challenges ahead for them to find answers to in their lifetime.  The biggest challenge of all throughout the rest of time will all be related to water quality.  The amount of water in the world is constant.  Quality and location is increasingly becoming the issue of the century.  Most of us as mature adults may not be affected, but, the next generation will need to address this issue with diligence and fervor.  I am sure that it can be done.  With brilliance, ingenuity and our American way of life any answer can be found.   

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mississippi River Lock and Dam

This is the Mel Price lock and dam at Alton, IL.  The view is from the Missouri side of the River.  The 1200 foot lock chamber is on the right.  This lock and Lock 27 carry all the traffic from the Illinois, Upper Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. River transportation is extremely important to Midwest agriculture.  Most of the crops for export travel the inland river system.  Agriculture would benefit greatly if there were more 1200 foot locks.  The Mississippi is free flowing from here south. 
Melvin Price Lock and Dam 26

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring Challenge of Cover Crops

So you planted cover crops for the first time last year and you got a great stand.  Now what?  Josh Flint says "Done Right, You Can Kill Annual Ryegrass".  A lot of the advice applies to other cover crops as well.  Early termination is a good idea for most cover crops.  The exception may be when you are wanting to maximize the nitrogen release from legumes.  In that case, patience pays.  Another article, "Terminate Those Cover Crops"  gives more general advice.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Management Tips for 2013 and Beyond

Dana Nanda wrote "Set the table for higher yields in 2013" in the February issue of Prairie Farmer.  Yes I am getting current on my reading list. The article is well done, but the headline is a little misleading because some of the advice applies long term.  If a producer has not been managing well, it is hard to get caught up in one year.  The advice about matching inputs to realistic yields is a good one.  Don't go with the 40,000 seed population on your 120 bushel corn ground.  He says a lot about soil fertility and soil testing most of which I agree with.  There does need to be some order to implementing some of the practices.  For example, there is no use messing around with applying micro-nutrients until you have calcium and magnesium levels where they need to be.  Accurate planting is a must with high populations.  Just a little bit of skipping or doubling on seed corn placement can mess you up.  I am all in favor of crop rotations and cover crops but to realize the advantage of cover crops, time is required.  One thing I would add is that you need to be thinking about narrow row soybeans if you are in 30 inch rows. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Brazilian Soybean Harvest Nearing Completion

By Eduard Paim:
Here in my state Mato Grosso we are finishing the soybean harvest, I am sending you some pictures from yesterday to look at.
Later Soybeans  produced very well; it can help in the overall average and not hurt production in Brazil a lot, but I still believe that should reduced 10%.
Now remaining,  an average of 8% to finish the harvest of my state.
The prices of corn and soybeans in Brazil are steady, they do not rise and fall, everyone is waiting on the report planting of you there in the USA.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Snow Geese

I worked in the Portage des Sioux area today.  There were lots of snow geese in the air and in the fields.  One of my customers was complaining they were doing serious damage to some of the wheat fields.  Digging up and eating whole plants.  I was not able to investigate, but I am curious if others have had damage.  One of the flocks were covering about 40 acres.  I saw some flocks even bigger near Butler last night.  Hunting is encouraged.  Most wildlife managers agree that they are out of control, but it is not open season so make sure you are legal.  I have heard that snow geese make good sausage. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why Don't We Have a Farm Bill?

Why don't we  have a farm bill?  You think you have commodity groups representing your interests in Washington.  You think you have farm organizations representing your interest.  So why no Farm Bill?  I think the politicians have not heard enough from individuals.  Your groups are doing their part in keeping you and your representatives informed on positions and facts, but the truth is that the politicians see those lobbyists regularly.  They expect to hear from them.  What really moves politicians is when they hear from individuals.  When individuals are motivated to contact politicians, then they start to think that people might be serious.  They think it might cost them votes.

We hear all the time how money buys access and that is true as far as it goes.  Money an also move opinion especially for fence sitters, but the real truth is that votes get politicians elected.  If enough people individually tell politicians that their position, or work ethic, or unwillingness to compromise is going to cost them votes, then they will move.  This goes for Farm Bill, Sequestration, Immigration, or any other issue that is hot right now.  If you want to change the world, write a letter, make a phone call, or send an e-mail. After you do your part, get others to do so as well.  Petitions can help, but real movement comes from contact from individuals.  My opinion is that the politicians have not heard from enough of us as individuals. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why use Vertical Tillage - 2013

I am going back to a topic I have talked about a number of times. A discussion some time ago on twitter leads me to want to clarify the purpose of vertical tillage.  The idea of vertical tillage probably dates back at least to the invention of the Paraplow.  A friend posted this video on Youtube explaining what he is doing with the paraplow.  The idea of vertical tillage is to disturb the soil in order to aerate, release nutrients, or reduce compaction while leaving high residue cover on the surface.  Why high residue?  Crop residue is the most effective tool we have to reduce soil erosion.
Tools like the paraplow and this DMI No-Till Ripper are used where the soil can benefit from deep tillage.  In-line rippers are much better for vertical tillage than V-rippers because they do not create lumps and roughness. 

There are also shallow vertical tillage tools that smooth and fluff the surface in order to prepare a seedbed without losing a lot of residue.  Shallow vertical tillage tools have become very popular in the past few years.  They can be used either as a primary tillage pass or to smooth out fields that have been tilled by a deep vertical tillage tool such as a Paraplow or No-Till Ripper.  In order to maximize residue cover and minimize compaction, the disks on your vertical tillage should be flat and should be run at a 5 degree angle or less.  One of the things the shallow vertical tillage tool does is it throws some soil dust onto the residue and cuts it up or sizes it.  This is important because it helps decompose some of that sturdy residue that is common in our modern corn hybrids.  Accelerating decomposition will help expose some soil and help the planter to get thru the trash in the spring.  It seems there might be merit in breaking up the residue mat in soybean stubble as well.

This leads me to the twitter discussion.  Some of the people I was chatting with thought that the primary purpose of the shallow vertical tillage tool was to size the residue so that they could get through it easier with the chisel plow.  I fail to see the merit in that use.  First the vertical tillage tool is an expensive answer to that problem.  Second I question the need to size residue to chisel plow or rip.  Most of those tools have disks on them already.  I have never seen a ripper or chisel plow that did not bury more than enough residue.  A few of those stray stalks sticking up will not cause any problems in spring.  Running the shallow tool at the same angle as your disk (about 23 degrees) is another issue.  The problem is that you will create the same scraping compaction with the vertical tillage tool that you will create with the disk.  You will also bury a lot of residue.

Vertical tillage is a wonderful conservation tool, but just because you use a vertical tillage implement does not mean you are doing vertical tillage.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lucky to live in Rural America

Last Saturday I attended a gardener's symposium on Natural Landscapes put on by Extension Service.  The keynote speaker was Andrea Faber Taylor.  Her presentation was on the positive effect that green space has on the health of children and adults.  Her research shows that being able to interact with nature is critical to all of us.  She says we need to frequently restore our attention spans.  She has looked at how do we restore ourselves from mental fatigue.  Directed attention is needed  for daily activities.  Giving attention to things like watching fire, televsion, an wildlife are involuntary attention getters.  

Her research shows that nature can foster attention restoration. She presented information on the "Theory of loose parts."   She said that nature provides loose parts fostering creative play, self discipline,  concentration, impulse control, and delay of gratification.   Access to adults is important in controling symtoms of  ADHD.   Even a little bit of grass makes a difference.  If there are a few trees or some grass, children are twice as likeley to benfit from being outdoors.  Children who play outdoors are more creative. ADHD affects about 9.5% of children.  It is less severe when green space is available.  The improvements carry over to post activities.  ADHD is less severe even when the family income factor is taken out of the equation.  A walk I the park is better than a walk in the neighborhood or downtown.  For some children, when fishing - symptoms are hardly noticeable. she says that greenspace is a necessity for healthy development.  Even a little grass and a few trees makes a difference. Fear keeps some indoors.  We need to figure out how to increase time in Nature.

Her information seems to be kind of intuitive.  When we send our kids outdoors to play we are actually improving both their mental and physical capabilities.  Living on farms and in rural communities, we take nature and green space for granted.  We are lucky to live in such an environment.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Fish Fry

Soil-Right Consulting Services Co-sponsored a fish fry benefit for Piasa Birds 4-H club today.

Randy Darr Served as chief cook