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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Harvest Dragging On

I worked southeast of Morrisonville today. I am still seeing scattered fields of both corn and soybeans.  The field below is in northern Montgomery County.  I sampled about 70 acres today and the ground was very wet.  The land I was sampling was not tilled yet, so I was able to get across it even with some water on the surface.  It was definitely a good thing that the combine below was parked. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Among our many blessings this year is the most bountiful harvest ever.  Enjoy your turkey. See you Saturday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cover Crops Pay

A recent survey shows that cover crops paid off in yield increases.  I would note that the yield increases might not be break even, but when you consider the long term benefits, it is probably worth the trouble.  Prairie Farmer has more information on the survey.

We offer our soil health tool to measure the positive biological effects of cover crops.  It measures plant available nutrients as well as biological activity.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Home Made Air Seeder

By Glenn Savage - Conservationist and Firearm Safety Instructor

Attached is a photo of my friend cradling a leaf blower fitted with a piece of plumbing I call a "T" fitting.  The fittings are directional.  

One dribbles in seed through the top hole and a powerful stream of air distributes the seed.  My friend helped me plant two acres in less than two hours using the "Seedinator". 

 I confirmed with Justin and Simon of M&M service that they offer "airflow" distribution of seed.  They mix the seed with potash {pelletized} and sling or use booms to distribute it on the surface. 

If you know anyone who needs to seed now or is waiting for spring to plant, encourage them to "do it now!"

The advantages:
  •  ground is frozen so you won't have to wait in the spring for the ground to get firm
  • planting now saves our no-till drills in the spring
  • Air flowing is much faster
  • The seed is layered (conditioned to germinate) naturally

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Deer Blind

This deer blind was visible from IL Route 127 South of Hillsboro.  You can see the blaze orange in the window. Click to enlarge.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Value of Soil Testing

No-Till Farmer recently shared a study out of Kansas State on the  Economic Reurn of  Soil Testing. With low prices, you may be looking for ways to cut back.  Soil testing and consulting may be one of those things you are considering.  The Kansas State Data suggest you actually get  better return on soil testing when crop prices are low.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I worked in Freeburg area today. I did not see any crops not harvested in that area.  We sampled some wheat that was no-tilled. It is not very far along, but looked like it could survive the winter. Some tillage work is still underway, but there is not a lot of fall tillage done. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Little Rain in Mato Grosso

By Eduardo Paim:
Here in Mato Grosso we continued with little rain last week; it did not rain this week we have forecasts for no rains the rest of this week and next week! Producers are concerned, soybeans are sprouted suffering from the heat and lack of rain, I imagine that this year will be a good year in productivity for the second crop soybeans and corn. I do not recall myself a year with little rainfall as being this year. On my farm I am struggling to renew pasture for cattle due to lack of rains. Where the animals eat is taking 30 days to begin to recover. The soil is still very dry, we have no reserve of moisture in the soil around the state of Mato Grosso.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Trip to Pittsfield

I traveled to Pittsfield yesterday for a septic tank investigation.  In the lawn the soil was not frozen.  I saw one unharvested corn field near Nebo. There were a few fields of beans to harvest, but I would put the progress on both at 99%.   I have been hearing a lot about on the ground corn storage, but I had not seen any until the two piles below, both at Carrollton.

Monday, November 17, 2014


It is very cold out this morning.  I can not remeber any time that we have had to quit working outdoors before Thanksgiving. Many years we have been working in December.  I am hoping the snow wil help protect the soil from freezing and maybe we can get a warm up. We took a little weekend getaway to Branson, MO.  What little cropland we could see was harvested. MOst of the stalks were being grazed by cattle.  Yes the cattle were eating even in the snow. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fall Shadows

I liked the way the shadows looked on this Oliver Super 77 yesterday.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Will the Cold Affect Soil Sampling Results?

The short answer is maybe.  So why was I out there getting frost bitten fingers today?Yes it was that cold. 

We sample our repeat customers at the same time of year every year.  That way if we are looking for trends,we are likely to have similar conditions every year.  There are certain customers that we almost always sample when the weather is very cold.

Eventhoughwearelikely to get consistent results, it was still no fun out there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dry Weather in Brazil is Slowing Soybean Planting

By Eduardo Paim:
Here in the state of Mato Grosso we continue with little rain; almost no water falling from the sky. We have many cases of producers who are replanting soybeans, and some cases of three replants of soybean caused by drought. Most of Brazil is with little rain; then I believe that the record production that the government is going to be talking about in future that is not the 2015/2016 harvest. A delay in soybean planting will hurt much planting of winter maize (second crop corn) too.

Rains appear in weather forecasts, but the day comes with rain falling from the sky, the water disappears and no rain falls, or it is raining very little at a time; the water flows onto the soil and does not infiltrate the ground. it remains at low moisture.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Farmers Serving Their Country

Since War began, I am sure that farmers have served in the military. One of the interesting observations  by Shelby Foote in Ken Burn's Civil War was the at the end of the war, the soldiers from both sides went home to the farm and returned to their lives by shucking corn and plowing fields, and threshing grain. General Sherman pointed out that the returning veterans had face hardship and death itself and that they approached life fearlessly.

I also think that war may have played a big role in shaping modern farming. Many World War II and Korean War veterans returned from war and used their GI benefits for college education of some sort.  Many farm boys got agriculture degrees and returned to the farm becoming a generation of highly educated farmers and agricultural professionals.  These men became leaders in the farming community and shared their knowledge with friends and neighbors.

We should all thank and remember these veterans for their service to their country and their service to agriculture.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Still Harvesting

The Photograph below take in Northern Montgomery County shows both and corn and soybeans remaining to be harvested.  Soils are very wet in that part of the county. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tilling Wet Soils

I was working an area that is very wet today.  Fields are rutted by harvest equipment.  A few areas were starting to gray off, but low areas are still extremely wet.  One of the big acreage farmers in the area had three 4 Wheel Drive tractors pulling disks through the mud trying to fill in the ruts.  The disks were throwing out balls of mud, and I am sure they were making the compaction worse.

Another thingy tcncerned me was that a few people were applying anhydrous.  I am sure that there were areas in the field where the slit closing.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cover Crops Seminar in Elsberry, MO

By Janette Swartz - Consultant with Soil Right Consulting Services:

Yesterday I attended a Soil Health/ Cover Crop Workshop in Elsberry, MO. If you haven’t been to the Elsberry Plant Materials Center it is very interesting. They have many plots of different cover crops seeded at different planting dates. They also had a rainfall simulator demonstrated by Doug Peterson. If you haven’t seen a rainfall simulator demonstrated YouTube has some pretty interesting videos done by the NRCS that would be good to watch.

 The first thing Doug did was perform a slake test. He placed a soil aggregate from a no-till field into a jar of water and also placed a soil aggregate from a conventionally tilled field in another jar of water. Immediately the conventionally tilled soil aggregate started falling apart compared to the no-till field where very little soil fell apart. This shows that tillage is destroying the soil glomalin which holds the soil together.

He then started the rain fall simulator. The first soil tray was a conventionally tilled soil. The second tray was a conventional till soil with cover crops. The third tray was a no till soil which has no cover crops (only because the grower didn’t have time to get them on this year). The fourth tray was a pasture soil with short grass on it. The fifth tray was a pasture soil with well managed grazing and a better grass cover. For each tray there are two jars underneath the front one was to catch the run off, and the back jar was to catch water that had infiltrated through the soil. As you can see from the pictures the first tray had a lot of muddy runoff and almost no infiltrated water. The second tray had a little more runoff (it received a little more “rain”) and quite a bit more water that infiltrated the soil. The third tray had no significant runoff and a lot of infiltration. The fourth tray had quite a bit of runoff and some infiltrated. The fifth tray had no runoff and all of the water infiltrated. I think this demonstration speaks a lot for no-till.

What was really interesting to me was how important managing your pasture ground is. I was surprised at how much runoff there was in the short pasture ground. I would have thought the grass roots would have held the soil and allowed for more water to infiltrate. The well managed pasture had almost no runoff. This shows how keeping the soil covered can be a benefit. In another picture you can see that Doug dumped the first tray out upside down. The top of the tilled soil was completely saturated and the soil that was on the bottom of the tray was completely dry. That shows that the tilled soil didn’t have any pore space and the water wasn’t able to penetrate anything but the surface. That is how the soil forms that top hard concrete crust when you get a rain.  

Slake Test

Rainfall Simulator