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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Surface Pro 2 Used on ATV

Yesterday I used my Surface Pro 2 mounted to my ATV.  While Ram makes a mount, nobody makes a protective box.  Get with it Otterbox.  I made my own box out of vinyl and wood.  I used corrugated box as padding.  THe tablet slides into the box from the top. The Surface Pro 2 needs an external receiver for GPS.  I used the Garmin Glo, the same thing I use for my Ipad.  It worked well for as long as it lasted.  I got 4 hours out of the battery.  The way I have it set up it goes off about every 10 minutes.  That is not a problem because a touch of the finger brings it right back.  Global Mapper is my mapping software.  The display is visible except when the sun hits the screen.  It was easy to read when I shaded it with my hand.  The only GPS I have with great visibility under all conditions is my Garmin 76. 

I will probably not use the Surface Pro 2 as my primary sampling GPS because of battery life, but I am happy it works.  It will be a good backup system.  I would imagine this would be more useful when you only need the display intermittently.  I does have an internal camera if you are scouting and need a picture.  It would also be easy to record a waypoint or a line to show where the problem is.  I could see using this for mapping because there would be no need to transfer information.  I can see big advantages to a farmer accustomed to Windows based systems to have a Windows tablet in the field.  I have $1250 in this setup which includes the tablet, a keyboard, a bluetooth mouse and a screen protector.  The Surface Pro 2 comes with a stylus which I find excellent for most uses.  I like the mouse for map drawing because I fell like I have better control. 

This would be a much better setup if Otterbox made a bo and Microsoft could match Ipad on battery life, but it is useful as it is.

Surface Pro 2 mounted to ATV

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall Nitrogen Application

I always get nervous when I see anhydrous tanks on the move in September.  I hope they were just moving them from one facility to another.  I feel compelled each year to remind readers the fall application of nitrogen should wait until after soil temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  In fact, I discourage fall application south of I-72.  We have had too many wet years when denitrification caused all the fall applied nitrogen to become unavailable.  Yes we have soil tests to prove it.  If you must fall apply, use nitrification inhibitors and wait until Thanksgiving week.  If you are really in a hurry, at least check your soil temperature before you apply.  You can check the Illinois State Water Survey Website to see if the temperature is close.  I advise checking field by field at 10 AM because there can be a lot of variation.  Soil temperatures are in the 70's right now. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Corn Leaf Dust Devil

I have always wanted to get a good picture of a corn leaf dust devil.  Here it is. They often signal a change in weather, but the weather forecast is to continue the weather we have enjoyed all week.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Soybean Planting early in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim: 
Here in Mato Grosso already started planting soybeans in upstate and in irrigation areas. Other poor areas are not 1% planted.   The rains are coming earlier and are not expected to miss. We have producers saying that the disease called rust is present in plants that call here "guaxa soy," which are plants that grow on the edges of roadways when the seeds falling from truck transportation and close to the harvest areas. This year the rust was alive on these guaxas plants because we had a year with 12 months of rains that offered moisture to keep the plants alive. Diseased soybeans did not die from lack of rain. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Corn Harvest in Greene County

I spotted the scene below on my way to Whitehall this morning.  This is just  a bit of the harvest crew for one of the largest farmers in Illinois.  They were emptying one combine into a truck.  There were 7 or 8 auger wagons and three combines.  I think they had already moved to a new field.  There were about 10 pickup trucks in the field too.  Click to enlarge. Harvest progress is visible each day now.  I saw one person harvesting soybeans.  The rest are doing corn.  
Near Palmyra

Near Carrollton

Sunrise at Raymond

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First Day of Fall Sampling

Today was my first day of fall sampling.  The weather was great.  The poorly drained parts of the field were wet. I heard ruors of corn yields as high as 265 bpa and soybeans as high as 100 bpa.  It seemed there were more people harvesting today than yesterday. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Corn Harvest Started

Corn harvest is starting slow.  Many are wanting as much natural drying as possible.  I did see several harvested fields today in Fayette and Montgomery Counties.  Less than 5% is harvested.  A few fields of Soybeans have dropped all their leaves.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Barriers to Adoption of Precision Ag

I have been following a discussion on Linkin about barriers to adopting precision agriculture.  First let me say that precision ag has been around since the beginning of farming.  Farmers have always known that some soils are more productive than others.  As scale of farming got bigger, that fact was ignored.  Now we have the ability to treat unique areas in unique ways using electronic guidance systems.  So why isn't everyone using modern precision techniques.  I am sure there are lots of reasons, but the group seemed to think the following are barriers:
  • Customer support
  • Ease of use
  • Cost
  • Cross compatibility issues
  • Economic gain not  apparent
  • Lack of knowledge about what is needed to adopt
  • Lack of good advice

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Will GMO Crops Feed The World?

National Geographic asks the question above in their latest issue.  It is a good question to ask.  I think all farmers need to push the envelope in order to get the most out of their land. In our highly productive soils in the United States, GM crops help us produce more with less pesticide use.  The article delves in to the notion that third world farmer cannot afford the seed. I'm sure that is an issue with subsistence farmers.

While National Geographic does not use any alarmist language concerning GMO, they give a lot of ink to organic production too. I have no argument with orgiastic such, we need to do a better job of recycling nutrients.  One issue we leave out is that there is always a net loss of nutrients no matter how efficient we are in organic production. The other problem is that we ship the nutrients long distance when we distribute the food, but nobody wants to pay to get the nutrients back to the field.

The reason I call these articles in the populr press to your attention is that I believe those of us involved in  food production need to know what is being said about our livelihood.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Passing of the seasons

Corn in the background is mature and soybeans are turning fast north of Litchfield

Friday, September 19, 2014

Conditions for Soybean Planting in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

Here the rains are coming early this year. Here in the state of Mato Grosso we had rain every month. that is not always so. The rains should become good for planting around October 15 onwards. Before that we will have some rains. Looks like we'll have a good start here!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Boron Deficiency

Prairie Farmer recently posted an article on Boron Deficiency in corn. The article indicates that boron deficiency may be more prevalent than we thought.  i will certainly be looking more closely at my soil reports.  One of the problems with boron management sthat availability is pH dependent.  If your pH is not between 6 and 7, you need to correct that first. also keep in mind that most micro-nutrients need to be applied sparingly. To much can poison your plants and soil. Often we look for plant deficiency symptoms, and think we do not have an issue if we don't see it.  Timely tissue testing could help with micro-nutrients s well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Illinois got its shape

I received the following fro Ken Olson by email.  It is interesting so I am sharing it.  Prairie Farmer also published this press release.

Source: Kenneth Olson, 217-333-9639;
News writer: Debra Levey Larson, 217-244-2880;

Original northern border of Illinois was south of Chicago and Lake Michigan

URBANA, Ill. – Chicago residents today might have had a Wisconsin zip code if the originally proposed northern boundary of Illinois had been approved. It was a straight line from the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan to just south of the Rock and Mississippi River confluence. University of Illinois soil scientist Ken Olson said that had the proposed northern border not been changed, the state of Illinois would have a much smaller population and footprint with the northern 51 miles of the Illinois Territory ceded to Wisconsin when it became a state in 1848.

Olson says Illinois has Nathaniel Pope to thank for the additional farmland, population, and lakefront property. The northern border was moved north to allow the linkage of the Great Lakes shipping route to the Illinois and Mississippi river navigation channels, giving Illinois a valuable shoreline on Lake Michigan and a location for a shipping port hub which became Chicago.

“Pope was Illinois Territory’s congressional delegate at the time,” explained Olson. “He and his brother, a Kentucky senator, were able to convince Congress to move the proposed border to its present-day location—and that shift in the northern boundary completely altered the fortunes of Wisconsin and Illinois. In addition to the economic benefits of the Chicago port, Illinois acquired 5.5 million acres of very productive soil for farming.” The linkage of the Great Lakes waterway to the Illinois and Mississippi river waterways provided a northern route to move troops and supplies during the Civil War to avoid the contested Ohio River.

Illinois’s western border location was determined by an intervention of nature in the Pleistocene Era. “Numerous glacial advances covered most of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois,” Olson said. “Meltwaters from these glaciers contributed to the realignment of the Mississippi River, which became the western border when Illinois became a state. Before the Pleistocene glacial period, the ancient Mississippi River passed much farther to the east. The land between the Quad Cities Peoria and Alton would not be part of Illinois. So if the Mississippi River had not been realigned by the glaciers, another 7.5 million acres would belong to the states of Missouri and Iowa.” Illinois would have lost some of its best soils for corn and soybean production.

Looking southwest, Olson said that seismic activity in the New Madrid area and glacial melt waters approximately 12,000 to 15,000 years ago affected the re-routing of the ancient Mississippi and Ohio rivers to their current locations. He pointed to the modern-day Cache River valley of southern Illinois with its swamps, sloughs, and shallow lakes—remnants of the ancient Ohio River whose confluence with the Mississippi River was once northwest of Cairo.

“Following seismic activity in 1000 A.D., the Cache River valley dropped to its current elevation and was no longer connected to the current Ohio River,” Olson said. “The Cache River valley is deeper at a lower elevation, between 320 and 340 feet, than would otherwise be expected in a slow-moving swampy river system, and the presence of thousand-year-old baldcypress trees confirm the natural conversion of river bottomland into swamplands.

“If all of these waterway-related changes had not occurred, the State of Illinois would only have 22 million acres and would be substantially smaller than its current 35 million acres,” Olson said. The agricultural lands in Illinois would have been reduced by 40 percent, affecting its agricultural productive capacity, which is an economic engine of the State of Illinois.

Olson concluded. “Chicago and Rockford would be in Wisconsin, Cairo and Metropolis in Kentucky, Quincy in Missouri, and Rock Island, Moline, and Peoria would be in Iowa.” The commercial activity from all these cities would not have contributed to Illinois’s economic development.

Olson’s research suggests that the size and shape of Illinois may have been dramatically different without these natural waterway border changes to the west and south and Nathaniel Pope’s intercession on Illinois’s northern boundary.

“How Waterways, Glacial Melt Waters, and Earthquakes Re-aligned Ancient Rivers and Changed Illinois Borders,” was published in the Journal of Earth Science and Engineering and was co-authored by Fred Christensen, an instructor at the University of Illinois Osher Lifelong Learning Center. Olson is a researcher in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. The published paper is available at

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Crop Progress

I delivered recommendations north of Springfield today.  Corn along the way is mostly mature and much of it is completely brown. I did not see any whole fields harvested.  North of Springfield was very wet because of rainfall yesterday.  Soybeans are also turning, but I continue to think that there is also SDS damage out there. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Oxford Indiana - Home of Dan Patch

Last week, I stumbled upon the small town of Oxford, Indiana.  They are proud to be the home of Dan Patch, a famous Standardbred Racehorse.  The Dan Patch Historical Society site is worth a look.  My grandpa used Dan Patch Tobacco and we had some tins like this. The 1:55 is one of the records that Dan Patch held. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Harvesting Seed Corn

On Friday I happened to pass a field of seed corn being harvested.  You can see the corn picker on the left.  I liked watching the corn being dumped into the truck.  With seed corn, it is all about seed quality.  The corn is harvested on the ear to prevent breakage of the seed coat.  That is also why it is being dumped.  The corn is dried with little or no heat.  Dry corn is shelled and sorted by sizes before treating and bagging. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Interesting Corn Cribs

The past two days I was attending a joint meeting of Indiana and Illinois Soil Classifiers.  It gave me a chance to add to my collection of corn crib photographs.  The top one is now a golf cart shed. 

Now a Golf Cart Shed

Crib with Flag

About to fall down

Very Large Crib

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stalk Nitrate Test

By Randy Darr, President of Soilright Consulting, Inc.

I spent Tuesday walking corn fields in the area taking stalk samples.  After the crop is finished growing, it reaches a point commonly known as “black layer.”  After black layer stalk samples can be taken to find the amount of nitrogen still in the plant.  This is helpful in knowing if more nitrogen was applied than needed.  We also like to take soil nitrogen samples at this time to see how much is left in the soil.  Just because it isn’t in the plant, we shouldn’t assume that nitrogen isn’t in the soil. 

If the plant prematurely dies there will be more nitrogen left in the soil than what we will find in the plant.  I have seen quite a bit of leaf disease in plants.  Stalk quality is really deteriorating faster than normal.  I suspect that there may be more nitrogen left in the soil than in the plant…..but maybe not.  That’s why we take samples.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fayette County Soybeans

I went to Brownstown today to do a septic tank investigation.  Corn is maturing. Soybeans continue to decline because of Sudden Death Syndrome. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

All Grass Terraces

This is one of the first harvested fields I have seen in Montgomery County.  Weeds are making the all grass narrow base terraces in the background show up well. Narrow base terraces are versatile because they can be laid out to handle most machinery widths and you don't need to worry about flexibility on the ridges.  Weeds could be controled better by a burn when the weeds freze or in the spring.  Seitchgrass is a good native species to use in these situations. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Small Town Soccer

Lincolnwood High School Lancers from nearby Raymond represent a small school in our area.  Their soccer team photograph was in the fall sports supplement section of our local.  The background behind their goal was a corn field.  There is something you don't see very often.  I was hoping to find the photo on line, but it was not anywhere I could find it.  I did find this article and two photos from last year.  Be sure and click on the picture to see both photos. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Corn Drying Down

I went to St. Louis today to visit family.  On the way south, I noticed corn is starting to dry down.  Maybe 25% of the fields had just a bit of green on leaves.  On my way home, I saw a field being harvested at Edwardsville.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Un-Manned Jets

I went to the National Remote Control Jet show today in Litchfield.  Many of the planes were scale models of military aircraft.  They flew in excess of 200 MPH.  I did not see a practical ag use because of the need for a pave landing and takeoff area, but it was great fun watching them fly.  A couple ran off the runway on landing and one flamed out on takeoff.  While the audience was never in danger, seeing these planes fly certainly would evoke safety concerns. The SR-71 was beautiful in flight and even deployed a parachute on landing. 
Waiting to take off

A-10 Warthog


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Corn Harvest slow in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

Here in Mato Grosso are still at the end of the harvest of corn, as a rain fell in late July and the nights are cold. Corn was very damp; normally we would have already finalized harvest on August 15. Because the rain fell in July the corn recovered much of its potential production. The average in our state is 100 bags per HA. In late August we also had rain in some cities in northern Mato Grosso and southern chovel yesterday. We have more rain forecast for this week, now RondonĂ³polis (my town) had a well-laden sky. What leaves us very amazed is the fact that we have rains in July, August and now in early September. This is not normal; in 30 days the forecasts are fairly good to start planting the next crop of soybeans. I believe that if it continues we will have a good harvest! 

We have corn left here, the government tries to help subisidiar producers, but we still have a lot of inventory. Soy is already available in the end, are reducing the multi crushing capacity to pass the year and not paying a high price for a bit of soy, it seems that those who sold soybeans hit. Every day the price drops a few cents. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Compaction and Fall Soil Moisture

Soil moisture this fall is likely to be relatively high even if we do not get much more rain.  Controlling compaction is critical to keep soil in top condition to produce.  Compaction is actually less likely to be a problem in long term no-till soils because the existing macro-pores (worm channels and root channels) are well established.  Controlled traffic especially with grain carts can help as well.  Adding duals or tracks can reduce the negative effects.  No-Till Farmer gives a lot of good advice in this article

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Plug Abandoned Oil and Gass Wells

Abandoned oil and gas wells can provide a pathway for ground water pollutioin.  Illinois Department of Natural Resources has recently announced a grant program to help land owners plug the abandoned wells. Here is more information on the program.  You will need to check with IDNR to see if you are eligible.  The application is here , but check with DNR before filling it out. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

What is going on with Soybeans

We have been hearing lots of report of Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in soybeans.  On Saturday August 23, on a trip to Farina, we saw some variety plots near St. Peter.  3 of those plots were turning yellow. I thought it was probably not SDS.  Now I am not so sure.  First I heard a rumor that two fields were harvested locally because of SDS.  Rumor is that yields were in the mid 30's.  Then on a trip to Pearl on Friday, there were a number of fields that had leaves turning.  I was looking for classic SDS symptoms with patchy dying back. In many cases I saw whole fields that seemed to be turning.  The top picture below shows most of the field turning.  It could be just variety, because soybeans in the background are still green.  The two photos below show classic SDS symptoms.  Carl Bradley wrote on the late season diseases in soybeans.  I was not able to go into the fields to do a definitive diagnosis.  Whether the beans are early of diseased, they are not getting the benefit of a full growing season.

Another observation is that I am nos seeing problems in double crop soybeans. 
SDS or maturing beans?