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Friday, October 31, 2014

More Fall Color

Monroe Co Bluff Near Fountain

Double Arch Road - Madison - Montgomery Line

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Turkey Vultures let me get pretty close today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant is Open

It has been open nearly 2 months, but I just figured out that the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant is open in Emettsburg Iowa.   This seemed like a good idea when we had $8 corn.  With cash prices around $3 I don't know.  It is a technology that needs to be developed for our future, but it would see we have enough corn at least this year to take care of energy needs, food needs, and feed needs, as well as export.  In any case it will be interesting to see how this works out. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Soil Sampling Advice.

No-Till Farmer gives advice out of Kansas State offering seven tips on soil sampling. The advice is not terrible.  It mentions using the factors of soil formation, but it really does not get into how.  The advice about lots of samples is good.  I have seen research results that indicates 15 cores per sample is the way to go.  Many grid samplers only get 3 to 5 probes per sample.  The also don't mention that the sample needs to be well mixed by grinding or crushing to get a representative sample.  Sometimes high clay soils are too wet to get them mixed well.  We dry those samples and crush or grind before they go to the lab.  The article also mentions seasonal variability.  The causes of variability that I have seen are moisture and temperature related.  Sampling conditions may not always be perfect, but data is better than no data when making your fertility decisions.  For precision farming, defining your sample areas is critical.   You also need the technological expertise to make variable rate maps. Maybe some of this information leads you to hire a consultant. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Harvest Progress

Harvest went well last week.  My estimate is that corn and soybeans are at 60%.  There are places where the view is no longer blocked by corn.  Soybeans are very dry at this point, so many people are concentrating on soybeans.  wheat hs also been sowed.  There is more rain on the way tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Morning Fog

Fog made for some scenic beauty this morning.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fall Colors

Fall Colors are looking good and warm weather is in the forecast.  Enjoy the weekend.

 The tree is loaded with Persimmons, but they are not ripe yet.  Even a soft one on the ground had a pucker factor.

Sassafras in full color

Looking down the street

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hedge Apples

I picked up Hedge Apples (fruit of Osage Orange) to use for insect repellant in my basement.  They are said to be poisonous, but I have seen squirrels rip them open to get the seeds.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cover Crop Looking Good

The Annual Ryegrass cover crop below was planted in Mid-September.  Seed was incorporated by Turbo-Till.  It looks very good.  Nearby fields planted around October 1 are not quite this far along.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Getting Ready to Sow Wheat

Today I was sampling a field that was being prepared for wheat sowing with a Turbo-Till verticle tillage tool.  Wheat will be sowed tomorrow. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Comments Illinois Weather and Crop Report

Illinois Weather and Crop report shows 43% of corn harvested and 37% of soybeans harvested.  In our area, WSW, 54% of corn harvested and 34% of soybeans harvest.  We were in Christian, Fayette, and Montgomery County today.  The 54% and 34% seem to fit. There were lots of combines in the field today and they started early.  We had very little dew today.  At this point people are switching to soybeans.  We did see one wheat field that was emerged, but most who want to plant wheat will be trying to get that done this week along with  lots of harvesting. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Should Consumers be able to Buy Raw Milk?

The Sunday Post-Dispatch wrote and article entitled "Raw Milk Debate Heating Up".  Dairy is not my expertise, but it is about agriculture.  The story goes into some of politics of the debate.  Regulators would like to regulate, but producers and consumers say that regulations would make the sale of raw milk by small producers nearly impossible.  When it comes to food, my opinion in general is that people should be able use any food product they want whether 64 ounce cola's or raw milk, or a lot of things in between.  The health benefits of raw milk may outweigh the risk of illness.  People who have an opinion will need to be active with their state representatives to preserve the right to buy raw milk. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Corn Crib

Northern Montgomery County Corn Crib. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Combines moving

I saw a combine in the field today on my way home from Springfield.  Dust was flying, but I am sure the ground is very wet. The one below has been parked for about 10 days.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Nitrogen Application Again

Today I saw two anhydrous nurse tanks leaving a supplier where I was working.  This raises some concerns on my part. 
  • First the soil temperature is above 50 degrees and probably warming up in the next few days. 
  • Second, our soils are very wet.  I am concerned that the slit will not seal properly
  • Third, if the soil does fix the nitrogen, it could start to denitrify immediately because of the wetness.
Famers and suppliers should both be cautious about fall nitrogen applications.
  • Wait till soil temperatures are at 50 degrees for good
  • Use nitrification inhibitor
  • Use anly ammonia products
  •  Wait for favorable moisture conditions

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Last 14 Days of Rain

The red area has had upwards of 12 inches of rainfall in the past 2 weeks. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Planning For Next Year.

Prairie Farmer ran an article on using nitrogen prices to plan for next year's acres of corn and soybeans.  I know that many are faithful to their Corn - Soybean Rotation.  That is a good agronomic practice, although a third crop would be even better.  I would not adjust just because of nitrogen prices, but if you are currently growing more corn than soybeans, this might be something to consider.  With regards to managing your fertilizer nitrogen, you may also want to look at the N-rate calculator and adjust nitrogen rates based on price of corn vs price of nitrogen.  Nitrate testing at sidedress time is also an option.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rain Dampened Harvest

Our harvest is getting to be very rain dampened.  Last week, I sampled on Sunday and Wednesday.  Wet weather is slowing me down because fields are not harvested.  I know my problem is small compared to farmers who are not getting their harvest done.  It seems a shame that we are going to lose some of our best yields ever because of wetness.  I am making no prediction on the extent of the loss. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cover Crops Can Sequester Soil Organic Carbon

 Dr. Ken Olson shared the following press release with me this weekend.  He is presenting at the National No-Till Conference in  Cincinnati, OH January 14 -17. This conference is one of the best farmer oriented conferences I have been to. 

To claim soil organic carbon is truly being sequestered, Ken Olson says, management practices, such as no-till and cover crops must cause an increase in net soil organic carbon from a previous pre-treatment baseline, as well result in a net reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Olson’s proposed definition of soil organic sequestration is, “The process of transferring carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil of a land unit through plants, plant residues, and other organic solids, which are stored or retained in the unit as part of the soil organic matter (humus).

If deeper soil layers in no-till systems without cover crops are giving back more soil organic carbon than is being sequestered, farmers may wonder what can be done to put more carbon back into the soil and keep it there.

Olson recently completed a 12-year tillage study at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Research Center in southern Illinois on the effects of cover crops on soil organic carbon sequestration, storage, retention and loss in corn and soybean fields.

The research was conducted beginning in 2001 and involved a moderately eroded phase of Grantsburg silt-loam soil on 5-7% slopes with an average depth of  30 inches to a root-restricting fragipan (dense, brittle and compact layer).

Olson evaluated plots with no-till, chisel plow and moldboard plow treatments with and without hairy vetch and cereal rye cover crops, with the plots situated on moderately well drained, eroded soil.

A pre-treatment soil organic carbon stock baseline for the rooting zone (0 to 30 inches) was used to validate the finding that cover crops sequestered soil organic carbon in the topsoil, subsoil and root zone of the tillage treatments.

The sample layers were combined to represent the topsoil (0 to 6 inches) the subsoil (6 to 30 inches) and the root zone (0 to 30 inches). The sampling depth was limited due to the presence of a root restricting fragipan at a 30-inch depth.

By 2012, Olson found the cover-crop treatments had more soil organic carbon stock than those without cover crops for the same soil layer and tillage treatment. The no-tilled, chisel plowed and moldboard-plowed plots all sequestered soil organic carbon above pre-treatment soil organic carbon stock levels with cover crops added.

Here’s a summary of what Olson’s cover-crop experiment found:

• By June 2012, the cover-crop effect for no-till resulted in the soil organic carbon stock being greater in all three soil layers compared to no-till plots without cover crops. For the no-tilled plots with cover crops, the soil organic carbon stocks were higher — 61.1 metric tons vs. 47 metric tons after 12 years of cover crops — than prior to experiment’s beginning. “This suggests that soil organic carbon stock losses from water erosion and some disturbance or mixing during no-till planting, aeration, nitrogen injection in corn years, and mineralization were less than the soil organic carbon gain from the cover-crop treatment,” Olson says.

• For the chisel and moldboard-plowed plots, cover crops helped reduce the rate of soil organic carbon stock loss due to tillage associated with corn and soybean production and soil erosion, and was able to maintain the 2000 baseline soil organic carbon stock levels measured before the cover-crop treatments were applied.

 • With the addition of cover crops to all treatments for 12-years, the soil organic carbon stock gains were 30%, 10%, and 18% respectively.

• The 20-year cover-crop treatment for each tillage system did sequester soil organic carbon resulted in gains for the no-tilled, chisel plowed and moldboard plowed systems of +1.21, +0.35 and +0.55 metric tons of carbon per hectare per year, respectively.

“The no-till system, with cover crops, sequestered the most soil organic carbon when compared to the pre-treatment 2000 baseline soil organic carbon stock,” Olson says. Cover crops reduce soil organic carbon loss from erosion and increase net soil organic carbon storage above the pre-treatment soil organic carbon stock.

Long-Term, Effects of CoverCrops on Crop Yields, Soil Organic Carbon Stocks and Sequestration” was published in Open Journal of Soil Science and was co-authored by Stephen A. Ebelhar and James M. Lang. 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. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Green Bean Harvest

Harvesting the last crop of green beans for the fresh market.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Anticipated Early Planting in Brazil Not Working Out.

By Eduardo Paim

Here in Mato Grosso we have not yet started planting soybeans for this harvest. The rains that were forecast are gone! In place of the rains are feeling a heatwave. Night heat is hot as day! The forecast is still that the rains should normalize after 15th of this month, but here were all excited about the early arrival of rains and thinking that would plant early. The few producers who planted their crops in the first rains in late September already lost them. They will have to replant! 

Here in Mato Grosso is so hot that are roasting coffee on the asphalt of the streets.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Can Manure be Incorporated in No-Till Sytems

I am catching up on some very old reading material today.  May-June 2011  edition of Crops and Soils magazine has an article on Using Incorporation in No-Till Farming Systems.  There are compelling reasons to incorporate manure.  One is to reduce nutrient volitilization.  Another is to prevent nutrient and coliform runoff.  Those reasons seem to be compelling, but what if you are using No-Till to control soil erosion? The authors discuss some of the innovations that people are experimenting with to incorporate manure with minimal disturbance.  I have no problems with the ideas presented in the article as far as they go.  They seem to be a little shallow on understanding the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE2).  Erosion control is not synonymous with No-Till with RUSLE2.  There is a lot of tweeking available in the equation for different incorporation tools and also for the manure application itself that might allow for some disturbance without creating an erosion problem.  Another alternative is to quickly establish cover crops after manure application.  The added benefit would be that the cover crops would help absorb some of the nutrients and make them less subject to losses. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Good Honeysuckle Control

This honeysuckle in the edge of the woods was controlled by a mid-summer spraying of glyphosate.  The kill looks complete and there was minimal damage to surrounding vegetation.  Honeysuckle is the last green thing in the fall, so a late season spraying would be in order.  Spraying after most other stuff is dead will minimize collateral damage.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Control Weeds after Harvest

We are starting to see some open fields across the landscape.  In the past, you may have seen me question the need for fall applied herbicides to control weeds.  In recent years I have seen the light on the topic so to speak.  I am seeing generally cleaner fields in spring where fall herbicides are applied.

We do need to throw in the cover crop factor.  One thing you should consider in deciding whether or not to use cover crops it the fact they also provide weed control.  I suspect most cover crops will cost more to establish than a herbicide application, but the extra savings may tip the balance in favor of cover crops over herbicides.  Right now, the only common cover crop can still be planted effectively is cereal rye.  If you can still find seed, plant the cereal rye only where you intend to plant soybeans in the spring. 

A Farmweek News article in early September talks about using fall applied herbicide to help control resistant weeds. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

How are you Doing with your CNMP

Today I read a recent article "Nutrient Management Plans - How Closely do Farmers Follow Them?" in Crops and Soils Magazine.  They cite a study that seems to indicate that only about 27% of livestock farmers are following their Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans. My guess would be that the plans are so detailed that their is no way they are certain they are following the plan.  It would also be my guess that if they are doing the soil testing as required, and the record keping as required, they are pretty close to be i compliance.  One of the issues raised was  that farmers are not sure about release rates especially of nitrogen.   My solution would be that they use the presidedress nitrate test and add extra nitrogen as needed.

The article also points out that written plans are needed only for large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations CAFO's).  What is seldom pointed out is that all livestock operations must comply with rules no matter what size.

I think the plans need to be much simpler so that farmers will actually look at them from time to time.  The smallest one I ever wrote was in a 1 inch binder. The largest one was ina 3 inch binder.  Even though I reviewed it page by page with the clients, I suspect that review may be last time they looked at the plan. I always tried to get critical information on one page if possible.  When to spread manure and where on one page, and additional nutrients needed  on each field was on another page.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

John Deere Mounted Corn Picker

There is a John Deere 227 corn picker parked along I-55 north  of Wagonner. I found a web site that said it was built from 1953 till 1963. It is mounted on a John Deere G built from 1937 till 1953.  I am guessing by the grill that this one was made after 1942.  My Dad had a 227 picker mounted to a John Deere 60.  He would fill the wagons in the morning and my brother and I unloaded when we got home from school.  They were something of  a fire hazard because residue would get trapped on the engine and catch fire. Dad had a neighbor put it out for him one time and put it out several times himself.  He finally started buying disposable fire extinguishers and kept three on the tractor at a time.  The picker worked well and I think Dad replaced all the parts at least twice before he quit picking ear corn.

John Deere G with 227 mounted corn picker

Friday, October 3, 2014

Old Auger Tractor

It is not unusual to see an old tractor on the auger, but I think this might be the oldest I have seen on an auger in some time.  Not sure what model or year of this Case tractor. My Dad recognized the tractor as a Case D. it was built between 1939 and 1953.

Case Model D

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Wet Is It?

Fields are extremely wet with 3 to 8 inches of rain.  Creeks were running bank full.  This will delay harvest.  I expect that most farmers will be trying to harvest soybeans when ground dries out. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Did We Hit the Limits of Genetics?

I know it is a long way till harvest is over, but I think I might be seeing a trend.  Yes we all seem to be enjoying high yields to one extent or another.  On the other hand, I was able to glimpse the yields on a variety check plot in the county.  Yields varied a good deal from one variety to the next.  The high was something like 283 and the low was around 230.  That seems like a wide gap especially in a year when growing conditions were excellent if not perfect.  I have heard similar situations from individual fields where the biggest difference was variety.