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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The News from West Alton

We have been working Daily in the West Alton Area.  Land is located on the finger that has the Mississippi River on one side and the Missouri River on the other side.  The bottomland soils are highly variable.  Most of the corn to be planted will be done by the end of the week. There is still land untilled that will be planted to soybeans.  Some of the earliest corn planted April 2 was replanted yesterday.  Other corn is just emerging.  What we have samp;ed is looking good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hog Farm with Cover Crops

Janette Swarts shared this picture of  hog farm using cover crops.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Behind on Corn Planting?

It depends on where you are.  We have clients north of Springfield who are done planting corn.  We have clients in Hillsboro area who have not started.  Last week West Alton area was about 40% done.  The good news is that rainfall totals were low in our area over the weekend.  I expect to see planters in the field today.  Most of the corn will be planted in West Alton area by the end of the week.  Soil moisture is mostly ideal except for a few low areas.  The weather forecast is dry for the week.  We are looking forward to that.

Soils are not warm, but we have found that cold soils do not mean you will replant.  Cold will slow emergence and growth, but that is not usually a problem.  Heavy rains after planting are not good.   Research has shown that it would be a good idea to leave the planter in the shed the day before a big rain.  This Prairie Farmer Article catches you up on corn planting issues.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

First Trip to West Alton

We made our first trip West Alton today. There is lot of corn planted there and the soil is in decent condition.  As always, there is a lot of farming around wet holes.  We had frost last night.

There was a lot of field actvity of every kind you can think of.

Blog Status

My mother is having a health crisis and I just don't have time to write every night.  Keep stopping by.  I won't stop altogether.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Modern Technology

Last week I had the opportunity to help a fellow consultant with his sampling in the "real" southern Illinois.  He emailed me a shapefile of the fields he wanted sampled several days before.  I converted it to a Google Earth format and zoomed in as close as possible.  It was close enough to see towns and have a relative idea where things were.

I left home very early in the morning.   My friend led me close to the first field I needed to work on and I used GPS to make sure I was there.  I continued to sample, stopping  a total of 7 times.  The whole time, I used the GPS and the Google Earth map to navigate.  It was amazing that I was able to find and sample all the fields.  Without GPS, we might have spent hours just on directions.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Produce Growing near Williamsville

We  have a client north of Springfield who started a produce growing business several years ago.  The business has grown each year and made improvements each year.  Most of what they grow is grown in raised beds with grass strips in between.  the grass strips provide a path for harvest and working that prevents compaction where the actual crops are grown.  What caught my eye the most was the irrigation rig they use for top watering.  The booms are mounted on a little wagon and can be controlled individually.  A small solar powered irrigation hose reel usually used for a small travelling gun pulls the rig down the rows.  This top watering method is only used to start growth.  They also have more efficient drip irrigation installed in the beds.  Over 40 crops are grown on the produce part of the operation.  Hanging baskets are also available.  If you want to support them, Look for the Wolf Creek Farms label.  Also, Check out what the Illinois Stewardship Alliance has to say about the operation.  Check them out on Facebook.

Raised Beds

Irrigation Rig

Solar powered hose reel. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Global Mapper Comes Through Again.

I posted my issue on Global Mapper Forum and one of their programmers gave me  solution that works.  He posted:

Google tells me about something called TouchMousePointer, which sounds like it should help with your problem. I also saw references to something similar called AppyMouse. I have never used either of these programs, so I can't recommend one over the other, but they sound like they might be useful.



I loaded touchmousepointer and it works.  just be sure to allow it to install on your taskbar. I have not heard anything from Dell as of this writing.   

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Planting Begins

I worked in Logan County today. Fields were very wet south of Raymond. Between Raymond and Springfield, the only field work going on was one person applying nitrogen.  North of Springfield there was a lot of field work going on and moisture conditions were good for planting.  I saw nitrogen application, spraying, and planting all underway.  Some were still working to set up planters, but it looks like the race is beginning.
First Planter I spotted in the field

This field was likely planted yesterday

A client making his first pass with the planter

Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 Cost Control

I have written previously about controlling costs.  Looking at machinery costs and reducing rents are likely to be most helpful.  I suspect those decisions are made.

One thing that can still be corrected is weed control.  My advice would be to make sure that weeds are killed no matter the cost of getting it done.  With herbicide resistance and naturally aggressive weeds invading, weed control is of the utmost importance. You will pay for neglecting weed control for many years to come.

Prairie Farmer says don't skimp on tough weeds.  The article is well written, so check it out.  A comprehensive approach with multiple modes of action will be most effective.  If you do your own spraying, learn to look at herbicide group numbers and make sure yo are using 3 groups.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Passing of the Seasons

Route 66 Weigh Station Prairie is starting to turn a bit green.  IDOT did some drainage work through the winter and messed it up a bit.  There is not much action in the field in our area.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Study Offers Tips on Corn Production

A recent study at the University of Illinois found that farmers can increase corn yields by 28% by using top management techniques to grow corn.  The study says that all the techniques are needed maximize yields because the combination is more powerful than any one practice. The practices are:

  • boost plant populations
  • use Bt hybrids
  • use strobilurin containing fungicide
  • sidedress some of your nitrogen
  • make sure phosphorous, sulfur and zinc needs are met.
I would add that tile drainage is needed on many soils in Illinois to maximize yields.  I am cautious about wholesale fungicide use, but I would use it in a yield contest. Maximum benefit from fungicides comes with use on susceptible hybrids.

The study is published in the peer reviewed Agronomy Journal.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lots of Rain

I try to keep everyone up to date on subsoil moisture as I am able.  The photo below, near Litchfield, shows a pumped tile outlet running at full capacity.  We have had over 3 inches of rain in the past few days and it would appear that subsoil moisture is somewhat excessive.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In Memory of Ed Winkle

Ed Winkle, a fellow blogger and consultant passed away last week and was buried yesterday.  Ed's blog was Hymark High Spots.  He sometimes wrote more than one entry in a day, and he wrote on a wide variety of topics.  His last blog was March 30 concerning his health.  At that time he was still optimistic about treatments.

So how did Ed touch me?  He was about the only reader who commented regularly here to start with.  His comments were always kind.  He also used Facebook and twitter to get his message out.  I never met Ed in person, but he always seemed like a friend.  his Facebook page was loaded with comments on his passing.  No-Till Farmer printed a testimonial to Ed as well.  Ed was a true supporter of agriculture and conservation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Meat Myth Crushers.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about meat.  A web site called Meat Myth Crushers takes on the critics with factual research backed answers to the myths.  The site contains videos, links to other resources, links to experts, and a link to their facebook page.  Each one of the links is probably worthy of a blog on its own.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Field work today

I was able to spend the day in the field today.  Soil was a bit drier than I expected, but there is still water in some low areas.  Farm activities underway in Macoupin, Greene, and Jersey Counties included:

  • Nitrogen Application
  • Conservation Construction Projects
  • Tiling
  • Getting Planters check and ready.
Weather forecast is not great, so it would appear that planting may still be a bit premature.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Study of Egg Laying Systems

A recent three year study of egg laying systems used in the United States was completed with positive results for caged systems has recently received publicity in Farm Week News and the Wall Street Journal among other places.  Researchers looked at Caged, enriched colony, and cage-free systems. The study found that caged systems were healthier for both the chickens and the workers.  Egg quality was the same in all three systems.  The reasons for putting chickens in cages seems to be valid.  It keeps the chickens from pecking each other and it makes it easier to attend to individual bird's health needs.  The study did not look at pasture raised chickens that roam the yard.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter

Wishing you a wonderful Easter.  The hope of Easter Morning and the hope of spring uplift us.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Corn Planting Started

We have heard rumors of corn planting in Illinois.  It is on well drained soils, but even so I question whether or not we are dry enough.  We have been doing some sampling and soils are wet.  I spotted some fields near Edwardsville where Anhydrous was being applied.  Yes in general it is too wet for that too.  If you see vapor, your trench is not closing properly.  Compaction lasts for years in some cases, so heavy loads on wet soils are not a good idea.  Soil Temperatures are surprisingly warm.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Brazilian Harvest

By Eduardo Paim

Here we are coming to the end of the harvest, and they say that soybeans harvested at the end of harvest was much better than when they started; it left the production with a good average as you can see.

Production was reduced for some producers who picked up 35 bags per hectare of average, but like most harvested well in the end and helped to balance the final average numbers. What I noticed here this year, was that for some producers rained well and others failed rains and hurt production.


ITIQUIRA: 55 bags per hectare of average (90% Harvested)
HIGH HERONS: 52 bags per hectare of average (93% Harvested)
SMILE: 52 bags per hectare of average (100% Cropped)
L. GREEN RIVER: 53 bags per hectare of average (100% Cropped)
PVA EAST: 53 bags per hectare of average (97% Harvested)