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Friday, January 29, 2016

Nitrogen or Phosphorous Based Manure Management.

I read a research article on using phosphorous to determine manure rate instead of maxing out the nitrogen.  The Cornell researchers did some in field research and found that they were short on nitrogen if they based the application on phosphorous.  This is not really surprising. You could do the math.  The advantage of applying manure based on phosphorous need is that it will help you keep disolved phosphorous out of our water.  In addition, if you make a small application of fertilizer nitroen, it will speed up the mineralization of the manure nitrogen.  It might save you a little on fertilizer too. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Controlling Marestail in Soybeans.

Marestail control has gone from a minor annoyance to a must do.  You can get resistant seeds carried in the wind even if you have never used roundup.  No-Till Farmer offers good Advise on Controlling Marestail.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Does Compost Tea Work?

Compost Tea is sold as a soil nutrient enhancement.  Researchers in Indiana looked at the effects of the Compost Tea under four different treatments.  The results showed no significant improvement to soil health or fertility, but some parameters related to soil health seemed to improve.  click on the Lint to read about the Indiana Compost Tea Research.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Random Pictures

The lighting was good on my way home from Decatur today so I got some random pictures.

Corn Crib

Corn Crib and House

Horse Drawn Manure Spreader.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Nitrogen Management in Illinois

Last week I attended the Illinois Crop Management Conference in Mt. Vernon.  One of the presentations was by Emerson Nafziger.  Dr. Nafziger is the senior agronomist at the University of Illinois.  He discussed his latest research on nitrogen management and use efficiency.  He was looking at the effects of such things as split applications or late applications.  He explained the value of the N-Rate calculator which I have previously discussed.

His results were sort of spotty.  In some cases, the split rate did as well as the full rate applied in spring.  In some cases, split rates did better.  His point was, that later in the season application rates can get expensive and troublesome considering extra machinery required and weather issues.  He says you should think twice before jumping in with both feet.  His results were not necessarily consistent with what others have found.

One of the flaws in his study that I caught, was that he equated dribbling UAN in the middle of the row with using Y-drops.  This misses the point of Y-drops entirely.  The Y-drops put the UAN neat the base of the plant where there is at least theoretically a little extra moisture to stabilize the UAN and maybe help with uptake.  I thought Emerson made some good points, but his research results were only from one year.

My bottom line is that you should not draw any conclusions from the U of I work at this time.  If you are using some sort of split application method, don't let these results deter you.  If you are considering a big purchase however, I would hold off on it especially in these lean times.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Last night we attended the 75th Annual Meeting of the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District.  The room was full of old photographs and old friends so it was a pleasant evening.  The program for the evening was presented by the World Bird Sanctuary.  Over the years, I have seen their presentations several times.  They change each time.  Several of the birds were not native to our area, but the two below are.  I have never seen a barn owl in the wild, but the one below is a beauty.

The American Kestral is very common in our are and Paige Davis, the presenter, added to my knowledge of the bird.  The Kestral is also known as a sparrowhawk.  I always thought that was because of their small size, but it is because some ornithologists thought they ate mainly sparrows and other small birds.  The Kestral is a falcon and closely related to the Peregrine Falcon.  They are capable of high speed dives and their peak will kill preay much bigger than them.

Barn Owl

American Kestral

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Soybean Harvest in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

The soybean harvest is beginning in northern Mato Grosso; rainfall is damaging the harvest in the last 12 days. It has rained every day and the sun does not appear!
The first farms that are early harvesting of soy shortest cycle and having 50% to 60% in production.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grass Fed Beef

Growing grass fed beef fits well into an intensive grazing system.  Demand for grass fed beef is higher than ever.  Recent headlines have said that USDA was recinding the grass fed beef label.  The headline was misleading.  Actually, the labeling authority has been moved from Ag Marketing Service to Food Safety and Inspection Service. On Pasture has more information.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pesticides in Food

I don't worry about pesticides in food.  To me, contaminants like E. Coli area much bigger worry, but one that can be overcome with good sanitation and cooking.  It turns out, that my confidence is well founded.  Prairie Farmer says that a recent pesticide report is good news for consumers.  Ckick on the link to learn more. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Time to Burn

The ideal time to burn a prairie or restored prairie is between now and April 1.  I helped the the burn pictured below. Conditions were drier than I expected and the fire burned hot for the most part. I have shared safety rules in the past. a good burn boss and burn crew are important.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Soil Condition Today

I did a septic tank investigation today north of Litchfield.  I was surprised that the soil was frozen 6 inches deep.  It was softened a bit, but I still needed the hammer.  Subsoil moisture was excellent.  I was surprised there was no water table, but it was sloping, so some of the deluge ran off.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Agriculture Graduates are Highly Demanded

In the not too distant past, we heard from some so called experts that agriculture grads were going to have a hard time finding jobs in the near future,  Many of us in the social media world wrote blogs refuting that notion.  Today I ran across this story that says Ag Grads are in High demand.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Soybean Seed Treatment

Seed companies have started pushing for seed treatment on their soybean seeds.  We have seen recent research that could lead us to beleive that seed treatment does not pay.  I have seen seed treatments pay off in a big way on cold wet soils.  It seems fungicide treatments can help you through some poor growing conditions. Insecticide treatments may not have as large of a return on the investment.  Stephanie Porter asks on her blog, Does it Pay to Use Soybean Seed Treatment.  Her explantions can help you make decisions.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

When to Apply Lime

Maintaining soil pH and calcium at ideal levels is necessary to maximize crop yields and fertilizer efficiency. Sometimes there are questions as to when to apply lime.  The answer is, "any time the lime is needed and soil moisture is favorable."  While lime application can be critical to top yields, we shouldn't apply lime based on guesswork.  Not all fields react to acidfying materials such as nitrogen the same way. Also, not all parts of a field need the same amount of lime.  Variable rate lime can help to avoid under and over application of lime.  Both situations can affect yield.

No-Till Farmer has 3 Tips for When to Apply Lime.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Soybean Harvest in Mato Grosso

By Eduardo Paim:

Here in Mato Grosso harvest began in the fields of soybeans that were irrigated with pivot; the farms that suffered from the dry soy is not ready to be harvested. The month of December 2015 was dry in northern Mato Groso, the states of Bahia, Maranhão and Tocantins. We are returning to have good rains near the beginning of 2016. Now the concern of northern soybean producers in Mato Grosso is whether the rains will be intense and prevent making a good harvest. Yet one can not say that there is a reduction in productivity. In the city of Canarana-MT, today I heard that producers still have finishing planting of soybeans, it is already too late for that!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Little River Diversion Channel

Olson, Morton, and Speigel have recently published an article in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, concerning the Headwaters Diversion channel AKA Little River Diversion Channel in Southeast Missouri.  The channel diverts upland flow from the Castor and Whitewater Rivers along with a number of other small tributaries and prevents them from flowing through the Missouri and Arkansas Delta area.

The diversion was one of the keys to draining the Delta and making it more productive agriculturally.  The down side of many drainage and flood control projects is that these projects often transfer a problem from one place to another.  In this case, flood elevations on the Mississippi River are increased from Cape Girardeau, Missouri to Helena Arkansas because of adding 1.2 million acres of drainage area to the flow.  Click on the link to read the article Missouri Ozark Plateau HeadwatersDiversion Engineering Feat

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sulfur Deficiencies and Sources.

When I started consulting in 2005, we seldom saw sulfur deficiencies in any crop.  We were even then seeing soil test sulfur levels drop.  We were making recommendations for sulfur, but some customers questioned the need. Now, we see sulfur deficiencies in the spring almost daily.  Many more clients have started to use sulfur.  Commons sources are elemental sulfur, gypsum, or ammonium sulfate.  Some are using the liquid form, ammonium thiosulfate in row.

Topdressing Wheat with Sulfur is a recent article in No-Till Farmer.  
While we do not have lot of wheat in our area, the information on forms of sulfur fertilizer is vvery good.  Click on the Link.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Nitrogen Loss from Recent Rains

A wet fall in general , and recent rains in particular have people thinking about nitrogen loss where it was fall applied. Fall applied nitrogen that was applied late, will experience less loss than early applied nitrogen especially when soil temperature are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit since it has been applied.  There is not much that can be done at this point whether you have nitrogen loss or not.  The best time to look at it is shortly before or after planting.  A soil test is the best way to find out what is going on with your nitrogen.  Another alternative is to take advantage of chlorophyll sensor technology at sidedress time.  The sensors will help to deal with the fact that losses are expected to be higher on low areas.  No-Till Farmer has written about 5 factors that affect nitrogen loss.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 in Review

I usually do a Year in Review between Christmas and the New Year.  This year flooding was underway, so I filled the space dealing with the flood.

Looking back on blogs in 2015, One of the popular ones was written early in the year in response to tight budgets.  It still applies now.  Saving Trips across the Field

My on-line friend and fellow blogger Ed Winkle passed away and I wrote about him In Memory of Ed Winkle. 

Eduardo Paim continues to send reports from Brazil.  Like my reports his focus on his home area, Mato Grosso.  Eduardo's reports such as this one on Corn Harvest in Brazil continue to be popular.

Cover Crops continue to be a hot topic and I wrote several entries.  This one asking if you are On the Fence about Cover Crops was the most read.  

I look forward to continuing my attempt to offer advice and opinions on agriculture in 2016.