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Monday, February 29, 2016

Soil Moisture Report

I got to work outdoors today.  I had a septic investigation in Ramsey, and late in the day another near Hillsboro.  There are still puddles out there, and near Ramsey, there was a water table at about 20 inches.  It was quite  a mess to pull soil from 5 feet deep.  Southeast of Hillsboro, I pulled into the field with the truck.  The soil was still fairly damp, but firm.  One boring had a water table at 30 inches, but the other 2 had none within 5 feet.  Landscape was fairly uniform, so I am had pressed to say why.  There was some machinery moving on the roads, but I did not see anyone attempting field work.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Getting Ready for Spring Sampling

The time came to replace my old Dodge Truck.  The red truck had 249,000 miles on it.  Last fall it broke down and left me without  a work vehicle for 6 days.  Shopping on line and in the newspaper I spotted the white truck which looked to be a good deal.  At the end of January at my wife's urging we went to look at the truck and decided to buy it.  After getting it home, I found warranty issues and so back to the dealer it went.  I used the old truck in the meantime to do a septic investigation.  All the equipment was on the old one.

My wife said we needed running boards, so while it was in the shop, it got running boards.  The warranty repair was made promptly and to my satisfaction.  The old truck was parked in the driveway  with a for sale sign in the window.  I was able to clean out the interior before it was sold, but the toolbox still had tools in it.  The young man who bought it helped me put the stuff in my garage.  Then it was off to get a toolbox and mount it.  Last Tuesday, I used the new truck for work for the first time.  Even so, I wanted a bed mat to minimize scratches.  I finally got the bed mat installed, so it was time to load the 4 wheeler.  I found that the tie down points were in the wrong place, so I moved them.   Yesterday, I went through all the stuff in the cab hoping to consolidate some and throw some away.  I found broken equipment and repaired it.  I found little to throw away.  Most of the stuff I carry I  have needed at one time or another.  

It is still a month off, but I am hoping I am ready for the spring sampling season.  If I put on the usual 18,000 miles per year, and the truck lasts for 249,000 miles, I will have that truck for a long time.
Old Truck

New Truck

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thinking of Applying Sugar?

A practice that has been getting some discussion in th past few years is applying sugar to the crop.  The idea is that sugar will stimulate microbes and speed up release of nutrients from soil minerals.  Producers may be looking at this practice as a way to cut back on fertilizer costs.  Ohio researchers have looked at the practice along with others around the Midwest.  According to an article in No-Till Farmer, they found no yield increase from sugar applications.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

National FFA Week

I am continually amazed at all the cool stuff this farm boy from southwestern Illinois has gotten to do.  Below is a photograph of the Valmeyer, IL FFA members in 1973.  FFA has been providing opportunity for 85 years.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Small Town Business

When I was in High School back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I regularly sat in the library with Arnie Juelfs before school and read the newspaper and discussed world events.  Since Arnie graduated I think I have seen him in person one time prior to today.  Two or 3 years ago he found me on Facebook and friended me.

Arnie runs a coffee shop, The Village Kaffeehaus in the Village of Maeytown in Monroe County.  Arnie is semi-retired and roasts his on coffee.  Just like old times, we sat and caught up on our lives a little bit and discussed events of the day.  The difference is we had fresh roasted coffee which was wonderful.  Arnie roast coffee while you wait, or you can order ahead and it will be ready when you get there.  I bought a half pound and it made my truck smell like a coffe shop as I drove home.  Many small towns have treasures like this.  I hope readers will stop at some of them and see what they have to offer.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Contrasting Cover Crop Presentations

Last week, I heard contrasting presentations on cover crops.  Emerson Nafziger made a presentation in Litchfield on Wednesday.  He looked at research from several years of data on cover crops.  In his presentation he looked mainly for yield increases, and he did not find any.  It reminded me of  presentations on No-Til in the late 80's and early 90's.  He seemed to be missing the point.  Cover crops are a long term proposition and short term benefit can be difficult to assess.

Anthony Yannarell presented his research in Champaign on Saturday.  Unlike many researchers who prefer to look at yes or no answers, Yannarelll was looking into the why of cover crops and their weed control effect.  He used red clover in his research and found that leaving the entire plant on the surface was most effective in weed control,  One of the real benefits of cover crops is the weed control I am seeing.  While the weed control may not pay off in yield, hopefully you are getting some savings on herbicides.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Soybean Harvest in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

i'm trying to understand how soybean production in Mato Grossowill be; with this reason I am slow to send news. The producers of the North are harvesting soybeans and averages are varying a lot, some farm harvesting soybean30 bags per ha farm and another has harvested 60 bags per hectare. The harvest in the South and the rest of Mato Grosso started and is starting very well. Here in the South we are averaging so far of 64 bags per hectare. The weather is very hot and little rain. We need rain for plants that are still developing, but overall, I would say today that we still need to wait to see the end of the harvest is going to have a great reduction or not.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Soil Compaction

I have read several articles about compaction lately.  the effects of trying to farm before ground id dry enough can be devastating.  We had the wettest December ever, so look for fields to be wet this spring.   Tiled fields usually dry out sooner and one of the positive effects is that compaction is likely to be less of a problem.  Be patient this spring.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hillsboro Soil Conservationist Passes

I am sad to report the passing of Don Long, former District Conservationist for USDA Soil Conservation Service in Hillsboro.  I first met Don when I was a young soil scientist in Edwardsville.  We worked in the same administrative area.  When I moved to Hillsboro, Don had been retired about 5 years.  He would stop by the office from time to time to share his wisdom.  He had solid common sense.  In more recent years, I have joined Don and a group of other retired people for coffee.  Don often had a story to share with the group.  I will always remember a road trip in the summer of 2014 to his farm near Crossville.  Don showed me all around the farm.  I collected soil samples to have tested using our then new Soil Heath Tool.  His land had been in continuous No-till for 30 years by that time, and it showed.  Don's obituary is worth a look.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Veterinary Feed Directive

The FDA is implementing the Veterinary Feed Directive soon.  The rule says that many drugs must be approved by a veterinarian before they are administered.  The Prairie Farmer article says to talk with your veterinarian now about the VFD's.

The real interesting part of the article for non-farmers is the part where they list human use of various antibiotics vs. animal use.  It might lead you to believe doctors are over prescribing.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Looking to Cut Back on Costs?

No-Till Farmer says that No-Till may be an excellent way to cut production costs.  If you tried No-Till in the past, but were not satisfied with the results, keep in ind that we now have more tolls than ever to make it work.  My caution would be that if you have never tried No-till, or if it has been a long time, you may want to go slow until you get it all figured out. Start planning to NO-Til next year now.

I am an advocate of frequent soil testing.  If you have not had soils tested in the past year, spring is an excellent time to sample, right after planting. It is important to get calcium, magnesium, and pH levels where they need to be for top yields.

I the past, compaction has been an issue for   No-Tillers.  Figure out if you need to do anything about compaction.  Deep vertical tillage might be helpful.  Cover crops might be helpful.  You need to apply the skills and techniques necessary to make it work on your farm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Business

I have had an interesting experience in the past few weeks.  Perhaps you have noticed some subtle changes here.  The changes are related to the sale of SoilRight Consulting Services, Inc.

Over the past 11 years I have been given the opportunity to work as a consultant in association with Randy Darr and SoilRight.  The sale caused me to consider how that might affect me as well.  Upon much consideration Janette Porter, Denise Maxwell and I have decided to spin off RPM Soils, LLC.  Yesterday, we registered with the Secretary of State, so it is official.  We are looking forward to our new opportunity with excitement.

The blog belongs to me and as such it will continue to provide my viewpoints on agriculture.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Controling Palmer Amaranth

Weed control is more critical than ever.  Many weeds are resistant to multiple herbicides.  Aaron Hagar says that the cleanest fields are those where people use multiple modes of action.  Palmer Amaranth, AKA Palmer Pigweed is one of the toughest to control.  Mississippi agronomist Phillip McKibben has a 5 step approach for controlling Palmer Pigweed.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Soil Moisture

I did a septic tank evaluation today near Irving.  It was in a fairly flat area.  The ground was covered with weed residue.  There was no frost at all in the afternoon.  The soil had a water table at a depth of 2 feet.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Syngenta Buyout

News of the Syngenta buyout is drawing lots of headlines today.  ChemChina had made a previous offer that was rejected.  The Swiss company has also rejected offers from Monsanto.  It looks like the current ChemChina deal is likely to be completed.  Rueters has a long article on the subject.  They offer plenty of reasons why ChemChina would want the company.  I don't see much about the implications for American agriculture.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kill Annual Ryegrass Early

but not too early. Cover crops can be as easy to kill as having them freeze out, or as difficult to kill as Annual Ryegrass.  Many farmers I know have successfully planted soybeans into green cereal rye, but Annul Ryegrass is not so easy to get rid of.  Start by trying to kill it early.  It is too cold now. Wait until daytime temperatures are in the 50's so that some photosynthesis is taking place.  more details are available in a recent Prairie Farmer Article.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Nitrogen Management on Wheat

Years ago, it was common practice to apply nitrogen to wheat at this time of year on frozen soils.  For environmental and agronomic reason, that practice is no longer seen as a good one. Illinois researchers have found that mid to late March is good timing for many growers in Illinois.  This information out of Kansas discusses Top-Dressing Nitrogen on Wheat.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Grain Condition

I was thinking of what I might write tonight and the weather came to mind.  More specifically, the highly variable weather sets producers up for problems in the grain bin.  Check your grain bins often to prevent losses.  with low crop prices, who can afford to lose anything in storage.  Be sure to follow bin safety rules.