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Friday, March 31, 2017

Rainfall Shortage?

We have been hearing some concerns expressed about dry soils in our area.  Rainfall the past week should have relieved that concern in the short run.

Topsoil moisture on Wednesday when we went to the field was just OK.  Topsoil should be well soaked at this point.  Septic tank borings through the winter to a depth of 5 feet have showed that subsoil was at least moist and in some places saturated,

Soil Moisture does not change much until tillage and transpiration start.  In a dry period it is easy to mess up your topsoil moisture with too much tillage.  With wetter topsoil, that is even easier to do.

The real problem is that through the winter, the rainfall pattern was a dry one. Until the past 2 days, I can't remember the last time we had at least an inch of rain.  If that dry pattern were to continue into the summer, crop yields would suffer.  The fact is that we cannot grow top yielding crops without timely rains in June, July, and August.      

Monday, March 27, 2017

Should You Use Micronutrients or BioStimulants

A recent article in Prairie Farmer explores the use of micro-nutrients and bio-stimulants.  Karen Corrigan is quoted extensively and she is a very respected agronomist.  Karen says to use both soil testing and tissue sampling to determine needs.  I find myself in agreement with her concerning many of the additive mixes.  Often the amount of nutrient in the mixes will not completely correct a real problem area.

I also learned from Ted Peck that correcting the macro-nutrients and soil pH soil be done first.  If P, K, Ca, and Mg are not correct, there is no use messing around with the micros.  I always try to correct the big things first.  After a year or two we can look at micro's when everything else is right.  If you macro-nutrients are all at or above ideal levels, then perhaps you can push yields with micro-nutrients.

Bio-stimulants are coming into their own with many of the bigger ag supply companies owning or researching products.  Some of the products that are used for seed treatments have become mainstream.  Others need to be tested on your farm as Ms. Corrigan points out.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Nitrogen Management Webinar

Emerson Nafziger is present a nitrogen management webinar on recent research next Thursday, March 30.  Click on the link for more info and to get registered.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Potassium is Critical

Often, the first time I sample for a client, potassium is below critical levels.  Potassium is one of the three macro-nutrients we apply regularly in fertilizer.  Several years ago, University of Illinois Professor Mulvaney came out with the notion that we do not need potassium fertilizer.  It has been my experience that crops do respond to potassium when soil test levels are below 230 pounds per acres.  Ideal levels are considered to be 300 to 400 pounds per acre in Illinois. Potassium is critical to help weather a drought.  Levels need to be high because availability goes down when soil is dry.

No-Till Farmer published an article out of Michigan that calls Potassium the overlooked nutrient.  You better not overlook it if you are going for high alfalfa yields.  Potassium is not currently an environmental concern, but over application can be lost on soil exchange sites.  Most people say that there is no need to apply over 300 pounds per acre unless you are growing a high demand crop.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cooperate on Insect Trapping?

U of I is looking for cooperators for insect trapping.  If you would like to participate, follow the link on the bulletin.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Soybean Harvest Almost Done in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

Good Morning! Here in Mato Grosso we are closing the soybean crop, productivity will be a record! The climate is perfect for harvesting and production. Overall the average should be between 65 bags per hectare and 70 bags per hectare. The planting of the second crop corn is developing well, with good rains for the development of the plants.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How Little Fertilizer Can You Get by With

I read a recent article in No-Till Farmer talking about Postponing P and K applications to save as much as $52 in production cost.  university of Nebraska suggests that perhaps producers can lower costs by fertilizing to sufficiency rather that shooting for ideal levels.  Critical levels tend to be much lower than what we consider to be ideal levels.  What does that mean?  Until your soil test levels reach the critical point your chances of reducing yields are fairly slim.  So does that mean you can cut back?  I have no idea what your current soil test levels are.  If they are already low, then maybe.  Keep in mind that in dry years, potassium availability decreases as soil moisture drops, so keeping K levels right at that critical point may not be a great idea.  Yes your financial situation can come into play, but mining your soil may not be the best idea ever.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why Tillage Now?

We have been seeing a lot of late winter field activity this year.  If you are putting on Nitrogen, are you doing it knowing you might lose it?  Are you using inhibitor?  This is more like fall applied than spring applied.

What about tillage?  You are killing very few weeds since they are not growing.  You may be smoothing out the ground and setting it ip for erosion.  Rough ground prevents erosion.  You might be smoothing it out and setting it up for crusting.

Do you plan to till it again before planting?  Why till now?  Are you plannig to kill weeds chimically and plant in a stale seedbed?  That might work.

Before you do a winter tillage operation ask yourself why.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Harvest in Mato Grosso

By Eduardo Paim:

The climate has become perfect for the soybean harvest and for the second corn crop. In the month of February we had many rains in Mato Grosso, there were soybean crops that were flooded by the waters, but this will not promote a big fall in soy production. I believe we are on our way to a big harvest in Brazil. We still have the states of Bahia, Maranhão, Tocantins and Piaui that suffered from the lack of rainfall and still did not harvest their crops. Another expectation is to know about the production of Argentina.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Phosphorous Pollution

When I was getting my degree, we were taught that phosphorous does not move.  In the modern world we hear of problems created by phosphorous in our surface waters.  Recent issues in Lake Erie, especially in the Toledo area is teaching us that phosphorous does move.  Very little phosphorous can also cause big problems.  Why is the problem surfacing now.  In many places farmers have been cutting back.  Nutrient stratification could be an issue.  No-Till could be an issue.  Joe Nester, A consultant in Ohio has been looking at rainfall pH as an issue.  He has run some simple tests and found that dissolved phosphorous does increase as rainfall pH approached 6 or a bit higher. Click on the link to learn more about the Great Soluble Phosphorous Mystery.