Showing posts from September, 2020

Reducing Nitrogen Runoff

After a dry summer, reduced corn yields generally results in excess soil nitrogen (N) and excess N leaching in the fall, winter, and spring. Most farmers fertilize for maximum yields and hope that the weather cooperates. When corn yields are reduced due to drought, the excess N that was applied is often lost through leaching when the rains return or it may be lost to the atmosphere as ammonia gas under saturated soil conditions through denitrification. Soil N runoff is lost at 100X higher rates than soil phosphorus and N is a major pollutant in Lake Erie and the Mississippi River. Keeping nitrogen in the soil should be a major goal of every farmer, so keeping N in a form that is both plant available but not soluble would be a great accomplishment. Microbially bound N is both plant available but also not soluble. When soils get dry, N is often not plant available but when these soils finally get wet, the soluble N can be lost by leaching or denitrification. The best way to reduce these

Maximizing Wheat Production

Achieving higher grain yields requires a combination of good genetics with a good environment. The full genetic potential of many crops is severely limited by poor environmental conditions especially due to poor soil structure, too much or too little water, and the availability of essential nutrients. Research shows that wheat yields can be increased 50%-100% by improving the soil environment resulting in 2-3X higher root growth and 3-4X higher tillers, resulting in more upright plants for higher photosynthesis and wheat plants with less disease and insect pressure. Good soil health allows each wheat plant to maximize its yield potential. Several management factors that increase wheat yields include plant spacing (related to plant tillers), adequate aeration (oxygen), and high soil organic matter or compost. Wheat seed that is planted too close together inhibits root development and wheat tiller formation due to the competition for water and nutrients. For early wheat planting, close t

Cover Crop Economics

Many farmers ask what is the value of planting cover crops on my farm? A common question with many answers. Cover crops have many benefits and uses, so the answer varies by farm field and farming operation. Cover crops have value even if yields do not immediately increase because they may reduce some pests (weeds, insects, diseases); decrease fertility costs; improve soil structure; decrease soil erosion and nutrient loss; and can be used for grazing or for forage. Many cover crop benefits accrue over time, so immediate changes may at first be difficult to see. One of the biggest benefits to cover crops is the addition of soil organic matter (SOM). Each 1% SOM addition is worth between $500 to $600 in soil fertility. A typical cover crop adds 0.1 to .15% SOM yearly valued at $50-90 per acre. Cover crops add roots and surface cover which greatly increases SOM and improves soil fertility. Calculations done by USDA-SARE in a Technical Bulletin: Cover Crop Economics (2019) show that cover

Vegetation and Reproductive Plant Growth

As summer winds down, gardeners and farmers are harvesting their crops. The dry weather has reduced yields but crops have a higher sugar content due to the concentration of plant sugars from less water. Drought has had a negative effect on both vegetative and reproductive growth. There are certain nutrients which promote mainly vegetative growth and others that promote reproductive growth. A basic understanding of these nutrient relationships can help homeowners, gardeners, and farmers maximize their harvest. Plants utilize nitrates (NO3 - ), potassium (K + ) and chloride (Cl - ) to promote vegetative growth. The plant growth hormone auxin is stimulated by these nutrients and is produced in the growing tips of plants and regulates cell growth and promotes cell elongation. Overfertilizing with these nutrients can lead to excess vegetative growth but no reproductive growth with no flowers or fruit. For example, to much nitrate in tomatoes cause lots of vegetative growth, but no or few to

Lenawee Center for Excellence (Adrian MI) Twilight Tour September 2, 2020

The 2020 Field Day for the Lenawee Center for Excellence in Adrian bas been replaced with a twilight tour Sept. 2, from 4:30 p.m. and run until 7:30. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the tour will limit attendance to 100 participants. Pre-registration is required by calling the district office at 517-263-7400, Ext. 3. Due to COVID-19, state safety mandates will be in effect, including social distancing and wearing a mask. Persons should not attend if they are feeling ill or have been in contact with someone who has been sick. Location: Raymond & Stutzman Farms: 8055 Seneca Hwy., Morenci. Three concurrent sessions, each 30-35 minutes long, will run twice. Topics will include: Cover Crops for Soil Health by Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services. Planter clinic: Technology for Precision Planting & Nutrient Management— including John Deere, Josh Beaverson, Precision Ag Services and Case IH companies. Industrial Hemp Production in Michigan with speaker Theresa Hissong, a Farm Burea