Showing posts from April, 2020

How Selenium and Healthy Food can Reduce COVID Virus Infection and/or Speed up Recovery

University of SURREY Link identified between dietary selenium and outcome of Covid-19 disease By Natasha Meredith An international team of researchers, led by Professor Margaret Rayman at the University of Surrey, has identified a link between the Covid-19 cure rate and regional selenium status in China. Publishing their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , researchers using data (up to 18 February), investigated possible links between selenium levels in the body and cure or death rates of those with the Covid-19 virus in China. Selenium is an essential trace element obtained from the diet (i.e. fish, meat and cereals) which has been found to affect the severity of a number of viral diseases in animals and humans. For example selenium status in those with HIV has been shown to be an important factor in the progression of the virus to AIDs and death from the condition. China is known to have populations that have both the lowest and highest selenium status in the wor

How and When to Plant No-till

  Planting no-till can be tricky and scary! Successful no-till depends on having fully functioning healthy soils and efficient nitrogen (N) recycling. Fully functioning soils have higher soil organic matter (SOM) especially the active carbon, sugars, and root exudates from live roots that allows the soil to crumble. This leads to good soil structure, improved drainage, increases water infiltration, and higher soil gas exchange. This aerobic (more oxygen) environment plus the food source (live cover crop (CC) roots) changes the microbial community from one dominated by bacteria (conventional soils, often anaerobic (no oxygen)) to a balanced system with beneficial fungi (mycorrhizal), good nematodes, healthy aerobic bacteria, and protozoa. The “no-till time line” or transition period is often 3-7 years depending upon how fast and aggressive cover crops, continuous no-till, and manure have been used to promote a fully functioning healthy soil. Soybeans are hardy, easy, and most simple cro

Emerging Planting and Soil Issues

The 2020 planting season has been mostly cold and dry, allowing most farmers to get crops planted, with rain and warmer temperatures now expected. With slow crop germination and emergence, several issues have occurred. What are soil conditions and how healthy are seedlings trying to emerge? Dr. Bob Nielsen, Purdue University says corn can take 4 days up to 4 weeks to emerge (needing 100-120 growing degree days) depending on soil temperatures, but fast growth and fast emergence due to warm soil temperatures is preferred for best yields. Corn has the genetic capability of yielding 1100 bushel per acre under optimal conditions, unfortunately environmental conditions limit yields, and the first 10-14 days of crop emergence are critical for top yields. Most cold injury occurs in the first 24-36 hours after planting when the seed takes in (imbides) water to germinate. With several really cold morning temperatures below 28o F, cold injury may have stressed germinating seeds. Check your corn s

Corn Planting & Soil Temperatures

  Planting corn in cold wet soils results in reduced yields. When the soil temperature reaches 50o F and is rising (with ideal moisture), that is the optimal time to plant corn. Regularly check soil temperatures 4-inches deep just after dawn with a thermometer. To avoid problems, check the weather forecast and soil temperatures on fields to be planted. Wet soils or fields with more crop residue and/or poor drainage tend to be wetter and colder. Water keeps the soil cold requiring 10X more energy than air to warm up soil. Improving drainage, reducing soil compaction, and improving organic matter (from live roots) allow soils to dry out faster. A good live cover crop like cereal rye may transpire 0.2 to 0.3 inch of water per day, drying out and warming the soil. Early during the corn planting season, plant corn varieties with a high cold tolerance. Many corn varieties vary in their cold tolerance as do company ratings. Look at the cold tests and seed viability and plant the highest cold

Planter Setup

Spring planting season is almost here and farmers are making final planter adjustments. Planter setup is critical because “The sins of planting will haunt you all season” according to Ozzie Luetkemeier, Purdue farm Manager. Here are a few planter setup tips: First, leveling the planter starts at the hitch. Make sure the tractor tires are properly inflated for the ideal hitch height. High tractor tires may require an adjustment on the hitch pin to keep the planter level. Planters need to be level in all directions. Parallel arms should be level in the planting position to maximize benefits of downward spring pressure. Check parallel arms with a level all three ways: up and down, across the arms, and perpendicular. Check that planter boxes and fertilizer units are level and the planter frame are correctly set (check owner’s manual). A level planter is critical for ideal planting.  Second, take some measurements. The planter frame should be 20-21 inches off the soil surface. Many planting

Controlling Slugs

Slugs and voles (field mice) population increase during mild winters and flourish during wet springs, especially in no-till or cover crop fields. Scouting shows that slug populations are increasing and may be an issue this year. Slug control depends upon understanding slug biology, scouting, natural predators, and effective cultural practices. Biology: There are over 80,000 slug species, but the main pest is the Gray Garden Slug which lays over 500 eggs in the Spring and Fall. Offspring from one gray garden slug could produce over 90,000 grand-children and 27 million descendants, so slug populations can explode quickly. Slugs mature in 5-6 months and may live 6-18 months with juveniles causing most crop damage, eating 2.5X their body weight daily. Slugs can survive without food for several months during hot summers, with most crop damage in the spring or fall. Slugs are dependent upon moisture, cool conditions, and lush vegetation for food and shelter. Crops usually outgrow most slug