Showing posts from November, 2021

Fall Tillage and Soil Compaction

Agricultural field practices seem to be like our national politics, very much divided. Maybe 25% more fields planted to cover crop due to H20 Ohio funds. On the other hand, there appears to be more vertical tillage, chisel plowing and plowing. Green fields surrounded by bare fields. The wet fall weather, soggy soils, and tillage has created hard pans and poor soil structure. Perhaps winter freezing and thawing will mellow out our soils but tilling soils wet almost always creates more problems; especially with soil compaction, drainage, and soil structure. Farmers have many reasons for fall tillage. Eliminating ruts, burying diseased plant residue, and burying weed seed are common explanations. Stale seed beds (light fall tillage) create spring soil conditions for good seed to soil contact and slightly warmer soils which allow plants (especially corn) to germinate quickly. Corn is a warm season plant that also benefits from nutrients released during tillage. Soybeans and even wheat are

Optimizing Nitrogen Fertilizer Applications

  Crop prices are high but fertilizer prices are rocketing even higher. Farmers are looking for ways to lower their fertilizer bill, especially on nitrogen (N). Almost all N is processed by soil microbes before being plant absorbed. About 85% of N is used to form about 20 amino acids which are converted to proteins and enzymes with about 10% of N used in plant genetics (DNA, RNA). Optimizing N fertilizer is critical.  University recommendations on N has changed over the years. University N research in the 1950’s advocated heavy N fertilizer because yield increased as N application increased?? N was relatively cheap and no researcher wanted farmers to lose yield as extra N was a cheap fertilizer insurance policy. That caused a few issues with water quality, so universities adjusted their N rates over the years. About 10 years ago, universities re-examined that original data and found little direct relationship between higher corn yields and higher N rates. The relationship between N fer

Value of Manure

Farmers are seeing fertilizer prices soar in 2021 and 2022. Extreme weather, plant shutdowns, sanctions, and rising fuel and energy costs, and high grain prices are driving fertilizer prices higher. Fertilizer prices are at their highest level in more than a decade. Fertilizer prices for nitrogen (N) have soared from around $400 to $450 per ton for anhydrous ammonia (82% N, 1640# N/ton) to currently $1100 or more. The cost per pound of actual N in anhydrous has gone from $.27 to about $.67 per pound. Many farmers use 28% liquid N (560# N/ton) which is safer to use and current costs are around $475 per ton or $.85 per actual pound of N. Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) prices have also soared. Phosphate fertilizer (60% P, 1200# P /ton) is currently being priced at $829 to $840 per ton or about $.70 per pound. Potassium (K) or potash (60%, 1200# per ton) is at $725 per ton or $.60 per pound. Manure can be an alternative to fertilizer but putting a value on manure is dependent upon how mu

Agricultural Microbiological Products

  This of the time of year when farmers are considering options for buying seed, fertilizer, various pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides) and other products for next year’s crop. Now farmers may want to consider buying agricultural microbiology products which require even more specialized knowledge. This article will attempt to give some basic information about agricultural microbiological products and what they do. Microbial products have many names including crop probiotics, bio-fertilizers, bio-stimulants, bio-controls, or bio-fungicides. They can be applied to the soil, seed, or as inoculants; with or without carriers like compost, peat, or stickers. Buying microbiological products is like moving to the wild west. While almost all products generally will or can work, they are fickle and may not work every year due to various environmental conditions. Handling, storage, and applying the microbes at the right time, place, and rate to soil, seeds, and plants can be challe