Showing posts from January, 2022

Future Agricultural Technology

We have come a long way in agriculture, from using horses to steam engines to gas and diesel tractors, and now to the use of ground and aerial robots. As the human population on earth reaches nearly 10 million people by 2050, our food production is going to have to increase by 70%. Efficient use of nutrient and crop inputs, improving crop genetics, and improving soil health will be needed to improve yields while also addressing environmental concerns. New agricultural technology will also assist in making this goal a reality. By using satellites and global positioning; tractors, planters, and harvesters can tell where they are positioned in a field. Then with computers came auto-steer (self-guiding equipment) and yield monitors with human assisting and now unmanned robots are starting to perform many repetitious agricultural tasks. Several new agricultural technologies have recently developed. Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones are becoming more

Tips for Reducing Fertilizer Costs

  Farmers are re-evaluating their fertilizer application due to high fertilizer prices. Farmers who regularly applied fertilizer may not need as much or any additional fertilizer if their soil tests are optimal; especially for lime, phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Most agricultural clay-based soils have around a ton of P and perhaps 40 tons of soil K. Applying high priced fertilizer when it may not be needed is not a good investment. Soil testing is a good investment for both rented and owned cropland. Soil tests are accurate for 3 years, but knowing what fields need fertilizer is the most important. Fields that are nutrient low should be prioritized over high or optimal fields, especially if fertilizer dollars are limited. Without recent soil tests, farmers are just guessing their crop’s nutrient needs. Soil samples are usually taken in the fall or early spring. Soil tests are often taken at the same time of year and then compared over several years to see soil fertility trends. We

Building Soil Carbon

Most of our agricultural soils are lacking adequate levels of organic matter and good soil health to obtain optimal yields. The lack of humic substances and healthy soil biology reduces the soil’s water holding capacity and the ability to release nutrients when the plants need them, leading to reduced crop quality and lower yields. Now that some carbon markets are paying farmers to store carbon, here are some ways to get paid to store soil carbon with added crop and soil benefits. Understanding the carbon cycle is the first step to effectively building soil organic matter. There are three main ways to increase a soil’s carbon content: carbon imports, carbon generation, and carbon induction. From an agricultural perspective, all three methods of carbon generation are great for agricultural production. Importing Carbon: There are three primary carbon imports: humates, biochar and compost. Humates such as fulvic and humic acids can be added to a soil and generally provide good nutrient ex

Reduced Roundup (Glyphosate) Availability

  Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup which is the number one weed killer (herbicide) worldwide. About 90% of major USA crops (corn, soybeans) use glyphosate to kill weeds. China is the biggest manufacturer of glyphosate, but due to supply shortages and higher fuel prices; glyphosate is in short supply and prices are at least 3-4X higher than normal. This next year, farmers may have to have to adapt their weed control programs by using less glyphosate. Glyphosate or Roundup was invented in 1950 but was not approved or used by Monsanto as a herbicide until 1974. Glyphosate use became dominant when soybeans and then corn were genetically modified in 1996 to resist glyphosate. Glyphosate is made from an amino acid called glycine, so it is readily absorbed by plants and breaks down quickly in the soil. Glyphosate kills most weeds fairly easily. Over time, at least 29-30 weeds have become resistant to glyphosate. Resistant weeds include the pigweed family (water hemp, Palmer Amar

Enhancing Crop Growth with Humic Compounds

Humic compounds are organic (carbon) compounds in soil organic matter that enhance plant growth. Humic compounds are composed of fulvic acids and humic acids (highly decomposed SOM) and include many different compounds. Adding humic compounds to your fertilizer may increase crop yields 22% for soybeans, 16%-53% for corn, and 21%-180% for certain vegetables. Humic compounds may be a good investment when fertilizer prices are high. Fulvic acid is a biological activator and energizer, getting critical nutrients into the plant through roots, stems, and leaves. Humic acid is much denser and a storehouse for plant nutrients; especially nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and calcium. Fulvic acid (FA) decomposes and microbially becomes humic acid (HA) over time. Soils with adequate HA have good soil structure, allowing soils to crumble and greatly improves microbial growth. Drainage improves due to higher pore space and there is higher soil oxygen. Soils are warmer due to its rich black color and i