Showing posts from March, 2023

Controlling Common Pests

  This year a common question is how to control common insect pests of crops and vegetables, a task that is becoming more difficult. Farmers who use seed treatments and broad-spectrum insecticides to terminate pests generally also terminate the beneficial natural predators. Some common Ohio corn and soybeans pests include soybean cysts nematodes, stink bug, wireworm, seed corn maggot, black cutworm, and true armyworm. Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) damage soybean roots and has six life stages, 3-4 weeks apart. Soybean damage looks like stunted yellow soybeans, generally in circular or oval areas where SCN egg populations are high. There are numerous predators to SCN including Endo parasitic fungi, predatory nematodes, mites, Collembola (jumping springtails), Enchytraeids (pot worms), rove beetles, and centipedes. Cover crops like cereal rye and annual ryegrass planted early in the fall when soil temperatures are above 500F may reduce SCN levels 60-80%. The invasive brown marmorated stink

Understanding Biologicals

  Biologicals may be the next revolution in farming. Biologicals are natural products, either living or chemical by-products, that benefit crop production. Chemical by-products include minerals, organic materials, and plant extracts. Many snake oil type products exist on the market and it is difficult to separate out good products from bad. Dr. Jane Fife, 3 Bar Biologics outlined the use of biologics at the Conservation Tillage Conference. A number of bio-stimulants and bio-fertilizers decrease many environmental stresses like drought, high or low temperatures, and soils with high salts. Many products also improve the plant’s ability to recycle soil nutrients and speed up biological processes. The problem with many biologicals is that they are not highly regulated yet but bioinsecticides are regulated. A common example is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) which is a registered and regulated bioinsecticide. Other substances can be living or nonliving and have been harder to regulate. Most pro

Corn Starter Fertilizer

Farmers use corn starter fertilizer to increase corn yields? True but the 25-36% increased growth at V6 (young corn, six true leaves) may only increase corn yield 2-3%. Weather and soil conditions after planting often have a greater influence on crop yield than starter fertilizer. However, farmers want to get their corn crop off to a great start so they have a chance at achieving those higher corn yields. Where do farmers get a big boost from corn starter fertilizer? Generally, soils that are low in nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) respond the most to N-P-K starter. Corn after corn responds to added N. No-till fields with cover crops respond to early applied N due to a higher carbon: nitrogen (C:N) ratio in the soil. In no-till fields, 40-60# of N is suggested at planting to overcome the N deficient. Soil microbes need the N to break down cover crop roots and possibly higher crop residue. Poorly drained soils that are cold and wet also respond to starter fertilizer becau

Cover Crop Weed Control

  A new study by Purdue University, Dr. Bill Johnson shows the benefits of cover crops for weed control. Cover crops are known to control grasses and marestail, but Dr. Johnson wanted to document other weed control benefits. For example, can you control weeds with out residual herbicides? What other weeds do cover crops control? Dr. Johnson found residual herbicides may not be needed if crop residue is high enough to suppress marestail and annual grasses weeds. For other broadleaf weeds, the cover crop residue was not enough to suppress broadleaf weeds. The cover crops plus residual herbicides were 100% effective at controlling weeds in his trials. Cocklebur was a problem weed which required the full rate of herbicide plus the cover crop residue to control it. Dr. Johnson discovered several other important weed facts about cover crops. Planting green or planting soybeans into cereal rye later had a much higher success rate than terminating the cover crop early. The Purdue research team