Showing posts from May, 2023

Managing Light: Kill Weeds or Stimulate Crops

  Every farmer spends a lot of time, energy, resources trying to find ways to reduce or eliminate troublesome weeds in their fields. Weeds compete with crops for water, nutrients, and even sunlight; reducing crop yields by as much as 30% nationwide. Chemical weed control has been the most commonly used weapon of choice. Now farmers may have a completely different tool called blue wave light. A company located in Xenia, Ohio, called Global Neighbor, is run by Jon Jackson. They have developed a weed inhibitor using mid-infrared blue light wavelengths to treat weed seed. The weeds seed remains viable, but the weed seed can not germinate. The blue wavelength damages the seed cells where germination occurs. A weed seed’s first root, called a radicle, does not grow so the seed eventually dies. Global Destroyer calls their new invention a weed destroyer and it is mounted on the back of a combine. As the weed seed and chaff passes through the combine, the weed seed is terminated by short burst

Soil Health Resources - David Brandt

  Ohio and the nation lost a major soil health resource named David Brandt this past weekend. David (76) passed away after a truck accident in Illinois. David was known as a “soil health” advocate, teaching about no-till, cover crops (radish, vetch, multi-species cover crops), and how to conserve soil. David changed his soil from a hard, cloddy brown soil into a beautiful productive black, crumbly soil in the a little over 25 years with his farming practices (no-till, cover crops). David was a Vietnam veteran but also a popular “Meme” on the internet because of his bib overalls, his folksy manner, and his honesty. David will be sorely missed. In honor of David and his soil health teachings, I am going to list a number of soil health resources so that people can learn more about no-till, cover crops, and soil health; starting with the simple and moving to the more advanced. The Plowman’s Folly (1943) written by Edward H. Faulkner, published by Grosset and Dunlap is still true today and

Reducing Dust Storms (Wind Erosion)

  On May 1st, near Springfield Illinois on Interstate 55; about 90 cars, trucks, and semi’s collided killing 7 people and hospitalizing 37 due to a dust storm. Dust storm fatalities are hard to track, but the American Meteorology Society reports about 272 fatalities occurred (27 per year) between 2007 and 2017. Dry soil conditions due to a drought, land disturbance due to freshly tilled soil from planting, and high gusting winds are the root cause (or lack of roots) blamed for this accident which occurred over a 30-mile stretch. Dust storms occur when fast moving winds pick up soil (dirt) and debris, launching it airborne, creating conditions where visibility is greatly reduced and even breathing can be difficult. If the storms persist, this dust can travel for thousands of miles before being deposited in another location. This loss of topsoil is not only hazardous to those who experience it, the consequences can last decades or centuries in reduced soil productivity. Dust storms have

Natural Cover Crop Termination

  As the planting season progresses, many cover crops and weeds continue to grow. Letting cover crops grow may reduce soil moisture, improve soil structure, reduce dust storms, and add soil carbon. Crop rollers naturally kill cover crops by mechanically terminating (crimping) them. Crimpers are used to kill grass cover crops (cereal rye, oats, barley, whet, millets, sorghum species), vetches (hairy, common), annual clovers (crimson and balansa), brassicas (kale, rape), buckwheat, sunflowers, and multi-species cover crops. Crimpers do not work well with perennial cover crops like red clover, alfalfa, or annual ryegrass. Best results when the heads or flowers are in the “boot” or head stage, when mechanically crushing cover crop stems kills them. Crimping advantages include suppression of weeds by forming a natural mulch, reduced summer soil temperatures, it conserves soil moisture, decreases soil erosion, adds organic matter, and reduces blowing soil. Crimping cover crops works well on

Improving Herbicide Performance

  Farmers (even gardeners) use herbicides to kill weeds. There are many factors that affect herbicide performance. Water quality; water pH; water, air, and soil temperature, type and volume of water; size of weeds; and even time of day can impact herbicide effectiveness. Purdue University has several good publications on improving herbicide performance. PPP-86: The impact of water quality on pesticide performance. PPP-107 Adjuvants and the power of the spray droplets. PPP-112 Water temperature and herbicide performance. PPP-115 Compendium of herbicide adjuvants. This last publication explains how to prevent water minerals from tying up herbicides. Here are some tips from these publications: Check your water quality. Water makes up at least 95-99% of the spray volume, so water minerals affect herbicide performance. Water quality is measured by water hardness. The more minerals there are, the higher the hardness. Hard water can reduce not only the herbicide solubility but also how well i