Showing posts from February, 2024

Drone Spraying

Aerial Drones are being used in agriculture. Alan Leininger, OSU Extension Educator, Henry County is doing agricultural research on drone applications. Drones have several advantages over ground-based spray equipment. First, they economically apply small rates of spray (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, nutrients), seed (small seeded cover crops) and are battery operated. Second, they fly in the air, so there is no soil compaction. They extend the application season. If it is too wet, applicators can still spray. There is no wheel damage to standing crops. Applicators can precision apply product at the ideal time during the growing season to address a nutrient or pest problem. Drones are also autonomous meaning they fly themselves on a set pattern. Humans still have to be present for fill ups and to trouble shoot problems (low flying planes, helicopters, towers, telephone lines, tree, etc). There are several different kinds of drones with various prices. Avoid buying cheap drones

Does Planter Phosphorus Pay

Phosphorus (P) is often applied at corn planting to improve crop yields. However, does it always pay for itself? Ohio State University Extension Research (E-Fields) investigated where applying P at planting is worthwhile. Soil testing is critical. Past soil test recommendations were based upon Bray P1 but now they use Melich P. Bost methods are very similar. Under Bray P1, 15-30 Parts Per Million (ppm) P was considered good for attaining optimal crop yields on corn and soybeans. Under Melich P, 20-40 PPM for P is considered good. Most soils have a lot of tied up P but only the P that is plant available is considered usable. Only about 25-30% of the P that is applied that year is actually used by the plant. The other 70-75% become available in following years, depending on weather, soil type, humus levels etc. Cover crops and crop residue tie up many nutrients short-term, but they come available when they decompose. Residue from crops or cover crops are good P sources. From 2016-2018, O

Explaining the Weather

Dr. Aaron Wilson, OSU Climatologist gave a summary of current and future weather conditions.Dr. Wilson explained the difference between weather, which is current day to day events, and climate, which is long-term weather events over time. It’s like a man taking a dog for a walk. The dog is all over the place which is like our current weather, changing constantly. However the man is like our climate, he is walking in a certain direction while the dog follows erratically along. Dr. Wilson reviewed the 2023 past weather conditions and made predictions for the upcoming 2024 year. Overall, 2023 was warmer than normal, about 2-30F above normal. It was the 4th warmest year since 1895 and the 49th driest year, about 4 inches below normal precipitation. Last winter was warm, followed by a cold spring. June was hot and dry but the rest of the year had variable weather that was cooler than normal during the day but with warmer nights. On rainfall, it was lacking most of the year, but not for ever

Nutrient Stratification

Farmer led research is a valuable tool for improving crop yields. The hard part is making sense of the data. Marion Calmer, Calmer Farms in Fairbury Illinois has been doing farm research for many years. A major concern has been the stratification of soil nutrients in the upper soil layers. Calmer has been no-tilling (NT) for many years, but he does not use cover crops. Over 14 years, he applied $1,000 worth of surface applied nutrients/acre (average $71.42/acre). Calmer worried he was not getting the best use of that fertilizer. He tried a farm experiment. First, he soil tested his field taking soil test in 1-inch increments down to 8 inches. Results showed extremely high soil test levels for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the top 1 inch, and about 50% lower in next 1 inch. Approximately 46% of his fertility was within 2 inches of the soil surface and only 16% were in the bottom 2-inches. He then plowed and soil tested a portion of his NT field. Results showed a re-distribution of