Fertilizer

A long and busy schedule of meetings in January is now over, thank goodness. I am worn out. I think I was on the road for meetings over half the month of January and into the first of February.

There were several good things I picked up that need attention in the near future. There is a lot of info that everyone might be interested in and I don’t want to forget something, but I will.

Bryan Young and Larry Steckel have put on some great presentations on Palmer Amaranth  ( short article intro to Palmer ) if you are not up to speed on this weed you had better get ready…….. the chemical management of this weed species is very important. If you get a chance to see one of these speakers, go to the meeting and learn about Palmer before you get it. There is also a good mode of action chart for management of resistant weeds that Bryan has been handing out: click here to access it.

Soybean size is going to be very large this year. You need to be aware of what seed size your getting and get the appropriate plate size to insure proper planting populations. This is industry wide and some are reporting shortages of plates in some areas……..you may have to do some calling to find them.

I have been in contact with some of you who have expressed interest in refining your management zones for either soil sampling or variable rate applications. I have been talking to, and have an initial agreement with, another consulting company to have access to a Veris tool (http://www.veristech.com/index.aspx) .  Veris tools are used for making more accurate soil maps, mapping OM or pH for VRT or soil sampling.  I am encouraging anyone interested in VR seeding to do some Veris EC maps to help guide this process.  Our soil maps in So IL are not the greatest, and in some cases have not been updated in 40+ years. We can also do elevation mapping at the same time. If you are interested in this, please contact me so that I can put together as many acres as possible to get the best utilization of the tool.

This was just an accident, apparently.  The hose broke during application from what I have gathered.  It also looks like the safety flow valve failed.

And to think some people try to steal this stuff and they put it in 5 gallon buckets, coolers and propane tanks.  Foolish.

If this was to happen run, run, run, run into the wind as fast as you can. It seeks out water. Its boiling point is -28 deg F (minus 28 F) or something like that, and it will KILL YOU.

I got done sidedressing the last two fields of corn with anhydrous today.  That means other than one last shot of post chemicals tomorrow, the corn crop is now on its own.

Now my focus shifts to wheat cutting which will happen next week………

And then I hope by the 8 of June (first it was the 1st of May then May 15 and then June 1) my parent seed will be here and I can start planting some soybeans.

In the meantime, we are bone dry, low humidity, windy and getting hot.  More like August weather than May.  The last real rain I had was about April 13.

Ready for a few days off……..

I have been hit recently by those in academia who believe that anything that comes from the university system that is called “research”, “peer reviewed” and published is gospel.

Who’s gospel is my question.

Having been through a MS program and having done research, thesis defense and abstract of other research papers as part of my MS program, I read all research with much skepticism.

First thing I want to know about any research is who funded it.  Follow the money.  One does not fund a research project with hopes that their desired result is not discovered.  So who funded the research.  If the money is tied to a company or individual who could benefit from such research, then the results are suspect to me.  If the government funded any research it is suspect to me.   If  those who funded the research also are sponsoring the researcher, then they and their research are junk.

Call me paranoid.

Second I want to know who the researcher(s) are and what they have to gain from the research.  Now don’t get me wrong, a researcher who is looking for a cure to a disease is looking for RESULTS or POSITIVES in their research.  That to me is not suspect.  One who is getting sponsorships from the one who funds research and gets a positive result, then that is suspect.  We have a bunch of those folks in the world of agriculture right now.  There are several well known agriculture professors who are out on the rubber chicken and roast beef circuit who are pumping up the results of their research, who are also being sponsored by those who funded the research.  The ever-present sales pitch is part of their “research”.  So I take their results with a grain of salt.

Call me skeptical.

Lastly there are those who use old research to justify their current research.  In other words it’s easier to get researcher A’s paper and then go and duplicate the result on a small scale and get the desired result without doing real research.  Again there seems to be a herd of those type university folks out there right now.  I suspect its a lack of funding from the traditional sources but more likely its just to prove their bias or please their sponsor.

Call me hacked off.

What is research?  I think I know real research when I see it.  1)  It must be randomized and replicated in a way that removes the element of bias of a given result. (Side by sides are not research and multiple side by sides are not research)  2) It must be done in enough locations to show a true cause and effect relationship (for fertilizer, chemicals and additives)  3) The researcher should be free of bias.  While they can get funding from the persons for whom the research is for, they should not be sponsored by them.  4) The research should last over several trials or several years to show it is not luck, happenstance or coincidence.

The sad fact is that a lot of peer reviewed scientific research that was showed at winter ag meetings this winter had little true research in them.  Mostly it was either rehash of old research or it was so biased that it was meaningless.  Worse yet the professors from the Land Grants should know better……..and are the worst offenders.

Last week, as you know by now if you read this blog or follow me on Twitter, I attended the KARTA meeting.  KARTA (Link Here) stands for Kansas Ag Research Technology Association.

KARTA (originally KARA) was organized in May 2000 by a group of innovative Kansas producers, university researchers, and industry members who shared a common desire to learn more about production agriculture and continue to be a part of the leading technological and informational changes taking place on today’s farms

This year was the fifteenth annual conference. It was an applied workshop consolidating information about new and old technologies with a focus on supporting scientifically valid on-farm research efforts and increasing overall farm business profitability.

Topics included precision ag, social media, economics of travel logistics between fields and farms, on farm research, and crop nutrition as well as various presentations by industries on their new, current or trending technologies.

The Thursday night after dinner topic covered land rents and land values.  This particular discussion was led by Dr. Terry Kastens & Dr. Kevin Dhuyvetter.  I would call it the “Bear Pit” of KARTA.  It was a fantastic discussion involving any and all attendees of the meeting.  The topic was batted back and forth and ripped apart…and that was just the three hours or so that I stayed for it!  Very good discussion…….

While the evening session or Bear Pit was my favorite part of the meeting, I must say that I give the entire meeting a “10″ as far as meetings go.  It was very well organized, very well attended by producers and industry. It was an open exchange of information. Information was CURRENT, RELEVANT, FORWARD LOOKING and it was HONEST.  It was everything that an agriculture producer meeting should be.

I think so highly of the meeting that I believe we need something like it here in Southern Illinois!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I hate the usual “rubber chicken and roast beef” agriculture meeting circuit here in Illinois.  Well, this wasn’t a rubber chicken meeting by a long shot………in my opinion it very closely resembled, for the production and precision side, what Farm Futures Management Summit is for the economic and business side.

I left there with that good feeling, that positive feeling of knowing that I had been rubbing shoulders with the progressive life long learners of agriculture.  When that happens you know you have been to a good meeting……….yes their world is different than mine here in southern Illinois, but that doesn’t matter.  It’s the mindset I look for.  The mindset of being proactive vs reactive.

KARTA is a great proactive meeting………I highly suggest you attend the 16th meeting if at all possible.

 

Instead of the “Year in Review” recap that is typical this time of year, how about something different…….

My Top 5 Blogs of 2011

#1  ICCA Board works to kill off CPAg Certification

#2  Combines, Grain Bins, Grain Trucks and Bush Hogs

#3  Harvested Nitrogen Plot Today

#4  Corn Harvest Begins for Some

#5  My New Bag Phone

My Top 5 Categories Viewed in 2011

#1  Cutting Board Portable 

#2  Soil Testing

#3  Field Scouting

#4  Ham Radio

#5  Guns

2011 was a record year for krfarm.net

Almost 27,000 unique visitors who made 77,000 visits this year with 835,000 page hits while they visited.  December, November, September and May were the biggest months for visitors and page content viewed.

Thanks for visiting!  Thanks for commenting!  Thanks for telling your friends about us!

We are going to try and ramp it up a notch for 2012…….stay tuned!

 

Seems like everyone has a blog, newsletter or magazine article on nitrogen and corn yields for the 2011 crop.  Well I guess I will chime in with my .02 worth on the topic this Friday.

A pound of N is a pound of N.  (Yea, we all know that I hope by now.)  It is where, how and when you place that N that matters most.  In 2011 where, how and when made all the difference in the world.  Yet there are still fertilizer dealers and farmers who are flat out in denial.

I have been told that some calculations have already been done here locally by a few farmers that their sidedressed corn had a $200/ac advantage to their preplant corn.  I believe that is the case and think is higher in some instances.  A lot higher in some instances.  Based on the available N testing that I did this spring, testing for both Nitrate and Ammonia N, there were many instances of preplant N loss, (urea, solution and anhydrous) of 50% with some fields I tested losing 75% by the time the corn was V2 – V3.  Some of those fields didn’t have corn growing in them by the 20th of April either…………

Fields with preplant N, where the farmer either tested and believed the results or assumed a N loss based on crop color and looks by V5-V6, and then sidedressed supplemental N at between 50 and 75 lbs/ac, and reported to me a 50-70 bu/ac yield increase over doing nothing.

So 50 bu/ac @ $6/bu = $300/ac Gross minus 75 lbs N/ac @ .50/lb = $37.50/ac Cost equals $262.50 NET/ac (no labor or machine cost subtracted).

So on 100 ac that’s another $26,250 of profit…………..Sidedressed N, applied with a knife, in the ground, between the corn rows.

Will that hold true every year……….. probably not.  But if a pound of N is a pound of N and placement and timing are everything, then how much are you willing to give up for convenience?  $262/ac?  $200/ac??  $50/ac??

In that range of numbers above is a lot of the cash rent that is paid in this area……….Where, how and when could have easly paid your cash rent………plus  a great return on your time an machiney investment.

Where, how and when was everything this year……..

 

A quick update this morning, on the run this week.

Took this picture of my oldest and favorite son shelling corn on Saturday.  He just loves running the combine but loves being annoyed by his Daddy even more!

Corn yields continue to be good for us but we know there is the June replanted stuff to get yet.  That being said if it doesn’t tank to bad we could have a just below average crop.  Still a week or so away from trying it though, to many things to do yet on other fronts.

Harvested the second N plot and this one is significant in its results.  The 100# rate yielded 171 bu/ac and stair stepped up to the 200 # rate making 194bu/ac.  Looks like the optimum rate is about 170 or so (without doing the math) with puts it right in line with our previous plot results on this field of 165 #/N or so.  Will post more results when there is time.

Larry Cooper with Opticrop came and calibrated the wheat drill so as soon as I get a few repairs made to it and the gauge wheels back on we can drill wheat.  Or after I get the repairs made and get the fields sprayed I can plant wheat.  That is one of the jobs to day is to get the chemical to spray I hope in the next day or so.

Also I have to pull a bin fan today and take it to the shop, its pulling way to many amps on start up and causing problems………plus the Cat is still sitting in the shop with one track off waiting on seals and tracks….. and we had to put a new bearing in the unload auger……..and there is more but there isn’t space or time to list them all.

It goes without saying that if you farm, you know……..about repairs.

Took out one of the nitrogen plots today. Its a calibration study of N testing to rate response.

Results were (are) most likely not significant and had more to do with field position and water movement in the field than anything.  The result could be broken down into two different field positions, one averaging ~147 and the other averaging ~161.  That being said when your 150# rate and your 225# rate yield the same in the same field location, then its not N that’s contributing to that yield, or at least this year.

Randomized plot design helps tell treatment affect from field position.  This is why I am so, lets say….skeptical with all the fertilizer dealer “research” that is done in this area.  They don’t randomize and replicate.  The side by side it, among a lot of other things, and call it research.

This year it seems that yield response studies are not going to be very reliable between the massive amount of rain we had from April to July and the intense heat and lack of rain from July to August.  Not to mention that some studies had replants and replant of replants in them in this area.

Big thanks to Christopher Johnson, my Pioneer sales rep for taking the time out of his day to bring the weigh wagon over and collect the data while I ran the combine.  Now all I have to do is forward the data on the the researchers and my work is done on Plot #1.

The good news is that my yield monitor calibration is pretty darn close on these plots, which means that I can do the next one with just the monitor and not bother anyone trying to work around schedules!!

Well it rained all day yesterday.  We ended up with 1.41 inches in the gauge and it was greatly appreciated.  It will help the double crop soybeans and it helped settle the dust.  Cool weather followed the rain in and you need a sweatshirt this morning outside.

Some general observations this morning as we hit the middle of September.  Corn harvest has started for about 80% of the farmers in the area but it is not a sprint this year but more of a walk-a-thon.  Very casual.  I think this has to do with lower yields and areas of higher moisture due to replants.  I have yet to see the roads loaded up with trucks but I know it is coming.

Fertilizer prices keep going up and as more corn is shelled the amount of P and K that is going to get spread keeps going down.  After a big hurry to get tonnage for prepay lots of folks are just not going to spread that much fertilizer this fall it seems.

Wheat acres are down it would appear. I say that now but know that a quick bump in the price will bring out more seed and more planting pretty fast.  Corn prices have everyone looking to Dec 12 and not July 12.  That being said there is also a lot of PP acres of DC Beans that will not get wheat planted back on it.

And last but not least……….the economy and the lack of direction and leadership out of Washington DC is weighting heavy on a lot of folks.  Enough bad news beats down on everyone.  Even in the Ag community where things are bright from a $ standpoint.  This country needs a warm fuzzy reason to have hope and I fear we are not going to get more than a cold slimy from Washington for a while to come.

I realize I am pretty simple minded, or at least I think I am.  So it mystifies my simple mind when every year about this time we have a panic attack initiated by the fertilizer dealers.

Prices are going up, buy now before we run out, I dont know what its going to cost me to replace what I have in inventory, we dont know about the supply.  Panic Panic Panic.  The sky is falling.

I realize in some years that these statements might be true.  But as with the little boy who cried wolf, I aint buying it anymore.  I mean I am buying fall fertilizer, but I am not going to make a panic or impulse buy.  For some reason I dont think the big dealers think you are going to make an impulse buy either.  I think its just a way to lock in your business and not let you shop around for better prices or service.

I mean lets review:  Dealers know what the crop outlook is for the area, they know how big the crop is or isnt and how likely you will be to buy based on yield.  They know what the supply outlook is and delivery outlook is and they are going to buy and fill up based on this.  They know what the outlooks are for financing and carry in the market.  They know how much we buy based on economic factors, yield, new equipment cost etc..  In other words every dealers has a very good idea of how much they are going to sell and need to buy so there is really no need to panic to hurry up and make a purchase based on any of the above mentioned factors of why the salesman says you should buy.

So where is the panic?  I don’t see it.  Unless they are such poor managers that they don’t look at all these factors.  If that’s the case, then they don’t need to be in the fertilizer business.

The only thing that the dealer doesnt know and we dont know is what the fall weather is going to be like.  THAT will have an impact on what gets spread and what doesnt a much as yield and cost.

To be fair, my dealer hasn’t pushed the panic button on me yet and I don’t expect him to either.  Its just funny watching the big Coops and big dealers sales people run around like chickens with their heads cut off yelling ” the sky is falling the sky is falling”.

 

 

Thanks to Luke Baker, Agronomist at BLI for contributing to this post.

Just a follow up on the N testing and the trend we are seeing here in Southern Illinois.  I continue to see PSNT (Pre Sidedress Nitrogen Test, the nitrogen test I am running to test for nitrate and ammonium N) return at values less than half the original amount applied.  I have even seen samples return that are within the range of what we would see as “background noise” or what we would expect to see from a DAP application or from residual N from a legume.

Again this continues to be true of Anhydrous, Urea or Liquid, stabilizer or no stabilizer.  The fields tested so far have ranged from those fields not planted or just planted to fields where the corn is ~ankle high or about three-four leave stage.  N has been applied anywhere from mid March through Mid to late April prior to the rains at the end of April. I attribute this to mainly two factors:  Soil temperatures above 60 deg F and half a years worth of rainfall over a two week period.

There have been claims that the pre-sidedress nitrogen test (PSNT) does not pick up on N that has been applied with N-Serve. This is wrong.  All N-Serve does is “poison” microbes to stop nitrification.  The PSNT measures ammonium and nitrate in the soil, thus, we will be able to measure any nitrate and ammonium that was applied as fertilizer because N-Serve only influences the microbiology.  This is also true of other stabilizer for urea or liquid N.  They do not keep the N from being detected in the testing procedure.

Could there have been loss of spring applied ammonium treated with a stabilizer?  Most certainly.  In a study done near Brownstown, Illinois (this is available on the N-Serve website) anhydrous was applied on March 15th and April 1st.  Samples were taken on for ammonium and nitrate on May 13th and the found that for the March applied N 53% of the total was in the nitrate form when treated with N-Serve.  This N is now available for loss.  However, this is better than the sample not treated with N-Serve where 100% of the ammonium was all ready in the nitrate form.  For the April application, both N-Serve and no N-Serve treatments showed a conversion of ammonium to nitrate of about 50%.  In this case the N-Serve did not out perform just anhydrous alone.

Was there loss this spring?  More than likely yes.  How do we know? When PSNT’s come back low we know there was a loss.  For example, if 200 pounds of N was applied in April and the PSNT results come back 20 ppm nitrate and 5 ppm ammonium there was loss.  Typical background levels of soil nitrate and ammonium are aroud 5 to 8 ppm for nitrate and 1 to 4 ppm for ammonium.  The field that had 200 pounds of N put on is now only showing 100 pounds of N (20 ppm + 5 ppm x 4 [4 is the depth factor] = 100 pounds of N per acre).  Also, if the N-Serve was still being effective we would see much higher ammonium levels (25 to 40 or more ppm of ammonium) than we did in the above example.

Once N is in the nitrate form it can rapidly be lost to leaching and denitrification under saturated conditions (which you guys here in Southern Illinois had for many days at the end of April first portion of May).  Most of the PSNT analyses that I have looked at from Southern Illinois appear as if farmers are going to come up short on N even though they applied 150 to 200 pounds of N as anhydrous with a stabilizer.

In fact, some samples have had complete loss of N because the PSNT is showing only normal background levels of soil N (8 ppm of nitrate and 1 to 2 ppm of ammonium). In these soils, another 150 pounds or so is likely to be needed for good corn yield.  These fields have corn that was just planted or just coming up.

Do I need more N?  Most likely yes. In my above example showing 100 pounds of N per acre, 80 of those were in the form of nitrate.  If the weather continues wet this N can be lost rather quickly too.  One recommendation that I heard was to “fly on” urea at tasseling.  This would give you quite a bit of bang for you buck.  However, you need rainfall to get the urea into the soil.  If the weather turns dry…as I heard that it might the urea would just sit on the surface and volatilize (be lost to the air), which does your corn no good.  Side dressing N now or later with a high boy so that it gets into the soil is a much better option.  If sidedressing now, it may be wise to use a stabilizer to limit N loss if weather is expected to stay wet for another few weeks.

Who needs Vegas when you can be a farmer?  Don’t guess or rely on the past to assume what is left in your fields.  This year you are going to be very short.

Don’t guess, soil test.

 

Got the first shot of nitrogen on the wheat yesterday. Applied 50 units with Agrotain. Two good things about yesterdays N app: First the ground was frozen and two the sprayer got rid of the “sky carp”.

I shouldn’t complain, these geese were Canadians and not Snows. So the damage is very minimal. A Canadian will only eat a little bit off of each plant because they want to come back and eat again someday. A Snow will pull the plant up and chew on it and then spit it out. I have no use for Snows, but the Canadians are pretty and fun to watch. Either way this year I am glad they are gone so people will quit asking to hunt them!

Shortly after this picture was taken it started to snow, as in precipitation, no geese. Got about an inch. It wont last long, to be in the high 40′s to low 50′s by Sunday.

My corn yields suck.  They have sucked for the last three years, something is wrong and I need you to soil test them.”  A Pretty straight forward comment from a grower and one of the numerous valid reasons why we should be doing soil testing. 

But the soil tests show nothing is really wrong.  Field observation at time of soils sampling shows that nothing is really wrong.  So your mind begins to wonder, what could be wrong. 

Then the “Oh My Gosh” moment happens, when you process the sample maps from the GPS.  

The NRCS color compliance photos that are taken each summer are what I use for backgrounds on the soil sample maps I produce for my customers.  They are very useful tools if you know how to manipulate them for something other than a pretty picture.  A simple color photo can be used to direct soil sampling or detect problems if you know how to look at them and manipulate them correctly.  Well it didn’t take much manipulation to see what was wrong with corn yield in these fields. 

Blow is the NRCS photo from 2009.  The field was in corn that year, beans in 2010.  Can anyone pick out the problem…………..if you look you can see where the custom applicator drove applying Urea pre plant prior to incorporation into the soil, as are the practices of this farmer.  Those are the green strips, you can also see where he left the spreader on during turns on the headlands and if you look real close you can see where he ran out going across the field.

 

In 2009, on this particular farmer’s farm, 80% of the corn fields have this pattern in them.  In other words 80% of his corn acreage was spread with a problem.  We can determine that the strips are ~50 ft wide from center of green to center of green.  So we have either have an issue with the truck or with application width or both.  Then again maybe even more problems than that. 

When we manipulate the maps by changing the color bandwidth, we can estimate that 50% of this field never got any N.  50% of this farmer’s corn never got a fighting chance to develop to its fullest potential.

 

 And it wasn’t just 2009.  It happened in 2008 and I am told that yields were bad this year in 2010. But we will have to wait until July next year to get the 2010 NRCS photos to confirm that the problem still exist. 

Let me be clear, the Custom Applicator here has a problem that needs to be fixed, but it is not a slam or indictment on just this Applicator.  Note I said Applicator……..Custom or Personal, it could happen to anyone.  This is why we need to always check not only the job of those we hire to perform but also our own spreading, spraying and other applications.  It is important to do pan test on spreaders, nozzle checks on sprayers and make sure you have the application width correct for any device you operate.  

It is important to get as applied maps made of not only what is custom applied but what you and your hired men do.  Keep those app files, those guidance lines those planter records.  Keep and ANALYZE it all.  

To quote the theme from the Six Million Dollar Man:  “we have the technology, we can rebuild him”.  

Folks we have the technology; spreaders, sprayers, GPS and NRCS photos.  From high tech to low tech but we have the technology so USE THEM to insure that you and those you hire are doing the best job possible on your farm today.  The volatility and risk are too much just to assume that all is well

Just finished a drive back from Phoenix, all 1600 miles of it, and now its time to get back to work.  But first some random thoughts this morning.

We have had about .75 of  an inch of rain from the storm that went thought this morning. I really hope that’s enough to get the wheat to come up.  It has been a long time between rains here, like August I think, so we needed every drop.

I continue to watch with great humor the liberal left eat their young and euthanize their old:  The Juan Williams firing.  NPR really messed up this time and I think it is going to hurt them were it hurts the most, their pocket book. 

The President seems to be using racial slurs now to describe the Republican Party at some campaign stops.  Note that NPR or the other three letter left wing news organizations aren’t picking it up and reporting it.  The national double standard continues for this President. 

In driving back from Phoenix all you heard on the radio was campaign ads.  Negative ones at that, and they all sounded the same, from one race to the next, from one market to the next, from one state to the next.  Sad, sad, sad.  Its no wonder good people don’t run for office.

I continue to be amazed at the lack of service that one can get at equipment dealerships, fertilizer dealerships, chemical reps and so forth.  Get the money and don’t worry about the customer.  I am lucky in one respect, I have a good fertilizer/chem dealer who takes care of me, even if they are an hour away.  TC and the folks at Browns Feed and Chemical at Galatia have once again done a great job spreading P and K, as well as my lime.  Good job guys!

Learned yesterday that Miles Farm Supply/Opticrop has sold to CPS.  Really sorry to hear that.  I liked Miles and Opticrop and the jobs they did.  CPS doesn’t have a good track record down here.    Will have to wait and see what happens in the transition. 

Time to go, more later.

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