5 Reasons Why Soil Biology Matters on the Farm

Jeff Goodwin, Conservation Stewardship Leader and Pasture and Range Consultant
(Previously published with Noble Research Institute; March 13, 2019)

Success and long-term viability for most agricultural enterprises ultimately hinges on the health of their soil. This is true for beef operations in the Southern Great Plains to row crop farms in the Midwest.

For decades, the agriculture industry has focused, studied, and ultimately understood the physical and chemical characteristics of our soil resource (e.g., soil texture, soil pH, etc.). However, until the past few years, little emphasis has been placed on the biological constituents and their importance in a healthy, functional soil.

 

 

 

Continue reading

Early Yellowing Soybeans

Source: Dr Anne Dorrance, OSU Extension

Sudden Death Syndrome

Soybeans across the state range from ready to harvest to still flowering.  But in some fields, the yellowing was limited to pockets – some was sudden death syndrome or brown stem rot, charcoal rot, Phytophthora stem rot, and soybean cyst nematode.  There are some other early yellowing situations that we are still working on an accurate diagnosis, but yellowing in these cases may be linked to fertility issues and/or related to late flooding injury.  I think in 2018 we’ve observed just about everything, and it was all dependent on where in the state the soybeans were grown, how much rain occurred and when that rain fell, as well as the variety.  It did seem that we had calls on the same variety from multiple regions.

The heat this past weekend is also going to move the crop fairly fast. So if you haven’t driven by the earliest planted fields – this is the week to do so.  Sudden death syndrome is very widespread – but in most fields, it is limited to a scattering of plants throughout the wet areas.  The plants were not severely affected as most of the fields I visited were holding their leaves and not defoliating as quickly as I have observed for the most susceptible varieties. Late season Phytophthora stem rot is also present – in this disease, the plant wilts, holds its leaves and develops a brown canker that extends from the base of the plant up the stem.  Charcoal rot can also cause early yellowing or dying, and these symptoms were present last week in several areas of the state.  To distinguish this from other diseases, cut open the tap root and look for the black dots embedded in the tissue and lower stem.  When populations of soybean cyst nematode are high, plants will also mature earlier.  For cyst, you can dig up the plants, shake the soil off and see the small white pearls (females) on the roots.  Often we need a microscope as the cyst will turn tan to brown and becomes hard to see.

This round of late season scouting is important for variety selection, improving fertility applications for the fall, and prioritizing which fields to sample for soybean cyst nematode.  Let’s just hope the weather cools so we can get out of the trucks and walk into the fields!

Seeing Yellow Spots in Your Soybeans that aren’t Normal Plant Maturity … Check Your Potassium Levels.

Soybean fields are beginning to mature very rapidly.  For the past several weeks “yellow areas” have been showing up in many fields throughout the Knox County.  One possible explination could be potassium (K) deficiency.

Late season K deficiency is usually found on leaves near the top of the plant.  These symptoms typically occur in areas of the field where K fertility values are low however, this symptomology can sometimes be found in fields with adequate K levels during dry periods in a growing season.   Additionally these symptoms can appear later in the growing season after a significant rain following an extended dry period.

Picture 2. Sudden Death Syndrome

Sometimes K deficiency is confused with Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) symptomology.  Picture 2 shows SDS symptoms. The presence of the green veins is the key identifying characteristic for SDS.  The veins on the leaves will remain green while the leaf tissue between the veins will turn yellow and then brown.

 

Picture 3. Potassium Deficiency

 

Picture 3 shows soybean with K deficiency.  The leaf discoloration starts on the outer edge of the leaf and moves inward, including leaf veins.

 

 

 

Farm Science Review Agronomy College is September 11th

by: Harold Watters, OSU Extension

The FSR Agronomy College is held in partnership between the Ohio AgriBusiness Association & OSU Extension. The event is designed to educate agronomists, Certified Crop Advisers, custom applicators and farmers on current agronomy issues. The full-day event features time with OSU Extension staff in the field in the agronomy plots on the east side of the Farm Science Review grounds. Breakout sessions will feature topics including a weed management update, weed and crop screen, variable rate soybean seeding, an update to the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations, the new Ohio Phosphorus Index, and some how we will squeeze in even more. CCA and pesticide application credits available to those attending.

Date: September 11, 2018

Location: Farm Science Review – Molly Caren Agricultural Center, London, OH

Time: Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.; sessions begin at 9 a.m. and concludes at 4:00 p.m.

Cost: $120 Registration: Click here to register for the event. (or try this link:http://oaba.net/aws/OABA/pt/sd/calendar/67757/_PARENT/layout_details/false)

Contact: Janice Welsheimer at 614-326-7520 or by email: jwelsheimer@oaba.net

Or for additional information, Harold Watters, 937-604-2415 or by email: watters.35@osu.edu

CONSERVATION TILLAGE CONFERENCE: NEW TOPICS FOR CHANGING AG

by Mark Badertscher

So what is the relationship between healthy soils and healthy water? How can you manage inputs and planting date for high economic corn yields? Which soils should respond to sulfur applications? What are some opportunities and considerations with subsurface placement of nutrients? How can you build soil health and organic matter with cover crops and no-till? How can you use economics in the choice between growing corn and soybeans? What will the revised P index look like? How can you get started in honey bees, barley, or hops production? What are some methods to manage invasive plants around the farm?

These are all questions you might have asked yourself, but have struggled to find an answer. This year’s Conservation Tillage Conference (CTC) has the answers to these questions and many more. The McIntosh Center at Ohio Northern University will once again be the location were about 60 presenters, several agribusiness exhibitors, and approximately 900 participants will come together March 6th and 7th in Ada, Ohio. Attend this year’s conference to add value to your operation by learning new ideas and technologies to expand your agronomic crops knowledge.

A general session with well-known author David Montgomery from the University of Washington discussing “From Dirt to Regenerating our Soils” will officially open this year’s conference. Corn University, Nutrient Management, Precision Ag & Digital Technologies, Healthy Soils for Healthy Water, Regenerative Ag, and Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils are the sessions that make up day one.

On the second day, conference participants will be able to choose from Soybean School, Water Quality Research and BMPs, Alternative Crops, Pest Management of the Atypical Pests: Slugs, voles and more, Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters Precision Nutrient Management, and Healthy Water. In addition, there will be an EPA required dicamba training on both days of this year’s Conservation Tillage Conference provided for pesticide applicators in attendance. To register for one of these Monsanto-provided dicamba application requirements training events, go to: www.roundupreadyxtend.com/training.

Find out what experts from OSU Extension, OARDC, USDA, and SWCD are learning from the latest research about the timely topics that affect today’s farmers, crop consultants, and agribusiness professionals who are out in the field working together to produce crops in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) and Certified Livestock Manager (CLM) credits will be available to those who attend. Visit ctc.osu.edu and make plans to participate in this year’s Conservation Tillage Conference by February 24 to take advantage of early registration rates.

 

2018 Central Ohio Agronomy School

Dr. Robert Mullen explains the phosphorus situation in Ohio at Monday’s Central Ohio Agronomy School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Central Ohio Agronomy School meets every Monday from  February 5 – March 5 from 6:30 – 9 p.m.

February 5 – Dr. Robert Mullen, Agrium-Potash Corp.
Fertilizer Outlook for 2018
The Phosphorus Situation in Ohio
Sulfur – Fact or Fiction
February 12 – Frank Gibbs, USDA NRCS Soil Scientist (Retired)
Building Soil Health – What are the Benefits?
                           -Aaron Wilson, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Ohio Changing Weather Patterns.
2018 Weather Outlook.
February 19 – Matt Bennett, Precision Planting
Farming by the Foot, not the Field
                             -Mike Hannewald, Beck’s
Multi Hybrid Planting
February 26 – Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension
Weed control update for 2016
Palmer Amaranth – We Have It, How Do We Control It?
Palmer, Waterhemp and Pigweed Identification With Real Plants
March 5 – Peggy Hall, OSU Agricultural Law
Legal Issues Facing Agriculture
                        -Barry Ward, OSU Extension
Farm Economic Outlook for 2018
March 12 – Weather Make Up Date

 

eFields Report Now Available

eFields represents an Ohio State University program dedicated to advancing production agriculture through the use of field-scale research. This program utilizes modern technologies and information to conduct on-farm studies with an educational and demonstration component used to help farmers and their advisors understand how new practices and techniques can improve farm efficiency and profitability. The program is also dedicated to delivering timely and relevant, data-driven, actionable information. Current projects are focused on precision nutrient management strategies and technologies to improve efficiency of fertilizer placement, enable on-farm evaluation, automate machine functionality, enhance placement of pesticides and seed, and to develop analytical tools for digital agriculture.

 The results from Knox County Seeding Trials are included on page 86.  The entire report can be downloaded at https://fabe.osu.edu/programs/eFields

The Economic Value of Applying Fall Poultry Litter

by: Jordan Shockley, University of Kentucky Assistant Extension Professor

Spring application of poultry litter is ideal for maximizing the economic value of poultry litter but faces challenges that include wet soil conditions, lack of time to spread litter near planting, and availability of poultry litter in the spring. Therefore, it is a common practice in Kentucky to apply poultry litter in the fall. While not optimal from an economic, agronomic, or environmental perspective, producers still need to understand the economic value from applying poultry litter in the fall.

Poultry litter applied in the fall to fallow cropland will suffer from ammonium volatilization and leaching resulting in little to no nitrogen available to the crop come spring. This results in an economic value less than if applied in the spring. To evaluate the economic value of poultry litter applied in the fall, first assume that soil test recommendations indicate the need for phosphorus and potassium. Also, assume that “as received” poultry litter has a nutrient content of 50 lbs of nitrogen, 56 lbs of phosphorus, and 47 lbs of potassium (average for Kentucky). With current fertilizer prices of $399/ton for anhydrous ($0.24/lb N), $418/ton for DAP ($0.36/lb P2O5) and $316/ton for potash ($0.26/lb K2O), the expected value of poultry litter applied to fallow cropland in the fall is $29/ton. This value should cover the price paid for the poultry litter, transport, and application to compete with commercial fertilizer when applied in the fall. The value of poultry litter increases to $33/ton if it is spread in the fall to cropland that has a cover crop planted. Both fall poultry litter prices are lower compared to 2016. This is directly attributed to the decrease in nitrogen prices from $0.32/lb to $0.24/lb. This decrease value was slightly offset by small increases in both phosphorus and potassium prices.

If availability of poultry litter in the spring is a concern, stockpiling litter purchased in the fall can be an option if local, state and federal regulations allow. With the correct storage techniques and a properly staked litter pile, producers can expect minimum nutrient loss for spring application. If the same commercial fertilizer prices hold, the average poultry litter in Kentucky would have a value of $36/ton if properly stored and applied in the spring.

The value of poultry litter differs in the fall if applied to pastures or land for hay production. If applying poultry litter to an established stand of alfalfa with a legume mix of <25% of the stand, the average poultry litter in Kentucky at current commercial fertilizer prices has a value of $40/ton. The value of poultry litter will vary based on grass type, established stands vs. new seeding/renovation, and whether the land is used for hay, pasture, or silage.

Since the value of poultry litter is dynamic and always changing, decision tools have been developed so producers can enter soil test data, nutrient content of measured litter, commercial fertilizer prices, and management practices of poultry litter applied to determine the value. Tools for applying poultry litter to both grain crops and land in hay/pasture/silage are available and can be found on my website at the following link: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/AgEcon/shockley_jordan.php