Saturday, September 11, 2010

Maryland Called, I Answered

So remember when Ron Mulford from the University of Maryland visited the NCRS in late July, and I said I would visit him in September? Well I did that last Thursday. Sales Account Manager Benjy Conover picked me up at the airport and we drove down to the Poplar Hill Research and Extension Center in Quantico, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There are quite a few acres of corn and soybeans there. Ron served as the director of that research faciltiy for many years until retirement this year, but continues to do some research there, including with some Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers. Below Ron shows us the extensive foliar fertilizer research plots, that incorporated with and without soil-applied fertilizer and an array of different foliar soybean fertilizers. Unfortunately, it has been very dry there all summer. There is corn being harvested in the area, and the yields aren't very good due to the weather. We also visited a corn nitrogen study involving a variety of different sidedress treatments, liquid and dry. This corn will likely be harvested this coming week. Below we see Benjy making a kernel count in a plot in order to make a yield estimate. I wrote down his guesses and we will see how close it is to the actual yield on the plots he counted.We also visited another corn nitrogen plot up in Clarksville, MD. Clarksville is about 20 miles West of Baltimore and 30 miles from Washington, DC. There is a lot of farmland around there, but also fields that are growing houses. The picture below is next to the farm where our corn test is, and you can see the new houses. Another grower in the area told us about the farmland preservation programs where growers can get partially re-imbursed for the difference between exorbitant land prices they pay, that are priced for development, and reasonable area prices for farming if they agree to keep it in crops and never to develop it. Benjy said that there is such a program where he lives near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I would hate to be driving tractors and combines on some of the narrow winding roads we were on due to traffic. But I did eat several meals of Maryland crab, so traffic didn't bother me.

So today is September 11, the anniversary for a sad date for our country. It is one of those dates that you may always remember where you were when you heard the news. I was in our farm office in the white barn across from Mr. Cook's house, as our current barns had not yet been built. Stephanie and I were in the office talking to Mr. Cook when Doug Summer, who was on an errand in town and heard the news on the radio, called to tell us a plane had hit the World Trade Center, but we didn't know the details at that time, thinking it was an accident. I had to go to a funeral that morning and will never forget turning on the TV when I got home to change and seeing the devastation. And the tragedy continues.
So I am off on another fertilizer mission this week. All I can tell you at this time is that I go with a banjo on my knee.