Monday, November 1, 2010

Probably My Last Spray Jobs of the Year

So today was pretty nice for November 1 in mid-Michigan. Sunny with no wind, but kind of cool, in the upper 40's this afternoon. But a good day for some spraying. What would you be spraying this time of year you may ask? Well we are trying a new variation in our strip till (or Nutri-Till) experiment that was shown in the previous post. And that is to spray some banded fertilizer on the surface that will be planted in no-till corn next spring. I like the fall strip tillage, but some growers want to stay no-till, and this could prove to be an advantage. Well, if it works that is. So I sprayed the same rate of Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500 that was run through the Nutri-Till last Friday. The only decision was what type of nozzle to use. I thought of turning the flat fan nozzle sideways as I have done before as in drop nozzle applications. But I didn't want to mess with the drop nozzles and they do wiggle around some. I also thought of straight stream nozzle or orifice disk. But after much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth, I decided to use the 3-stream fertilizer nozzle with an orifice disk inside that would allow the 10.5 gallon per acre rate I was spraying. This would enable fertilizer streams that would shoot through the wheat stubble and hit the ground and not spray so much on the stubble as with a flat fan nozzle anyway. I set the boom as low as it would go and I thought it made a nice pattern for the banded application. You can see the outside nozzle catch the sunlight showing the streams hitting the ground. (Thanks to Stephanie whom I made go out to take this picture.)
I have my nozzles on 15 inch spacing, so it is easy to spray bands on 30 inch spacing directly over where a row will be planted next spring (in 30 inch rows by shutting of every other nozzle). Again, thanks to our RTK gps system. The picture below was sprayed on the parking area by the shop, and shows the fertilizer bands. (I actually sprayed the middle four rows of the six-row plot.) It is 30 inches from the middle of one band to the next, and makes a nice tight band over each future row. There will be time for the P and K and micros to move down into the ground a little for root uptake next spring.
The next job for the Hagie and me was to spray emerged wheat from one of our wheat experiments. This particular test was featured in the October 13 blog post when it was planted. The idea was to spray the same fertilizer treatment that was applied through the drill. Well, sadly, not everyone has their drill rigged for liquid application, so we have a couple of different broadcast spray treatments for comparison. The first is spraying before planting and today was to spray after emergence. We have not done this at the NCRS, but Ron Mulford at the University of Maryland experiment station (remember when he visited the NCRS last July 28?) showed this to be an effective application. The wheat is about three inches tall now. It is kind of hard to see in this picture, and actually kind of hard to see from the cab. But I could follow the tram lanes we left, and find the correct plot with the gps monitor.

This is what the wheat looks like at ground level. I imagine that some of the fertilizer does get in through some foliar absorption. I sprayed at 50 psi though nozzles on 15 inch spacing, so it was getting good distribution of the 8.5 gallon per acre fertilizer rate. So we will be keeping our eyes on this now and next spring for comparison to the drill applications. And if anything stands out, you know where to find out about it.
So after completion of this final task, I sadly parked the Hagie plot sprayer in the equipment barn, gave it a little love pat, and walked away and did not look back. I know she will get a thorough going over this winter to make it all shiny and new next year, most likely the first time out will be to topdress this same wheat test. So if you are feeling a little rundown yourself about this time of year, I hope you will get your own thorough going over to make you all invigorated to do it all over again next year. Good luck.