Thursday, June 30, 2011

Applications Today Were N-Tense

So I know that title is lame, but they can't all be homeruns. But today I was back at the NCRS feeding some N to corn with some drop nozzle treatments. This is a way to spread out applications, although our results have generally shown that a single timely application is as good as spreading it out over multiple applications. Even with our lighter textured soils. Hmmm. But with all the rain this year, we will see if maybe there was an advantage to multiple trips. You can't see the nozzles in the picture below, but they are there. Stephanie took this picture of the N band between two rows of corn in the V9 growth stage, and about 3 feet tall. The corn is looking pretty good now that we have had some sunny days. The bad part is that there are spots around where water stood and the corn is shorter, or less stand. That complicates research.
We applied several different rates of several different N sources. We used regular broadcast nozzles (actually Turbo Tee Jets) turned sideways to make a band. This to minimize chance of spraying N on leaves. But I run the nozzles just a couple inches off the ground, and at moderate pressure, around 20 psi to minimize splashing. I recommend a nozzle in every row middle too rather than every other row. And it is nice having my boom nozzles on 15 inch centers which makes it easy to have a drop nozzle in the exact middle of each 30 inch row. Below, Jeff and Amanda change nozzles at this pit stop. Now if you do this, you should split the line to the two outside nozzles in the guess rows, and use half sized rate nozzles on those. This is because the guess row will get sprayed twice, as on the trip back the other way, and you don't want to put a double dose on there. We do this on our sidedress applicator too, as explained in a past posting.

We made drop nozzle applications to two different experiments on two different farms. After that it was time to make some broadcast nitrogen applications to the sugarbeet demonstration plots planted on Tuesday. So after the nozzle switcheroo, it happened.

So that's done. Probably have to do something else tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Now Put the Planter Away!

So I was still away on a fertilizer mission yesterday when all this happened, but Stephanie sent these photographs by carrier pigeon so that we may keep you, our loyal readers, informed. And as hoped, the last planting project was completed yesterday. This was the planting of the demonstration plots, or the "demo" plots as we like to call them. (Grow fast little seeds.) There are lots (by "lots" I mean I don't remember the exact number) of different fertilizer treatments on corn, soybeans, black beans and sugarbeets on which we can have "hands on" evaluations at the farm tours coming up later this summer. (Wanna come?) Below Phil guides the planter through a plot. These plots are much shorter than the regular research plots since they are for demonstration purposes only. Yep, it was cloudy and sprinked a little, but the rain stayed away for once. Jeff watches Amanda fill a bucket of fertilizer as part of the next treatment mix. Looks like she got it right. Jeff likes to impress people by telling them he is an intern at St. Johns. (The "hospital" part goes without saying.) No, in reality, he is proud to be an agronomist. Well I return to the NCRS in St. Johns, Michigan tomorrow, and chaos is certain to ensue. It's time to start foliar spraying of soybeans, and drop nozzle applications of N on corn. With that to look forward to, I may be early for once! Stay tuned.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The End (of planting) is Finally Near

So for the first time in NCRS history, we finally had to throw in the towel on planting an experiment due to lateness. This wet, wet spring, and now summer, delayed planting so much that it is now just too late to plant milo and sunflowers and expect a harvest. So today it was dry enough to plant again, and it was decided to plant Navy beans in those spots. We do have some good treatments planned, so all is not lost. Below Phil gets an early start this morning on Navy bean planting. And then Stephanie managed the planting of the Black Bean experiment on Farm 7, again with Phil at the wheel. I'm sure I said it before that Michigan is the Number 1 producer of Black Beans.
I was away on a fertilizer mission, so I relied on the miracle of that thing we call the internet for the pictures. So that completes the major experiment planting. (Pause for cheering, even though it is almost July). Now what is left is what we call the "demo plots" which is where we plant different crops that we dig up and look at things like roots and leaves on tours. Usually they are planted a good month earlier, but who knows, we may be on the verge of a great discovery this year with late planting. That's what keeps us going......

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Planting Continues...Well For A Day

So we finished sidedressing corn on Monday and then switched the tractor back to the planter to try to make some headway on our later planted crops like edible beans. We had two field experiments planned for Navy and Black beans. I was gone, so the Navy bean experiment planting went very well. I came back Tuesday night in torrential rain, and it has been raining ever since. We have gotten 1.5 inches since then, so are at a standstill with fieldwork, again. It shouldn't be too late for planting Black beans yet. It is sad to drive around and see corn only a few inches tall in some fields, and soybeans just emerging. This is certainly a year to remember. Or forget.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Where Have You Been Blog???

So the blog has been missing for the past 10 days, and there have been numerous inquiries and complaints. Sorry he has been a slacker, and will try to make up for it today. Not a whole lot of new things to report in the interim, just trying to finish sidedressing corn, both plots and production. Again, this has been a most unusual year where we started sidedressing early planted corn right after finishing planting late corn. The same rainy weather that extended planting has also continued through sidedressing. Heavier ground on Farm 7 is slow to dry out too. Below we see Phil applying some nitrogen on test plots on Farm 7. Alfalfa was cut and harvested the previous week, so it is time to apply foliar Liquid. If applications are made after harvest, it is good to wait a week until the alfalfa has around 4 inchees of regrowth. (Yes, we are still using the Classic Hagie sprayer as the new Super Hagie is not quite field-ready yet. But stay tuned.)
Below is a field shot of the alfalfa plots. It is a good site with 300 foot long plots that enable us to use the round baler seen in last week's installment. Notice the above picture was taken in bright sunshine. The picture below was taken less than an hour later, and it is now cloudy. This has been a regular pattern, although it did not rain today.

What the heck is this thing? An alien probe? (Ouch!) No, it is a time lapse camera installed on the edge of another alfalfa field on Farm 5. This is a prototype built by an outfit here in St. Johns, and was just installed on Thursday. What will it do, you ask?

It will take a picture every 15 minutes, during the day, of the corn plots across the alley. It will show two different fertilizer applications and how they may affect corn growth. This is kind of a test year, and hopefully we can have several in strategic spots, including vegetables, next year. I imagine they could be installed right after planting to monitor growth and emergence. It is in the adjacent alfalfa field to make sure it is not disturbed. Us worker types at the farm have thought of all sorts of clever additions to the pictures, but we don't want to face the wrath of Albert, who set this up.

Here is a close-up view of the camera. I wonder if they know it's not plugged in?

So life at the NCRS isn't all fun and games. Just ask Amanda and Jeff as they pick rocks from a recently planted corn plot on Farm 7. There are some good sized rocks here that can, and have caused issues with equipment.

With the cold, wet and cloudy conditions this spring, there is concern that some of the corn is pale, in spite of fertilizer having been applied. There has been interest in the use of foliar fertilizers to give the corn a "jump start". We applied some foliar treatments yesterday to some corn on Farm 7 that fits the description. It is in some lower ground that has been wet. Our past experience with foliar applications of well fertilized corn in normal years has not been effective on a regular and predictable basis. Corn gets the nutrition it needs from the roots. But in a year like this, foliar may indeed give it a "jump start".

But not all of the corn on Farm 7 looks pale. Below is a picture of an experiment of earlier planted corn that is now drinking in the sidedressed nitrogen, and has good color. So I don't think foliar would be of benefit now on this corn. Notice that this is a field of corn after corn. Most corn around here is rotated with soybeans, as was our original intention. But our neighbor to the north informed us that he was growing seed corn across the road, and needed a 600 foot setback for all other corn. So being the good neighbors that we are, we had to adjust some plantings which meant soybeans after soybeans on the north end, and corn after corn in the next range. We strive for peace, and have to start somewhere.

And so this installment must finally come to an end. You are now up-to-date, and hopefully you won't have to wait so long till the next installment. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Always Research

So Monday was a busy day again at the NCRS. We needed expert consultation, so Stephanie brought in her son Tyler to advise us. He gave us the thumbs up. Not sure if the thumbs up from a kindergartener is good or not, but we will take it. In the meantime, construction continues in all venues at the farm. Here is the concrete crew on Monday pouring our new parking area. It will be nice to not have to park in the mud.
Today we were busy with alfalfa plot harvest. Here we see Ron running the baler in a plot.

At the end, the baler kicks out the bale for that plot which will be weighed.

Now Ron drops the bale from a plot onto the scale wagon with the "claw". Jeff and Stephanie record the weight, and collect a sample for quality analysis, as well as a sample for moisutre determination. There are 21 plots in this experiment.

In the meantime, the corn is due for nitrogen application in many experiments around the NCRS. Here we see Phil making a sidedress application to a corn plot. Many nitrogen experimental applications will be made this week to enable discovery of all things research.

So we will be plenty busy, as we have been for many weeks. It continues to be our pleasure to share with you. Tell a friend. Or even an enemy. We are happy to share.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

OK Now We're Done...Well Almost.

So this has been a very busy week trying to beat the calendar on finishing planting. The farm received about a half inch of rain last Sunday, much less than the 1.5 inches in Wacousta some 20 miles to the South. But it was still too wet to plant when we returned to work last Tuesday. But Wednesday through Friday we all made excellent progress. The field crops people planted 3 corn and 11 soybean experiments, which finished out the corn and beans. There are still some production beans which Doug is working at this morning. Phil was also in this morning getting caught up on spraying. So thanks to the first rate crew here at the NCRS, we are as caught up as we can be.

The following pictures are from the planting this week. Below we see the Monosem planting corn on Farm 7 on Wednesday with the drill in the background (look hard) planting beans.
Here is the drill. Most of the beans planted with the drill are with 15 inch rows.

Farm 7 still has some boulders out in the field that need to moved out of the way of the planter. Fortunately we have a he-man that can handle them.

Below Amanda prepares to load another fertilizer treatment in the drill. Not sure what caught Jeff's attention. I try to show these two in regular blog postings so that their parents and professors can see that they really are doing something here.

Here comes Phil in the planter aiming for Stephanie who took this shot. So after this week we will start sidedressing corn, planting Black and Navy beans, milo and sunflowers. The fun never ends.

So what have the veg heads been up to? They too have been very busy. The transplanter has been running long days too as we see here transplanting into plastic on raised beds. Brian is keeping an eye on the work of Tim and Dan. Good thing too.

Sorry it has been so long since the last post. But your author has been too sleepy at the end of days this week. Plenty more to come. I hope to get out and be able to show some treatment differences. So again, stay tuned and thanks for reading.