Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lot's of Spraying This Week

So after a few days off to celebrate our nation's independence, it was back to plotwork. Crops are now in the stages for foliar applications to commence in earnest. Foliar applications can be tricky because we have found that applying nutrients that aren't needed really don't affect yield. But application of potassium in low-K soils, even where potassium fertilizer was applied, can have a positive yield response. Other key nutrients would be micronutrients. I like to see Microlink Manganese or Micro 500 go along with Sure-K on soybeans in the Midwest where many soils are low in K and Mn. We have also been working with several experimental products this year. Wedenesday morning we made some applications to soybeans on Farm 5. These had been irrigated several days ago and were growing well, and would be expected to have good foliar uptake of applied nutrients. I do not recommend application of foliar fertilizers to plants that are in obvious drought stress. I like the long plots and the tram lines for driving the sprayer. Amanda had not yet had a chance to drive the plot Hagie, and today was her lucky day! She was a fast learner. After application of treatments to the plots, we usually spray the excess fertilizer on the border rows, and that is what she is doing. There is a lot of stuff to watch: the gps monitor to make sure you are in the right place, the Raven control for speed and application rate, the Wilger balls to make sure all nozzles are spraying equally, the pressure gauge to make sure all applications are at the same pressure, and probably some other stuff too. This sprayer does not have autosteer, so it is a good idea to keep your eyes on the road, so to speak. She will be the envy of her friends back at school once they learn of this!
She is a good applicator. You should see her parallel park.

The next morning, Thursday, was going to be a marathon on Farm 7. We had, according to Stephanie who is Keeper of the Plot Plans, 47 treatments to be applied on 188 plots on seven experiments on three crops. We got an early start to try to get as much done as we could before it got too hot. Also, Farm 7 is not irrigated, and although there appears to be adequate soil moisture, they could show some stress if it was sunny and hot. So we wouldn't spray then. But this morning it was cool and cloudy. Below we see the crew of Stephanie, Amanda and Jeff ready to get to work preparing the treatments to be loaded into the plot Hagie.

The first experiment we sprayed was sugarbeets. Here Stephanie got creative with a close-up of the beet and the sprayer in the background.

Next we had some corn treatments to apply. Generally we have not found foliar applications to be effective on well-fertilized corn. The uptake of N, P and K is best through the roots. But we have shown products like N Response to be effective if there is some N deficiency. This particular test is in low-manganese soil, and is evaluating timing, rates and placement of Microlink Manganese.

Practically all of the 520 acres of the NCRS have low soil manganese. But one area on Farm 7 is really deficient, and that is on a small area that has exceptionally high organic matter of 9%. Manganese deficiency is especially prounounced on high organic matter soils, and it is obvious here in these soybeans. Some plots received manganese at planting, but it did not stop these signs of deficiency. This is the first year we have grown soybeans here as it was in corn last year.

Now this plot below has not had any fertilizer applied until this foliar application. You can see the variablility of the deficiency signs. It was really worse on a small ridge through the middle of the plot, and was like that from one end to the other. We will check for soil test difference, but it was interesting. Last year I showed a picture of how high rates of foliar-applied Microlink Manganese greened up some yellow soybeans like this. So we will see.

It ended up being a great spray day. It stayed cloudy all day, no wind, and the maximum temperature was only 78 degrees. So we got everything done. Now that I like. You can do a lot with good help.