Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Viewing

So a common family activity over Thanksgiving is to watch a movie. Remember when I showed the making of an epic movie here at the NCRS? (It was in the October 3 posting.) Well that movie has been released and is now ready for viewing. And you can see it for no charge this weekend. All you have to do is go to the Liquid website ( and on the home page or the Research tab, you can find the link and "click" to watch it. It features several familiar faces from the NCRS and gives a review of the year. But I don't want to give too much away. Several people have already given me the thumbs up when I asked them how they liked it. (At least I think it was their thumb.) You can also watch some other videos available from the site. Plus if you are a traditionalist and like a cartoon first, you can watch the always entertaining "Farm Guy". So pop some corn and pull up a chair for hours, er...minutes of entertainment. And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Class Is In Session

So today the NCRS welcomed 15 MSU students from the Advanced Crop Production class. Oh and their teacher too. Since the word "Advanced" is in the title, what better place is there to visit? Us four agronomists talked about the Liquid company and philosophy of plant nutrition, how we set up and run our plots, the equipment we use, and probably some other interesting topics as well. Then we gave a tour of our equipment and the buildings. It seemed to go well and there were some good questions, as many of the students are from farms. I enjoyed being a teacher for a day, although no one brought me an apple.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Field of (Shattered) Dreams

So have you ever had your hopes and expectations crushed on a field due to poor performance? Well I'm not talking about a field of corn here, but rather what I saw on a football field last night in Ames, Iowa. Well at least the home team was happy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Some Week Here

So last week was pretty busy. I was on a fertilizer mission Monday through Wednesday. Stephanie, Phil and Doug harvested sugarbeets on Monday. Below we see Phil topping the beets prior to lifting them out of the ground. Here is the 4-row beet lifter used for the harvest of each plot. Then the beets are dumped into a wagon with a weigh scale. It has been a pretty good system for several years here at the North Central Research Station.

Remember the new plot Hagie sprayer that we got? Well it took a little longer to get ready for field action this year due to all the new construction projects. But Doug has it all prepared now. And Friday was my first day at the controls as we have a treatment on wheat where the fertilizers are applied after emergence. We have had good yield response to this in the past. It is quite an advancement from the old Hagie, which I have used for so many years. But this is set up so that we can put different fertilizers in different tanks and apply them at different rates in a single application. So in this application we applied different rates of Pro-Germinator, Sure-K and Micro 500 with water as a carrier. It was pretty cool to run.

Photo credit to Stephanie who clicked this picture during the minute that the sun was out. Next year it will be ready to make all of the plot fertilizer applications.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beacons of Light

So hopefully you recall my mentions of all of the fresh vegetables that have been donated by the Specialty Crop researchers to the Lansing Food Bank. In fact, this years' donations exceeded 50,000 pounds of vegetables to the hungry people of mid-Michigan who find themselves down on their luck in this tough economy. Certainly I am aware of the food banks that are around the state, but did not know much about the organization other than the big truck that showed up on a pretty regular basis once vegetable picking began. Well the folks of the Mid-Michigan Food Bank noticed and nominated Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers to be a recipient of the prestigious Beacon of Light award given at todays annual Michigan Harvest Gathering luncheon hosted by the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The award was given to Agro-Culture, but really it is Dr. Brian Levene who should get most of the credit, followed closely by Tim and Dan who do much, and often most, of the actual picking. Brian started donating vegetables several years ago, and with the expansion of the vegetable research, the annual donations have rapidly increased. So I was only too happy to accompany them to get the award, especially since, as I said, there was a luncheon involved. Above we see the Liquidites (me, Tim, Dan and Brian) and Kim Harkness of the Mid-Michigan Food Bank who has been Brian's contact for the past several years. (I said I would give picture credit to Sara Martin of the MI Dep't of Transportation Photo Unit if she would send me the picture, and she did.) There were other awards, and lots of people who make this effort a reality here in our state. All kidding aside, it is really humbling that people make helping the less fortunate their passion and profession. And I am only too happy to be a part of such a generous company as Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers. Several people mentioned how appreciative they are of the fresh vegetables that we donate, as that is often hard to come by at food banks. They also mentioned how they were especially impressed with the giant watermelons. I should also say that Troy bought and donated several heads of beef purchased at the county 4-H auction. So it was a great experience to see the impact that Brian and crew made to help keep people fed, and to learn more about how it is done.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nearing the End of Harvest

So another milestone was reached Thursday when we harvested the last corn experiment, which was on Farm 7. It was a much cooler day, but good for harvesting. So enjoy the last picture of chasing the combine. And here is the last of the corn trickling into the grain cart for weighing.

Here are the border strips that remain after an experiment is harvested.

So Phil gets busy and cleans those up plus the additional production corn on the farm.

Yesterday Jeff and Stephanie were busy soil testing. We will use the results as guides for next year's recommendations, and to monitor any changes. We would like to get an automatic hydraulic soil tester to speed up the process. But we don't want Jeff to be another victim of automation.

So one more harvest task remains, and that is sugarbeets. Tune in Monday to see if Mother Nature allows us to dig up the beets. Enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bow Your Heads, The Soybeans Are Done!

So here it is November now, and we still have soybeans to harvest. Well we aren't the only ones. Several in the area were taking advantage of the nice sunny and warm day to try and finish the beans. But this was our last field, and it was different in that we had some field-long strip treatments that we wanted to get yields of. So we did. The treatments were on certain gps tracks in the field, and Stephanie rides along with Phil to help follow the carefully constructed harvest plan. Stephanie returns the favor by taking a picture of me taking a harvest sample and recording the strip weight. (See, I do stuff besides just take pictures.) After our treatment harvest, Phil finished harvesting the rest of the field and we bid farewell to soybeans for another year.

Sorry not to have shown what the specialty crop folks are doing for awhile. Well they are busy constructing a greenhouse by the new equipment building. It will have access to water and power here. They will use this greenhouse to get transplants going in the spring for setting into the field experiments. It will be better than the growth chamber (a.k.a. "the morgue") they use now. Here we see Tim checking Brian and the ground to make sure it's level. Uh....well good luck with that.

Below we see Ron running the chisel plow on Farm 7. Now we do save ground for no-till soybeans, but this was on Farm 7 which was tiled last year and needs some tillage to get it more level. Take it from one who rode over the tile tracks in the grain cart.

There was one more important task. What, you have never collected a dairy manure sample? We had some manure spread on one of our field plots today, and we collect a sample to test mainly for nitrogen content. As bad as this is, it's better than the poor lab person on the other end who has to open and run these all day. We saw that on our tour of Midwest Labs just about exactly a year ago. (Which was recorded in this blog.) Well there's something for everyone.

I got this cleaned up and stashed for shipment to Omaha. Although I hope no one tries to make coffee with it tomorrow from this container. Good to the last drop, indeed!