Saturday, May 12, 2012

2 Years and Counting....

So today marks a singnificant event.  I know we just had an important milestone the other day, but today is noteworthy too.  Do you know why?  Is it a birthday?  Did you get a new pair of skates?  Well actually, two years ago today was the last day that there was no NCRS blog.  Be glad that those days are forever in the past.  Yes, Live From the NCRS debuted 2 years ago tomorrow.  Well since tomorrow is also Mothers Day, I thought I would mark the event today so as not to take anything away from that other important event.  And we're just getting rolling.

Look at the picture below.  It is on Farm 7, and you can see that there is a strip of tall grass on this grass driveway.  For today's quiz: Why is that?  (Hint: it is not as obvious as you might think.)  I will reveal the answer at the end of today's posting.
Yesterday a new task was undertaken.  We have never actually grid sampled a field.  Since we usually do individual plots, it just wasn't something we have done.  But we have a new farm, Farm 11, and the focus of that is Responsible Nutrient Management.  Actually this farm was just taken out of CRP, and we plan to plant soybeans this year, but do so in a way that applies nutrients in a responsible manner.  Plus we will utilize cover crops and other as yet undetermined responsible practices.  But first we wanted to see where we are at from a nutrient standpoint.  Below is a picture looking at the field from North to South.  It is 35 acres.  Phil just sprayed the emerged weeds the other day, so we hope to plant it soon.
We have partnered with Farm Logic to use their soil test management program, which is very nice.  Stephanie has loaded their grid sample program onto her Motorola Tablet.  The field appears and you select the size of the grid, in this case: 1 acre.  It divides up the field to indicate where to take the soil samples.  You have to use a Smart phone or one of these tablets that can register where you are.  See the dark red dot at the top in the middle?  That is where the cart taking the samples is located.  You just drive until you are lined up with the grid sample mark, and start sampling.  The "X" means that mark has already been sampled.
Here we see Tim taking a sample with the new hydraulic Wintex 1000 sampler.  It would be a lot of work to do it manually.  They decided to take 14 samples in a tight circle around the "X" in order to get enough cores to reach the line on the bag.  The prober even records the number of samples taken as you go.
Stephanie takes the sample and pours it into the Midwest sample bag.  The sample number is recorded by location in the field for matching up of samples later on the report.  So it is a nice system.  It took around 2 hours for the 35 acre samples.

Here is the pond that appears in the upper left hand corner of the sample map above.  This is another reason for Responsible Nutrient Management.  This will be part of the management plan.
I went over to Farm 7 yesterday to check on the corn experiments.  The corn is emerging nicely, although it is kind of yellow due to the persistant cloudy days.  If we can have a string of sunny days like Friday, it would green up quickly.  This corn was OK, but there was some water damage to part of this farm, particularly where water stood and from washing.  We will have to do something about this in the future, as this is our third crop year here, and it is an annual nuisance.
Remember Jake?  He has worked at the NCRS since his high school days, and next year he will be a senior in college.  That's him on the left and intern Kirk on the right.  I admitted to Kirk that I did not mention  in the intern interview anything about picking rocks.  But here they were yesterday on Farm 7 doing just that.  I don't mind the smaller rocks so much, but there are some boulders that are a nuisance and need removal.  Hey, guys pay lots of $$ to get the same exercise at a gym.
Now back to the quiz for the answer.  It seems that last fall we had a small black bean experiment on Farm 7.  We put all of the beans in the truck, but just didn't really have enough of a load to make it worth the trip to the black bean elevator to sell them.  So the small door was opened on the grain trailer and they were dumped in a narrow band around Farm 7.  And the first picture above is what we saw this spring.  I was skeptical of course, thinking that surely it was from something else.  But yesterday I peeled back the grass to see decomposing Black Beans.  The result is pretty remarkable.  Do you know how much fertilizer is removed per bushel of Black Beans???  Well, it's probably a lot.  Actually only around 3 lb of N per bushel.  We didn't calibrate the trailer, so application rate is uncertain.  But this may be a good source of fertilizer.  Probably should have spread out the distribution pattern though.   (Now be honest, how many of you knew the answer was Black Beans?)
Well we had planted all of the ground that was dry enough after the big rain event the previous week, but it rained all day today (Saturday), so who knows what next week will bring?