Monday, January 7, 2013

Going International.

 (So I think I have figured out my picture loading problem for now.  It seems I had to use a different web browser than Internet Explorer, which I have always used.  I don't understand it, but it works.)

So last Wednesday morning I made a trip over to our neighbor of Ontario for a farmer meeting at Forest Ag Service, in the town of Forest.  They are retailers of AgroLiquid, and had a very good turnout for a morning meeting on the day after New Year.  It went very well, in my opinion anyway.  After a nice lunch there and more farm talk, Scott from AgroSpray and I made our way South to Chatham for the night. 
So as regular readers know, one of my travel highlights is sampling local restaurants.  Scott took me to Mamma Maria's Ristorante, which is Italian for restaurant.  I ordered the Halibut, although I forget all of the Italian adjectives on the menu.  When the waiter brought it, I immediately gave them an A+ for presentation.  I especially liked the scallops on top, and the potatoes and vegetables underneath.  After several minutes of visual admiration, I took a bite and the taste matched the look.  So stop by next time you are hungry in Chatham, and tell them Gerardo sent you.
Now the next day was the Southwest Agricultural Conference at the campus of the University of Guelph Ridgetown campus.  I'm sorry to say that I was not familiar with this conference, but it was the 20th one.  There were over 1400 registrants for the two day event.  It featured presentations on a wide variety of agricultural cropping topics going on at the same time, so you had to pick.  Most were given several times though.  But there were presentations from University professors, extension folks and farmers from Ontario and the US.  I am usually amazed at how much Canadians know about the US and our agriculture, and ashamed at how little Americans know about Canada.   (I mean to say aboot Canada.)  Below we see Scott setting up the AgroSpray booth at the trade show.  Also from AgroSpray, but not in the picture, were Ron and Terry, and dealer Ashley.  It was a fun and educational time.
Here are a few snippets of information from the presentations I attended:
- High yielding crops have a certain microbe population in association, but not understood if this is due to the good crop, or if the good crop is partly due to the microbes.
- There is work with high-yielding vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and melons that are grown on grafted root stock.
- With the mild winters in the Great Lakes lately, there is concern over excessive water evaporation due to lack of ice cover.  Lake Huron and Erie are at record low level.
- Regarding N rate recommendations and yield, there is poor correlation any more with uncontrolled variables like weather.  But Ontario has a decent website ( for a yield calculator that they say is as good as anything for a start.  They have seen higher yields with less applied N.
- One of the guest speakers was Mr. Stephen Lewis, former UN ambassador and politician.  He is very well known for a long time in Canada, and now travels the world working on behalf of Aids and Poverty programs.  He, like so many, is saddened by the rate of poverty and hunger in the world when we can produce so much here.  He said there are over 2 Billion people in the world living on less than $2 a day, and 900 million are in extreme hunger.
- There are an average of 54 trips over the average alfalfa field in 5 years.
- In a drought year, No-Till corn had a lower yield than did conventional till corn, probably due to compaction (according to Purdue research in IN.)
- Corn following wheat had higher yield than corn following soybeans in drought according to IL research. 
- New drought tolerant corn (AquaMax) did not yield higher than other corn with higher than average drought score, but did transpire less water and silked longer (in Purdue research.)  They admitted they should have tested a lower drought score hybrid but said they didn't have enough research $.  (Huh?)
- It takes 500 lb of water to make 1 lb of corn.
- The guest speaker the next day was financial expert David Chilton, the author of the well known book "The Wealthy Barber".  It is the best selling book ever in Canada, and his latest follow-up is just out.  They gave out a copy.  But he is a very entertaining speaker, and laments how our society is living beyond our means and accumulating too much debt.  Just like countries.  The four most expensive words are (during a project): "While we're at it....".  He calls our situation "the granite countertop phenomenon."  But he's an optimist.
- There was an interesting presentation from an Iowa State professor on the latest in glyphosate research on soybeans.  Research now concludes that the "yellow flash" has nothing to do with manganese.  It is now shown to be from a breakdown metabolite called AMPA.  They applied AMPA and got the same symptom.  There is no decrease or shift in soil microbe populations. He said there is no proof to back up the glyphosate doomsday presentations going around by that retired Purdue plant pathologist that many have heard speak.
- One of the symptoms of glyphosate on susceptible plants may be increased disease, as the pathway affected produces defense compounds.  Ragweed treated with the fungicide Ridomil was not killed.  But this didn't work all the time with all weeds, but was pretty interesting.
So after that was over, I headed back to Michigan, crossing the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit.  It was a good trip.  I hope to attend that meeting again.  Thanks Canada.