Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Drying Out...Wednesday Work

So following up on where we left off on Monday...someone must have done a sleeping rain dance as it poured all morning yesterday.  We ended up with nearly a half inch of rain that we did not need.  So no blog yesterday. But today it was sunny and got up into the mid-80's in the afternoon.  Mother Nature is surely toying with us.  And with a lot of the rest of the country as I see there was heavy snow out in the plains.  On May Day no less.

Anyway, most of the winter wheat at the NCRS was topdressed with Nitrogen in early April...before the deluge of nearly 9 inches of rain since the 7th.  We have some wheat experiments on Farm 4 in the picture below. You should be able to see in the foreground the wheat that has not yet been topdressed compared to that that has in the background.  The topdressed wheat is darker green.
This is the piece that has not been topdressed, looking to the South.  I wanted to show the size of these plots being about a thousand feet long.  And with replication too.  We think big at the NCRS.
This is the piece that has been topdressed.  It has more tiller growth and is thicker.  Now I am kind of looking into the sun, so it really is darker green than it appears in this picture. 
See.  I rotated and now the sun is at my back, and like magic, the wheat is greener.  Keep this in mind if you are showing comparisons.  Or want to make it look better.
This is the un-topdressed wheat with the sun at my back.  The color is better, but it is still showing a need for Nitrogen.  Well the back end of this field is still muddy.  But we hope to topdress it tomorrow.  Stay tuned.  Although the earlier topdressed wheat is not part of this experiment, there will be some common treatments between the two pieces.  So it will be interesting to see the topdress timing effect on yield.
One item of concern with the winter wheat is: what is the effect of 9" of rain on all of that nitrogen that was topdressed?  We normally apply 120 lb/A of nitrogen, or it's equivalent, to the plots.  It is common to apply all of this in one application.  But maybe split applications would have been prudent this year.  But who knew?  So today we made some sequential applications of 20 lb-N/A to see if the extra N will help after all of the rain.  This was done on two of the five replications on an N experiment on Farm 3.  I wasn't around when the liquid N treatments were applied.  But I volunteered to make the urea application, using a hand cranked grass seeder.  After some debate, we ended up using ESN.  If you don't know, this is an encapsulated formulation of dry urea to reduce volatility losses of nitrogen until it rains.  Which probably will be very soon. But this brought back many memories of the pre-blower days.
We were only applying 20 lb of nitrogen per acre, which works out to around 45 lb/A of the ESN product.  The light granules below is the ESN product.  Hmmm....looks like I had some contamination in there with those dark granules.
After that I went over to Farm 12 where Brian and the vegetable crew were establishing an onion experiment.  This is the first year that we have farmed Farm 12, having just acquired it last fall.  Part of it has true muck soil...characterized by high organic matter which onions like.  Brian had the foresight to roto-till up some of it on Monday for this experiment.  So it dried out well enough to do the planting work today.  Everyone has a job here.  Well except me.  I just talk and take pictures. Brian is the fertilizer applicator and is selecting the next bottle of pre-mixed fertilizer for the next treatment.  You can see Tim B and Dan in the background.
Tim's job is to form the beds that the two rows of onions will be planted on.  I got there just as Tim was completing the last bed.  Now that was close.
Apparently Dan lost the coin toss as he has to walk to push the onion planter.  Notice the two rows per bed.  This is the first experiment at the NCRS on muck soil, so we are anxious to see how this affects yield.
And here is Brian in action banding different fertilizer treatments over the planted rows.  The backpack sprayer that he is using is the first research item that I bought shortly after I started way back in 1992.  Glad it is still working well.  Some things are built to last.  You know, kind of like me.
Also on Farm 12, Tim D and Stephanie are topdressing some wheat plots.  Now this was late planted wheat.  This part of the field isn't classified as muck, but still has high organic matter and extremelly low soil test P and K.  Also it was in wheat last year, and normally wheat doesn't follow wheat around here. But we wanted to establish our rotation, so wheat it was here.  The wheat is pretty pale, and is hungry for the topdressed N.
On a completely different note, Nick sent an e-mail today that moving day into the new office will be on June 24!  Wow, that is just next month.  There is still plenty to do, and I think they are in the Extreme Home Makeover mode.  Like the water pipe isn't quite there yet.  But you work better if there is a goal. So there it is. Here is how the building looked this afternoon.  Look at all of the glass in front. It really has an aura around it.
So more work tomorrow.  I guess that is true anytime... but especially now.