Sunday, July 28, 2013

Happy Anniversary AgroLiquid

So at the start of the week there was an assemblage of AgroLiquid staff and Area Managers in Excelsior Springs, Missouri for an event called the Corporate Growth Conference (CGC).  It was at a hotel/resort called The Elms which is a very nice place to visit.  Anyway, the conference was to provide information and inspiration to those involved in the provision of AgroLiquid to growers.  (There was another conference for the other part of the country somewhere else the previous week, but I wasn't at that one.)
 One event the first night was to cut the 30th Anniversary cake.  Yes, Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers was incorporated in 1983.  How did people manage growing crops up through 1982?  The Dark Ages indeed.  I'm very glad to have been a part of it all for 21 of the 30 years.  Below we see Troy, Jill and Albert Bancroft cut the cake.  Give me a little piece, please. 
We were outside for this evening celebration.  It was a little warm, but no one wanted to sit down.  This is what most attendees enjoy: visiting and sharing stories with others. Renewing old and making new acquaintances.  There were nearly 200 in attendance.  I didn't have a wide enough lens to capture all of them.
There were a variety of presentations, one of which was the Research Update.  Below Dr. Brian discusses some of his fruit and vegetable research. 
There were also several guest speakers, one of which was Miss Emma Cannon.  She is the current North Carolina FFA President and a student at NCSU.  She spoke of the importance of ag education in the school system.  Not just for farm kids, but for all kids.  Fewer and fewer people know anything about where food comes from and what it takes to produce it, and that needs to change.  Emma is a very good speaker and certainly made an impression on this audience.  (My picture of her at the podium wasn't as good as this one of her visiting with Troy & Jill and a fan.)
Well surprisingly I didn't take as many pictures as I normally do.  How annoying is it to have someone taking pictures during a conference  anyway?  So, full of knowledge and drive, everyone dispersed and returned home to get busy.  Fertilizer selling knows no off-season.  I will say again that this was a great venue for our CGC.
And after all of the banquet meals and snacks, here is my meal plan for the upcoming week.  Or for a day maybe. We'll try an hour.
Well next week I have one more fertilizer mission before staying home awhile at the NCRS to prepare for the upcoming RFD's.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ag PhD Field Day is a Big Draw

So yesterday was the ever-popular Ag PhD Field Day in Baltic, SD.  This is the fourth one that I have attended, and it is always a great day of education and socializing.  (Has it really been a year since the last one?)  Here is the AgroLiquid tent at the start of the row of exhibitor tents.  There were a number of Liquid folks there including AM Chad, Agronomist Cory, SAM's Brad, Bruce and Aarron.  And me.  There was good traffic of people from all over the country through the tent.  Everyone knew something about AgroLiquid from seeing us on the Ag PhD TV show, but now they got to find out more.
And look who else was representing: our CEO Troy!  This was his first trip to the show, but certainly not his last.  And who is welcoming him, none other than Darren Hefty, co-host of Ag PhD.  I do like the color of the shirts. Great people, and teams, wear orange. OK, the formalities are over, time to get to work talking to folks about our favorite subject: Liquid Fertilizer!
So right at the start, Hefty Seed agronomist Van from the Buhl, ID store showed me these corn ears he had brought all the way from Idaho in a plastic bag with ice.  He said the TSA agents at the airport were quite surprised, but let them pass.  Anyway, they are from a high-yield field planted in 15" rows at a population of 60,000 plants per acre. (For you non-cornites, most corn is planted in rows that are 30" apart at a population around 30,000 seeds per acre, depending on conditions and yield potential.  But this is one crowded field.)  And for planter fertilizer, it got 12 gallons per acre of Pro-Germinator + 8 gallons per acre of Sure-K all in furrow.  Now this too is higher than normal, but they are on a mission.  (There were also micronutrients, but I don't remember what.)  Anyway, at that population, it is surprising to see ears of this large size, so a big yield is anticipated.  This is to show that Idaho can grow more than good potatoes.
Here we see Hefty agronomist Mike taking care of some final phone business before the show starts.  Mike stayed in our tent all day as he is quite knowledgeable on Liquid.  He is in front of the corn and soybean plots across from our tent.  Actually, all of the corn and soybeans at the whole show got AgroLiquid fertilizer at planting.  This would be all of the seed company plots, herbicide and fungicide plots.  They all looked outstanding.
Here are some early birds making their way down the row of vendor tents on the right and accompanying plots on the left.  Did I mention that all of the corn and beans got AgroLiquid at planting?  Well they did.
Soon it was time for Brian and Darren to lead folks down the row of plots to explain what is going on.  It was crowded.  But very informative.  They had something new this year: several Brian vs. Darren plots where they picked the different crop inputs like chemicals and the like.  The fertilizer was Liquid, but they picked their rates.
There are several herbicide plots, including some new products, so it is very informative.  And just in case you think it is staged in a low-weed pressure situation, just look up on the right side where there was no herbicide.  It is solid weeds.  I guess the no-chemical crowd can hoe or eat those weeds.
There was also a stop on cover crops. Always popular as they are rapidly gaining use.  For non-farmers: cover crops are crops like specialty grasses and broadleaves, (like turnips or legumes), that can be planted after a crop is harvested like wheat or soybeans.  This provides protection from erosion and can "scavenge" nutrients like nitrogen to keep it from leaching.  It also can build soil organic matter.  Then the crop is killed prior to planting the next year, which releases the nutrients back into the seed zone.  There are a wide variety of cover crop programs. 
Now the caravan is going past the AgroLiquid tent.  Everyone listen as they explain what is gong on in the plots.
What is going on in this big bare spot?  Well this is at the Dow Agrosciences tent. It seems that they have developed a new line of crop protection chemistry called Enlist Duo.  This is a combination herbicide of 2,4-D and another herbicide.  To go with that, they are working on the development of a new line of GMO corn that is resistant to the herbicide.  This is of interest since you can't spray larger corn with 2,4-D without injury.  Well the plan was to plant some of this corn for demonstration well past normal planting time, and then destroy it right after the show.  But the EPA wouldn't let them since it isn't approved yet, and were worried about contamination or something.  So it dragged on for awhile, then the official no.  So this is where it was supposed to go.  That darn government interference!
And who better to talk about government interference than the lunch guest speaker: Sarah Palin.  This was quite a treat for the crowd, and crowded it was.  She did not surprise or disappoint, as she talked about the similarities between farming and her commercial fishing for a living in Alaska.  She did give acknowledgement to her farming relatives in North Dakota.  She told how farmers built this country and feed the world, and would be better off if the government would back off the business of farmers.  Now who can argue with that? I think we're all in debt to Sarah for stating what needed to be said. I am particularly glad that there were so many children there to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic, it expressed the courage little seen in this day and age.
Well the show went on through the afternoon as well. There were some estimated 5000 or more visitors. The weather, exhibits, guests, clinics, food and hospitality in 2013 will certainly make me return in 2014.
Thanks to Brian, Darren, and all of the Hefty Seed/Ag PhD folks for making this possible.  (This was the end of my week.  I will post about the start of the week next.)  And thanks to Stephanie for her bringing everyone up to speed on what is happening at the NCRS this week as we prepare for the Research Field Days.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting Ready For The RFDs

So this week Dr. Jerry is on yet another fertilizer mission so he bravely left me (Stephanie) in charge of the blog update.  Don’t worry, he will be back soon with an update from the field. 

Here at the NCRS, wheat harvest finished up last week and now it’s time to get everything ready for the upcoming Research Field Days (RFDs).  It’s hard to believe that the first tour is exactly 1 week from today.  This means the crew has been working hard to get everything look great for the hundreds of expected visitors.    
Here is Michigan State intern Mike working alleys.

 Grass alleys need to be trimmed too, here is West Texas A&M intern Chance taking care of that.
Something new for the tours this year is improved show trailers.  Here is Tim testing out the mics and speakers.
As mentioned in previous blogs, the highlight of this year’s RFDs is the new Demonstration Farm. This is the 12th farm for the NCRS and is home to over 225 plots that will be used training and tours throughout the summer. Unlike the rest of the experiments at the NCRS, these are just for showing on the Field Days.  So feel free to grab an ear or bean or something.   This farm will be our starting point for the summer RFD's and there will be lots to see. The morning demonstrations tours will focus on corn and soybean fertilizer placement, nitrogen programs and root dig phosphorus comparisons on corn. While the afternoon events will be a riding tour of the replicated research plots looking at more corn and soybeans or fruits and vegetables. 

We understand that there are crops other than corn and soybeans grown across the country, so over the extended lunch break attendees will have the opportunity to explore a wide range of crop options, check out equipment and learn more our Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer products.
Other than corn and soybeans, the demonstration farm has 7 other crops currently growing there plus fruits and vegetables.  Some of these include:

and Cotton


It’s been fun being the guest blogger for the day, but I will let Dr. Jerry have his job back.  Registration for all RFD dates is now available online, just visit and click on the “register here” link.  Some dates are filling up, so register soon.  I look forward to seeing you this summer.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Office Signs are OK, and so is OK

So even though we are already settled on the inside, there is still some finishing construction being done around, inside and out.  On Tuesday, the letters were added to the outside so that there is no doubt who occupies the place.
And here is the logo and letters outside the IQ Hub.  It's description is: "Home to History, Innovation and Exploration."  It won't open until next spring, but having a motto already is a big step.  Forward that is. 
Then the next morning I flew to Oklahoma, and boy were my arms tired.  (Is this on?)  SAM Jacob and I drove out West of OKC to Cordell to meet AM Parker Christian.  We went on a crop tour of the area.  Now this part of Oklahoma is currently enjoying good rainfall and relatively mild temperatures, that is, less than 100 degrees.  So the full season and double crops are doing well.  Unfortunately, spring freezes and drought made the wheat yields in this area lower than desired.  But the summer crops are looking really good now.
In fact, when we drove by this field of milo, I exclaimed how good it looked from afar as we drove towards it.  Even before I knew it had been fertilized with Liquid.  This full season milo had Liquid fertilizer band applied in 0x0 placement.  That means it was in a surface band directly over the seed behind the closing wheels of the planter.  This is getting to be a common application method there.  It is simple and does not require more expensive 2x2 coulters.  It does require rain to move the fertilizer in, but if it doesn't rain, well there won't be much of a crop anyway.  The fertilizer used here was 12 gal/A of 28-0-0-5/eNhance + 2.75 gal/A Pro-Germinator + 1 qt/A Micro 500.  With the good moisture, this relatively low rate of fertilizer is going beyond expectations.  And there were no deficiency symptoms of any kind.
Here is a field of double-crop milo, that is, milo planted after wheat harvest.  It too was looking really good thanks to rain and Liquid fertilizer.
There is also some cotton grown in this area, and it too was looking very good.  Cotton received 10 gal/A of High NRG-N + 2 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 1 qt/A of Micro 500, also in 0x0 placement.  Cotton used to be grown around here many years ago, then went on vacation until around 7 or so years ago.  But this year is the best cotton I have seen.
I'll bet most people won't know what this crop is.  I didn't, but I do like the result at harvest.  This is a field of sesame.  It is a tough crop to grow in dry conditions, but it will do well this year.  Parker says that it is also tough because there aren't many weed control options for it.  I would imagine all chemical companies would spend the necessary millions to get products labeled for sesame because it tastes so good.  We wanted to go through the gate to get a closer look, but couldn't remember the magic password to get in.  It's "Open....something."  That is some more Liquid-fed milo in the background.
Here is another nice field of milo.  Look at all of the big heads going to a good yield.  I'm sure this field will mature. 
Some fields of milo were being ravished by grasshoppers.  There was damage on the leaves and heads too.  It will be a spray job for Parker.  You usually don't have to spray the whole field though as they move into the outsides of a field and munch away, and don't move all the way over it.  At least they are considerate that way.
Here is another nice looking field of cotton courtesy of Liquid fertilizer.
Next we went over to Hinton to see our replicated research plots on cotton and milo by a contract researcher there.  We have a number of treatments evaluating placement (0x1 and 2x2), effect of Sure-K, foliars and nitrogens (High NRG-N, UAN/eNhance and a new experimental N).  Below is a plot of cotton that had a 0x0 application of High NRG-N + Pro-Germinator + Micro 500.  Looks good.
Here is the same treatment but with the addition of 2 gal/A of AccesS.  It looks like the plants may be bigger.
And here is a standard application of higher rates of 28% UAN and 10-34-0.  It looks good too, but did have higher rates applied.  Of course the true test will be at harvest.  Last year we did plots here and saw no yield benefit from any fertilizer treatment due to extreme drought.  In fact I showed pictures in the blog last year of the cotton flowers aborted and laying on the ground.  But shouldn't have that this year.  I say with fingers crossed.
We also have plots in milo there.  They are looking good as well.
On the way back to McLoud where Jake lives, which is 30 or so miles east of OKC, we drove past evidence of the bad tornados that hit the area last May.  You can see the tarped roofs on the houses in the background.  Jake said that he and his brother helped neighbors haul away mountains of trash that was formerly houses and other out buildings.  On the West side of OKC near El Reno, there was still lots of trash out in fields from the killer tornados that came a couple of weeks after the ones on the East side of the city.  Terrible to see and remember. 
Well that was a nice visit to see such good looking crops in an area that is usually praying for rain about this time.  In fact, they haven't exceeded 100 degrees yet.  Next week I will be attending our Corporate Growth Conference in Kansas City.  So hopefully there is something to say about that.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Michigan Ag Expo VIP Breakfast and Special Announcement!

So today is the start of the Michigan Ag Expo on the campus of Michigan State University.  Jeff from the farm, who is also an MSU graduate, and I went early this morning to attend a special breakfast that we were invited to.  (I know not to end a sentence in a preposition, but I couldn't bring myself to say " which we were invited."  Well I guess that wasn't so bad afterall.)  Even though it was early morning, it was very hot and humid already.  Exhibitors and visitors are in for a burner.  Plus it seems like this show always falls during wheat harvest.
Anyway, we had a great breakfast where all food was from Michigan: eggs, sausage, potatoes, blueberry muffins.  Although the coffee was probably not, but it was all good.  Then we heard an address by MSU President Lou Anna Simon who had seen the university through some tough years, but said things are on the upswing, and praised agriculture and the contributions from MSU.
Then the Governor Rick Snyder took the podium.  He took some good natured kidding from President Simon since he graduated from that other university in Michigan.  But he said he is proud to be an Honorary Spartan.  But he outlined his priorities as they apply to agriculture: Research and Development, value added processing, and increased exports.  He also talked about increasing Agri-tourism.  But even thought he is from U of M and a business background, he has been pretty good at keeping funding of ag programs up, like the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, or MAEP.  In fact he is wearing a MAEP shirt.  But this is a program for farms to meet qualifications on the way they farm to maintain good agricultural practices.  In fact, the North Central Research Station has been MAEP qualified for many years, and have the signs to prove it.
After breakfast, Jeff and I toured the grounds.  Here is Jeff by a display for people who may run short of High NRG-N.
If you live in Michigan, you know that the governor hates coats and ties and is rarely seen in them.  (That makes me like him more.)  But you can always spot the security detail as they are all dressed in full suits, in spite of the oppressive heat.  Well we saw some suits by this combine, and sure enough, the governor was inside.  It was running with the AC on.

So that was a fun early morning.  Well here is the special announcement.  On the way back, I got a call from my friend Matt who works for Ag PhD TV.  Well it seems that Brian and Darren Hefty are launching a radio show on a Rural Radio, a new channel on Sirius XM.  I don't know how they manage a daily show, plus their weekly TV show, and run a business.  Anyway, Matt asked if I could be on the show today and talk about any crop nutrient issues that I have encountered from calls or visits around the country.  And did I say that was today?  Like in less than 2 hours.  So if you have Sirius XM, and have it on channel 80 at 3 pm EDT, well don't change the channel when I come on.  It's only for a few minutes.   

Well it's a good thing I got a haircut today. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wheat Harvest Begins...And A Home Ends

So it is finally time for wheat harvest.  We are later than in recent years, but it has been cooler and wetter.  But today it was time to get to harvesting plots.  Unfortunately there has been talk from elevators that vomitoxin levels are high and prevalent in some loads already taken in.  Vomitoxin is a mycotoxin from the Fusarium fungus, which is the cause of Fusarium Head Blight.  Well we did not notice any head blight, and sprayed for it anyway, so hope we reap the benefits.  Here is Phil at the helm of the combine going through a plot on Farm 5.  It was hot and humid today, in the 90's.  But Phil probably had his coat on in the AC in the cab.
Robb was keeping cool in the tractor, but poor Tim was out in the elements up in the grain cart recording plot weights and collecting samples for grain quality analysis.  But that's what keeps Tim happy.  And as it turned out, a great way to spend a birthday.
 And right behind this wheat experiment is this sugarbeet experiment.  It looks really nice at this time.  It will be quite a while before this is harvested.  Beets are usually the last crop harvested sometime in November.  Probably won't need air conditioning then.
 And maybe you heard that our old home office building was torn down last Friday.  May as well do it as we are out and settled in the new place. This pic was taken on that walkway out to the front "silo". (I showed it several times during construction.)  So now all you see of the old place is the roof.  And across the street is the old old office, which is now the headquarters of our friends at Miller Brothers Excavating.  So I am actually in my third office building in my 21 years at AgroLiquid, not counting my farm offices.  Maybe my last, but who knows the way things are going, and growing.
Well they harvested three wheat experiments today, and there are two left for tomorrow.