Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sloshing Through Kentucky Field Days

So if you were driving by this field outside of Hopkinsville, KY last Tuesday and saw all of these signs, it could only mean one thing.  Field Day!  And with the AgroLiquid signs at the front, you know that means fun and a chance to learn something.  Yes, this was a field day put on by Security Seed and Chemical at their main research farm.  Since the name includes seed, this is the start of their corn hybrid plots, with the soybeans down the way there.  Area growers and supplier vendors, like me, loaded on the trailers and set out.
There were several stops to see what was being tested there.  That is one nice thing about Security Seed and Chemical (SSC) is that they put the products they provide under careful scrutiny in the field before they provide it for sale to their grower customers.  There are so many crop input choices today that it can be confusing for growers.  So they run replicated plots to see what works.  Below we see SSC Fertilizer specialist Lang talking about in-furrow fertilizer options on double-crop soybeans with AgroLiquid. You may remember Lang and how he spent 13 years preparing for this important job he has now.   
And here is SSC Research Director Patrick talking about the different fertilizers being tested in this corn trial.  He has posters of how the corn looked on May 16, which was when I was last here.  In fact I posted those pictures on the May 18 blog if you care to see for yourself.  They also had some root digs similar to what we do for our Research Field Days that show the bigger roots with the AgroLiquid in-furrow applications. And they also showed pictures of tasseling differences where the AgroLiquid tasseled several days before the dry, 6-24-6 and 10-34-0.  So it is gratifying  to see that the plots here are showing results similar to what we see at the NCRS in Michigan.  So this means that AgroLiquid not only works in plots in Michigan, but in other places as well.  What a breakthrough! (Note to reader: this is sarcasm.  We've known this for years, but it's still nice to see.)
SSC's Tom and George gave the tour some information about some of the biological product treatments under investigation for nitrogen fertilizer enhancement.  There are a number of biological additives out these days, and they are often viewed with skepticism.  But under replicated plot testing now, there are several of these that are showing promise.
Patrick and Tom showed the wheat fertilizer trial results from plots here and at Morganfield, KY.  Here are the results of ferti-Rain and NResponse.  Over the past 4 years, the addition of 3 gal/A of ferti-Rain to the head scab fungicide application (usually Caramba) had an average yield increase of 4.7 Bu/A.  In 2013, this application with ferti-Rain had a 5.7 Bu/A yield increase and a similar rate of NResponse had an average yield increase of 5.1 Bu/A.  So addition of nutrition to a fungicide application can reap rewards.
Here are some of the fertilizer plots in Hopkinsville that I am working on with Patrick.  These are the start of some long-term corn/soybean rotation trials that are being conducted at the research farm here.  But when the tour came around, I barely got started ant it began to rain.  So we all moved to the SSC Hopkinsville store where I finished and then ate lunch.  Now that's a day.
So after the lunch and the field day was over, I had some unfinished business to attend to.  On one of my previous visits on April 17, I told about my visit to the Jefferson Davis memorial monument in nearby Fairview (in the April 19 blog.)  It is the tallest concrete obelisk in the world, meaning that is not made from blocks, but rather from poured slabs all the way up to its 351 foot height.  Well it was closed until May back then, and I vowed that I would re-visit it on a later visit so that I could go up to the top to peer out on the farmland below.  Well just my luck, there was a sign that said it is closed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  That's an outrage! I blame the sequester.  Seeing that this was on a Tuesday, and I probably wouldn't wait around until Friday, I left.  But my vow still stands!
The next day was the field day up at the Morganfield research farm.  There is also a SSC store there.  Morganfield is about a 90 minute drive north of Hopkinsville.  Unfortunately, it had rained all day the previous day, and most of the morning.
But are we scared by a little rain?  Of course not!  The tour must go on.  We have people that came to see and learn.  It was a little muddy, but the trailers and people saw everything there was to show.  Again, Patrick and Lang talked about corn fertilizer options, and showed pictures from earlier in the season. 

Here are the double-crop bean plots again.  I was impressed by how good the corn in Western Kentucky looks. You can see some in the background in addition to the plots.  They have had ample rainfall this year and the corn looks great. Last year was a drought disaster.  I saw no evidence of N deficiency from too much rain and N loss.  Just about all of the solution N is sidedressed, and knifed into the ground.  They don't make broadcast or surface sidedress applications due to the heat and usual lack of rain.  They don't want to risk N loss from volatility.  That is different from Northern areas where "weed and feed" broadcast is common, as is surface banding of sidedress. 
And here is my tour stop.  I am either talking about Liquid fertilizer product descriptions and how they work, or giving a hula lesson.  Either way, I hope the growers saw the light.  (Glad I had my boots in the trunk.)

So it was a great couple of days.  I always enjoy my time in Kentucky and am anxious to return. (I didn't even mention the pulled pork and pork chops at the two lunches. And I did make sure I had catfish one night too.  So food intake met expectations.) Patrick and his crew do a great job of establishing the research plots and putting on informative tours.  And thanks to the research they do, the staff of Security Seed and Chemical are certainly knowledgeable about crop input options for the growers they serve.