Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nebraska-Colorado-Kansas Drive By

So this week was a fertilizer mission out to visit some more contract research plots.  The first stop on Tuesday was in Aurora, NE on irrigated corn.  I was embarrassed to note on my return that I did not have any area scenery pictures, nor one of my host, SAM Brad.  But it was kind of drizzly and muddy, so I was mostly concentrating on avoiding a slip and fall.  But anyway, the plots looked good.  We are evaluating nitrogen and phosphate comparisons, including some experimental products.  In the plots below, the left side had no planter fertilizer and the plot on the right had 2.5 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 2 qt/A Micro 500 applied in furrow.  Both had the same nitrogen treatment.
The next day, Wednesday, I was in Yuma, Colorado at the Irrigation Research Foundation (IRF).  We have had plots at the IRF for many years and I enjoy my visits.  They use an Orthman 1tRIPr machine there, and that is where we got used to strip till applications with it, leading to our partnership with Orthman and a 1tRIPr purchase for the NCRS.  Below we are looking at a sugarbeet fertilizer experiment.  That is Dale and IRF manager Charles on the left, and SAM Brian and RSM Sean on the right.  We have had favorable results with strip till sugarbeet comparisons at the IRF in the past, and hope to continue.  Foliar applications of ferti-Rain have proven an effective treatment.  See the research reports for details.
As the IRF name implies, these are irrigated.  I like the long plots.
We also have some strip-till plots in irrigated soybeans.  It's kind of hard to see in the picture below, but we noticed that the soybeans on the left of the middle were a little taller.  These received two 1 gal/A foliar applications of ferti-Rain with glyphosate.  But yields will tell us the real story.  We have good results on soybeans from the IRF also in the research report. 
But alas, not all of the plots were irrigated here at the IRF.  Here is what it looks like without irrigation.  It was a dryland corn fertilizer experiment.  Below Brian and Sean are looking for any corn plants that did not perish in drought.  They came up empty.  This whole region suffered this year.  That is why irrigation out here in NE Colorado is so critical.
Then on Thursday Brian and I were on a tour of crops in the Goodland area, in NW Kansas.  It was rough going for dryland crops out here too.  Brian told me he shakes his head when he hears us talk about "dryland" crops at the NCRS, because we don't ever face situations like this drought-killed milo field below.  Message received.  I will see that we will use the term "non-irrigated" from now on.  I have said before that a technical term used is "rain fed".  I always thought this sounded odd, but maybe we could throw that term around too.  But I got my fill of real "dryland" on this trip.  However I have been out in this area in the past where there was definitely ample "rain feeding", but not this year.  You no-doubt heard of the recent terrible rain storms that fell in the Denver area.  Well this area also received heavy rain, but not as much as Denver.  Out here in Goodland, some 200 miles from Denver, they got 4 to 6 inches or more.  But it was so dry it soaked in, and we didn't get muddy or anything.  But the good part of that is that there is ample moisture now for wheat planting that will start soon.
Here was a circle of irrigated corn that had some farmer-applied planter fertilizer comparison plots.  One thing with farmer plots is the large equipment, in this case a 24-row planter.  (At the NCRS we have a 6-row planter.  And it's getting harder to find new equipment that small.)  But anyway, this corn looked outstanding with very large ears, having received Pro-Germinator and Micro 500 in-furrow at planting.
And of course since I was in Goodland, I stopped by the Liquid fertilizer manufacturing plant.  As usual, it was a busy place with tanker trucks lined up to be filled for delivery to farms and dealers near and far.
So I drove back to Denver on Thursday afternoon for my very early flight back to Michigan on Friday morning.  I got off the interstate (I-70) near Limon and took Hwy 86.  Towns are few and traffic is almost non-existent, and the prairie scenery is very pretty.
So one more fertilizer mission next week, and that will conclude my visits of existing research around the country.  I am encouraged and anxious for the harvest reports.  Speaking of harvest, at the NCRS it has been going on for awhile in vegetables, and began in field crops on Wednesday with Navy beans.  Hope to report on that sometime.