Saturday, August 30, 2014

Farm to Fork 5K at the NCRS

So today was the first annual Farm to Fork charity 5K run/walk held at the NCRS.  It was to raise money for the Greater Lansing Food Bank.  Well it was a big success before the starting gun even sounded.  Between the sponsors and the more than 300 participants, some $20,000 was raised.  Not bad for a Saturday morning on a Labor Day weekend no less.  The Liquid ringleader was Eustaquia who spearheaded this event.  Here she is with the course map.  I will take credit for course layout.  I used our GPS equipment to make it an even 5K.  The challenge was getting a course to start and end at the same place.  But it all worked out for a scenic tour of Farms 3, 2, 1 and 5.
All of the many volunteers showed up at 6:30 this morning.  There were young and old who gave up a Saturday morning to help, and not just Liquid employees either.  And look who else showed up: Farm Guy!  Notice the cool shirt that was worn by runners and volunteers alike.
 Here is the shirt front.  It must have been a lot of work to run each shirt through a typewriter.
 And on the back is a list of all of the sponsors.  What a big list of generous donors.  Thanks.
There were over 300 participants plus supporters roaming around after getting registered and filled up on the pre-race breakfast.
 One of the walkers is NCRS Researcher Stephanie and her three kids here.  Husband Ryan was getting his race shirt on and another donut after he realized that a 5K is over 3 miles.  Darn metrics anyway.
Galynn makes important pre-race announcements.  Unfortunately his bright yellow wrap must have scared everyone away.  Darn Sooners anyway.
And they're off at exactly 8 am.  A perfect morning, sunny and 70 degrees.
 There is quite a trail of runners and walkers hitting the NCRS course.
I had the pleasure of driving the lead Gator, which I found to be far preferable to actually running. Margie from the office rode with me and took pictures. The leader from the start was Eric, who used to work at the NCRS years ago when he was in High School. He was an outstanding track star back then too, and has kept running now as a 25 year old CPA in Grand Rapids.  He lived a couple miles from the NCRS and used to run to and from work.  I had to keep the Gator at high speed so he wouldn't pass me.  Here they run on the North end of Farm 3 where we have cover crop planted after winter wheat.
And who should be out offering encouragement but Farm Guy.  He brought his John Deere 60 to get around the course to keep everyone motivated.
Here is a group of the walking corps making their way down Farm 2.  That's Ryan with son Gabe on his shoulders.  Stephanie told him it was a farm tour, so he came in jeans and field boots ready to check crops.  He was disappointed that no one had lenses or shovels for some crop scouting.
Eric left the rest behind as he crossed the finish line in 18:19, which was two minutes ahead of second place.  Not bad for a trail race through fields and grass.  I also think his having worked here for several years and being familiar with the farms was an advantage.  
Back on the course we see Nick's wife Andrea giving Levi and little Ruby a ride while David keeps pace.  It's hard enough pushing one kid in a stroller in grass, so two makes her do extra work.  But she's smiling like a good mother and walker.
Hey, wrong way!  Oh that's Eric running back on the course to meet up with others.  Or maybe he's trying to win first and second place.
Running back on Farm 5.  Less than 1K to go now.
On the other end of Farm 5 we see Mrs. Wilhm and Mrs. Zelinko.  No telling what they're talking about. Either corn fertilizers or their wacky husbands.
 March on brave citizens.
OMG!  It's Farm Guy and Troy's wife Jill!  I hope Troy doesn't find out.  Where is he anyway?  I haven't seen him all morning.
And wouldn't you know that no sooner had the race ended that it started raining.  Eustaquia made sure all of the loose ends were covered, including the weather.
What a great success, especially for the first one of these.  I guess that means that there will likely be a second annual.  Whenever that is, come on out.  It's for a great cause.  And of course, fun will ensue.

Monday, August 25, 2014

NCRS Summer Interns: Back to School Time

So I don't know how many times I've said it, but time really does go by too fast.  It seems like our MSU summer interns only just showed up to go to work at the NCRS, and now it's already time for them to leave.  They were just children then.  And now I would grant them all full fledged agronomist status. I've shown them all several times in the blog while they conduct their various intern duties.  We were truly fortunate to have such a great and hard working group.  Well they are Spartans after all.  Below we see Emily, Jimmy, Kalvin and Kelly suited up for the company scavenger hunt earlier this summer.
A little background perhaps?
Emily is from Dansville, MI and will be a Junior this fall.  She worked in the Field Crop research area this summer. She grew up on a pumpkin and livestock farm and is majoring in Crop and Soil Sciences. She was always active in 4-H and FFA, and was a state officer during her Freshman year at MSU.  All of the interns have a special research project, and her's was to evaluate the effects of different fertilizers on alfalfa yield and quality.  She is interested in research and wants to continue on towards a Master's degree, possibly in forages.
Jimmy is from Clarkston, MI and will be a Senior this fall in Crop and Soil Science. He worked in Specialty Crop research this summer, and said he was glad to be able to expand his crop knowledge beyond just field crops.  He has also previously worked as an intern for MSU extension out in the Thumb, and enjoys crop scouting.  His summer project was evaluation of sulfur and magnesium foliars on potatoes.  Jimmy hope to make a career as an ag industry agronomist.
Kalvin is from Perry, MI and will be Sophomore in Crop and Soil Science this fall.  He worked in the Field Crop group.  He grew up on a field crop farm and loves working in agriculture...outside in the field.  He is an FFA veteran, having been a regional officer his senior year, and enjoyed the state competitions.  He started raising Honeybees many years ago and still maintains hives back home. Kalvin's summer project was soil sampling over time following broadcast and sidedress applications of different liquid nitrogens.  When he graduates in a few years, he would like to continue working with growers as an agronomist.
And Kelly is from Litchfield, MI and will be a Senior in  Ag Food and Natural Resources.  She said this is a broad base agri-business major.  She too was active in 4-H and FFA and even considered being a vo-ag high school teacher for awhile.  But now is looking to work in agri-business in the future. Her summer project was evaluation of different foliar fertilizers on Concord grape bunch and grape growth.  It was a good research experience she said.

It was very rewarding to hear them tell how much they all learned this summer during their final reports.  They also respected the amount of responsibility that they were given.  Below we see that they can go from the field to a business meeting in no time flat.  In addition to the field work, they were also very helpful in several company events, such as the Corporate Growth Conference below.
So it will be nice to look back on these pictures and remember how much we all enjoyed having them at the NCRS this summer.   And hopefully we can stay in touch as they graduate and move on into the challenging yet rewarding world of agriculture.  I would recommend any of them.  As I said earlier, they are Spartans after all.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bucket of Ice Water for Reid

So no doubt you have seen the ALS charity events of late where people are getting buckets of ice water dumped on their heads.  Amazing how much money has been raised so quickly.  Now it seems the challenge is to be more and more inventive.  Well field agronomist Reid was challenged, and decided to carry it out at the NCRS last Friday afternoon.  No ordinary bucket would do.  So he selected a backhoe bucket.  Well a bucket is a bucket.  And it was filled with ice and water.  And yes it was cold.
Reid assumes the position.  There were probably a dozen people from the farm there to witness the event.  Fortunately someone suggested that Reid should probably kneel.  You know, we don't want to damage the backhoe.
 Splash!  A direct hit.
                                             Refreshing!  At least I think that's what he said.
 He didn't have a regular towel, so I offered a paper towel.  Don't want him to catch cold.
 And Reid's wife Kacie flew all the way from Texas to witness her husband in action. 
OK, I probably shouldn't have done that last bit, but it's hard to stop.  It was a worthy fete, and he made more challenges.  So congratulations for the contribution.  Now go enjoy the Pure Michigan weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 Research Field Days Are Underway

So this past week we hosted the NCRS part of the Research Field Days.  There were 3 farm tours each on both Tuesday and Thursday.  Certainly one of the big draws was to see the big ear of corn fertilized with AgroLiquid.  I don't know if so many people came to see that, or to listen to Stephanie.  Here they got to do both.
But seriously folks, there were hundreds of visitors from all over the country here on those two days, with repeat performances next week.  In fact, the message is now worldwide as I talk to Mike Hanson of RFD TV who was there to record some of the happenings.  Mike and I are buds, having been the host on one of my appearances on the RFD Live TV show.
Part of the field day is touring different demonstrations on our Farm 12, the "demonstration" farm. Here we see Tim talking to a group about soybeans and fertilizer placement options.  Before that he showed how one of our planters is set up for liquid application.
Brian tells all who listen about using Liquid on potatoes and dug some up to show and tell.
Jeff is talking about fertilizer effects on corn roots.  Can you see them?  Me neither.  I will try to get closer next time.  But reviews were very favorable.
Just because you are an intern doesn't mean that you don't get put to work showing the demonstration plots.  Emily talks to a group about winter wheat fertilizer options.  It is  a good stand of winter wheat that was planted earlier just for this demonstration.  Accommodating, aren't we?  And I had hoped to get a picture of everyone in action, so that is part of Kalvin's head beneath the arrow.  So he too was working.  I'll do better next time.
Moving off the demonstration farm onto some actual research plots was next.  Here is horticulturalist Jake explaining all there is to know about the high density apple orchard.  Even though he has only been here a short time, he is well versed in this area and did a good job of explaining it to the group. Although the vast majority of those in attendance only eat, rather than grow apples, the information was good to know.  All farmers like to learn about growing stuff.
Stephanie talks about the importance of sulfur fertility on growing top yielding corn.  Sulfur is often a limiting nutrient, and AgroLiquid has the products to take care of it.  In making input decisions in low corn price years, don't cut something that will produce many times the value of the input.
One of the six tours was rained out.  That was Tuesday late afternoon.  Well I will say that in the 20+ years of doing farm tours, this is the first time that we have been driven indoors by rain. (We ended up with 0.6") But we have always had our Plan B slide show (or PowerPoint show) ready in waiting. Well this time it paid off as we made our tour stops on the screen by showing pictures and explaining what they would have seen.  Like interns Jimmy and Kelly here on vegetables and vine crops. They even brought some in to show.  Much better than 2 hours of shadow puppet shows.
Finally new field agronomist John Leif talked about the 4R program for nutrient stewardship.  That being the Right Source, Rate, Time and Place.  AgroLiquid nutrition can get you there for all of that.
I actually talked at a stop on AgroLiquid sustainabilty to answer the question:  Are AgroLiquid programs sustainable over time for both yield and soil test?  Well I didn't get a "selfie" but it was good. Well I thought so anyway.  As I said, the fun begins again next Tuesday.  If you haven't been yet, now's your chance.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Meet Me in Maryland

So it's Saturday night...what else is there to do but put up another blog post?  This was actually from last Monday and Tuesday when I made my way to Maryland to see fertilizer plots established by our friend Ron Mulford.  I was met there by field agronomist John and SAM Benjy, who are talking to Ron himself below.
 Ron is retired from the University of Maryland as manager for the Poplar Hill Research and Extension Facility located downstate on the Eastern Shore near Salisbury.  Although retired, Ron still has access to some plot ground there and is not one to sit around.  He loves plotwork, and likes AgroLiquid, and has run tests for many years on a variety of corn, wheat and soybean plots.  So that is part of many of the tests he runs.  Like this plot of soybeans that is testing different foliar applied fertilizers.  He also has some corn fertilizer tests there.  It was a good visit.

 After looking at plots for awhile, Benjy enjoys a corn snack.
Haven't we seen this before?  Well we're seeing it again on Tuesday headed to some off-site corn tests.
 Here we are seeing some different nitrogen sidedress treatments.  They used drop nozzles to spray a band of the different nitrogen solutions at sidedress.  The target rate was 120 lb of N per acre.  Below is an application of 30 gal/A of High NRG-N.  Looks pretty good considering all of the rain this summer.
 Below is a plot that received 120 lb-N/A as 27-0-0-3.  This soil, like so many these days, need sulfur.
 Here is only 16 gal/A of High NRG-N.  Looking for a rate break in applied N, I think this is it.  But we will see what it yields.
 This one looks good.  It is 120 lb-N/A as 30% UAN.  Not 32%, not 28%...the great compromise at 30%.  Still seems unusual to me.
 And here is a plot that received no additional N at sidedress.  So he yields will tell the whole story.  But I would say that this one is not looking so good.  
 And of course it started raining while we were at the far end of the field.  Time to leave, but notice  that Benjy's hat also makes a nice umbrella.
It was back to Salisbury to my favorite restaurant there for a great seafood lunch.  Still hoping they will open one in St. Johns.

Friday, August 15, 2014

We Ready! For the RFD's that is.

So here I am getting out of order again, but I wanted to share what went on at the NCRS just a few hours ago.  Well first I drove in and saw all of the beautiful sunflowers.  And they were full of buzzzzzing bees.
But today was the practice run for the Research Field Days that begin next Tuesday.  What? You haven't committed to coming to see us?  What's up with that?  Well here is what you will see at the NCRS part. We practiced our presentation on each other.  Certainly a critical crew.  Jeff will be covering effects of different planter fertilizers on root growth in corn.  Now who wouldn't want to see that?
And here is Tim, still holding onto a soybean plant like he was in Minnesota.  But he is showing different fertilizer placement effects on roots.  I would crawl across the Sahara to see that.
Brian shows different fertilizer programs on growth of potatoes here.  I hung onto every word.
MSU intern Emily shows different fertilizer programs on recently planted winter wheat.  See, we planted it early just so you can see what happens soon after planting. Just for your viewing pleasure at the Research Field Days.
Kalvin discusses fertility of sugarbeets and Navy Beans.  If you can't read his lips in this picture, you had better come here.
Remember Jimmy and Kelly?  Well you can see them in person next week at the demonstrations of vine crops, onions, watermelons and probably any other crop you want to see.  See them now before they go back to that phenomenal institute of learning: Michigan State University. (Go Spartans.)
And I will be addressing long-term program sustainability of AgroLiquid corn and soybean programs. Research proves performance, something that is really needed in times of lower commodity prices. Hear me now, believe me later!
Stephanie talks about critical sulfur inputs for corn.  Fortunately AgroLiquid has you covered there. Research proven no less.  Tim draws a line in the sand.  Cross at your own peril. 
New field agronomist John is not to be left out of the action.  What will he be addressing?  Better come to find out.  It can be the difference between Easy Street and Bumpy Road.
I see that I left out our new researcher Jacob at the apple orchard.  Ooops.  Well if you want to see what is up in the orchard, come see him in person. (Sorry Jake.  I have given myself a series of wrist slaps.  Ouch man.)  So how can you come to see all of this in person?  Well go to your favorite website:  No wait, that's this one.  I mean and click on Stephanie in the home page banner and you will be magically transported to a registration page.  Just pick the date and time you want to come....and your're in.  See you there.
Well this next item should have had it's own blog post, but you're already here.  There are two new research videos posted on the website.    Go there and click the word "Research" and you will be face to face with the videos. One features our field agronomists and the work they do where they are around the country.  And the second details what exactly it is that goes on at the NCRS. They were filmed at early-season and mid-season at the NCRS.  Non-stop fun, so check them out.
Well us researcher types will be mulling over our presentations this weekend in anticipation of the Research Field Days.  We are proud to show our commitment to Research and the development of the the top nutrient products available today.  See you next week.