Saturday, August 2, 2014

Field Day Fun(ction)

So who can believe it's already August? Life is speeding by, so make the most of it.  I am.  Like last Tuesday several of us Liquidites converged in the small town of Minnesota Lakes in Southern Minnesota to prepare for a field day hosted by 21st Century Ag of nearby Mapleton, MN.  They are an Area Manager and the field day would feature several ag input vendors, not the least of which was Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers. Tuesday was prep day and Tim from the NCRS, new agronomist John, and RSM Bob are checking one of the Liquid soybean plots.  This was John's second day on the job and I'm sure his head must be spinning after listening to all of us.  John came to us from the USDA, as did Tim once before.  John grew up on a farm in Nebraska and has been working at a research facility in the Lansing area for a number of years.  But he had a desire to get back to working with growers and agronomy, and answered the call of the agronomist beacon.  So hopefully many of you will benefit from his support in the future. He did get his Bachelor's and Master's degree in agronomy from the University of Nebraska. So there will definitely be some rivalry with all of the Spartans on board like Bob here, Tim, Jeff, Mitch, Stephanie and myself on certain Saturdays in the fall. 
 I told you to leave the keys in the car.  Keep looking.
 Get a hat Tim.  And hold on to that soybean plant.  You may need it later.
 It has been very dry here lately.  After well over a foot of rain in May and June, there has only been 0.5" since July 4.  This is in the corn plots, but it was the same everywhere.
This is typical Southern Minnesota soil.  Here it measured nearly 6% organic matter and a CEC of 68! I have not been around such a heavy soil in some time.  High CEC is due to the organic matter and the underlying clay.  Here a back hoe was digging out between the rows for root evaluation.  Even though there were cracks, there was moisture held in the heavy clay below.  So there was no rolled leaves in the corn despite the lack of recent rain.  Good thing.
SAM Aarron gives the exposed roots a shower.  This plot had 11 gal/A applied in furrow (Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500 + eNhance) with a Totally Tubular applicator.  As expected, there were thick roots that penetrated deep into the moisture held in the clay. Wash, rinse, repeat.  Thanks Aarron.
The next morning on the plot tour I direct everyone's attention to the thick roots.  That was definitely worth getting up early for. 
Over on the soybean stop, Tim is still holding on to that soybean plant and puts it to good use.  There was a benefit shown with planter applied Liquid fertility with bigger plants with more pods.  Again, a valuable response in the wet weather that followed planting.
One area of interest these days is the use of drones to monitor fields.  Here is a rep from Farm Intelligence of nearby Mankato showing their drone.  It is guided by a pre-loaded flight plan on a laptop.  So no joy-stick.  It will take visible light pictures as well as Infra-Red pics and can be set to interpret different stresses, including disease.  It can also record standcounts as it flies over the field and will show thin stands as a result of a stress.  It is kind of spendy, but you send them the data and they will map it out and give interpretations for you.  We are looking at drones for research purposes at the NCRS.
There was a flight demo.  With this one, you run and launch it like a glider, and then the propeller starts and away it goes.
Then it was time for lunch, and to listen to the live radio broadcast of the Linder Farm Network being broadcast from the front of the building.  Linder Farm Network is "The Voice of Minnesota Agriculture."
Jim Heins, the owner of host 21st Century Ag, addresses the radio audience about what is going on today and in the world of ag around here.
SAM Aarron also gives an update.  I think he was still talking about those big corn roots.
Minnesota farm magazine The Land gets some remarks from Tim about what is going on in farming and plant nutrition these days.
So that was a full day.  The weather, food, and information were all very good, and the growers in attendance received valuable information on various options as they make their plans for 2015.