Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Research in Oklahoma

So I was back in Oklahoma last week.  By chance, there was a farmer tour that I was able to attend at a place that helped to steer me down the road of crop research.  It was at the Caddo Research Station near Ft. Cobb in SW OK.  As an undergraduate college student at Oklahoma State University, I got a job at the OSU Agronomy Farm in the Weed Science department helping with field plots.  One of the farms where we established replicated plots for herbicide evaluations in peanuts was this one right here.  It's a couple of hours drive here from OSU in Stillwater, but I was down here frequently back in the day. So it was fun to be back on the farm for the first time in....well, many years.
One memory I have of the place is the time I was driving here and turned on the radio and they were playing all of these Elvis Presley songs.  I remember thinking "did Elvis die or something?"  And sure enough as I drove down this lane to the station, the announcer said that Elvis had in fact, died that day.  It was August 16, 1977.  So I remember that moment 37 years ago, but admittedly this morning is a little fuzzy.  
Actually, AgroLiquid was one of the sponsors of this tour, being the farming community boosters that we are.  I was accompanied by Area Sales Manager Ed Granger who lives nearby, and field agronomist Reid.  Here we see Ed and Reid pulling each other's leg, although don't pull Reid's too hard right now.  (You know, that's another one of those odd sayings.  I like to joke around, but really have no desire to actually pull someone's leg. Who knows where it's been?  There's probably some strange origin of that. I'll let you know if there is.)
One stop was to see some of the new genetics in cotton for dicamba tolerance, which is the XtendFlex trait.  Dicamba is the active ingredient in the herbicide Banvel, or Clarity as it is now.  Well dicamba can drift and even small amounts are pretty harsh on cotton.  But they have incorporated dicamba tolerance now to go along with glyphosate (Roundup) and glufosinate (Liberty) tolerance.  So this gives other options for weed control where resistance could be an issue.  These were from Deltapine and Americot seeds, and it will be several years till wide-spread sales.  But I wonder how smooth the transition will be.  Everyone probably has a dicamba story, but I remember spraying Banvel on corn at the NCRS years ago.  We had poly (polyethylene) tanks on the sprayer then.  We then cleaned the tank, thoroughly we thought, to spray something else. Well we sprayed two tanks of something else on corn, and then loaded up a tank of Roundup to spray some soybeans, and later saw some dicamba injury on those beans! After that we converted to stainless steel sprayer tanks.  So we will see how the transition goes. I forgot to say that since this is still under development, they had it all roped off and you had to sign your name in order to view the plots. It was similar to the Enlist trait in soybeans for 2,4-D tolerance that I reported on from the Ag Ph.D field day in July.
Another stop was to look at different peanut varieties being tested, both established and experimental. They also had some stops for cotton and peanut weed control.  But sadly nothing being researched on fertility.  Hmmm.
We also stopped to see our replicated plot research  at a facility in Hinton.  That's Area Sales Manager Parker Christian on the right with Reid.  (He proudly wears his Aggie hat everywhere. Nice to see that in Oklahoma.  Not.)  It looks like something has caught Reid's eye.
Yikes. On the underside of a milo leaf there is an explosion of what looks like aphids.  Well Parker and Reid informed me that they are Sugarcane Aphids.  Well I had never heard of these and they are new this year to Oklahoma.  I did a little reading and it seems that they blew up from Texas this year, having moved over from Sugarcane in Louisiana over a decade ago.  But they haven't really been much of a problem in Texas sorghum until last year.  And now here they are in OK.  Although you can't see it from here, they are all female, and produce asexually (what?).  They actually give live birth to 8 to 20 baby aphids.  That's why you see different sizes in the pic.  And so many.  Well they aren't babies for long as they reproduce again in only 2 to 7 days after they are born themselves.  So no boys, no prom....no fun.  See those black things?  Those are Ladybug larvae eating them.  But they are definitely not keeping up.  If you see 40% of plants infested, then it suggested to spray. Dimethoate is effective.  But infested plants decline in growth and grain production, especially with early infestation.  These were likely recently attacked.
Here is another problem.  The leaves underneath the infested leaves become all wet with aphid Honeydew. (Can't believe in ancient times they drank this stuff.)  Well this can clog up a combine at harvest if there are too many infested plants.
Fortunately our plants were below threshold and harvest isn't that far off anyway.  But if they are able to overwinter up here, then look out next year.  (Note: the lighter leaves on the right half are that way in the pic due to the sun angle, not from aphids or treatment differences.  Now some underhanded researchers may say it's a treatment difference, but we're too honest.  No, really.)
Well I learned some things on this trip, although I could have done without the aphid education. Farming is tough enough already.  Tomorrow I will show some more Oklahoma adventures in real farmer fields.  Tune in again.  You'll be glad you did, and no pests will be mentioned.  Well besides Reid that is.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Top Crops in Nebraska

So last week I went on a Fertilizer Mission to see some of our contract research plots in Nebraska. These were out in the central part of the state.  It was a nice week.  Here we see researcher Josh with SAM Brad looking at the soybean plots.  Among other things, we are testing in-furrow fertilizer rates and treatments on 30" row soybeans.  Always a crowd pleaser.
 We also have a couple of corn tests: one with nitrogen and one with planter fertilizers.  We had very good results with the nitrogen test last year.  It's in the Research Report.  As you can see, this corn is furrow irrigated and should produce high yields.  You may be able to tell that this corn had been hailed on recently.  That is a common occurrence out here.  But it did not do any damage.

 There are a lot of corn tests here as Josh and Brad go down the line.
 And it looks like this corn is at early black layer.  This is 110 day corn planted on April 19.
The next day we met up with Area Manager Randy Timms near Adams.  Here he is showing me some of his soybeans that received an application of ferti-Rain this summer.  Look at the cluster of pods at the top of the plant.  That's what we like to see, and ferti-Rain makes sure it has the nutrition it needs to do this.
Here was another field that got ferti-Rain earlier in the season.  There was frost recently and many fields had crispy upper leaves.  But it did not go down any lower to hurt the plant.  The beans in the developing pods are still greenish yellow.  So hold off with anymore frost, OK?
Here is some of Randy's dryland corn.  They only plant around 20,000 seeds per acre for dryland here.  Because it can really be dry in most years.  But this year there was decent rain as can be seen by these full ears.  Certainly helped by Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500.
Later that day we drove over to Deschler.  This is where Brad lives, and is also the home of Reinke Irrigation .  Here is a sign for what is the first irrigation system that they built back in 1968.  Center Pivot #1 and Still Going Strong!
 Here is the company.  Big operation in such a small town, population 747.
 This must be their show room.
And the reason I was interested in this is because we run two Reinke systems at the NCRS.  They have been Going Strong for us for over 14 years.  Like here on Farm 5.
 And on Farm 3.  Very reliable for us.
Later that day we went to Rustin for a customer appreciation dinner put on by C and M Supply.  They are also Area Managers for AgroLiquid.  This is one of my favorite work functions, as there was steak, shrimp, potatoes and lots of other fixings.  So I appreciated their customer appreciation.  This is the town that Brad grew up in.  Unfortunately, the school has closed and the kids are now bused to nearby Deshler.  But I asked Brad if he played basketball in this gym and he said that he did.  Which kind of started a chain reaction of the people around recalling their playing days in this old gym.  One woman remembered playing volleyball there back in the '50's.  She wins.  But that's a cool thing about rural America.
                                                      Hope I can make back next year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We Love Our Hagies So Much That They Had to Come See Us

So followers of happenings over the years at the NCRS know that we have used Hagie sprayers for a long time.  How long you ask?  Well I'm not sure, but it's been a long time.  Back when I actually did work at the NCRS, I put many hours in this 8240 model that was modified for plots.  I really liked the boom in front where you could see everything.  And that was our second one. (Didn't have a pic of that first one handy.)  It did great for what we used it for, and led to many foliar fertilizer product discoveries. (At the time it did seem big.  Probably from climbing up and down the ladder so many times during the day.)
Phil still does all of the herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, dessicant and production topdress applications in this 284 model.  It's got some years on it, but still does a great job.  Like a classic car, we just can't part with it.
And of course you know that we have an STS 10 model since 2011 that has been converted for plot use.  Recall that there are 6-100 gallon tanks and a bank of smaller tanks which can be mixed into a treatment application on the go.  Doug did the early transformations before transferring to the company Fleet division, and Tim has made more modifications to what it is today.  Surely the finest plot sprayer on the planet.  And probably on others as well.  Not sure about Neptune.  (You probably thought I would say another one, didn't you?)   But this one is way too complicated for me to operate, so I just take pictures and dream about the 8240.   
So with our long time loyalty to the Hagie brand, it was only a matter of time before they paid us a visit.  And that was last Friday, September 12.  And while they were here to see the NCRS, they also made time to attend the opening of the IQ Hub and participate as a board member of the Responsible Nutrient Management Foundation.  Sadly I was out of town and didn't get to say Hi.  But below Stephanie points out some of the modifications to Alan Hagie (yes, that Hagie), the President and CEO of Hagie Manufacturing.  I can see in his look that he likes what he sees in our plot Hagie.  Not sure if they will offer a line of sprayers with a 15 foot boom though.
And here is Alan, on the right, with a couple members of the company management staff, Newt (left) and Amber (middle).  They are actually at the Hagie sprayer part of the 4R display in the IQ Hub.  It's very cool and you should make a trip to St. Johns to see it.  The IQ Hub is now open for business. (Tell them you know me and they'll let you in for free!)
So that was all pretty exciting, wasn't it?  Not sure we will top that visit for a long time.  At least until they come back or something.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

RFD's are wrapped up and put away till next year

So just like that and they're gone.  Research Field Days for 2014 are but a memory. Hope you had a chance to join us.  There was certainly plenty of opportunity with 16 scheduled tours.  And last Thursday (August 29) was the last one.  The NCRS looked good and fresh the whole time thanks to the ample rainfall through the summer.  We didn't even have to add water to these sunflowers on the Demonstration Farm.  The first RFD tour week was shown earlier in a blog post.  This is to tie up loose ends and show more stuff.
 Prior to the arrival of the first bus there is a difference of opinion over tour directions.
 Well they got it figured out as the first bus rolled in and passengers debussed to start the demonstrations tour.
 I didn't get a close-up of Jeff last time, but here he is showing the root digs and something new.  He has a fertilizer demonstration of corn growing in these new cylinders.  Hard to see in the pic, but the Liquid corn is a little taller and darker green that that of the 10-34-0 or dry DAP.
There was a schedule to be followed, and Phil sounds the rotation horn to make sure we stick to it.
 Here we see Kalvin showing a group the winter wheat demonstration.  It was planted several weeks ago so that you could see fertilizer effects on this tour.  You could.  (And I missed Kalvin last time too.)  School had started for the other interns, but Kalvin arranged his schedule so that he could be here for the last day.  Unless all of his teachers are reading this.  And why wouldn't they be?
Here is something Brian sets up each year.  Taste and see if you can tell differences in fertilizer sources for watermelon, cantaloupe and green pepper.  Summer work crew members Josh and Nick mind the store.  
When it was time to be trailered over to the replicated plot research on Farm 7, we were pulled by either Tim B or Ron.  Well I guess I mean that they drove the tractors that pulled the trailers.  That's Tim below ready for business.
 And there's Ron with no time to pose.  Thanks for the trips guys.
And here was something I thought was interesting.  Well since I talked about it for two weeks.  But it is a research plot on fertilizer sustainability.  Like what happens to yield and soil test after years of different fertilizer usage?  Well this is a long-term corn-soybean rotation of the same fertilizer programs in the same replicated plots each year under dryland conditions.  This is the fourth year.  For corn, a 180-30-60 plus micros program is followed for conventional liquid and dry fertilizers.  And of course there is an AgroLiquid recommendation as well with those reduced rate nutrients.  Two other treatments were nitrogen only (using reduced rate 28% with eNhance) and a treatment that applied the same actual rates of nutrients that were applied with AgroLiquid, but using conventional products.  (Note: In the conventional treatments, two years of potash is applied after the previous soybean crop to feed the next corn and soybean crops.)  Below we see ear (three consecutive) and root samples from the plot border rows of Rep 3, where we are.
The ears from the full rate conventional treatments and the AgroLiquid treatment are larger and darker yellow than the low rate conventional and especially the N only ears.  Similar with the roots, although the AgroLiquid roots covered more area.  Now this is a simple single sample, but it is telling. Certainly there is a P and K and micros response vs N only (trt 4).  Treatments 1 and 5 have the same pounds per acre of applied nutrients, yet the AgroLiquid is much larger in ear and root size.  But yield is what matters, and the AgroLiquid has the highest 3-year average yield by a good bit.  This difference is more than was expected, but this is what it was.  Also of note was the high average to date with the low rate conventional treatment (trt 1).  It was high the first two years, but dropped off to be 10 bu/A less than the full rate conventionals last year.  And based on appearance this year, it doesn't look sustainable here in year four.  But time will tell, and time is running out.