Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!!!

So now the NCRS crew has moved from the Christmas tree set to the New Year's parade float.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Not an Outrage

So just a year and a half ago I made this blog post when gas shot up to $4.29 a gallon here in mid-Michigan. 
And today I saw gas for $1.89 in St. Johns.  My tank wasn't quite low enough, so I drove around a lot to make room for the cheaper gas.  It was fun to see the lower price for the gallons pumped.
I won't get into the politics of global oil and effects on domestic production.  But these low prices are going to be enjoyed by drivers while they last.  (And make sure to enjoy a Speedy Freeze too!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas To All....

So with the Research Report all wrapped up and tucked away, the NCRS staff can be thankful for the safe passage of another year...the 21st season of research at the North Central Research Station.  We wish all of our loyal blog followers a very Merry Christmas.

(Not sure why we all look like we're lined up for a soccer penalty kick.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Reading

So as an added present from the Research Department, here is the 2014 Research Report.  Usually we shoot for the first of the year, but like Santa with the reindeer, Stephanie cracked the whip on us researchers to get the reports written and compiled.  Admittedly, there are a few stragglers, well one anyway.  I have some more contract research reports to submit.  But the NCRS part is done and ready for your review.  Go to the website ( and click on the research tab and start reading.

As usual, thank you Stephanie for all of your hard work.  Although she makes it look easy.
By the way, you wouldn't know it was December 23 in Michigan today.  In the lobby of the office building there is a large monitor with a picture and the weather.  In the upper right corner is the current temperature outside the office.  Fifty degrees!!! Naturally I had to go outside and walk around in it.  We probably should change the picture, but it surely will look like that sometime now that it's winter.  I'll keep you posted. 
It's almost Christmas Eve, which means it's almost Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Back to Skool

So last week I had a chance to impart some of my wisdom (well that may be a stretch) into the brains of a bunch of high school sophomores.  It was at Grand Ledge High School which is in the town where I live.  I had known the chemistry teacher there for awhile, and always wanted to give a presentation about farming and soil chemistry.  As ag professionals, we are called to try and bridge the gap between the ag and non-ag public.  And these days that bridge is pretty long.  So I was able to work my way into guest lecturer status for three beginning chemistry classes before 75 or so kids.  In the picture above I am giving a brief company introduction, but I did not get into products.  Instead I wanted to show how the soil is full of chemical reactions necessary for life.  Reactions are both chemical and biological (like N-fixing bacteria and soybeans).  It all starts with charges on clay, nutrient exchange and forms of nutrients absorbed by plants.  There is no difference in forms absorbed whether from organic or manufactured fertilizer.  And since fertilizer nutrients come from the air and ground, farming is the ultimate in recycling as nutrients are returned to the ground for use by plants.  I also showed nutrient deficiencies, farmer decisions to be made, careers in agriculture (like the constant joy of being a research manager) and showed the IQ Hub and invited them to stop by.  I also delved into the fun subject of GMO crops. Well somebody had too.  It was all good, but hopefully most of these young minds will be guided by science and not emotion.  In all things. That goes for you too.  By the way, teaching is hard.  Imagine coming up with a lesson plan each day, repeating it several times in a row, and keeping the kids engaged.  Plus the lunch time of 10:30 would be tough to get used to. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Enjoying the View...Then It's Gone

So this time of year it is almost always cloudy here in Mid-Michigan.  But the other afternoon it was clear and there was a really nice sunset.  So naturally I had to take pictures.  You have to be quick as it doesn't stick around too long.  The next two are from ground level just outside the door near my cubi...I mean work station.

Then I went upstairs to the observation deck and took these pictures of the backside of the building lit up by the sunset.

By the way, there is no waiting on outside seating these days.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Measuring Up

So what is probably the last data collection activity of the 2014 season took place last week.  But it wasn't at the NCRS, but rather in a cherry orchard up in the Northern Michigan town of Kewadin. That's up by Traverse City, the Cherry Capitol, on the Grand Traverse Bay.  It's really pretty up there no matter when you go.  But it was definitely a cold day when Brian and Jake went up to take tree measurements to monitor the effects of in-season applications of Fase2 on tart cherry trees.  I showed pictures of this same operation last year, but this was Jake's first journey there.  They measured tree height and trunk diameter of both three- and five year old trees to compare treated and untreated trees.  Results will appear in the forthcoming Research Report.  But so far, so good.