Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ag Ph.D Field Day Preview

 So here it is, the last week of July and time for one of the premier agriculture Field Days: The Ag PhD Field Day in Baltic, SD.  AgroLiquid has exhibited there for years, and it is an annual post here in the blog.  Well it starts tomorrow, but today is exhibitor set up.  So how about a preview?  Here is the eye-catching van trailer that will be by our tent.  
There is a run-through of the field day plots, and here Brian and Darren go through what they will say on the big plot tour tomorrow.  Why that looks like the AgroLiquid corn plot.  That's because it is.
 Look how tall the corn is.  Lonny, Beth, Galynn and Troy stand in front for height comparison.
 Not satisfied with a drive by look, Galynn fights pollen and sharp-edged leaves for a closer look at the corn plot.
 Here is the AgroLiquid tent.  Looks like we're ready for a big crowd.
We also had a special guest speaker: John Ratzenberger.  He is best known for playing Cliff Clavin on Cheers, but also for various voices in Pixar movies like the Toy Story's.  So what would he have to talk about.  Well it is his observations about how different things are today where so many people don't know how to do what was once taken for granted.  Like how to fix stuff, build things and too much political correctness.  The exception to this is farmers.  Very good to hear, so hope farmers stick around.  Also talked about how he got the Cliff job which was funny.
And who would argue with this?
Well got to get rested for tomorrow.  Stop by if you can.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yet Another Busy Day at the NCRS

So yesterday (Wednesday) was another busy day to take advantage of the nice weather.  Like moving the wheat harvest operation over to Farm 7.
OK, this is pretty lame.  But you have to admit that the chrome on the back of the grain trailer is kept pretty shiny.  (See what happens when you go from researcher to management!)
Over in the orchard the crew is continuing the installation of the nozzles of the Solid Set Canopy Delivery system.  Brian and Seth are now attaching the canister type delivery system.  It is a lot of work as the hose has to be cut and then these are fit back into the hose line.
As I mentioned earlier, there are two systems being tested here.  The ones in the back have the spray hoses attached directly to the overhead feeder hose. So the sprayed solution goes directly from the hose through the small hose and out the nozzles.  One nozzle is above the feeder hose and one is down in the canopy.  In the canisters (or whatever they are called, I probably should have checked), they are filled with the volume of spray to be applied, then air pressure cleans the lines and blows it out onto the trees.  As with the other system, one nozzle is above and one is down in the canopy. But this second system will apply the same amount per tree since the solution is pre-loaded into the volume of the canister.  So it is perhaps more accurate, but we will see.  What a test this will be.
Meanwhile back at the NCRS base, Stephanie and Jeff have been making some foliar applications, but now are loading up to do something different.  Recall that we are evaluating a new type of nitrogen side-dress system, the Y Drops.  See them on the front.  This applies fertilizer solutions right against the base of the corn row, which should be more readily taken up by the corn.
Here is the view from the cab, in a pic by Stephanie.  This is to evaluate the effects of late applications of nitrogen on corn.  These treatments space out the apps over an extended period of growth stages for comparison to the more traditional single earlier application.
So lot's going on.  And all of this will be on display at the Research Field Days.  Don't you dare miss it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wheat Harvest At Last

After a long wait due to rains and high humidity, wheat harvest started yesterday (Tuesday) at the NCRS.  Here is Jeff at the combine controls harvesting a plot on Farm 3.
After each 210 foot plot is harvested, the wheat is dumped into the scaled grain cart for weight determination.
Tim collects a sample for grain moisture and test weight.  He enters the weight into the iPad for instant data collection.  This is downloaded to the computer network, and with the plot grain moisture entered, actual yield will be determined.  It was downright pleasant at the NCRS yesterday after weeks of high temps and humidity.
Here is a look back at Jeff making a round to remove the border rows that we have between each plot in the five replications.  The borders prevent any influences from treatments applied in adjacent plots. We are scientists first after all.  They will be at it for a while as there are a number of different wheat plots on different NCRS farms.
After watching them work for awhile, I went over to Farm 7 where I will host the field-crop plot tour portion of the upcoming Research Field Days.  I was having tryouts of the different experiments over there to see what would be best to show on the tour.
There were a number of strong contenders.  Make sure you attend to see for yourself.  Tour details are at the website.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Some Assembly Required

So how often do we see "some assembly required" on a purchase and know that there will be hours spent putting the thing together before it can be used?  Well that is the case for the Solid Set Canopy Delivery (SSCD) system being installed in the NCRS orchard.  This is a new system for delivery of pesticides, nutrients and even cooling water to an orchard, and it will replace having to run a sprayer through.  This can cut the application time down to minutes and keep it on target rather than going all over the place with a sprayer.  And we have neighbors, so this will be better.  But first it has to be put together.  Jacob installs the carrier pipe along the top wire.
The specialty crop crew puts the spray bodies, hoses and nozzles together.  There is one piece for each tree, and there are around 3000 trees, so you do the math.  Here we see intern Seth, NCRS researcher Jacob and interns Ryan and Matt in assembly mode.  They probably won't be looking for work in a plastic factory someday after weeks of this.
Brian cuts the pvc pipe into pieces for part of the body.  He was careful so we don't have to give him a nickname like "Lefty".
And here is the finished part, I think.  It will be attached to the overhead hose, and then the smaller hoses go down into the tree canopy and are set to spray the leaves.  There are actually two different designs that will be tested for these applications, including nutrient testing.
So you should be able to see it in action, well with water for demonstration, at the upcoming Research Field Days starting in late August.  This alone would be worth the trip.  See you there!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eat and Learn

So Stephanie hit the road on a fertilizer mission of her own this week.  She is in Hayworth, IL at the Farm Journal Corn College.  This is an informational event to learn all about the science of growing corn. Stephanie participated as a lunch speaker.  In fact, she just sent me this picture.  Now the speakers aren't supposed to make it a commercial for a product, but she did have a wealth of research results to make her point.
Nice work Stephanie!  And if you are ever at one of her meetings, feel free to take out a sandwich and start eating.  Evidently she's used to it.

The Natural Look Has Friends.....and Enemies.

So hopefully you read the recent blog post about the prairie grass landscape around the AgroLiquid office here in St. Johns.  Well for a few weeks several people had said that they had seen a pair of young foxes out in the tall grass.  There had also been a hawk hanging around.  So we had up and become a wildlife refuge.  Well last Friday one of the foxes was laying on the rocks right next to the glass of one of the first floor work areas.  It created quite an interest as a number of us were right there watching and taking pictures.  He/she didn't care.  
 Tired of posing, time for a nap on the rock mattress.
On a related note, evidently not everyone liked the AgroLiquid natural landscape.  A neighbor or two strongly complained that they didn't like it one bit.  So in order to keep the peace, poor Troy asked that the front part of the property be mowed.  So it was, and here it is this morning.  The rest of the refuge was kept intact.  He said we would re-seed it this fall to bluegrass to look like all the other lawns. Only better.  But think of all the extra gallons of gas to be consumed mowing now.  Oh the humanity.
 So what side of the road are you on?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Always Room For More of Wyoming

So here is more from my Wyoming trip of last week.  The next day we were up by Riverton in Central Wyoming, where retailer Alan Lebsack lives.  Here is a large field of Malt Barley that has been fertilized with all AgroLiquid.  You will notice in the rest of the crop pictures that the fields seem to go forever.  Or at least half-way there.
 Dan the grower is pleased with the field, and said the brewer agronomists have given it a strong thumbs up so far.
 Wyoming had decent snow, but plenty of spring rain to enable the irrigation channels to be full and running. The water used is not from wells. The amount of silt in the water is a concern, but they are glad to have it.  Irrigation was not needed much before now as rain was ample.
This is a beautiful field of strip till sugarbeets grown with all AgroLiquid.
 Here is a picture of furrow irrigated alfalfa.  Furrow irrigated alfalfa? Well you can see the narrow furrows that carry water across this field, with the alfalfa up on the beds in between.  This field had just received a foliar application of Pro-Germinator + Kalibrate + accesS three days earlier.  With the high pH, sulfur needs to be applied.  The rate was 2 gal/A of accesS and there was no foliage burn at all.
 Like I showed recently when I was in California, you're often not far from desert ground.  Water and good bottom ground soil make a difference.
 Here was a herd of grazing horses.  Nothing to do with the crop tour, but I thought it was pretty.
And here is a field of corn, again with AgroLiquid.  The High NRG-N was all broadcast applied on the surface after planting as this is what worked best for him.  High NRG-N is be the best choice as it stays on the soil surface until carried in with moisture.
 And here is Dan's brother Dennis raking alfalfa hay prior to baling.  Their use of AgroLiquid for many years has enabled top production and quality.
So that was a good day of field visits.  I had to drive back to Casper to fly home the next morning. This short venture ahead wasn't exactly on the way, but worth the trip.  I may have shown the Wind River Canyon here before.  But it is spectacular to see.  It was formed by a regional uplift in the earth's crust and then the river washed away all of the sediment creating the canyon here.  As such, there is a lot of rock exposed from different geological era's.  This scene is actually a panoramic pic of the river canyon.
The heavy rains in the spring caused some land slides here.  You can see some from up high on the mountain ahead, and then also on the left that blocked the railroad for awhile.
 Look at this exposed granite that is from the Pre-Cambrian era.  Now the sign says 600 million years (ago), but that's when the era ended.  These rocks could be a billion years old.  But who's counting?
So well worth the 20 mile drive up and back.  On the North end of the canyon is the small town of Thermopolis, which claims to have the world's largest hot spring spa.  Been through there many times but not yet made a visit.  Maybe next time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


So in my post from last night, I showed this picture of the effects of soil sodium on corn growth.  And I said that it could be eventually corrected with applications of elemental sodium.  When of course I meant elemental sulfur.  Adding more sodium would be just plain discordant and incongruous. 
I must have been feeling the effects of sodium myself as I didn't catch the mistake. Thanks for pointing it out this morning, Dale.  It has been corrected.  Normally I wouldn't have bothered with such an announcement, but I didn't want to leave any errors in this blog that persists in the battle for truth, justice and the American way. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wyoming: Home on the Range with Some Great Looking Crops

So last week I was in Wyoming to visit with some growers that I have known for some time, working with AgroLiquid field salesman Alan Lebsack and RSM/SAM Stuart (don't ask).  We were down in SE Wyoming the first day.  Several growers in the area have been using only AgroLiquid for a number of years and the crops look great.  One advantage they have here is water.  Mother Nature provided ample rainfall this spring, and they have not yet needed to irrigate.  But it is time to give a drink now.  However, thirsty corn here is having to wait until the irrigation canals get unclogged from debris washed in from the rains.  What a revolting development this is.  You can also see alfalfa bales to the left that were fertilized with Liquid.  Well I mean the alfalfa that went into the bales was.
Wonder if your fertilizer is doing anything?  Well leave off the fertilizer pump switch for a check plot.  And if you do it accidentally, tell everyone it is a controlled experiment.  Works for me.  I have shown this grower's planting equipment in the past where he runs a Schlagel strip till unit with a planter attached in the same unit.  Talk about doubling up operations.  He runs Liquid fertilizer through both.  The Schlagel manufacturing plant is in nearby Torrington.
This being basically desert soils with high pH, occasionally there can be outcroppings of high sodium soil as seen in this picture in a field of another grower.  It can be corrected with applications of elemental sulfur and gypsum, but it takes time.  However he indicated in the two years of using AgroLiquid, the spots are getting smaller and the plants are better in them.  Interesting how good rows can be so close to problem rows.  He is collecting soil from the good and the bad spots for a soil test to monitor conditions.
The next day we met with Chris Cook, seen below talking to some skinny guy named Stuart and salesman Alan.  You can tell Alan is a salesman since he's on the phone.
Chris showed us a plot at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle, WY.  (With a name that long, they must be doing something important there.) Anyway, Chris farms practically right next door and encouraged them to try some AgroLiquid in a test plot. Strip till is big in the area, but they were without one, so Chris made these applications for them.  On the left is 20 gal/A of High NRG-N placed 4" beneath the soil surface, or around 2" beneath the seed.  On the right is 29 gal/A of 32% UAN.  So it is 58 lb-N vs 101 lb-N.  So how come the High NRG-N side looks taller and greener?  Another mystery of the plains.  Yield will tell the whole story, and there is more N yet to put on at side-dress.  Unfortunately they were having planter problems at the station, so no other fertilizer was applied.  
 Over to Chris's fields. They all looked very good.  He runs High NRG-N through the strip till and then Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500 + eNhance + Boron through the planter in furrow.  Then more High NRG-N at sidedress.
Oh did I mention that Chris has won the Wyoming Corn Growers Yield contest for Strip Till  the past two years?  Well he did.  Last year his contest plot yielded 262 bu/A.  I'll look for higher yields this year as good as it looks now.
Irrigation is critical here. This is pretty much a desert.  As mentioned they had good rain this spring though.  Chris mostly furrow irrigates, but also has corn under a pivot.  Like many growers still, he did once only run water every other furrow.  But it was seen that in particularly dry years, the roots did not grow into the dry side.  So since then, he runs water in all furrows.  However, the supply allotment is not enough to water all furrows at the same time.  So he waters every other furrow eight hours at a time. Then he physically has to close the gates on those furrows and re-open them on the other rows every eight hours.  What a lot of work, but the rewards are plenty.  You can see the water flowing down the furrow in the middle while the others on either side are wet from being watered earlier.
 Pinto beans are also a big crop in the area.  He runs some High NRG-N + accesS through the strip till and then 2.5 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 2 qt/A Micro 500 in furrow with the planter.  (Is it just me or does it look like the row spacing gets narrower as you go down the field.  Should have walked down and measured.)
And Chris also grows high yielding alfalfa, like here in field 7.  (They have an interesting way of marking fields, don't they?)  Here they foliar apply Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500, Boron and accesS.  
Sure is pretty country and glad that things are looking so good.  Why shouldn't they?  Hard work and good crop nutrition go a long ways out here.  Thanks for the tour Chris.