Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ohio Farm Science Review Review

So last week was the 53rd annual Farm Science Review show in London, Ohio.  It has long been one of the premier outdoor ag shows, so of course AgroLiquid is a regular exhibitor.  I drove down with Regional Sales Manager Bob to help set up the tent with him and Sales Account Manager Kurt.  Again I observe that there was some assembly required as we unloaded the car and pickup into piles of stuff to be made into displays.  Below we see Bob in step 1 of 689.  As usual I help by taking pictures of other people working.
 But by sunrise the next day we were ready for business.  What do you think?
 I managed to walk around some to see other exhibits.  It is quite a big show, with exhibits covering 80 acres.  I liked this creative combine display.
 Blue Stone Solutions is a Retail Partner of AgroLiquid down in Ohio, and they had their own tent and display.  Of course it was about as far as possible from our AgroLiquid tent.  But I was up for a walk.  They also sell cover crops, and had some large "grow out" boxes to show the depth of the root growth.
 Brenna explains the benefits of cover crops and root penetration to some curious growers that stopped by.  I tried to take a picture of the roots, but they didn't show up very well due to glare.  But they were clearly visible if you saw them live.  They are a little heavy though.
Back at the AgroLiquid tent, people are learning all they ever wanted to know about our nutrient benefits.
Well there was an extra seat on an airplane headed North in the late afternoon, so I hopped on board as I had stuff to do the next day back at AgroLiquid world headquarters.  Here is a pic of the site. Our tent is down there, and I made sure that no one was goofing off as I flew over.  In the end, it was reported that over 116,000 people attended the show over the three days.  
So come on by for the 54th annual show next year.  Our tent will be bigger and better than ever, I'm sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Palouse in the Fall

So last week I was on a Fertilizer Mission out in the Palouse area of the Pacific Northwest.  (And fyi: the "louse" part rhymes with "loose".  So don't be a louse and say it wrong.) I have written about it in the blog before, but in the summer when all was green with fields of wheat and field peas.  It is a region of hills and valleys formed back in the Ice Ages that covers SE Washington, NC Idaho and parts of E Oregon.  The area is also called the Inland Empire.  But it is very unique and has intensive farming, so a good place for using AgroLiquid.

I flew into Spokane, WA and was met by Field Agronomist JW.  We just had to have dinner that night at my favorite restaurant there called Anthony's.  It overlooks Spokane falls and has great seafood.  I have shown this view before when it was sunny.  In fact the whole week was mostly cloudy and cool.  
Spring and winter wheat harvest is in the past now leaving fields in various conditions awaiting seeding of winter wheat.  These pics don't really show how steep the slope is and it's hard to believe how there aren't more field equipment turnovers.  But the Quad Trac tractor is quite common as are combines with self leveling heads.  Now a lot of the ground is not worked in between crops as seen here.
But a lot of it is still tilled, as it has been for many years.  You will often see this where low ground is worked but the slopes are not.  But also fields where even steep ground is worked.
And on dry and windy days, this is what a tillage operation looks like.  There is a tractor and tillage tool in there somewhere.  
Well there is a fine organization called the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (PNWDSA) working to un-promote tillage.  Direct Seeding is like No-Till, where the crop is seeded directly into the undisturbed ground.  Saves time, fuel, money, moisture and as we saw above, soil.  With vast improvements in drill technology, the crop grows very well.  Go their annual conference in January to learn more.  (By the way, JW used to work for the USDA surveying land in this area.  He would measure fields and flag grass borders on the sides of hills like this that are too steep to farm. Certainly a young man's job, but I'm sure JW will say that he can still do it.)
In fact we spent some time with Kay Meyer who is the Executive Director of the PNWDSA.  She was kind enough to attend one of the Research Field Days, and invited me out to see them.  So I did! She is well connected and we had some meetings with some researchers at the University of Idaho to introduce AgroLiquid products and discuss options.  Here Kay studies some of the soil monoliths on display at the agronomy building.  Very cool.  We also met with some folks at nearby Washington State University.  Those two schools are only eight miles apart which is a unique situation.
Kay took us around to meet and greet some area growers like this one in Idaho.  You can see in the background that he is a direct seeder.  This is the Ag Pro direct seed conservation drill that he uses.  It applies three different types of fertilizer.  An in-furrow liquid, some ATS and dissolved KCl and we won't discuss the gas tank.  But we will see how some AgroLiquid compares. 
You know I'm always up for seeing some sights throughout my travels.  Like in the small town of Uniontown is the first Catholic church of Washington.  It was built by the mostly German farmers who moved West from Minnesota in the late 1800's.  It was started in 1882 and after a delay, opened in 1905.  Still open today.  Very pretty.
And here is a pretty view of the scenery looking over lavender plants, from the farm where Kay and her husband live near Uniontown in Colton. (Kind of twin cities, or towns, I guess.) She and her husband are the fifth generation living in the house there.  They have really landscaped the grounds and have a site that hosts country weddings in their big red barn.  Nothing wrong with diversification like that, plus it brings people out to see agriculture. 
 So after a week, it was time to say goodnight to the Palouse.  
Already looking forward to my next trip.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Field Day Across the Lake

 So last week after the last Research Field Day at the NCRS on Tuesday, Nick and I were across Lake Michigan in Manitowoc, WI for yet another field day on Thursday.  This one was put on by Poplar Farms Sales & Service owned by Bill Brunner.  Bill has been selling AgroLiquid for around five years, and works with Retail Partner Steve Darrington who is well know in Liquid lore.  Bill decided that if he was serious about promoting sales even more, he needed to prove performance in his own area.  So he had the option to lease some farm land near his store and set up some trials.  As it turned out, it was perfectly set up for field plots with grass lanes accessing all parts of the farm.    Bill worked with Field Agronomist Dan Peterson to develop the field plot layout and treatments, and got them planted.  The drone pic below shows the layout with mostly corn, but also soybeans and alfalfa.
There were around fifty growers who showed up for the morning and afternoon sessions.  Always hoping for more, but those that were there were curious to see what Liquid is all about. Some were existing Liquid users and some were prospects.  So it was a good mix.  To get started, after hearing Nick talk about products and company history, they had to listen to me talk about how the products are different and how they are well-researched.  Which was a good lead in to the plot tour.
There were a number of side-by-side plots, like this one for corn which had Pro-Germinator on the left and 6-18-6 + Avail on the right.  I'm always a little nervous showing up in plots for the first time and peeling back husks revealing ears, and hoping that ours look better.  But fear not, Pro-Germinator was clearly the winner with much bigger ears.  
Agronomist Dan had a root pit to show corn roots and how different sub-soil factors can affect growth.  Very interesting....
Nick talked about various nitrogen fertilizer options for corn.  Right sources, rates, timing, and placement, plus tank mixes and other comparisons were on display.
Gathered around the liquid planter are Dan, Pat from Poplar Farms, a trapped grower, and Steve Darrington.  Hey, he's smiling at least.
One good way to get folks to attend a field day is to have a good lunch.  And it was, so they did.

Poplar Farms is also a seed dealer, and Steve gives a tour on the nice old Oliver tractor.  Guess what one of their brands is?  Looks nice all in a row there.
The clouds finally broke when Dan talked about foliar feeding of soybeans.  Looking good and loaded up with pods.  The beans, not Dan.  There are also some alfalfa plots across the lane.
So that was a worthwhile day seeing the results of all the hard work and planning by this particular retailer.  I'm sure it will payoff in more AgroLiquid being used in the area.  So growers could not only hear about it, they could see it too.  And that's probably better anyway.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Research Field Days...Over and Out (Till Next Year)

So the Research Field Days are all over for another year with the last one on Tuesday.  There were four dates this year and they drew quite a crowd.  Not sure of the exact number, but I don't think it was quite a thousand.  Here are some highlights from Tuesday.   Look at how the corn in Dr. Zouheir's soil monolith has grown since last week.  Is that an ear?  Amazing.  Chemist Dr. Chris is impressed.
This is from Albert's unmanned aerial system prior to the arrival of the bus loads of visitors from the office.  Cool looking site of lots to do and see.
So today I will feature more of the exhibits not shown in the previous RFD post.  Like Stephanie showing plots with different nitrogen applications in corn.
 Here is Jeff showing different planter application options for liquid fertilizer.  The Monosem planter has different placements like in the seed furrow, 2x2 and above ground with the Ag Xcel band on top of the ground.
 Now Stephanie is showing the Y Drop applicators  from 360 Yield Center on our Hagie sprayer.
Agronomist Dan is showing the effects of different fertilizers on corn roots as well as on the ears.
 All good fertility programs begin with a properly collected soil test.   Agronomists John from AgroLiquid and Jim from Midwest Labs explain the ABC's of correct soil and tissue sampling.
 Albert has become an excellent pilot of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems on display.  He has been taking some amazing videos of life on the NCRS.  You can still see it if you go to the website and click on the Field Day picture under featured videos.  (It's on the lower left of the home page.)  But wait till you finish reading this first.

There was even a golf challenge.  Pitch the ball in one of the circles around the hole and win a valuable prize!  Here are some visitors who came all the way from Pakistan for the field day giving it their best shot.  (We were multi-national this week with additional visitors from Canada and Mexico.)
Success!  Phil awards a new Liquid knife to the excited winner.  But really, no one is a loser who attends the field day.
With the expanse of exhibits and tours, the food tent stayed open for several hours to accommodate the hungry attendees.  Sweet corn, potatoes, melons, green pepper, cauliflower and broccoli from the pulled pork.  Now that's worth the trip there.
Alas, it finally had to end.  By late afternoon all of the visitors had left and it was time to pack up.  Ag Pro Farm Service loads their tanks onto the trailer.  If you need fertilizer and someplace to put it in Central Michigan, give them a call.
So I was always skeptical when people say they start planning for next year's event as soon as the current one is over.  But that really happened here.  Based on the success of this year, next year promises to be even bigger and better.  Watch for dates.  And thanks to all of those nice people and vendors that attended this year.