Monday, August 31, 2015

FARM to Fork Charity 5K

So this past Saturday was the Second Annual Farm to Fork 5K run/walk race at the NCRS.  As with the First Annual, it took lots of preparation and volunteers, but was fun for all when Saturday came. Part of the preparation was the marking of the 5K course on Friday.   Here we see Galynn doing his best to connect the start and the finish line.  It was pretty close.
Here is the registration table on Saturday morning.  Between pre-register and same day register, there were 270 participants.  This number was a little lower than last year, as the threat of rain scared off a bunch of people.  But it was for charity, and the the dedicated ones showed up for a fun event.  And it didn't rain during the race anyway.  Farm Guy gives a high five to a young attendee.  Everyone wanted to see him.  
 Here again are the brothers Jacob and Eric who have the proud status of being former workers at the NCRS during their high school days some years ago.  Eric was quite a track star in high school and college, and is the defending champion from last year.  And to be fair, Jacob was a high school football star himself.
I was pleased to hear a live rendition of the National Anthem prior to the start.  And then surprised to find out that it was our own Nick Bancroft doing the singing.  With no musical accompaniment either.  (A style invented by that well-known songster Al Capella.)  He hit all of the high and low notes just like a pro.  He said he practiced a lot while mowing.
 And they're off at 8:00 am.
 Eric and a newcomer named Faoud quickly move to the front.  But it seems that Faoud came to dominate the course and competition.  Farm Guy cheers them on from his tractor perch.
 And Faoud did end up the winner at an official time of 16 minutes and 51 seconds.  An excellent time for the course around that wound around the farm with hills and curves, grass and dirt road.  I talked to him later and he is a 20 year old chemistry major at MSU and a really nice guy.  He did say that it was the best laid out 5K course he had ever run.  As part of the course committee, I complimented him on his accurate assessment.
 Now since it was a run AND walk, I went back over to Farm 5 to check on the walkers.  Here comes a line of walkers down the stretch through our corn maze.  It's a pretty easy maze being a straight line and all, but pretty and fun just the same.
Here is speed walker Paul exiting the challenging maze.
 And mom Andrea, sister Ruby and brother Levi are close behind.  Other brother David is somewhere with Dad, Nick.
Angi from Marketing and her Mom give a quick wave as they pass by.

And at the end you are welcomed by Farm Guy.  And Jill.  (Now some were calling her Farm Girl, but I want to receive official approval first.  But we were on a farm....and she is a why not?)
Troy's Dad Joe and his posse cross the line.  Good job!
Behind all great events is a great woman in this case.  Our own Eustaquia again was the chairperson who fretted over the details all year, but again pulled off a great event.  The race raised nearly $20,000 mostly for the Greater Lansing Food Bank and also for Michigan FFA scholarships.  Farm Guy agrees that he is the second most important person in this picture.  They are holding a poster of the race course.  It covered quite a bit of the NCRS.
And for the second year in a row, it began to rain at the conclusion of the day's activities.
So it stands to reason that in next August will be the THIRD annual 5K race.  See you there.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Research Field Days

 So certainly one of the highlights of agricultural folks across the country, and Canada, and Mexico, is the Research Field Days at the North Central Research Station.  Here we open the doors to allow people to learn all about AgroLiquid, new farming info and see the latest from a variety of visiting vendors.  So it's basically a Farm Show just for you right here at our own place.  Visitors come to our corporate office to register, and then have the opportunity to visit with staff and in this case, learn about our products from Nick.
Out in the lobby there were product chemistry demonstrations as well as a chance to learn about phosphorus soil movement and plant uptake from Dr. Zouhair Massri of the NCRS.  Here he shows some visitors from Montana the type of breakthrough research he is conducting.
From there they rode buses out to the NCRS Demonstration Farm where there were a number of agronomy learning stops featuring fertilizers (of course), equipment, nutrient placement, soil sampling, irrigation, tanks, GPS field monitoring, unmanned aerial vehicles, and probably lot's more stuff.  The visitors were free to visit the stops on their own schedules. 
One of the coolest sites was this irrigation tower put up by Farm Services of Lakeview, MI.  These are the same folks that put up our linear systems on two of our farms.  They had a variety of nozzle packages on display.
We have conducted numerous studies on fertilization with strip tillage equipment over the years. Here Tim explains the finer points of AgroLiquid applications on our Orthman 1tRIPr, and ran it too. You had to trust the GPS guidance since we have buried drip tape here.  But it split the middles just like it should.
There were several field tours as well.  Like this one in the apple orchard.  Jacob explained what is going on there with research, discussed his top five favorite orchard fertilizers and also demonstrated the Solid Set Canopy Delivery system that I featured in a recent blog post.  Everyone was impressed with the research operation.  Me too.
Well I was put to work as well, taking some trailer loads of visitors over to Farm 7 to show some of the replicated plot fertilizer experiments.  Like this one examining fertilizer program sustainability in corn and soybeans.  I always enjoy featuring the research that gives rise to new products and recommendations.
Well this was over the first three field days last week.  Fear not, there is one more next Tuesday.  Go to our website to sign up.  There were hundreds of people from all over the country here.  Plus, like I said, Canada and Mexico next week.  I was so busy that I wasn't able to make my usual photography rounds.  So for once I had to appeal to others to provide me some pictures.  So thanks to Adam and Angi from Marketing, and Intern Quinten for some of these.  There are still some presentation stops that I didn't show, so I have a mission next Tuesday to feature these as well.  So stop by so you can be included in the pics as "man looking at brochure as Stephanie talks."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Up From the Ashes...

So you didn't think the blog would really end did you?  Come on.  After 500 posts, then 600 is just challenging me to reach it.  However you no doubt notice a change....A New Name!  Well it was suggested that a new name was in order since the blog features stories from places other than the NCRS.  Plus the real researchers out at the NCRS were tired of being guilty by association.  So from now on I will be featuring information gathered not only at the NCRS, but from all over this Land of LIQUID.  Of course, it will still have a slant towards research and product performance since, after all, that is my job.  So up from the bowels (is that the best word to use here?) of the earth, Land of LIQUID will continue to erupt onto your computer or phone.  So please keep reading (I need the ratings.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

How Far We've Come...and Gone

So can you believe it?  This is the 500th blog post of your favorite blog: LIVE FROM THE NCRS.  I don't think I've ever done anything 500 times.  Well not intentionally anyway.    
That's a lot of information and reading.  Like if a NASCAR driver read one blog per mile in a 500 mile race, he would be reading this one at the finish line.  (But this pic is from mile 499.)

Ah yes, back on May 15, 2010 was blog post #1.  Back then it was intended to cover activities happening at the NCRS.  But since then, in addition to the NCRS, it has become sort of a travel log of Liquid around this great country of ours.  Which is kind of appropriate since I really don't work at the NCRS anymore.

As such, it is with some sadness to announce that this is the final episode of this blog, LIVE FROM THE NCRS.  Five hundred episodes is surely enough.  Even Bonanza and Gunsmoke eventually rode off into the sunset. (Probably not everyone gets this reference anyway.)  Besides there is Facebook now from the NCRS.  So thanks for your readership these past five years and I will see you in the future somewhere in the Land of Liquid.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Making the Most of Farming in NE Colorado

So the second half of my fertilizer mission last week took me to Northeast Colorado.  A favorite part of that was calling on Retail Partner Aero Applicators in the town of Sterling run by Darrel Mertens and his wife Deb.  I have known them for around eighteen years, as near as we could calculate.  
 They operate three Air Tractor 402 turbine powered application planes.  They have been super busy this year. Now they are mainly spraying fungicides and insecticides on irrigated corn, plus some fungicide work on irrigated sugarbeets.  They will often add a gallon of a foliar mix of half NResponse and half ferti-Rain.  Here they are loading a plane in the early morning.
 Aero Applicator's agronomist Wes and I were out checking some Liquid fields and saw one of their pilots, Roger making fungicide application on sugarbeets.  So naturally we had to watch.
No doubt you have seen the wind turbines seemingly everywhere.  Well they have made many parts of farming country unsprayable by aerial applicators.  This particular field was in between two ranges of turbines.  In addition to that there is an irrigation pivot across the field that you can see in the picture below.  So pilot Roger said he was looking all around as he flew and made his turns on the end between passes.  I would call that hazardous duty indeed.  But he completed the job just fine. Aerial applicators are the best. 
Later we were looking at a field where wheat had been harvested recently.  It was next to a field of irrigated corn fed with AgroLiquid. 
Look close and you can see some emerging cover crops, in this case radish, turnip and rapeseed.  Well this is another service of Aero Applicators: aerial application of cover crop seed.
Back at the hangar Darrel showed me the three-way seed mix that they apply at a rate of around six pounds per acre.
 There is a meter that attaches by where Darrel's head is that feeds it into the manifold applicator on the bottom of the plane.  Going 120 miles per hour ensures that the seed is well dispersed.  The popularity of cover crops has given Aero Applicators a new service for growers.
They have been AgroLiquid dealers for quite a while and have a good customer base like this grower of irrigated corn and sunflowers.  But it's still very competitive.  We were reflecting that after so many years you would think there would be a line out the door every morning of customers, since the Liquid works so well in this area.  But like I said, it's still competitive.  (Mr. Cook and I used to wonder the same thing about the line of customers that there should be.  But we keep after it.)
In addition to irrigated crops, there are a lot of dryland crops as well.  Now here is where faith comes in, as many years this is a recipe for crop failure in dry NE CO.  But rainfall has been generous this year and many dryland crops look great, like this corn that has AgroLiquid under it.  They plant a low population like 12 to 14,000 and then fertilize for well under 100 bu/A.  But the rain has raised the yield potential.  The Pro-Germinator, Micro 500 and High NRG-N fertilizer is going to stretch that yield up to higher levels, even though less was put on.  This field has caught quite a notice, and due to the low population, there are multiple ears per plant that should all mature. 
 Another popular dryland crop is Proso Millet or Hershey millet as it is sometimes called.  The first time I came out to this area I took a slide picture of two adjacent fields, one with Pro-Germinator and High NRG-N and one without.  The fertilized field was much thicker and had more seed heads.  Like the fertilized field below.  I read that this crop has the lowest water requirement of any grain crop, which is why it is popular out here.  It is used for flour, some livestock and bird feed.  But it is pretty.
So that was an enjoyable trip to see some good friends and good crops fertilized with AgroLiquid as well.  Now back to the NCRS to prepare for the Research Field Days.  Don't you dare miss it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Green Gold in Montana

 So last week I was out on a fertilizer mission to Montana.  One of the things I like to do best is to visit customer farms.  We visited one East of Billings, and here are RSM Stuart and Retail Partner Mike Kilzer in a field of recently harvested winter wheat with Kate and Marcus in the middle.  In fact, Marcus (or Mark)  just visited the NCRS last year on one of the Research Field Days.  So I was happy to return the visit.  They operate a rather large cattle feed lot operation, and raise many acres of irrigated corn and some alfalfa to support that.  And they have done it now for several years with AgroLiquid.
 We were on a crop tour of the farm, and had just seen a nice looking field of 80 day dryland corn.  It is often risky due to the dry conditions, but thanks to Pro-Germinator and High NRG-N, it was doing well.  Then we came over the the top of a hill and saw this nice looking crop.  Looks really good, doesn't it.  What is it?  Well it's cover crop.  In addition to their large farming operation, they also operate a cover crop seed business called North 40 Ag.  Check out the website.
And not just any cover crop, as there are 14 different species here.  Turnips, radishes, clovers, sunflowers, and lots of others including mung beans.  (I hadn't seen mung beans for many years since I lived in OK.) There were bees all over the place.  Here Kate shows Stuart the benefits of the mix. Kate is a Certified Professional Agronomist, so she knows what is what here.  They will probably graze this.  Cattle I mean, not them.
The next day Stuart took me up one of the valleys between Big Timber and Livingston, the Bolder Valley.  There is lots of alfalfa and grass grown for hay, and most of it is fertilized with AgroLiquid by another Retail Partner: Stu's Chemical.  Here is an alfalfa/grass crop being irrigated with a wheel line.  Probably most people have not seen such an apparatus, but they are common out west.  You just have to pay attention to how long to run it, then turn it off and move it down the field for the next set. Simple but effective.
 Here is a much larger field of Liquid-fed alfalfa.  Growers are pleased with the yield and hay quality that Liquid brings.  It sure is pretty and panoramic.
 Another thing I enjoy is the opportunity to see (and share) cool sites.  Like here is the Bolder River plunging down into a hole.  This is limestone, and over the years the water carved this hole into the bed of the river.  There used to be a limestone bridge over the site of the hole, and this area is called the Natural Bridge.  In fact, Stuart said his family visited it when he was a kid and has a picture of him and his sister standing on the bridge.  But alas, it collapsed in 1988.  Probably right after they left.
 And here is where it comes out again.  During periods of extra water flow, it will cascade over the top. But most of the time it is just like this.  But see how it curves around to the right...and disappears underground again.
And here is the dry former river bed below the falls.  It comes out again somewhere down the way. But by now we had used up our allotted tourist time and had to get going.  But I enjoyed it.  I may try to come back someday in the future when there is a newly carved natural bridge. 
Here is a field of second year dryland grass hay that also is fertilized with AgroLiquid.  Is that a truck coming down the road on the left?  That does it!  I could never live here if it's that crowded.
So later that day I made my way back down to Livingston where I stayed.  I enjoyed the pretty sunset reflected on the clouds up in the Big Sky of Montana.
But my mission was only half over.  Where would I go next?  Tune in tomorrow to find out.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mint Madness

 So anyone who lives here in Mid-Michigan knows that the middle of August can only mean one thing: The St. Johns Mint Festival.  And the highlight of the festival is the Saturday morning parade.  And the highlight of the parade is the AgroLiquid delegation and float.  All decked out in the official Liquid parade shirt, the marchers assemble for pre-parade instructions from Jill.
 Then it's onto the people movers for the ride into town to the parade assembly area.  Hey, that guy up there looks just like Farm Guy.  At least I hope it is.
 I think this is the largest assemblage of AgroLiquid Mint Marchers ever.  Employees, kids, friends and family...everyone wants to be in the parade.
 Waiting for the start, lucky Farm Guy gets a peck on the cheek from Leslie and Sarah, much to the delight of a young onlooker.
Believe it or not, this is the AgroLiquid float...with the theme of Mint Madness.  Galynn and Dean certainly fit that theme.  As mad scientists they have brewed up some fertilizer samples.  On the right must be some green Pro-Germinator and then some purple Sure-K.  Not sure what the yellow one is, unless Galynn made that using his own production methods.
Then it's time for the parade to start.  Leading the way for AgroLiquid is the big banner.
 It wanders through the streets of St. Johns, lined with onlookers the whole way.  Hey is that a dog in the truck?
Good boy!
We came bearing gifts of candy, store coupons, field day announcements and fertilizer samples.
 It was pretty hot and humid.  So I guess Farm Guy deserves a lift.
 Stephanie and 2/3 of her kids march on.  Her other 1/3 was in one of the tractors with Dad.
 And at last came the final stretch through downtown.
 I think the heat has added to the madness of these scientists.  Especially Galynn who had his brain literally exposed to the sun the whole time.  I mean literally.
So that was a good way to spend a Saturday morning.  Too bad we have to wait a whole year till the next Mint Parade.  But it will take a year to top this entry.  And certainly worth the drive of any distance to come see it.