Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ag PhD and the NCRS: Shared research project to help corn farmers

So did you know that there was a bonus event at the recent Ag Ph.D. field day?  It was a joint research project conducted at the Ag Ph.D. farm plus at the NCRS.  It was an experiment evaluating different nitrogen advisement programs for corn.  Of course the corn had a planter application of Pro-Germinator + Kalibrate to get it off to the best start.  The interested participants assembled in the new building by the field day site.  The AgroLiquid inflatable marked the place.
 Brian Hefty gave the welcome and provided some insight for being profitable in farming today.
 Then we went out to the test site.  Darren gave his thoughts on growing a great corn crop from soil to providing a good growing advantage.
 One of the reasons people like to listen and learn is the many stories Darren shares about growing a top crop.  Darren will be on the Responsible Nitrogen Management plot tour at the AgroExpo next Thursday.  So come join us.  I guarantee that you will learn a lot.  I know I have, and I work there!
 Hey, there goes the AgroLiquid tanker off on another mission.  Galynn and Quinten wish him well.
Since this was an experiment on in-season nitrogen applications, Tom Mundorf from Midwest Labs talks about the Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) that can indicate how much nitrogen to apply based on how much is already found in the soil.
 But to get an accurate result, you must take an accurate soil test.  Tom goes over the principles for that as well as how to handle the soil after sampling.  Send it to Midwest Labs and get a nitrogen recommendation.  The PSNT has been around for years and can be a good way to better manage nitrogen applications so that you don't over or under apply.  Especially in challenging economic times like now.  In case you are noticing that this corn is way short for this time of year, that was intentional.  We planned for some late planted corn since we are talking about side-dress nitrogen for this field day.  Clever huh?  It was my idea.  Brilliant.
 Ag Ph.D researcher Glenn Herz explains how the experiment was conducted.  Glenn is responsible for the planting of this test as well as the plots on the field day grounds.  Darren wisely gets some shade on this sunny day.
 Now in addition to the PSNT, there are several newer programs available to give nitrogen application advice. Two are based on weather models for the field.  Certainly weather and specifically rainfall can influence crop growth and nitrogen availability.  Here Troy Hageman of Climate Corp. explains that program.
 And Jamie Sietzer of Encirca introduces their advisement process. Now Encirca was not part of this actual field test, but Jamie did a nice job of explaining how Encirca works.  (Encirca is part of the NCRS test.) In addition, there was a plot from 360 Yield Center that used the Soil Scan, a machine that will measure soil nitrate level right there.  They will give a nitrogen recommendation based on that rather than weather models.  However, their rep wasn't able to attend as his wife picked the previous night to have a baby, and he thought he should stick around.  I guess she forgot about her husband having to attend this important field day.
It was noticed that the nitrogen rates recommended by Encira, Climate and PSNT were all pretty close.  So that is reassuring I guess.  But all were lower than the so-called "regular" farmer application.  So there is great potential for achieving yield goal while applying less nitrogen which is good for the wallet and environment.  Well these will be harvested to see.  Now you should all come to the AgroExpo next week to see the similar test at the NCRS that will be featured there.  So it was nice to run a similar experiment both in Michigan and  South Dakota to see how the nitrogen advisers measure up.