Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year LAND of LIQUID!

So I say this every year....and why change now....but how can it be (insert upcoming year) already?  In this case, 2018.  The year has flown by, and is still a blur.  And even now 2018 is rotating West towards the Land of Liquid.  But it was a pretty good year overall.  Some new things were learned at the NCRS (see Research Report) and  a great AgroExpo event was held there as well.  Numerous group tours and another great quartet of college interns learned the real deal on crop fertility at the NCRS last summer.  But even as we close the books on 2017, there are already thoughts being formed of research activities and projects for 2018.
So wherever you are welcoming in the New Year, we wish all of you the best in 2018!
And of course, an AgroLiquid year would really make it the best.  It's the best Jerry!  The best.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Gift For You

So after all of the waiting and anticipation, when it seemed so far away, here it is now towards the end of Christmas day.  I hope you had an enjoyable and reflective day wherever you were.    
And this being the season of giving, AgroLiquid's Agronomic Sciences team has a great gift for you.  The posting of the 2017 Research Report on the website.  Just click the Research Tab and you will see it.  It's 83 pages packed with reports from the NCRS, as well as off-farm contract research and PFE's.  Additionally there are the summer intern project posters.  A page turner if there ever was one.
Thanks, as usual, to Stephanie for managing the assemblage of all of this information into a rich report.  Through her persistence, we are able to meet our pre-Christmas deadline every year.  And here is the big but, there are a couple of NCRS reports that were not yet finished due to complexity.  And a number of PFE reports for which the Agronomists say they have not yet received the information.  So there will be a supplement coming in early 2018.  But thankfully, the 2017 Report was, in fact, completed in 2017.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas to the LAND of LIQUID!

So this being Friday, it's the last day of work for the year at the AgroLiquid World Headquarters in St. Johns, Michigan.  As has been the tradition for the last several years, it was a chance for the loyal workers still toiling away on fertilizer tasks to assemble for the annual picture.  This was after 4:30, so here are the people who closed up the place.
Word must have gotten around as there were 19 assembled for the pic this year.  Last year there were 13 and two years ago there were 8.  So people want to hang around for the festive foto.  There was actually a 20th worker still on the premises, that being Hudson in the chemistry lab.  Well the lab is behind two sets of locked doors, so he wasn't able to heed the call.  But there he is in an ornament in the upper left corner.  So I guess that is 20 in the picture this year.  Including Troy and Nick.  Working hard for all the fertilizer folks out there in the Land of Liquid, which is everywhere.  Merry Christmas!  But there are a couple more posts coming before the year is over, so be on the lookout.  Enjoy the season. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Salute to Farmers!

So have you heard the news?  It seems that our friends at Ag PhD are going to have a float in the Rose Parade on January 1.  Here is an artist’s concept of what it will look like.  The theme is "Salute to Farmers" and they plan to have real farmers on it.  Not actors from nearby Hollywood.  You can find out more information on their website.  But it's going to be pretty big, over 100 feet long.

And here's something else.  They are asking for farmers to send in seed from their farm to be used to decorate the float!  They want to have seed from all 50 states.  Yesterday they said that they had seed from all but a few New England states.  Anyway, it wouldn't be the same without seed from the NCRS.  Well we don't keep any of our harvested corn and beans, but we did have some rye seed that we grew and use for cover crop.  So I sent some to the float building place in California last week.  Here is what it looks like, so be on the lookout when you watch the parade.

For truth in advertising, here is the field of rye on Farm 12 as it looked last June 7.  It was taller than me.
Here is a close-up.  See that seed head on the left, kind of leaning over?  And that one in the middle about half way down?  Well some of the seeds in the bag on the left came from those.  As researchers, we keep track of everything.
So this will be exciting to have something from our own farm in the parade.  If you can, watch it on RFD-TV where they are sure to give extra coverage to America's most important resource: Farmers!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Snow Day

So yesterday (Wednesday) there was a big portion of the country that got snow.  Michigan was part of that portion.  I was out at the NCRS in the afternoon, and it was really coming down.  We ended up with close to 8 inches.
 The snow stopped at night, but then the cold set in.  Here was my temperature this morning on my way in according to my Flexometer.  I didn't think it would get that cold.  Fortunately I brought in my brass monkey last night.
 But as the sun came up, it was a pretty day.
As long as you could stay inside.  Which I did.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Yield Follow-up: California Melons

So here is another follow-up to a blog about crop comparisons.  This was from a May 8 post (Desert Fruit. No Extra Salt Needed) from SE California, just West of Yuma, AZ.  This was about a visit with SAM Carlos to a field of cantaloupes where a fertilizer comparison was being conducted.  This visit was a couple weeks before harvest.  To re-cap, Carlos and Retail Partner Jeramie with RNM Agriturf set up a fertilizer comparison in a field of melons.  This field was pretty rough with a pH >8 and high soil test sodium (>1000 ppm and 20% base saturation).  Anyway, the grower wouldn't tell them what his normal program was.  He just gave them a soil test and a target cost per acre.  With help from agronomist JW, they came up with a fertilizer program that was applied through drip irrigation.  
I showed these pictures in the original blog post from either side of that road on the left.  The pictures show the yields and the fertilizer programs.  The AgroLiquid program was more nutritionally balanced and it payed off with a yield that was almost 1.25 TONS/A higher than the growers program (a box of melons is 30 lb.).  So as I've said many times before, AgroLiquid is a superior nutrition program for any situation, but especially so in adverse conditions like high pH and sodium.  
This is because of carbon encapsulation of phosphorus, which protects from tie-up losses and enables extended release and feeding.  There is also a more direct application of nutrient needs like micronutrients and calcium.  Anyway, performance was proven again.  Hopefully I will be able to obtain more results from earlier field comparisons shown here in the Land of Liquid.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Great Lakes Expo

So this week is the wildly popular Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo in Grand Rapids.  There are people from all over the world who attend this as speakers, exhibitors and growers.  AgroLiquid has exhibited here for years.  I took the opportunity to attend the opening day on Tuesday.
Here is the AgroLiquid booth.  With an expansion of retail partners in the fruit and vegetable markets, there is much information to share with growers.
Last year over 4200 people attended the three day event, and looks like at least that again in 2017.  There are over 450 exhibitors from seed, greenhouses, chemicals, fertilizers, storage, marketing, farm marketing and of course, equipment.  The NCRS has a supply of fruit and vegetable equipment for use in our plots.  But like most growers, you like to see what's new and improved.
There are some give-away items at the different booths.  But probably nothing as valuable as this Yeti cooler that will given away to a lucky entrant.  Look at this familiar grower with the AgroLiquid cap.  Hope he wins.  (I say that to everyone though.  And I'll be right once.)
This conference also has over 70 educational sessions, on everything from asparagus to zucchini.  The apple presentations have the biggest audience, it being such a big crop and all.  I attended this session since the NCRS has an apple orchard.  They talked about managing pesticide residues (not really a problem here, but different import countries have different residue standards), soil biology (always a topic these days), insects (the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, imported from Asia is a growing problem), disease management around pollination time (bees), apple storage and other topics.  I thought it was a learning experience.  Although nothing on fertility on Tuesday.  
They had displays of different apple varieties.  And this is just one of two long tables!  Who knew there were so many?
Remember Jacob the AgroLiquid horticulturist at the NCRS who left to return to MSU for his PhD?  I didn't see him on the day I was there, but I did see a poster of his research project.  He compared application drift from an airblast sprayer (which blows out a high powered volume of mist to cover the trees) and a solid set canopy delivery system (which has delivery nozzles down in the canopy for delivery at a lower pressure from an overhead hose).  These are systems for application of pest control chemicals and crop nutrition.  Well he found that there is considerably less drift from the solid set canopy system compared to air blast.  Who knew? 
So that was a nice day talking to growers, seeing the other vendor displays, filling my head with knowledge and my stomach with tasty items from the farm market.  (If you ever see a jar of Blueberry Salsa, buy it and try it!  You can thank me later.)   
(No really, it's good!)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

'Tis the Season

So it's December now, and it's never too early for a Christmas parade.  Such was the case last Friday in St. Johns, MI, and of course AgroLiquid was an eager participant.  It featured lots of lights, so the NCRS crew outfitted our Hagie plot sprayer with lights galore.  Hagie pilot Tim stands guard.
 Here are the AgroLiquid paraders.  Notice the Flavonol bubble people and Farm Guy.  All lit up and ready to go!
We also had a bright antique golf cart leading the way downtown to the throngs of parade fans.
 The Hagie made a nice show going down Clinton Street in the midst of town.  Although most people apparently thought it was a tractor.  But I liked their enthusiasm.
Gerrit and Molly and kids are having a great time spreading the Christmas cheer.  Obviously Beth is too.
 There was a long string of all sorts of lighted floats and bands making the parade a civic success.
 And like all good parades, the last float has Santa waving to all the good kids in town.
I waved back.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yield Follow-Up: Clinton County MI Topdress Wheat

So as part of my travels  through the summer, I often show some sort of field fertilizer comparison.  I try to get caught up on how those turned out after harvest.  I thought I would start close to home, where on May 3 in the post: Wheat Streaks I showed a wheat field with some topdress strips of AgroLiquid vs urea.  Specifically it was 15 gal/A of PRIMAGRO N + 14.5 gal/A of High NRG-N + 1 qt/A of Micro 500 + 1 qt/A of Manganese applied on April 14 compared to 250 lb/A of urea applied on April 24 (in the original post I put 200 lb of urea, but as I found out later, it was 250 lb).  The AgroLiquid strips were nice and green while the urea wheat was yellow.  This pic was in the May 3 blog post.  You can see the other strip in the upper right corner.  Two 80 ft passes of AgroLiquid were made on the North side and one on the South side.
 A month later they looked similar in color as the urea wheat had greened up.  Unfortunately there was a lot of grass here.  I believe it was smooth brome grass.  It got sprayed with Huskie, but that wouldn't control grass.
 At harvest, a single 15 ft pass was made with our combine was made in adjacent sections of the topdress treatments, down to the end of the trees (yellow line) which was 915 feet.  The combine drove in the middle of the strips to avoid any stray urea influence.  Yields were determined with our scaled grain cart, and are on the picture below.  (This was a drone image taken on May 3.)                                     
The yields were low for the area, undoubtedly due to the grass infestation.  But there was an overall 5 bu/A advantage for the AgroLiquid.  There was a bigger difference in the North comparison. The higher yield was from AgroLiquid, but it was just a slightly higher overall return (check local listings).  But wouldn't you rather spray topdress with your own sprayer instead of having to pay for a spreader? 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cover Crops....Decisions, Decisions

Cover crops have been around for a number of years, but are still being explored as options for soil improvement.  Reported benefits include nutrient recovery, reduction of compaction and enhanced soil health by providing an environment for beneficial microbes.  The NCRS has had cover crops for years following wheat harvest.  Just don't have enough time after soybeans and corn.  Admittedly we haven't done a great deal of work on cover crop mixture testing.  Usually a blend of oats and tillage radish is planted.  Here is a strip from a fertilizer test where plant establishment was poor.  Can you guess why? 
Well it seems that a soil amendment in the form of 300 lb/A of muriate of potash was spread and lightly incorporated (vertical tillage) prior to planting.  This picture was taken in late September a little over a month after planting.  On either side is 100 lb/A of potash in this field with very low soil test potassium.  We will follow it next year with corn plots.  Interesting result though.

Over on Farm 7 we are having a comparison of some different tillage and cover crop combinations.  Compaction is a problem at the NCRS when you work with plots that have lots of traffic in the form of planting, spraying, foliar apps, combine and grain cart/weigh wagon.  So often the ground will be ripped and then planted to cover crop when wheat is in the rotation.  There are four replicated treatments, again following wheat.  (You may see some frosted corn from where the weigh wagon was cleaned out after corn harvest plus spread seed from old partial bags of corn.  This area is normally not plot ground.)  These are long strips going up and over that hill in the background.

This strip was ripped only.  (A ripper is a tillage tool with shanks that go deep into the soil to break up compaction zones. You can see the strips where these shanks ran.  The soil needs to be rather dry in order to shatter the compaction zone.) No cover crop, that's volunteer wheat.  These pictures were taken on November 8 and were planted in early September.
This strip was ripped and then planted to our standard oats and tillage radish.  Looks like good establishment.
This strip had no tillage and no cover crop, other than this volunteer wheat.
This strip had no tillage, but had annual ryegrass and tillage radish.  Unfortunately the ryegrass didn't get off to a very good start.  We are testing this as I have been told by others that the ryegrass will root down deep enough to break up compaction, especially in combination with the radish.  So we will monitor these strips through corn harvest next year.  And there are four replications of each of these.
This is a different cover crop: one of the winter wheat experiments on Farm 3, as it was on November 8.
I've been meaning to get this cover crop info loaded into a blog for awhile now.  Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from the NCRS

So now with even more evidence that the year is speeding by, here it is Thanksgiving already.  As a place with the task of researching ways of growing more and better food, yesterday the NCRS staff took time to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast of our own.  It sounds corny (which,ironically, is one food that we did not have), but we have all been working together for quite a while, some for many years, and it was nice to sit together and enjoy a festive meal.  And we have plenty for which we are Thankful.  (You didn't think I would end a sentence with a preposition did you?)

I'd say it was as good as Grandma's with taters and gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, cole slaw from our own cabbage, sweet potato casserole, chip dip, rolls, cookies, pie and of course TURKEY.  And all, well mostly all, was homemade.  So that was a good practice for tomorrow.  It was just like family except no food fight.  We all wish for you to have a great Thanksgiving wherever you are. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

More Winter Pasture

So here is some unfinished reporting from my Oklahoma expedition last month.  As reported, wheat pasture is big for feeding cattle.  Here is Retail Partner Parker talking to a long-time AgroLiquid customer about wheat and who knows what else?
Looks good doesn't it?  Still needs a little more growth before turning out some cattle.  But wait, this isn't wheat.  It's rye.  He likes rye because it establishes faster on this sandy ground and gets better fall growth.  It's also a little more cold tolerant.  It's the first rye pasture for grazing that I had seen.  He ran fertilizer through the drill, a blend of Pro-Germinator and High NRG-N.
But wait, what's wrong here?
Darn fall armyworm.  They can do some serious damage if you don't catch them.  There is certainly much more of a need for scouting insects in the fall in the South than we have up in Michigan.   At this time of year there are two options: spray or wait for a frost.  I think he was going to spray.    There wasn't a huge amount of feeding, but it wasn't hard to find.  Unchecked, large blocks of a pasture can disappear from armyworms.  They are easier to control when small like this.  Besides, that rye is for cattle, not worms.  Not much market for armyworm ribeye.
So AgroLiquid is doing it's job in all types of crop nutrition needs.  Just keep out trespassers.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Martin Truex is NASCAR Champion!

So no doubt by now you know that our favorite NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr is now the NASCAR champion for the 2017 season.  He won the last race of the year at Homestead FL to secure the top spot.  Here he is on the final lap holding off the second place driver and last year's champion Kyle Bush.
 From the car cam there is happiness and fireworks.  This was his 8th victory of the year, the most by any driver.
 Here is the customary burn out.  On the scroll at the bottom there is the placing of Dale Earnhardt Jr finishing 25th in his final race ever.
 That's Martin on the right hoisting the trophy with his crew chief Cole Pearn, who is from Ontario.  Canada, not California.  So how unusual for a one-car team based in Colorado with a driver from New Jersey and a crew chief from Canada to win the championship of a sport deeply rooted in the Southeast, more specifically North Carolina.
And you should know why Martin is our favorite driver, who has been the subject of a number of blogs over the past couple years.  Well team owner Barney Visser, who is the owner of Furniture Row stores, is also a very large farmer in the Denver area who uses AgroLiquid on many thousands of acres of dryland crops.  Unfortunately he suffered a heart attack and surgery earlier this month and had to miss the final couple of races, including this one.  But he came through all of it and was released from hospital and no doubt enjoyed the finale at home.  So congratulations to Martin and Furniture Row Racing.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Finishing Harvest at the NCRS

So nearly daily rainfall with cold and cloudy conditions, there was virtually no harvest the past two weeks.  But on Wednesday the sun came out and it dried up enough to resume corn plot harvest. Here is the harvest crew on Farm 7.  That's Tim in the cart, Ron driving the tractor and Jeff at the combine controls.
 So I climbed up and rode a few rounds with Jeff and watched the massive 4-row corn head devour corn.  Well it works for us, to harvest the middle four rows of our six row plots.  Every year I am grateful when we finish harvest without a breakdown as I think it would be difficult to find a four row head these days.  Although I think the people who actually do the harvest work would like to have a newer and bigger one.  Well you just don't rush into such a drastic change.
 It was a nice day, but cold.  There were still several experiments to harvest, but they worked late and finished up Farm 7.  Good thing because early on Thursday it started to rain again and continued through Thursday with light snow Thursday night.
Once again here is a picture of Tim taking samples for determine test weight and moisture. This grain cart has a scale for measuring plot production.  The weight from each plot is entered on an iPad and automatically sent to the data network.
Meanwhile back at the NCRS office....Renae takes the samples that Tim collected and runs them through our Dickey John grain tester for test weight and moisture.  She enters those numbers on another iPad, and somehow it all gets merged, sorted and averaged.  
It's come a long way since the sliding balance for test weight, a portable moisture tester, and catching the corn in bags and weighing them later.  Good thing, as modern and accurate research is the norm at the NCRS for it's 24th crop harvest.   Where does the time go?  But they did finish plot harvest today.  Now to decipher the numbers and see what happened.