Monday, June 19, 2017

Last Week at the NCRS, Part 2

So also last week another experiment was started, this to evaluate nitrogen volatility.  Last year Dr. Massri found greatly reduced ammonia volatility from High NRG-N compared to 28%.  There was also reduction from addition of eNhance which was better than conventional stabilizer.  Read all about it in the 2016 Research Report.  (Click "Research" tab on the web site. Not the drop down, but the word "Research").  So that was with broadcast applications.  What about surface side-dress applications?  Many growers still drag hoses on the surface to apply nitrogen solution.  We don't have one of those, but could simulate it by tying the tubes of the Y-Drop applicator to place the stream in the row middle. 
 It did a very nice job.
 Now Zouheir comes to place his passive ammonia samplers over the band to start collecting volatilized ammonia loss in order to compare different formulations.  There's even a broadcast application of urea.  It is so exciting his fans have assembled to watch.
 MSU intern Adam assists by adding a dilute solution of sulfuric acid to a small jar suspended from the sealed top.  It will absorb the ammonia which converts to ammonium sulfate.  Then the solution is analyzed determination of nitrogen loss.  He will collect it every day for a while and then weekly.  I think.  So it's important to place the collector over the band.  So in order to do that in the days ahead after the band "wetness" has disappeared, we marked it with spaced small wooden stakes.

So no stopping till it's done.  But this is quite a different research project for sure.

Glad we have Zouheir to find out these types of things.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Last Week at the NCRS. Part 1

So last week was a busy week at the NCRS, as they all are.  But I was on hand to be able to file this report.  We got some new drop style irrigation nozzles on our linear Reinke system on Farm 3.  They were installed by Farm Services of Lakeview, Michigan, the same people who first put the system together back in 2001.  Or maybe 2002.  But it was awhile ago.   We have been very dry and in need of rainfall lately.  So the two farms with irrigation should be getting watered. The funny, well kind of, thing is that when I came out Monday and saw the linear way up the field to the North, I asked why wasn't it running.  I was told that it was. Sure enough it was.  It's just not as obvious from afar.  And then later that day back at the office, Troy asked me why the irrigation on Farm 3 wasn't running.  I said it was. He thought as I did earlier.  I guess you had to be there.  But we are applying water where we can. 
 On Farm 5 it is easy to tell when the irrigation is on.
 Side-dressing of corn plots has been going on recently.  Here is the plot Hagie making applications with the Y-Drop system that we like.
 It places the nitrogen band on both sides of the base of the plant.  We have found this to be better than the coulter injection in the middle of the row.  And coulter injection is better than dragging hoses which is still done in places.
On the May 14 blog I showed the new Y Drop system for our other Hagie for our production, or non-plot corn.  Well it was initiated on Friday, starting on Farm 12.  Fortunately I was there for the occasion.  We can do 18 rows at a time which should certainly speed up the side-dress applications.
 It seemed to work fine to my critical eye while riding with Phil at the helm.
 Back on the plot scene, it was time for nitrogen applications and hilling of the potato plots on Farm 1.  This is primarily an evaluation of Primagro fertilizers, and Dr. Massri guides Tim B through the plots. These are Snowden potatoes which are used for potato chips.  Did you know that Michigan is the number one potato chip producing state?  Well it is.  And did you know that potato chips are the number one snack food.  Hey, I don't compile all of that, I just report it.  It's on the Internet, so it must be true. 

Remember last week when we were making dry fertilizer applications to the alfalfa plots at the NCRS on Farm 5?  Well a week has gone by and it was time to make the Liquid applications.  Here we see intern Jacob making fertilizer applications with the backpack sprayer.  Did you know that this backpack sprayer was the first piece of equipment that I bought when I started back in 1992? Well it was and I'm glad to see that it is still in action.  Although Jacob wasn't born yet when I first bought it, he's using it now. And like me, still in peak condition.  And by the way, we use an internet metronome to maintain a steady pace.  Accuracy counts.
So it's hard to believe that all of this happened in a single week at the NCRS.  But there is still more that will be reported tomorrow.  And what better way to spend a Saturday night than reporting on the cool happenings at America's premier research facility.  That's the North Central Research Station in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Making Good Alfalfa Better....With AgroLiquid

So hopefully you read in the Research Report about all of the alfalfa trial work that Agronomist Dan Peterson conducted last year in Wisconsin.  Yield was often improved with AgroLiquid applied alone or more often, on top of a growers dry fertilizer program or manure.  Anyway, applications of Sure-K and other AgroLiquid nutrients had a tremendous effect on quality and calculated milk production (formula based on quality components).  So here in Michigan we are taking a new look at alfalfa programs, working in conjunction with Dan.  A couple trials are with local dairymen.  Last week we made applications to fields a week after first cut and harvest.  This field is right next to the NCRS Farm 12.  This is an irrigated field and has had manure applied the previous two years with no additional fertilizer to be applied this year.  So we have two strips of AgroLiquid, mainly Sure-K + Micros.  He was able to irrigate after harvest and had nice regrowth.
There is about 4 to 5 inchees of regrowth, perfect for the foliar application that Phil makes with our Hagie sprayer.
We made a different application to a dryland field of a different dairy operation several miles away. It has been very dry of late and rain would be nice.  These applications were last Thursday and no rain since, and temperatures are in the 90's
This field is right by this nice lagoon.  In fact we put our strip marker flags on the fence.  Didn't see any No Swimming signs, and it is hot.... But this grower will apply potash after next cut, and we will see what the addition of AgroLiquid brings to the yield and quality measurements.

Back at the NCRS, our test field had been cut and harvested the previous day.  So after making the farmer applications, we came back and applied dry fertilizer to the appropriate plots in our test  The following week, which is tomorrow, we will apply AgroLiquid treatments to the regrowth.  We will get a variety of comparisons.   Here intern Jacob applies dry potash and MAP to plots with our dry air spreader, or Blower as we call it.  It does a great job.  I mean we have to be fair in our tests.

We apply the dry components separately so as not to be stuck with left over fertilizer blends.  The dry micros are spread manually.  I use a hand held spinner spreader, but Zouheir prefers spreading by hand.  We often have some differences in experimental technique which often leads to lively discussion.
So we compromise.  He does it his way and I do it mine!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What Else Happened on June 8???

So it can be fun to look back in history to see what happened on a particular date.  Like June 8.  Well around that date in 1992, the June issue of Agro-Cultural News came out.  It was much smaller then, basically a sheet folded in half for 4 pages.  On the front page it talked about how Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers was a growing company and had been recognized as a Michigan Private 100 company, which means out of all the private companies in the state, ACLF was in the Top 100 for growth.  A trend that would continue for sure.
And inside there is a section of At Your Service featuring employee news.  Hey, that guy looks familiar.  Well kind of.  Maybe.  But if you read it, it's about the new guy they hired for research and market support.  Has it been 25 Years already??? 

Anyway, twenty five years of hard, but rewarding, work does have an effect on a person.  And it's all positive!  (Except maybe the hair part).  We were a lot smaller then, as I think that is nearly all of the employees in that picture on the cover.  After all this time, and all the employees now, there are only three that have been here longer.  And I'm gaining on them. But I remember my first day.  There was no NCRS then, but Troy showed me around the place that would become the NCRS.  And I remember we built the first grow-out boxes as they were called.  A wood frame with plexi-glass sides that enabled viewing seeds growing under the effects of different fertilizers.  The light bulb started to light up with that.  I was an agronomist, but had specialized in weed control and not so much with soil fertility.  I remember company founder Mr. Cook (may he Rest In Peace) saying "Well that's good.  Because now you won't have to un-learn everything that is wrong about soil fertility and feeding plants."  Sounds funny now, as I began to understand that it's not how much fertilizer you apply, but of what you apply, how much gets into a plant and has a positive response.  That was said many times by Mr. Cook as his basic explanation of how Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers are different.  It was a good job, but we were so small that I remember driving to work thinking: "This is alright, but I'll just do this till something better comes along."  And nothing ever did!  I shared that story later with Mr. Cook and he had a big laugh.  I also remember thinking that this shouldn't be so hard.  Give me a few years and we would have everything pretty much knocked out for proving ACLF performance against "conventional" fertilizer, and the rest would be easy.  Well, still working on that.  But with an increased product line, a top-notch research farm and staff and all kinds of employees At Your Service...the next 25 years should be sweet!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

AgroLiquid Ad Recognition

So certainly everyone remembers the AgroLiquid ad campaign that debuted with A New Game Plan. We saw where Farmer Dave has had no luck with his conventional corn fertilizer and makes a change to AgroLiquid where he finds great success.  The reason for success is explained in the soil where a new game plan of protected nutrition makes the difference.  It was on web and television.  Well these viewers weren't the only ones taking notice.  It seems that various entities who recognize excellence also took notice.
As such, the awards came rolling in, and they were recently announced to the folks at AgroLiquid World Headquarters in St. Johns.  Here are the awards that the New Game Plan campaign amassed. The Silver Telly (National TV ad under 60 seconds), the National Agricultural Marketing Association Merit Runner Up, and the Bronze Addy (60 second TV campaign).  Here is Luke Butler of Harvest Creative Services presenting the Addy to the Marketing team of Albert Bancroft, Angie Bunn, Adam Baudoux, and Kathryn Kendall.

So that was very exciting and well deserved.  But the bad part is that you have to top that with the next campaign which is already underway.  Surely you've seen the Sports guys and the new story with Farmer Dave and reporter Jenny.  Riveting, check it out!