Monday, July 31, 2017

Ag PhD Field Day Is Tops

So the last Thursday in July can mean only one thing: the Ag PhD Field Day in Baltic, SD.  Brian and Darren Hefty of the Hefty Seed Company and hosts of Ag PhD radio and TV shows have one of the finest field days anywhere.  There are exhibitors, plots and equipment that draw thousands from all over the US and 25 countries.  At the start of the day, Brian and Darren get on a flatbed and lead the attendees down the rows of plots and exhibitors talking about them and what they have to show.  See the AgroLiquid logo on the red and white tent in the background?
 The crowd then is free to visit with the exhibitors to learn more about what's new.
And that includes the AgroLiquid tent full of knowledgeable people to set you straight on crop fertility.

But there is more than just that one tent.  AgroLiquid was part of the first ever Learning Center as it was called.  This was a collaboration of several companies that worked together to feature a more complete crop input program from many angles.  It was AgroLiquid for nutrition, FMC for crop protection, Hypro for spray nozzle selection, and Farmer's Edge for decision making inputs.  There were a number of Agro plots.  Here we see Dr. Zouheir Massri showing how he measures beneficial microbe activity, ammonia volatility and nutrient movement in the soil.  I guarantee that there has never been a demonstration like this at this Field Day.  He was easily the busiest of the Agro crew with a steady stream of interested farmers through his root pit.  Darren Hefty, on the left in orange, listens to what Zouheir has found in is unique methodology.  In fact, Darren announced to the crowd on the tours that there was a world famous soil scientist on staff there.  And again on Friday as we were driving back to Michigan he talked about Zouheir and his work on the daily Ag PhD radio show.  So now Zouheir is even more famous and will certainly be demanding top billing and his own dressing room.  
NCRS Researcher Tim talks to some farmer attendees about the fertilizer and planter plots.  Although that is long-time Agro customer Marvin Krohn on Tim's right who also sells Liquid fertilizer, seed and Precision Planting equipment.  I have know Marvin for close to twenty years.  That's his "little" boy on Tim's left that I used to see when visiting his  farm in Minnesota.  Good to see them.
As in the past, there are a variety of things for entertainment, like the Vanguard Squadron of stunt planes.  There are four of them that do all sorts of aerial acrobatics.  What is unique is that the planes run on 100% ethanol fuel.  I still shake my head in my home state of Oklahoma where the gas stations advertise that their fuel has no ethanol because those Okies think ethanol harms engines.
 Well would these planes be able to make a heart indicating their love of ethanol if their engines were at risk?
So that was fun.  I have been to every Ag PhD field day since 2010 and it is a treat to see the growth and learn what is new each year.  I almost forgot to mention that ALL of the plots for all of the chemical and seed companies are fertilized with AgroLiquid fertilizer.  No wonder they look so good. Give your crops a gift of top nutrition from AgroLiquid.  I mean we don't do all of this work just to look good at shows.  Although we do.  As one of the speakers said: It's a great time to be in Agriculture!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Last of Last Week in Sask.

So in addition to the Ag In Motion trade show and seeing AgroLiquid crops on the farm, there was also some contract research nearby to visit.  An important crop up in Saskatchewan, as well as in several states, is the oilseed crop canola.  It is mostly in early to full bloom now.  It really adds color to the countryside.  The canola looks good but can use some rain.
This researcher runs large-scale plots.  Each individual plot is 30 x 400 feet.  And there are four replications.  We are testing different treatments, rates, new products like Micro 600 and Primagro, plus foliars.  Looks good to me.
These plots were planted with this customized Seed Master drill, seen here parked at the Ag In Motion show.  It is also used to plant most of the demonstration plots at the show.
Here is a close-up of the canola at about 30% flower.  The flowers will make cylindrical pods filled with tiny canola seeds.  We grew canola at the NCRS many years ago.  It is a challenge to harvest. Well, harvest it right that is.  It's tough to shatter the small pods and keep the fans just right to blow out the trash and not the seeds.  May have to try canola again some day.  Maybe.  
Here we see researcher Dean and Retail Partner Kellen checking some canola roots.  Not just for growth but also for root maggots.  Yuck.  That is a problem in some areas this year, as we saw elsewhere.  But these are nice and maggot-free.
So that was a fun time.  I like seeing well-run research plots.  Drought and maggots please stay clear.

Monday, July 24, 2017

On the Farm with Other Saskatchewan Crops

So one evening we drove down a ways South of Saskatoon to visit a grower who is using AgroLiquid for the first time this year.  He is a grower with new Retail Partner Kellen Huber, whose business is Kell Teck Ag Ltd. Here we see Dan, SAM John and Kellen listening to the grower describe a newish and valuable crop.  You would think Dan had never seen this crop being cultivated before. Well neither had I.  What is it?  Look close.
Can you see better now?  It's hemp.  No, it's not dope, weed, ganja, Acapulco Gold, or any of the other names for marijuana.  This has no THC and is non-hallucinogenic. It can make three valuable products: hemp hearts, hemp oil and fiber.  The grower has a large number of acres of hemp.  In this field he has a split between the usual 28% + 10-34-0 (left) and Primagro N + Pro-Germinator + Micro 500 (right).  We saw that the Agro side was taller and thicker.  But time will tell.
 There are both male and female hemp plants in the field (they're dioceous).  The male plants are making flowers now to pollinate the females.  That's a female on the left and a male on the right.
 This is a handful of Hemp seeds from last year's harvest.  Here, seeds are desirable.
They are processed to remove the hull leaving the Hearts.  They are kind of like sunflower seeds and added to salads and other foods.  I thought they were good just straight.  They come in a package labelled Hemp Hearts.  I've never seen it sold in the US, but I checked and it is produced in some states.  So be on the lookout.  Or just find the good Canadian hearts.
Here is a bottle of Hemp oil that the grower had.  Not sure what you do with that.  The label makes it sound like it can fix anything.  Maybe I should have taken a swig.
 Here is the drill set-up, a Seed Hawk unit.  This drill can put the fertilizer either with  the seed or to the side of the seed.  For hemp it is all placed to the side.
 Like I showed from the Ag In Motion show, Canadian equipment is very large.  I had to back up quite a bit to get this all in.  But you have the tractor, then the air seeder/fertilizer applicator, then the seed cart, then the liquid cart.  Kellen helped set this all up for AgroLiquid application.  I couldn't imagine pulling such a train of equipment like that.
 Another crop produced up here is lentils.  They are all over the place.  And who doesn't like lentil soup?  Here is Sales Account Manager John getting a closer look.  These had an if-furrow application of Primagro P + Micro 600 + Molybdenum.  They are finishing flowering and making pods now.  But they look great.  Although some rain would certainly help this and all the crops in the area.
 Another crop grown on this farm is malt barley.  Like most of the fields around, they go as far as you can see.  That's why they have such large planting equipment.  And maybe someday this will be done with the driverless equipment we saw at the show.  Maybe.
Always enjoy looking at crops, especially new ones.  And especially like looking at them with AgroLiquid.  Dry is still the predominant fertilizer up here.  But Kellen and AgroLiquid are working to change that.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ag In Motion

So this past week I went to the Ag In Motion ag trade show just North of  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It was my first time there, and by far the farthest North I had ever been.  It's about 200 miles North from the border with Montana.  This is the 3rd Ag In Motion show and there were over 400 exhibitors.  And AgroLiquid is one of those.  Here are Western Canada SAM John Adams from Alberta and agronomist Dan Peterson at the always inviting AgroLiquid booth.  (Is John tall or is Dan short?)
 I must say that I was impressed by the many Canadian ag companies, particularly equipment and seed, that sell just in Canada.  Well there is a lot of farmland there for sure.  Here are Dan and Retail Partner Kellen Huber looking at a wheat drill from Seed Master. Selling Liquid here is a challenge as dry fertilizer dominates equipment application.  But check back in the future after AgroLiquid makes itself better known.  
 Here was a prototype demonstration of unmanned equipment operation.  Well there is a guy on the ground with the control.  But this is a DOT Technology power platform.  The "U" shaped gray DOT machine connects with a variety of application equipment and operates without a driver.  Here is is with a drill. The wheels rotate for planting. 
 Then it drops the drill and picks up a seed tender to go fill a drill someplace.  It is a prototype, but impressive.  I guess this is because good help is hard to find.  So you could run a drill and a tender and plant with a joystick control.  Sounds crazy, but I remember how crazy yield monitors sounded back in the early 90's.
There were lot's of seed plots.  Spring wheat, canola, peas and lentils were the most common.  And all from Canadian seed companies.
So here was something new for me.  Have you ever had, or even heard of Saskatoon Berry Pie?  Well I hadn't.  The lunch place was across from our tent, and while standing in line I asked a couple about the pie on the menu.  They said it was a traditional Canadian berry and I had to try it.  Well I didn't want to be rude, so I did.  It looks like a blueberry, but tastes much sweeter.  I like.
 Surely you've listened to Real Ag Radio.  It comes on right after Ag PhD radio and covers Canadian Agriculture.  Well they set up in our booth on Tuesday for a series of interviews from several important show attendees.  I was happy to be one of them and be interviewed by host Shaun Haney. But this was Canada where the official languages are English and French, and wouldn't you know that it was French Day.  Fortunately I am a fast learner.  Hopefully you were listening to get the latest Agro scoop.
There was plenty to see.  One of the highlights was the tillage demo.
I usually don't show small kids, but this little guy was so cute.  He found that he could spin that tire himself, and kept it spinning and spinning.  Like I said: Cute.
 Looking down the field of tillage.
 Everyone looked at the results from all of the tools after making a pass.
Remember the Big Bud tractor?  Of course you do.  This one is from 1982 and is still in service pulling a big wheat drill.  The guy who runs it brought it back home from England several years ago and put it to work.
 In Canada, farm shows are a formal event.  Everyone looks sharp.
So that was fun and I hope to make a return visit in the future when AgroLiquid as itself known.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Wheat Harvest at the NCRS

So last week the NCRS researchers completed wheat harvest.  It appeared to have gone very well, taking several  days of harvesting plots and taking weights, moistures and test weights.  It will all be sorted out for a summary report.  The yields were quite good though.
This is the only picture I got, as I was away on a fertilizer mission.  But it is similar to all locations, just a different background.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Have You Been To the Corn Palace? (Yes, Corn For Real!)

So if you were driving through a town and saw this sign, would you turn and go see what it was?  Of course you would.  Even if you weren't in agriculture, you have to see a Corn Palace.
 So this is in Mitchell, SD, about an hour West of Sioux Falls.  I had some research plots near there and was in town it would just be rude not to go.  I had been there before, but years earlier.  It seems that there has been a Corn Palace since 1892.  Each year there is a different theme and this building is completely decorated in corn to fit the theme.  The decoration is done in the fall.  This year the theme is "Rock of Ages".  

Here is one side of the palace.  There appears to be some construction happening.  But there is Elvis and some other rock depictions.  
See, it really is corn.  Good thing for different colored corn.  It would be pretty difficult if only using yellow corn.  Amazing.  There is no doubt who it is.
 And here's everyone's favorite Rocker: Willie Nelson.  Well they must have taken some liberties.  Maybe the corn artist is a big fan.  But again, no doubt who it is.  Maybe they were out of Ringo Starr corn.
 Even on the inside there are corn pictures, like here in the arena.  There was some sort of sale going on.  I was in a hurry so didn't go down.  But all of the scenes around the ceiling are made from corn. They don't know when to stop.
 So of course I bought a post card at the gift shop.  Here is what is looked like last fall when completed.  They were able to clear the street of cars, which I couldn't do.  But it looks nice and new there.
This was on Friday morning, and there were lot's of tourists there.  Including buses.  Everyone likes corn.  Now if they only knew what a struggle it is to produce it in a hot and dry year like this.  But I'm pumped.  Can't wait to see what the next theme is.  Hopefully a high-efficiency fertilizer theme.  I'd look good in corn.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dine and Discover at the NCRS

So you may recall the blog post on April 19 about Lunch and Learn at the NCRS.  That was where area farmers were invited to the NCRS for Lunch and also to Learn about our well-researched crop nutrition products.  There was a good turnout, and it was decided to have more of these types of events during the growing season.  Well that happened last Thursday with Dine and Discover at the NCRS.  I was not able to attend either event, which may be why both were successful and well attended.  Although I hope it was because there was good interest generated at the last event, and growers wanted to see what is happening so far in the research plots this year.  Several experiments were shown on Farm 7 where the event was held.  Some growers brought soil tests, all asked questions and all enjoyed the Dining part.  Stephanie reported that there were 58 in attendance, including staff and farmer kids.   You can't start Discovering too early, so all were welcome. One guy drove 5 hours from Ohio! Photographer Adam from Marketing sent me some pictures to share. 

So that looked fun.  Lunch and Learn.  Dine and Discover.  It appears that there is an alliteration theme here.  Hopefully after harvest there will be Brunch and Brag.  

Ag PhD Field Day Learning Center Preview

So last Thursday I went on a Fertilizer Mission to Baltic, SD, the home of Hefty Seed Company and the Ag PhD Field Day coming up in three weeks.  AgroLiquid has shown at the field day for a number of years, and has always had some plot demos.  Well this year the plot has grown into a Learning Center.  What's that?  Well we have teamed with FMC, Farmers Edge and Hypro to provide a multi-team approach to learning more about various aspects of crop inputs.  Here is a view across part of the Learning Center showing soybeans, corn and sunflowers. There are also sugarbeets, date of corn planting (which will have a root pit), planter problems on corn emergence, interactions of crops and crop protection products, and probably lot's more.  It will be extra good because Stephanie and intern Adam went out in May to help get it established.  There will be a good staff of people from all of these partners to give a good overview of what is happening.  
 The guy in charge of getting the whole Field Day established for all vendors is our friend Glenn Herz from Hefty.  He is giving Retail Partner Chad Schlechter and I an overview of the Field Day layout.  I have never been here prior to the Field Day.  Usually we just show up and it all  looks great and ready to go.  But like everything, there is plenty of work in getting it that way, and Glenn does a great job every year.  
 At the Learning Center, there is a date of corn planting demo and the last date was the day we were there.  This is to see corn development all at the same time.  There is also another plot of different crops and the effects of different herbicides and other crop protection products on growth. Sort of a mode of action demo.  Glen is planting that below.  That wheat in the background will be the parking area.
This is a view from the Learning Center corn plots looking at the other crop demos below.  Varieties, crop protection, tillage, genetics and other ag aspects will be shown to the many thousands of visitors in just three weeks.  Of concern is the weather.  Well that is always a concern, but it is so hot and dry.  It was in the mid-90's when I was there, and calls for 100+ in the upcoming days.  And no rain before or after in the forecast.  Fortunately it was wet in May, in fact planting was delayed until May 18.  So the heavy soil is retaining far.  But I wasn't in the heat of the afternoon.  But I'm optimistic the Learning Center and entire Field Day will be great as usual come July 27.
There was one more task to complete.  I wanted to collect some soil samples from several of the sunflower plots here for some Haney Soil Health evaluations.  There are different nutrient inputs that may have an influence on soil health, so I will take some samples, send them off and find out. Although the dry conditions may have an effect, we will see and learn, which is why it's a Learning Center.  Chad is kind enough to bring me a small shovel and more importantly, some water.
I also had a chance to visit with several of the Hefty agronomists, Darren Hefty before the radio show, radio show producer Janelle, and the always delightful Marketing Director Matt.  So it was a good day.  See you at the Learning Center on the 27th.