Sunday, August 27, 2017

Farm to Fork 5K at the NCRS

So Saturday morning was the Fourth Annual Farm to Fork 5K race at the NCRS.  The NCRS sure has been a busy place lately.  Here is what my Flex thermometer read when I got there.  I know Michigan is way up North, but 40 degrees is too cold for August no matter where you are.  
 Once the sun came up it warmed up fine.  Farm Guy was out greeting the runners as they showed up.  Wonder if he will run this year?
At 8 sharp, the race started.  I guess Farm Guy will be a watcher this year.  Me too, although like usual, I will be watching in the rear view mirror.  I was driving the lead Gator, so they had to follow me.  I'm glad I didn't get lost, but just follow the white line.
 And for the third time out of four years, the champion is Eric Lowe.  I always say that Eric wins because he used to work at the NCRS years ago in the summer while in high school and college.  I still remember that he would ride to work in the morning with his brother, and then run several miles home after work.  He works in accounting in Grand Rapids now, but trains and peaks for this race each year.  Pretty good time too.
 A short time later Nick rounds the corner for home.  He was going so fast the picture is blurry.
And there goes Erin from Accounting.  She has to stay in shape to manage all of the fertilizer accounts.  So you'll know your account is racer verified.
Obviously not in contention for a top finish are Todd and John, who are enjoying the scenic walk.  Although I think John is trying to remember where he parked his semi-truck.
Bringing up the rear are Tracy and some guy that looked kind of familiar.  Nice ride.
 Here is the NCRS version of Heartbreak Hill.  You can see the yellow flags for the finish line, so not too much farther.
Overall champ Eric and his trophy pose with Farm Guy and AgroLiquid CEO Troy.
It was nice for Troy to be able to be at the race this year.  For some reason you never saw Troy and Farm Guy at the same time.  Hmmm. But here they are now.  Well it was a good time and a good event.  Thanks to the runners and sponsors, over $27,000 was raised for the supported charities: the Greater Lansing Food Bank and the FFA Foundation for scholarships.  Did you know Troy is President of the Board of Directors of the FFA Foundation.  So he is pleased with the outcome for sure. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

NCRS Learning Opportunity

(Sorry for the delay in service, but the blog writer has been delayed with mountains of administrative stuff lately.  You know how important that is to research, right?)  So as you have probably figured out, the NCRS is more than just the finest crop fertility research facility anywhere. It hosts Farm Shows (AgroExpo) and also is a training facility.  Like the day after the AgroExpo, a bunch of AgroLiquid Retail Partners hung around for a day of agronomy training. There were three outstanding morning presentations in the shop. One of which was by Darren Hefty who was kind enough to stay and talk about what to look for in the soil for growing top crops.  Of course he referred to the research-proven AgroLiquid nutrition. 
Then we all loaded up the wagons for some stops in the field to bring folks up to date on recent research findings.  Like Stephanie here shares research results about foliar fertilizer applications to corn, including use of the 360 Undercover.
Tim talked about what is what with side dress applications, featuring the 360 Y Drops which we like.
 Agronomist John covered soil and tissue testing.  It was good info.  Why take the time to do something if you aren't going to do it right.  I like the saying: "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"  That's why every one of these blog posts is done right!
And what would an NCRS tour be without seeing Zouheir in his soil pit?  Well fortunately we didn't have to find out.  If you haven't seen him talk about his soil research from a pit, well then what's the use of living?
 We also had a field diagnostic stop.  Why are those soybeans short and uneven? If you said photon torpedo strikes, well you would be wrong.  It is from soybean cyst nematodes (SCN).  Only a couple from the group correctly diagnosed it by looking.  Fortunately intern Katherine is a plant pathology major at the Ohio State University, and has worked in a lab that dealt with SCN.  So she had plenty to share, and did a great job telling us all we needed to know about the lowly nematode.  She did such a good job that the sky turned Scarlet and Gray for this Buckeye.  (Katherine was a delight to have at the NCRS this summer, as were all the interns.  But we had frequent debates about which OSU was tops.)
Here is a close up pic of the nematode cysts, the white things there.  Those are females and loaded with eggs.  The larger normal beneficial soybean nodules are at the bottom.  Oddly enough a number of years ago we contracted SCN in this sandy soil and worked to grow several years of corn and have since planted soybeans with SCN genetic resistance.  And had not seen it for several (maybe ten?) years and actually kind of forgot about it.  Well for the AgroExpo we planted a new variety from a seed company in this spot and developed nemo's.  I asked Tim for the variety info and this variety did not have any SCN resistance.  So it showed that even years later, the SCN is lying in wait for a susceptible root to grow it's way.  
Scary.  Just remember: nemo pseudo.  (Anyone know what that means?  It was important to me once.)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

AgroExpo Was a Success!

So an exciting event took place last week at the NCRS.  With a guy like this, was it Comic Con?  No it was the second annual AgroExpo!  The two-day event debuted at the new location on Farm 3 of the NCRS which worked out perfectly.
Visitors were greeted by the Welcome Tent staffed by AgroLiquid employees Nikole, Katherine and Craig.  As the show host, much of the show's staffing needs were filled by AgroLiquid employee volunteers.   I see there is a new Retail Partner from Kansas being welcomed.  There were just shy of 2000 AgroExpo visitors as counted by the parking lot workers with clickers. 
One of the attractions was a tillage demonstration by a variety of different tillage tools.  Wheat was planted here earlier just for this purpose.
 There were over 100 different farm business vendors set up for the farmers to visit.
 There was a big variety of equipment as well.
 Another popular event was the self-propelled forage harvester demonstrations.
They all took turns harvesting the AgroLiquid-fertilized Pioneer silage corn.  Pioneer sponsored this silage event, which used to be a separate annual event, but is now part of the AgroExpo.  Everyone was impressed with how good this and all of the crops looked.  You can see the silage corn area from the air in the picture from the previous blog post, on the left part of the field.
It was a little early for silage corn harvest in this area.  But the ears and stalks were far enough along to give a good harvest demonstration as well as production of good usable silage for some lucky area dairy cows.
The NCRS Hagie plot sprayer was on display demonstrating Y-Drops and 360 Undercover spray systems.  We use both of these on our corn.
Dr. Massri had demonstrations of his research methods in a soil pit.  We were surprised at the clear depiction of the A and B soil horizons.  He showed how he measures nutrient movement, soil microbe respiration for soil health and ammonia-nitrogen volatility.  It gave visitors an idea of the extensive research conducted at the NCRS.
The wildly successful Ag PhD Radio Show hosted here by Darren Hefty was broadcast Wednesday from inside the exhibitor building before a live audience.  Four of the guests were from AgroLiquid: Albert, Galynn, Stephanie and Reid.  I notice that the Marketing and Sales guys wave their hands around when they talk while the cool and confident Researcher and Agronomist just let their words say what needs to be said.  Good listening for the radio audience, I'm sure.  Thanks to Darren.
And finally, a mention of the two main figures behind the AgroExpo.  Troy Bancroft, AgroLiquid CEO, provided  resources and inspiration to bring a summer farm show back to Michigan after many years of not having one.  How many companies would do that?  Well one did.  And every successful event needs a chairperson, and this one had Ashley Davis.  She is results driven and made sure that everything that needed to be done, was done. And on time.  Great job.  Thanks to both.
And go ahead and mark your calendar for August 14 and 15, 2018 and plan to be at the Third Annual AgroExpo.

Monday, August 14, 2017

AgroExpo Ready To Go

So if you want to go to a major summer farm show in Michigan, you have one choice.  And it's a good one.  That would be the AgroExpo.  Tuesday is the start of the 2nd AgroExpo held at the NCRS.  It moved from Farm 12 to Farm 3 for 2017 to enable better layout and accommodations.  Plus it's irrigated.  We have been preparing for it for several weeks of late.  Well actually all season if you count planting and taking care of the show plots.  Last Thursday Galynn gave me a ride in his airplane to get some farm pics.  This is where the AgroExpo will be. 
 Today (Monday) all sorts of folks were out making the final setup.  Actually the farm crew and several others (like our chairperson Ashley) were there all weekend.  Here we see Agronomist John, Stephanie and SAM Burt discussing who knows what.  But I'm sure it's relevant.
 Probably has something to do with getting this booth ship shape for tomorrow.  Hey, I see the flavonol bubbles.  Hopefully we can have sumo wrestling in them.  Now that would be a draw.
 There are outside and inside vendor booths.  We moved all of our equipment out of this barn.  Hardly recognize the place now.  But it will be packed I'm sure.
 Lots to see.  There are way more vendors and plots to see this year.
 And I was shocked by all of the equipment.  I guess I haven't been paying attention to all of the iron coming in.
And here's some big iron, or stainless steel.  It's our Super Tanker.  You won't see one on the road unless you're in Michigan or Canada.  Take that Ohio!
It takes more than a handful of NCRS people to make this a success.  Even though this is an independent show, being the host means you do the most.  So volunteers from the St. Johns office and Ashley plant are coming to lend a hand.  Plus arms and legs.  We took a tour to get familiar with the place.  Thanks everyone.
So Tuesday and Wednesday will be busy.  A lot of people and companies did all they could do to set up.  Let's hope lots of farmers pay a visit to learn and make connections for profit. In the words of Emil Faber: "Knowledge is Good."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Farm Guy, Star of St Johns Mint Parade

So if it's the second weekend in August, that can mean only one thing: The St. Johns Mint Festival Parade!  The small but loyal contingent of friends of AgroLiquid assemble at their spot in the staging area.  As usual, it's a big parade.  This year we are #80 with still more behind us.  I am a little worried about the group of horses and riders ahead of us.  But time to march!
The Festival theme this year is the St. Johns Stampede.  Sheriff Bruiser here in driver John's truck will keep things from getting too rowdy.
The streets were lined with citizens and visitors from far and wide who cheer the truck and Farm Guy.  There was plenty to be had from AgroLiquid like candy, tote bags, garden cushions and invites to the upcoming AgroExpo.
 The final stretch through downtown.
 Oh no!  Watch where your're going Farm Guy!
 Oh the humanity!  Isn't anyone going to help that poor man?
Relax.  This is Farm Guy.  I'm sure it's not the first time those boots have stepped in manure.  In no time he is back to his happy self representing Agro and farmers.
But isn't that why horses are usually at the end?  No matter, it was fun.  We were all glad to support the Festival Parade.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Products in Colorado Crops

So in addition to airplane watching and riding, I had an opportunity to do some field checks with Aero Applicators agronomist Wes.  He has been doing sales and agronomy work for them for quite a few years.  However I noticed that I failed to include him in any of my pictures.  Oops.  Well go to if you want to see Wes!

I just told about the Pinto Bean fertilizer test at the IRF the other day, and here is a real field.  This had 2.5 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 2 qt/A of Micro 600 in the furrow.  They are looking real good as they go into early flower.  Micro 600 has a good fit in this high pH soil, as it has 2% sulfur and 2% iron, plus 1% zinc, 1% manganese, and lower amounts of copper and boron. 
This is an irrigated field that had High NRG-N + Pro-Germinator + Micro 600 applied by strip till. Then planted.  It looks good too.  There was a little hail damage seen on the lower leaves.  You can also see a lot of pollen on the leaves which kept me sneezing the rest of the day.  I've often wondered why some people are bothered by things that don't affect others at all. Like some people are happy to talk to me while some turn the other way when they see me coming.  Hmmm. 
 As mentioned the other day, hail is hit or miss every summer here.  It's usually not if, but when.  Or how bad.  This irrigated corn got hail earlier, but is doing ok now that it is making ears.  Another bad part of hail is that it lets light penetrate to the ground and you often see lots of weeds grow tall.  But this corn had Pro-Germinator + Micro 600 in furrow.
 Darrel has some dryland corn next to his runway where he and Wes do some testing.  In this field, all of the corn had 3 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 1 qt/A of Micro 600 at planting.  The corn on the left had an additional 2 qt/A of C-Tech.  I could see that the corn on the left was taller and the silks were mostly all brown, while the corn on the right still had some green silk.
 This indicated that the 2 qt C-Tech corn was further along in development.  The picture below shows that.
The bacteria in C-Tech benefited from the wheat straw that was there that provided a carbon food source until the corn roots developed.  We are learning more about the influence of carbon and C-Tech.  Hopefully they can get some yield info on this to further help guide our Primagro line.  But it was a great couple of days up in Sterling, and the rest of Northeast Colorado.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Aero Applicators at Your Service

So if I'm in Colorado, I have to go see an old friend Darrel Mertens.  Darrel is owner/operator of Retail Partner Aero Applicators in Sterling.  I have known Darrel and his wife Deb for decades.  Aero Applicators is a top retailer of AgroLiquid by Air Tractor planes, ground rig and farmer application.  And even though Darrel is the boss of the operation, he will still give his planes a bath, even though he doesn't fly himself much these days.  He does direct traffic on the ground, and they were busy when I was there last week. 
Tommy here is one of his pilots and is a fellow Okie from Fairview.  He's just been here a couple weeks, but Darrel says he is a great young pilot.  Nice guy too.
 So Tommy is off to spray as veteran ag pilot Roger returns.  Roger farms in Illinois but has flown for Aero for a number of years.  They have another plane that is a larger model, but it is up fighting forest fires in South Dakota.  What an operation.  Today they are spraying Cercospora in sugarbeets and spider mites in corn.
Tommy gets airborne.  It was cloudy, but the rain was miles away.  And calm.  They were able to keep spraying into the afternoon which is rare.
So if you've read blog posts in the past, I always get a plane ride with Darrel to look at crops.  This time we would take his recently re-built Ag Cat spray plane.  It was a 1965 model that he and crew completely rebuilt themselves over a period of years.  Beautiful.  
We take off and circle back over the Aero Applicators compound.  That's the dirt strip just above the buildings.
 Right after we left Roger comes in to be re-loaded.
I think it was 7 years ago that I showed this pivot of corn that uses not AgroLiquid next to some pivots that do.  That is the non field under the plane with yellow corn from the high pH soil and a green field of Pro-Germinator and Micro 500 above it that looks much better.  Consistent and sustainable it is.
 Darrel flips the plane upside down to make sure my seat belt is fastened.  He doesn't mess around when it comes to safety.
So Darrel said we had to make a "simulated" crop dusting run in the old Ag Cat.  That's what she was built to do.  So we made a run over this corn field.  And at the end of the field we made a steep climb and turn and made another run the other way.  I guess I was sitting where the tank used to be. So it was a dry run. Was fun.  But I kidded Darrel that we weren't really low enough because there were no corn tassels on the axle.
So that was fun.  But I did more than watch planes fly.  Agronomist Wes and I looked at some customer fields too.  From the ground.  More on that tomorrow.