David Hest

Phosphorus, sulfur, zinc uptake in corn 1

“Many farmers don’t fertilize for sulfur and zinc. And many people don’t realize the season-long importance of phosphorus,” says Fred Below, a University of Illinois plant physiologist. In research conducted by Below and graduate student Ross Bender, extra P, S and Zn increased corn yields 8 to 10 bushels per acre in fields already supplied with a balanced high-yield fertility program.

Extra phosphorus, sulfur, zinc can boost corn yield 1

Three key nutrients’ under-recognized importance – sulfur, zinc and the long-recognized standby, phosphorus – could limit corn yields from an otherwise well-fertilized corn crop, says University of Illinois Plant Physiologist Fred Below.

Cut drought, drown-out risk with drainage improvement, additional irrigation 1

As weather extremes become more common, the Alversons, who farm in South Dakota, have taken steps to protect their farm’s productive capacity. They’ve added drainage tile, plus irrigation on fields with lighter soils. They’ve also retooled their equipment lineup for quicker planting.

No-till corn yield contest winners share tips for 300-bushel corn

Top-yielding no-till winners rotate with soybeans, select hybrids for early vigor in no-till conditions, scout for early season insects and optimize fertility and application timing, including micronutrients and fungicides, to achieve 300-bushel corn yields.

How tillage increases compaction 1

Tillage, at one time a go-to solution for loosening compacted soils, also creates poor soil structure and hardpan soils. “There is a downward spiral with tillage. The more you till the soil, the more you destroy its structure," says Jim Hoorman, Ohio State University. While deep ripping or vertical tillage offer a short-term solution, the long-term answer to soil compaction is to rebuild soil structure, says Hoorman.

5 on-farm trials improve nitrogen management, tillage, chemical applications and planting populations 1

Denny Friest has conducted dozens of trials since 2000, and takes on several new comparisons each year through a program with Iowa Soybean Association. Participating farmers work with researchers to design practical trials. Farmers across the state often conduct trials on similar topics, such as N fertilizer or fungicide performance, which enhances results’ reliability.

Farmer alters crop rotation, drainage to cut weather extreme risks

The combination of weather extremes and disease and insect pressure have been especially hard on continuous corn, which took a 40-bushel per acre yield hit in 2010, 2011 and 2012 compared to rotated corn. “For me the answer was to go back to a 50:50 corn-bean rotation,” says Gary Niemeyer. “It had been 85:15.”

Can farm sustainability measurement tools improve farm management?

Evaluating your farm’s sustainability and seeing how it stacks up against similar operations can be an eye-opener that helps improve a farm’s economic and environmental sustainability, says Shawn Conley, Extension soybean specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Farmers test narrow corn rows, high plant population 2

Steve Ford is one of about two dozen Corn Belt farmers with similar Stine-sponsored test plots. He was more than a little curious about how high-population corn planted in 12-inch rows would stand up – and how it would yield.

No-till corn yield secrets 1

Every winter, as he finalizes seed, fertility and pest management programs for the following spring, David Wolfskill takes to his shop to perform a task that’s equally critical for top corn yields. He strips his planter down to the frame and rebuilds it.

Farmers test new precision field-data services 6

Jeff Heepke knew he was part of the next wave of precision agriculture when his cellphone rang as he planted corn with his new 16-row planter last spring. “Do you know that row 15 is plugged?” asked the caller.

Build soil to handle extreme rain

After more than 30 years of no-till, constructing 1,000 terraces and untold grass waterways and turn areas, Ray Gaesser decided to up his soil-protection game after an 8-inch overnight rainfall washed out a 20-acre field that spring.

Farmer prepares for agriculture downturn, growth opportunities 1

As he looked to the future, Jim Kline, 56, turned to lessons learned from the 1980s farm crisis. He began paying down debt, trading machinery less often and slowing down his farm expansion.

New technology detects in-season nutrient deficiencies earlier than tissue tests

Jim Goss isn’t ready to declare tissue tests obsolete. But if field trials of a new resin-based technology continue to pan out, he thinks he may have found a new early warning system to detect unexpected nutrient deficiencies early enough to prevent yield losses.

Manage for weather extremes 4

If Fred Yoder had doubts that weather affecting his Ohio farm would become more extreme, they vanished in 2011 and 2012, when back-to-back ultra-wet and ultra-dry years tested his farm.

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