There is no single recipe to determine the right cover crop mix for a particular field, much less an entire farm. You need to know each field, set goals and set a budget that makes sense. Are the primary concerns to retain and build nutrient levels for the coming crop, managing moisture, compaction or simply building soil health? Is grazing a potential income source? Which cover crops match the post-harvest-to-freeze interval in your area? Do you want to deal with pre-plant burn-down or do you prefer letting winterkill do the job?
There is no single recipe to determine the right cover crop mix for a particular field, much less an entire farm. You need to know each field, set goals and set a budget that makes sense. Are the primary concerns to retain and build nutrient levels for the coming crop, managing moisture, compaction or simply building soil health?
Are your crops getting the micronutrients they need when they need them? A recent Purdue University study suggests that it may be past time to pay more attention to micronutrient availability – if you plan to manage the high-yield details.
Long past are the days of tossing in a little crop oil or surfactant in a spray mix. Selecting the right adjuvant is increasingly important today. However, complex herbicide mixes to fight resistant weeds make proper adjuvant selection a critical part of a successful crop protection program.
Simply adding micronutrients to your corn and soybean fertilizer program is not the answer, even with a good fertility base, says Matt Harbur, resource agronomist, Trupointe Co-op, Piqua, Ohio. And part of a complete program is picking genetics that respond to excellent fertility.
For decades, applying lime to soils to adjust pH has been accepted practice. While a low pH can reduce corn or soybean yields by 40% or more, there’s a surprising shortage of recent research about how lime is tested and graded and what impact it actually has on soil pH and crop yield. These were among the issues raised at a recent conference of lime-industry representatives and USDA-ARS and Iowa State University (ISU) soil researchers. The answers could impact input costs and yields as well as nutrient-management effectiveness.
Identifying the optimum nitrogen rate lies in the conversion of ammonium and nitrates from organic matter through mineralization, rainfall and from applied inorganic fertilizer. Managing the process to get the greatest economic value from the investment at the lowest risk of loss and environmental degradation depends on soils, organic matter, rainfall distribution, temperature range, tillage and cropping management systems.
With expanding herbicide and corn-rootworm trait resistance, why let fungicide resistance get a seat at the table? Fungicide resistance in corn has yet to be identified. Checking resistance at the gate makes good agronomic and economic sense.
For the past three years, a select cadre of farm women has volunteered to personally connect consumers around the country to farming. They use social media, traditional media and in-person visits to open conversations about food and food producers.
Research with an 8-5-5 soil microbe-feeding (biotic) fertilizer shows big yield increases over the conventional competition in Iowa comparisons. "We've seen a 10-15-bushel per acre increase over our top-performing conventional nitrogen source," says Jerry Hatfield. "When you get an increase over SuperU, that is fairly significant."
"Insurance companies often have a pollution exclusion that they claim eliminates general liability and umbrella coverage for spray drift," warns Jean Sieler, Robison, Curphey & O'Connell, LLC. "Even if the policy covers drift via a specific rider, typically with a specific coverage limit, it may be an 'eroding' rider that allows them to deduct their legal costs."
Denny Bell has the yield maps to prove that careful seed selection pays. Now the Terra Haute, Ind., farmer has Yield Pop, an app that streamlines hybrid selection for his 1,100 acres of corn and 900 acres of soybeans, offering yield information for free.
How do you manage for top yields in highly variable soils, when weather uncertainties, high land costs and falling crop prices have reduced the margin of error? It may require changing goals, suggests Charles Walthall, USDA-ARS.