Jim Ruen

Jim
Ruen
Articles
Rethink soil lime approach 2

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.

Fine-tuning nitrogen applications is a good bet economically, environmentally 2

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.

Reduce fungicide resistance risk in corn 1

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.

Soil fungi can save money and phosphorus runoff 1

Farming for optimum soil fungi with less tillage and cover crops may save you money on inputs, reduce phosphorus (P) leaching and runoff and keep regulators off the farm.

Farm women use social media, traditional media, in-person visits to open conversations about food, farming 6

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.

Biotic fertilizer grows soil health 2

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."

Check spray drift insurance 1

"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."

Boost manure value

To understand the economic value of manure, Kristin Whittington recommends tissue testing, plus comparing results and yields across multiple years on manured and commercial fertilizer-applied acres.

Seed-selection web app helps hybrid selection

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.

Should you choose highest corn yield or consistent corn yield?

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.

Continuous corn yield boost? 1

You may not have to settle for yield drag with continuous corn. Recent University of Minnesota research indicates that yields from continuous corn in conservation tillage may be comparable to corn following soybeans or intensive tillage when selected management and products are used.

Corn research targets less nitrogen use

Substantial yield bumps from new nitrogen-efficient hybrids should come towards the end of this decade and early in the next one, says Michael Clements, Monsanto corn intrinsic yield and nitrogen lead.

New soil test tracks microbial activity

What if you had soil data that told you how much food was available for your soil microbes that build soil health? Well, a new soil test is gaining early traction among cover-crop users and no-tillers who reap the benefits of healthier soil, but truly lacked the right test to tell them about their available nutrients.

Corn rootworm management challenge grows

Discovery of root feeding and lodging in first-year Cry3Bb1-protected corn in central and east-central Illinois is only one of several scenarios adding to the challenge of corn rootworm (CRW) control in areas of the Corn Belt. The increasing complexities are leading more growers to consider a layered approach.

Adapt-N tool calculates for weather extremes and soils 5

Harold van Es knows how to make the best of a bad thing. The Cornell University professor of soil and water management couldn't have asked for better weather to test his team’s Adapt-N nitrogen application model in 2012 and 2013. Extreme drought last year followed by extreme moisture this year proves the program's value in ways moderate weather never could.

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