Lynn Betts

Lynn
Betts
Articles
2016 Conservation Legacy Awards: Conservation is a family tradition

Three generations of Winsors have been working since the 1940s to sustain soil and water resources on the family farm in northeastern Kansas. “Having those practices in place allows my brother and I to implement newer conservation techniques, such as water management and cover crops," says Andy Winsor.

2016 Conservation Legacy Awards: Sustainable, cost-effective system

About 10 years ago, John Verell transitioned from cotton to corn, wheat and double-cropped soybeans, made no-till a priority and began to use cover crops. “Erosion just isn’t an issue any more,” this year’s Conservation Legacy Award winner for the South Region says.

2016 Conservation Legacy Awards: A never-till mindset

Cory Atkins has a “never-till” mindset. The southwest Delaware farmer is 100 percent no-till on all his corn, soybeans and wheat, and moving closer to that on his vegetable crops.

Manage tile drainage water

Nitrate management in tile water is a big reason why this water control structure has slowly gained a foothold in the Corn Belt, but its potential for providing timely water to corn and soybeans may spell the future for this underground tile water management tool.

Going all-in on cover crops 1

Some farmers want to try a new idea on a few acres to evaluate it before using it in a big way. Not Robert Harvey––at least when the idea is cover crops. The Guthrie County, Iowa, farmer went all-in on cover crops two years ago, seeding cereal rye on all 1,100 acres he farms with his father, Gerald.

Control water levels and nitrogen with tile systems

Nitrate management in tile water is a big reason why this water control structure has slowly gained a foothold in the Corn Belt, but its potential for providing timely water to corn and soybeans may spell the future for this underground tile water management tool.

Detect crop stress with thermal maps

What is the earliest possible way to detect stress or disease in your corn and soybean fields? Brian Sutton, a flying farmer from Lowell, Ind., takes their temperatures. The thermal cameras used in his AirScout service detects stress and disease in plants before they change color, when he still has time to take corrective action, he says.

Farmers try controlled drainage to keep water, nutrients in place

"I can't make it rain, but I can do my best to capture and keep what I have to use it for my crops," says Arliss Nielsen, a Wright County, Iowa, no-tiller. This year he took the unusual step of venturing into controlled drainage.

Focus on yield stressors to maximize return on crops

To make up for lower corn and soybean prices, you might be tempted to emphasize spending on inputs across the board for top corn and soybean yields. Instead, consider a plan that funnels your focus and money into management decisions that target top yield stressors.

Help with on-farm trials

If you want to test products or management ideas on your farm but don’t have the time or expertise for your own comparisons, help could be as close as your seed corn dealer. They can likely do most of the heavy lifting in setting up the trials and analyzing the results of testing nitrogen rates, plant populations, herbicides, fungicides seed varieties and more.

Landlords seek cover crops?  2

“In a 2010 survey, we asked landlords to rate the importance of characteristics they consider when evaluating tenant performance,” says J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., a sociologist at Iowa State University. “More than 90% of landlords ranked ‘ability to maintain soil productivity’ and ‘ability to avoid soil erosion’ as important or very important."

New nitrogen management tools 1

Farmers may soon have a new set of tools along with professional guidance that tells them not only how much nitrogen they currently have in specific, small areas of their fields, but how long they can expect that nitrogen to last.

Q&A: Do your soil tests represent your fields? 1

Recent developments in soil testing, plus challenges to longstanding tests raise the question, how confident are farmers that their soil tests represent their fields? Three farmers share their takes from Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.

Seed treatments reduce early-planting risks 3

Seed treatment is all about reducing risk, especially in the first 72 hours of a plant’s life. And farmer use is proof. Aided by newer systemic fungicides and insecticides, their global sales more than tripled from $700 million in 1997 to $2.25 billion in 2010, and they’re estimated to reach $3.4 billion in 2016.

Aerial images identify problems in corn, soybean crops during growing season

Consider a three-way look at your crop — from above and below and at ground level. That means a close-up look at plant roots and soil for clues to plant growth, plus aerial images to detect, confirm and define a problem.

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