In the world of precision ag, two technologies are the next big thing, says Matt Darr, Iowa State University ag engineer. They aren’t newly developed technologies, but they are the next big wave in agriculture....More
A list of cover crop benefits came easily for more than 50 farmers at the Iowa Crop Advantage workshop: erosion control, weed control, improved soil organic matter, nutrient retention, better water infiltration and reduced nitrogen losses....More
Driving with a broken fuel gauge isn’t just inconvenient, it’s risky. So most logical drivers would keep the tank full for fear of running out of fuel at the most inopportune times – or better yet, fix the fuel gauge. The blind hope required to drive with a malfunctioning gauge is exactly how Nick Lammers describes most folks’ approach to moisture management....More
Herbicide-resistant marestail and waterhemp have caused Illinois grower Trent Funk to work the ground during his three-year rotation of soybeans, corn and wheat. Historically, weed control was a key reason for tillage, but that justification hasn’t existed for quite a while due to herbicide effectiveness, says University of Illinois professor of crop sciences Emerson Nafziger. However, it’s coming back, at least in some areas....More
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the USDA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Minnesota to develop a new state program for farmers designed to increase the voluntary adoption of conservation practices that protect local rivers, streams and other waters by reducing fertilizer run-off and soil erosion....More
Many corn and soybean growers harvested record crops last fall. However, they may be facing compaction issues because of saturated soils at harvest. Combines and grain carts caused deep ruts and severe compaction issues. So what can farmers do to break up that soil and smooth out rough fields?...More
Emerson Nafziger harkens back to time spent in fields with a three-bottom moldboard plow. “When it took so long to till each acre, it really was tillage,” says the University of Illinois Extension crop-production specialist....More
If your soil became worth 10 times what it is today, would you modify your management systems to better preserve it? When a parcel of Iowa land recently blew up the market at $20,000/acre, was that a reflection of the productivity of its soil? Or simply two aggressive buyers?...More
This spring, a muddy lake on the Mississippi River sparked a flurry of controversy about agricultural drainage. Lake Pepin, on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, is filling up with silt. Most of the sediment is carried into the lake by the Minnesota River, a turbid prairie river that meanders through some of the most productive – and heavily tiled – cropland in the world....More
Jason Zimmer’s heart sank every time he looked at the field. The west-central Minnesota farmer had rolled a quarter-section of soybeans the day after planting, in May 2010. The soil was a bit tacky, and the big roller caused the moist ground to crust, hindering emergence.
“Rolling hurt my stand bad,” he says. Stands dropped 30% on the slopes and hills – a big price to pay for harvest ease....More
Here's round two of old farming equipment Digital Editor came across at her grandparents' farm recently. From another Allis tractor to an old Gleaner Six hopper to a McCormick grain drill, there's no shortage of vintage equipment at the Johnson farm in south-central Minnesota. Do you have some old equipment in the back 40? Email us your photos and we'll post them here! Send them to email@example.com.
Emerson Nafziger remembers pulling a three-bottom moldboard plow years ago. “When it takes that long to till each acre, it really is tillage,” says the University of Illinois Extension crop-production specialist....More
The practice of deep-banding fertilizer is growing in popularity as more growers turn to strip-till. However, this method may be costing growers more than it is worth. A new University of Illinois (U of I) study revealed that strip-till was superior to no-till and increased yield in soybean. However, the results showed no difference in yield between fertilizer application methods....More
The unusually wet conditions surrounding planting and harvest this year made quite an impact on soil conditions, prompting Randall Reeder, a recently retired Ohio State University Extension engineer, to warn farmers against "recreational tillage" between now and planting the 2012 crop....More
One young farmer tailors his family’s farm equipment to keep up with precision agriculture.
When J.D. Riffel finishes his Kansas State University master’s degree in agronomy next year, he plans to head back to the family farm near Stockton, KS, where he’s already testing precision-ag technology with a custom-made, variable-rate fertilizer applicator....More
Eric Rund got oddball soil-test results a few years ago from a strip-till cornfield. Some of the nutrient levels were higher than the Pesotum, IL, farmer expected.
Now near the end of a four-year soil test variability study with University of IllinoisExtension Soil ScientistFabian Fernandez, Rund hopes they’re getting closer to answers from Rund's farm and others on how best to manage soil-test variability on band-applied fields....More
This Thanksgiving Digital Editor Jen Bennett spent some time at her uncle and grandparents' farm. Walking through the back acres, looking at all the old equipment her grandpa used back in the day got her thinking: They sure don't make things like they used to. Older equipment is fun to look at, and something farmers, non-farmers and people of most ages can enjoy. Check out some of the old things on the Johnson farm, along with photos submitted by readers. Do you have old equipment around your farm site? Send us your photos! Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post them to the gallery here!
Time is money for Collin Jensen, who has better things to do than fall tillage. He appreciates the reduced equipment cost and fuel needs of reduced tillage, but even more he values every ounce of soil that stays on his West Union, IA, hillsides....More
More northern Corn Belt farmers are planting continuous corn, and that means more hard-to-handle residue left in fields. Higher plant populations, better-yielding hybrids, less aggressive tillage and the cold climate – which slows down decay – all increase the mounds of debris....More
You don't realize the impact rainfall has on your soil until you really see it. University of Nebraska, Lincoln Ag Engineer Paul Jasa did a rainfall simulator demonstration this summer showing the effects of rain on soil with grass cover, tilled soil and tilled soil with residue cover....More
Jim Kinsella, Lexington, IL, is a legend in the no-till world. He’s been practicing continuous no-till since the late 1970s and has welcomed thousands of no-till enthusiasts to his farm for nearly two decades – to share stories and tips, and to learn from his experience. Today, he and his son Brien farm 2,200 acres....More
Richards Farms planted a month early in Circleville, OH, at a time when local rainfall was 90% above normal this spring. Thanks to controlled traffic farming (CTF), the family has 30-year-old established traffic lanes in its corn and bean fields. They provided improved traction and drainage, while neighboring growers sat on their hands as a soggy April and May turned to June. Richards Farms was among only 1% of Ohio farms with corn planted by the first week in May, according to USDA statistics....More
Unless you grow grapes on an Italian hillside, you probably have experienced cropland flooding at some time. It might have been a pond that dissipated after a week, or it might have been a river that left its banks and completed its deposits on some of your best corn ground. In each case the soil suffers some damage, and even if you are not farming in a river bottom, the lessons learned this year along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri may be applicable to farmers who fuss with a few ponds in a field....More