The National Farm Machinery Show turned 50 years old this year, and it continues to attract more than 300,000 farmers from across the nation and beyond. I spent some time at the show during the first two days, dodging and weaving in the crowded aisles over 27 acres of exhibits. Here is my first installment of items I found interesting.
Strip-till has improved soil structure on Sheldon Stevermer's farm to the point where it can manage extreme rains and heavy corn residue. “Three years ago, I realized I didn’t need to freshen the strips in the spring; crusting was no longer a problem,” says the Wells, Minn., farmer....More
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun its celebration of the International Year of Soils to highlight the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms and ranches....More
We've posted a lot of great stories and photos on the web this year! These are our most-viewed pieces and cover a variety of topics from helpful aerial images to GMOs, making a profit with lower corn and soybean prices to no-till yield secrets, and more! Check out our best from the web for 2014, and stick around for more great stories and photos in 2015.
Abbey Wick, NDSU Extension soil health specialist, talked about the signs of healthy soil at the Conservation Tillage Conference in December. She says the presence of soil aggregates is a good indicator of healthy soil, as well as earth worms. The color of soil reflects the amount of organic matter, Wick says, noting that lighter soil has less organic matter....More
The case for no-till keeps on building. Tillage is increasingly viewed as destructive to soil structure and detrimental to root colonizing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF), an important player in supplying plants with phosphorous. AMF is also credited with production of glomalin, the “glue” that holds soil aggregates together....More
"Planning cropping strategies to build carbon is the next step," says Doug Hanson, who farms with his father and uncle in northeastern Illinois. "Improving carbon is a big part of the biological side of no-till and now cover crops. As a producer, carbon hasn't been something I've focused on, but we need to start asking more questions about it."...More
In this third installment of our best stories from 2014, farmers learned the best ways to seed cover crops and how high-moisture corn can offer a yield boost. There were also stories about tillage: spring vs. fall strip till, and using tillage to control herbicide resistant weeds. Of course there were data insights, from soil maps to farming smarter with big data. Nitrogen application tips were offered, as well as a strategy for lean years on the farm. All of these stories helped readers and farmers Think Different about their operations.
In this second installment of our best stories from 2014, farmers showcase drainage systems that also irrigate, along with high-yield corn production tips. Read how tillage increases compaction, and plan for a micronutrient strategy. There are conservation ideas to help farmers be competitive, as well as thoughts on soil lime. All of these stories offered farmers an approach to help them Think Different about their farm operations.
Soil tilth saves you money. After six years of continuous no-till, a field can produce more yield per unit of nitrogen than a conventionally tilled field. Think of it as better fuel mileage, smarter nitrogen use and better nutrient recycling....More
The November issue of Corn+Soybean Digest offered fresh ideas in merging art and science to farm for the big picture. There are also corn residue breakdown myths, including a photo gallery. Read challenges in rail transport, and weed control. Get an outlook about corn production in China, and see what's ahead in soil health tests. Finally, read about the weather future for the Corn Belt. And don't forget regular pieces from Editor Kurt Lawton, as well as new ideas from Xperts Ed Usset and Dan Frieberg.
Oh, the aroma of fresh-tilled soil. You know what I’m talking about — that amazing and wonderful odor given off as steel slices and turns dark that golden carpet of crop residue. That wonderful scent soured given what I saw on a Minnesota field this fall. Dark fields with little to no corn residue....More
Five agriculture stories to read offer advice on fall tillage and insight into corn and soybean consumption after a large harvest. The USDA is seeking public comment on changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program, and if you're going to test cornstalks for nitrate, now is the time. For a good laugh, check out a bit by Jimmy Kimmel where he asked consumers what GMO means.
Three years of tillage and residue field and laboratory trials at Ames, Iowa, found no differences in corn residue breakdown due to tillage or type of residue, says research leader Mahdi Al-Kaisi, ISU Extension soil scientist....More
Andy Thompson kept a photo journal of residue breakdown in his cornfield near Niota, in west-central Illinois. The field has been in continuous corn since 2012. This series of photos shows how, in a single season, microbes in healthy soil break down large amounts of corn residue left on the surface.
This conference emphasizes proven farmer experience and applied science in conservation tillage. Learn how heavier, colder soils aren’t necessarily the challenge they’re made out to be. And, what have long-time no-tillers and reduced-tillage farmers learned that could spare you the same lessons?...More
How often have you wondered whether a new practice or piece of equipment will pay? Kenton, Ohio, farmer Brian Watkins built a computer farming simulation model to calculate the cost of such options. “It tells me how much time a piece of equipment will take to operate and repair, how much fuel will cost and how it will affect other things we do,” he says....More
Every growing season is different. Moisture and residue levels, subsequent crop and expected weather patterns all create confusion as to which type of tillage is best for each field. When thinking about which tillage tool to use for corn residue management this fall, consider these factors: Soil type, crop rotation, soil moisture and slope....More
A few simple precautions and a little bit of common sense can go a long way toward helping prevent farm-related accidents and injuries, especially at harvest time, two Purdue University agricultural educators say....More
Rising diesel prices have made tackling fuel economy more important than ever. Given how much you spend on fuel each year, even a small change in fuel usage can mean boost your profit. For example, using using a low-viscosity oil can boost fuel economy, but that's the just one of several management tactics you can use to boost profits in spring and fall....More
The September issue of Corn+Soybean Digest offers a lot for readers. From data management to tips for financial success in turbulent times, what farmers learned in 2014 to strip-till tips. Check out these feature stories for insight on Ukraine corn exports, as well as marketing advice for low prices, using tillage for weed control and cover crop seed mixes.
The 5 ag stories to read this week include tips on storing grain this fall, as well as a reminder that a solid nutrient balance is important to corn yield, and not just nitrogen. Read about a new soil mapping technology from Purdue, and understand that when benchmarking your farm, it's important to use relevant benchmarks. For a little enjoyment, read about how you know you grew up on a farm when… .
Tim Koosmann switched to strip-till from ridge-till five years ago to capture the efficiencies of phosphorus and potassium banding in continuous corn. Real-time kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation makes it relatively simple, and he’s building long-term soil organic matter and productivity....More
These 5 ag stories to read talk about the impact of recent low temperatures on soybean yield, and remind growers to scout corn fields for stalk and ear rots before harvest. There is also big picture information about the choices farmers will soon make regarding the 2014 Farm Bill. Read advice on using tillage to control resistant weeds, and for the hunters, check out the 2014 pheasant hunting forecast.