Friday, April 24, 2009

Ag PhD

There is a farmer saying about BS, MS and PhD I have heard since my college days and PhD stood for "piled higher and deeper." It is all about what I call "getting educated above your level of intelligence."

Now I don't think Darren and Brian Hefty are that way but this concept could make a good blog about my dealings with some "PhD types" over my career. I stopped at the "MS level" and was encouraged to go for to a PhD degree but I was too busy trying to apply what I had already learned.

One show I try to check each week on RFD TV is Darren and Brian Hefty's AgPhD show out of South Dakota. They deal with a lot of topics I deal with so I started emailing Darren a few years who is always "the little brother" on the show. Actually he is taller than Brian so the little part isn't true but they jab each other in good natured brotherly fashion. Darren has become a good email contact to exchange ideas with.

This show they were once again talking about the advantages of inoculating soybeans every time you plant them, not the old-fashioned belief that once you plant them you have their rhizobia bacteria in the soil. Brian was ready to rip into Iowa State for their stance on "it doesn't pay to inoculate because the yield increase is so low."

Darren tried to cut him off quoting the excellent research from my friend Dr. Jim Beuerlein at Ohio State who is the leader in testing soybean inoculants. Older brother Brian had to get his dig in though stating that "their stance that a half bushel advantage they found wasn't worth recommending inoculants to farmers is wrong because a half bushel is worth $4 today at an investment of $1.50 and a good return on investment."

I agree. The inoculated bean can produce up to ten times more Nitrogen so even if you don't get the yield, you have harnessed "free nitrogen" from the atmoshphere for the next crop. This is a big no-brainer for me too and why I recommend inoculating all legumes regardless of crop history. The new strains being used since the licensing of the USDA strain in 1994 made the old belief inaccurate.

I have seen winter cereal crops and corn the next year really respond to inoculated strips in my trials. Our soil nitrogen levels are so low and we have trimmed back nitrogen fertilizer to a point that it really pays to inoculate. And, most of the 17nutrients flow with the uptake of nitrogen into the plant.

Those two young men always make me think. If you have satellite TV, take a look at their show on RFD TV. It is channel 345 on Direct TV. RFD even showed me and some of my friends this winter on the Specialty Fertilizer No-Till Conference recap. Now that is local TV!

"Don't specualte, inoculate" is my saying for all farmers and gardners planting legumes and Ag PhD agrees with my thinking.

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