Thursday, January 12, 2012

Healthy Soils

Day 2 of the National NoTill Conference started with the annual Syngenta breakfast early this morning. The panel of Syngenta reps talked about their products and answered questions from resistant corn borers and root worms to resistant weed strategies.

Ray Archuleta of NRCS in North Carolina started the morning off with a bang talking about soil health and cover crop diversity. He gave demonstrations of long term notill soils, vegetable production soils and and conventional tillage soils reacted to water.

The vegetable soil failed the first test quickly with the entire cylinder of water turning red after a clump of dried soil was dropped into it. The conventional tillage soil from Indiana fell apart next but the long term notill soil held together and the water stayed clear in the cylinder.

Ray did a good job of holding the audience's attention while showing the advantages of healthy soil and how to do it with notill and cover crops. The session made me want to never till again. It reaffirmed my belief in notill and "keep the soil covered."

After lunch Dr. Don Huber demonstrated "the signals that show a need to use glyphosate more judiciously." The showed how the strong chelation of glyphosate and glufosinate tie up Boron, Calcium, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganee, Nickel and Zinc.

Stauffer Chemical introduced it as cleaner in 1964 and Monsanto licensed it as a herbicide in 1974. Check my dates on that. The higher the pH and clay content of soil the more absorption soil holds glyphosate. Glyphosate desorbs Phosphorous causing more problems. "Glyphosate has become the most abused chemical in history."

Goss's Wilt is tied to GM corn and glyphsate in the soil and cost US farmers one billion dollars last year, according to Dr. Huber. Take-all disease in cereals and head scab adds millions of dollars of loss.

Farmers are noting "my crop is not as vigorous as it used to be." As minerals are chelated, diseases increase, plant color, yield and quality goes down. I have mentioned here many times the sick look of soybeans after applications of glyphosate. It's getting national and world attention now as farmers and scientists tackle these problems.

Abnormalities in animals and humans are showing up. Many pictures of diseased organs were showed on the screen. Autism has increased 800% since 2002 and colonoscopies show malfunctioning organs and tissues. Soybean milk has been substituted for mammal milk and they come from GM soybeans so allergies and disease don't improve. Botulism is increasing in dairy herds. Seedsman note that rats and mice eat the non GMO corn seed first and leave the GM corn alone.

By this time the room is dead silent. My friend Jeff from Minnesota has heard Dr. Huber 27 times and he said every meeting was the same. Farmers are speechless.

So farmers come to me and ask me what I think. I tell them I can't dispute the evidence he shows and that I didn't spray glyphosate this year. That is simply because it doesn't control my weeds anymore. I also explain we have used just enough glyphosate with other chemistry's in crop rotation to not fully see these problems in our farms or families yet. But the evidence is mounting and every farmer has to make his own decision.

This goes along well with the 100 or so surveys I have had farmers complete this winter. Only 2 farmers have told me they don't have resistance on their farm yet but they are concerned about it because the neighbors do. Both farmers have been extreme in their spray programs in crop rotations. The other 98 farmers admitted they have resistance on their farm.

Ken Ferrie said in Farm Jounal "if you have weed resistance on your farm, your farm is not safe! Appoint a pesticide boss in charge of overseeing the scouting, spraying and evaluating of your pesticide program. I think that makes great sense.

Soil health and lack of it has dominated the conversation at this conference. We lightened up awhile ago and talked about how the Iowa Caucuses work and which candidates were most supported. It was a great discussion.

We are not even half finished yet and my brain is approaching overload. So much to think about. It's a great conference and I am among friends.


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