Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grid Sampling of Soil


Grid soil sampling evolved after GPS became available to find your spot in the field over and over again. 2.5 acres quickly became the standard for a grid which is ten rectangles in a 50 acre field. Since most 50 acre fields aren't square, you have some larger than others, but you get the concept.

For us gardeners, most of our gardens are less than 2.5 acres so we are farming very tiny grids. Our 40 by 50 garden is only 2000 square feet, a tiny patch of ground compared 4,360 square feet in one acre. We can sample very accurately and get fairly reliable results and recommendations from our soil test.

I said "fairly reliable" because even a scientific soil test can seem to be a "a shot in the dark" as to what is really going on in a soil profile to cause plants to thrive or struggle. It's the best idea man has come up with in the last 100 years of farming so we start there.

Larger acreages are much more complex. Many farmers cover 2,000 acres in a year to make a living for a family of four. Some still make a living on a few hundred acres and it takes some many more thousands to make it. My subject today is why or why not grids?

I do not use grids. I still pull about one sample per acre and an 80 acre field that can be farmed by breaking it into 2 or 3 distinct soil types and yield levels can be treated as separate fields inside one boundary. Many farmers were sold or chose to grid sample their farms in an effort to increase yields and/or decrease costs. I have not seen it to do either very often, if at all.

Still the subject comes up often and my friend Joe Nester, owner of Nester Ag Consulting in Bryan, Ohio made a great post that explains one man's quest to prove grids right or wrong.

"I've been working with soil tests and trying to figure out the best way to be representative, so you can make good nutrient decisions for over 35 years. Grid sampling came out when GPS was made public, before yield monitors. Although we thought we were collecting lots of good data, turned out we were just collecting lots of data that was not very representative. It is actually point sampling, in most cases, 6 or 8 probes taken at the center of the grid. When the data is returned from the lab, it fills the boundary of the grid. Then most software divide each grid into 50' x 50' cells for application, and using mathematical equations, (several theories to chose from), the P & K is varied in each cell based on the theoretical value, that was determined by the theoretical values of the cells next to it. This system creates more variability than was normally present in the field to begin with. Over 97% of the data for 50' application cells is estimated in a 2.5 acre grid. You only sampled 1 of them. When it first came out, it was in conjunction with the invention of the Ag-Chem Soilection machine, and was used to sell the service of that equipment and differentiate from competitors that did not have it.

Even during that time, we were also using hand drawn maps, separating high ground from low ground, sands from clays, and high exchange soils from low exchange soils. We were having farmers spot treat for lime, even without VRT(Variable Rate Transfer) equipment. Then came Windows CE units, then iPac's, and handheld computers that we could hook GPS to. We started driving boundaries, and driving the lines that separated the soil type zones in the field, using the irregular shaped zones to sample and make recommendations, and spreading lime by those maps. Then came the yield monitor and digitized soil surveys, and these were fantastic additions to soils management.

Now- we can combine information from the crop, even normalize yields from different crops, and let the crop tell us where the soil changes. The digitized soil survey is decent information for how they were developed, but it is black and white- you're either in a soil type, or cross the line, and you're in a different soil type. It really doesn't happen that way in the field- there are transition zones where 1 soil type blends to another, and well calibrated yield maps show that.

So having had the opportunity to work with all the above, on lots of acres and lots of soil types, my #1 choice is zones developed from yield maps (well calibrated maps so they show accurate variation in yield), with input from the farmer, and input from the practicing agronomist. If you don't have a yield monitor, use digitized soil surveys, elevation data, and perhaps aerial imagery in crop, and veris data. (But think strongly about a yield monitor, because it can give you some very valuable data about your farm and your practices.)

Precision ag has had a different rate of adoption across the corn belt, with some hot spots having much more experience than others. Those early adopters have moved on from grid sampling to management zone development, and the NRCS and most land grant universities are even agreeing with them. You will seldom find an independent consultant that uses grid sampling anymore. Unfortunately, grid is totally driven by the computer, and does not include input from the farmer, the agronomist, or the crop being raised on the soils.

Yield zone management will be driven by the 2 most important factors in raising a crop: soil type and water holding capacity of those soils. A great blueprint to manage nutrients, lime, and plant populations by. I would also sample at least every other year- it's not exact and you need to keep building representative data. That was another pitfall of grid- so much was spent in one year that farmers tried to live 4 to 5 years off 1 testing cycle. With yield-zone management, and evaluating fields of progressive farmers, you will find that the lower yielding areas have the highest P & K. This is due to non-removal of blanket applications, and the real yield drop is more than likely due to drainage or lime needs. When those areas are found, corrections can be made if possible, and then you can harvest the P & K that is already present in those zones, and have dollars to spend elsewhere."

There you have it. I much agree with Joe's post on Crop Talk. What do you think?

Ed
Winkle

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gorges' Grouse


To my new Gorges' Grouse friends, greetings! Isn't it funny how one little post can intertwine us all together? The marvels and mystery of the Internet is amazing!

For those of you who haven't read, I am 62 years old and married to LuAnn who was raised on a farm in New York and raised her family on a farm there. We met thanks to Agriculture Online where I was posting on the Crop Scouting page in the mid nineties.

I am a retired teacher of agriculture and served seven years as a county extension agent. I started HyMark Consulting in 1994 when my boys needed a Supervised Agricultural Experience Program in their FFA Chapter and LuAnn and I have operated it as an LLC in Ohio since 2000.

We bought a farm in 2004 which became my farming and experiment location while she works as CEO of a local non profit that helps ex-offenders get back into the world of work. We love to travel and we lead very interesting lives. Our love for life through no-till farming has taken us to Europe and New Zealand and across the states. We have camped in the lower 48 and part of Canada and will soon visit our 50th state together, Hawaii.

If you browse my blogs from the last three years, you can see the gardening, farming and travel stories we found. I am quick to test new farming methods before I recommend them to others.

One I have learned over my life is the Albrecht soil testing method. I would recommend all my farming and gardening readers to read this link at your leisure. I sample my soils like it is described here. It is good to start here with any gardening or farming project so we can get a "snapshot" of what your soil looks like in order to formulate a plan to grow better crops.

Readers from all over the country send me their analyses to get my opinion. I do this for a fee for farmers and larger tracts but usually just give advice to someone who sends their labs analysis or recommend someone else they can talk to solve a problem or increase production and quality. The ones out of the country are a little challenging to equate from Metric to English!

So let's start there, you have plenty of reading to do in the links and my past blogs on many different subjects. Many of them have to do with gardening, farming or travel, so read and ask away!

To Gorges', thanks for asking my question and giving me some answers. As Budde pointed out, my blog is written more ilke my old Extension Newsletters I used to write and don't necessarily question the reader to comment. Blogspot did have a comment problem last week which seems to have been fixed temporarily, at least.

Welcome to all my new readers and let's help each other live a better life through our Internet exchange!

Sincerely,

Ed Winkle

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Comments on Traveling


My friend Lucas(I have been to his farm) posted his observations on traveling in the Cafe and I thought it would be good to share here today.

"Three weeks ago we traveled to the Notill conference in St. Louis. We flew. You get there early so you can be demoralized by a metal detector and no drinks through the check point because they are connected with all the food joints inside so they throw away what they can so you have to buy a 5 dollar drink , $2 pack of gum, $5 sandwich. Because what else can you do but eat when you are there two hours early. Oh then you can't have a direct flight you have to go for a 40 minute ride to the next feed trough (airport) and another 1 and half wait. Heck might as well buy another $5 dollar drink oh and there is all those danishes and cinnabuns. Finally get to the last flight . Takes all day to travel by plane.

Then I did it all over again this past week to Des Moines to go to Ames Iowa For some Agleader training so I got to add the joy of a rental car which I picked a compact because it was cheapest. I get there I was concerned I am 6' 3" all I could see was some little toy, I ended up with a Chevy Impala so not to bad. I was there for five days last training day wasn't over till 5 Thursday so I get to pull my hair out cause I couldn't get a flight back east until Friday morning. Did I mention I had my fill of flying for awhile."

Another friend Omar(he has been to our home) replied "I've got to the point where my cutoff point for driving is 15 hours. In other words, a full day. That's because a flight to almost anywhere is going to cost me a day anyway. For exactly the reasons you stated.

It takes me under an hour to get to Toronto, but I have to allow for two in case the traffic is bad. Then, I'm supposed to be there 3 hours ahead for international flights. Usually, you sail through, so that's 2 hours plus the remainder of the driving time I didn't use to kill. Or, you don't sail through so you have a couple hours of stress worrying whether you'll make your flight. So you are up to four or five hours and the plane hasn't even left the ground. I may technically have saved a bit of time flying, but there's really nothing else I'd be able to do on the travel day anyway. I might as well be driving and seeing a bit of country.

Since you can't carry anything on (say shaving supplies) unless you pay for the mini-sized containers ahead of time (assuming you remembered to buy them), you end up checking stuff in, but now you have to pay extra per bag to do that.

If you do make it through easily, there's that challenge of what to do. Sit in a bar? Well, you could browse the internet, but most airports nail you for 10 bucks for a 24 hour login to the internet. Knowing I'll only be there for a couple hours, that just doesn't match my idea of good value.

My stress level is way down when I drive. It's amazing how far a person can get with a full day of driving."

My observations were "Very good observations, Lucas, I agree. Just reading that makes me see why I don't like to fly, doesn't fit my farmer mold. But I do love to travel and meet new people and see new things so it's put up with or find something much slower.

I am sure the seasoned traveler doesn't like it much better and the airport is a center of angst and frustration, just ripe for a blow up like we see on TV news. Homeland Security is a joke to me, padding down some old lady who would like to blow the person up doing it and letting some suspiscious character walk on by who looks like they intend to. But no that's racial profiling or whatever. What a joke, no common sense.

This modern travel shows the epitome of society, mixing all these people together from everywhere and every possible background.

Cruising is in the news but it's probably safer than walking down some city streets, definitely safer than automobile or plane and statistics show that. That captain might really be a hero or really lucky(blessed) because he almost sent 4000 people to the bottom of that drink. That ship teetering over that 600 feet deep ledge has been something to watch. Geraldo was pretty intertesting on the subject last night, we never watch him and it was so melodramatic it was sickening but it was very interesting.

You are right though, nothing like getting home and walking around on your own farm."

What are your recent observations from traveling?

Ed

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Farmer's Share


I went to a Farmer's Share breakfast this morning where breakfast is served for the cost of what the farmer gets from the production of the raw products in the meal. This is usually sponsored by a Farm Bureau group in our state and it was this morning, too, the Clermont County Farm Bureau.

Pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, milk, juice and coffee cost 50 cents. That is about what the farmer get's as his share from the sales of farm produced commodities that are shipped, processed and prepared for our meals.

They had little paper towers of information about farming in Ohio. Ohio has 4 million hogs raised by 3700 farmers. We are number two in egg production and in the top ten states of just about every category of grain and livestock production. Ohio has always been a prominent farming state although the message has been lost over my lifetime.

There are about 45,000 farming operations in Ohio producing about nine million acres of grain and other crops. Ohio almost always has more acres planted to soybeans than to corn. The last time there were more corn acres than soybeans was 1986. The last time Ohio had over a million acres of wheat was just 2008 and there were still 3 times more corn or soybean acres than wheat.

Acres of oats, grapes, potatoes, and tobacco continue to decline over time. Other states have more suitable weather and soils for those crops except tobacco which has declined from health concerns. US production of tobacco has declined form 2 billion pounds in 1975 to 1.2 billion pounds in 2001, or 42%. Ohio reflects that, too.

Ohio is 11th in the number of farms so that goes with it being in the top ten states in production of most agricultural commodities.

Agriculture is still the backbone of Ohio's and the country's economies which makes farming activities very important but one that is easy to take for granted.

What would my 50 cent breakfast cost in your neighborhood? Here it would be $5-10 plus tax and tip.

Ed

Friday, January 27, 2012

Flood

This is what U.S. Grant's birthplace looked like during the Great Flood of 1937 near Point Pleasant, Ohio.

In 1937, it started raining in southern Ohio and never stopped for 30 days. By around this date 75 years ago, the Ohio River crested near 82 feet at Coney Island near New Richmond, Ohio and we still marvel at that marker way in the air whenever we visit Coney Island today.

I thought it would be a good time to call Uncle Roy and see how he is doing so I called yesterday. I emailed this message to my family last night.

"I called Uncle Roy today to see how he was doing. I asked him if he knew what he was doing this day 75 years ago?

He would have been 8 years old then, living on the farm in Sardinia. I gave him a hint on the Great Flood and he said it flooded almost every year there but he remembers the water was over the Slab Camp bridge on Hamer Road and you couldn't get to the Stevens Farm on Stevens Road.

He told me the floods in 34 and 36 were nearly as big and the one in 36 was bigger in Pittsburgh. The flood of 37 crested around 81 feet in Cincinnati and a million homes were lost from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois.

He said after the water went down some, Grandpa took them on a ride to Ripley where they saw a house that was washed off its foundation and sitting on its roof when the flood went down! We wished we had a picture of that and Winnie took all the pictures then but he didn't think they got one of it.

He said the flu was going through the house about that time and he and his sisters were in bed, ill from it. He said they listened to the big radio and kept the fire going and that was about it.

I asked if it was hard to feed the livestock? Dad was 22 then and a middle child with 4 older sisters and 3 younger sisters and Roy. We agreed nothing was that easy then, dry or wet."

I try to read the blogs you will find under my profile. I probably read The Lazy Farmer the most, George's Grouse, and Ralph Goff's and many others whenever I can. George's Grouse is from West Virginia and had a good blog on the '37 Flood.

Lots of people have been talking about it this week as it's been on the local news and it is so wet here it makes you wonder if we would have the same thing without the flood controls put in with WPA in the Great Depression. This area has seen up to 75 inches of rain in the last 13 months so the tributaries haven't been dry for a long time.

Uncle Roy devoted his career to soil and water conservation and flood projects that have kept our area "high and dry" compared to the '37 Flood.

I know it is drier west of Cairo, Illinois and I hope you find yourself "high and dry" today but get the water when you need it this year.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Am I An Introvert?


I saw a piece on the news talking about Susan Cain's new book called Quiet. It's about the traits introverts and extroverts exhibit and great leaders who lean one way or the other.

I have always seen myself as an introvert, basically was a shy kid who was taught and learned to live outside that shell to function and be happy. I've taken the Myers Briggs Personality Test and it shows about the same thing. I took this test I found this morning and the way I answered the questions, it rated me as 45% extrovert which it called "balanced." That's pretty good for me today.

My mood affects how I feel and thus how I answer questions. The rain is quite depressing again today but I guess it isn't bothering me that much. There is nothing I can do about it, anyway.

The news piece showed the President, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul as introverted and Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as extroverted. It showed Pope John Paul and Benedict as introverted and how that can be used for quiet but very strong leadership.

I would assume most farmers lean to introvert behavior but I can think of a few pretty social, loud and boisterous ones, too. Job success doesn't necessarily link to personality traits but they don't hurt and sure can help. You can picture a rancher or a cowboy as being pretty introverted to the point of being a "loner." A fellow who loves to drive tractor all day just uses a different type of horse!

So are you an introvert or extrovert or pretty well balanced?

Ed

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Planter Clinics


Yesterday Jennings County Indiana Soil and Water Conservation District called to see if I would teach two planter clinics in their county, one February 22 and one the next day. I said yes and both clinics will be in farm shops with planters inside.

I have done these many times before but they always make me a little bit edgy as I am probably the worst mechanic in the room-I have the least mechanical aptitude, just ask my wife who assembles all the stuff we buy.

I know the theory pretty well and have done clinics from Maine to Alaska to New Zealand. It's a good thing my friend Andy Vance was doing an article on the subject so I have a recent base to work from.

Here is what Andy wrote:

Corn & Soybean Digest – January 2012

Gearing Up For Planting

“It all comes down to the planter. If you don’t get it in the ground right the first time, nothing else matters.”

That simple philosophy is at the heart of what crop consultant Bill Lehmkuhl says is one of the most important parts of the crop cycle: getting ready for planting season. While farmers in many parts of the Corn Belt planted the 2011 crop later than ever, and subsequently shelled corn well into December, he says getting ready to plant the next crop should never be far from top of mind.

“Be aware that accurate spacing and the planter is where it starts,” he advises his clients across western Ohio. “Yield is not a function of plant population, but of ear count. That final ear count is what drives yield. If you plant 32,000 seeds, you’d better have 32,000 ears.”

He says the process starts by inspecting the planter “from hitch pin to closing wheels.” Some aspects of a thorough tune-up can easily be done in the shop, e.g., checking for wear items like parallel arms, lines and hoses, but some work will need to be done in field, like ensuring the planter is level while in motion.

The key concept behind planter maintenance, from Lehmkuhl’s perspective, is creating the ideal seed trench. That includes checking for proper contact on disc openers (anywhere from 1 to 2.5 inches, depending on planter model), keeping uniform down pressure on each row unit, and having the proper attachments in place.

“I don’t care what scenario you’re in tillage-wise, row cleaners on the planter are a must from the standpoint of smoothing the ride out for that row unit and seed meter by moving that residue aside,” he explains. “When it comes to emergence, I want to see everything up in that field within 48 hours. The first time you see corn spiking up through, I want it all up within a day or so, and you need uniform seed depth and placement to make that happen.”

Rain Makes Grain, but Too Much of a Good Thing…

Because many parts of the Corn Belt received excess precipitation during the 2011 planting and harvest seasons, a high percentage of fields will be in rough shape when the time comes for planters to start rolling this Spring. The temptation toward what one agricultural engineer calls “recreational tillage” could make a bad situation even worse.

“Many farmers were unable to get back in the field after harvest because of the rains,” says Randall Reeder, an associate professor emeritus in Ohio State University’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “Even long-term no-tillers had ruts and compaction issues this year.”

Comparing soil conditions to those seen in 2009, Reeder cautions that the best course of action when it comes to tillage this year may be no action at all. “You don’t want to make a bad situation worse by performing deep tillage on wet soils because it destroys the soil structure,” he explains. “If you do tillage you have a looser soil structure, and if we see more rains this spring, that will allow even more compaction issues.”

The cumulative effect is that tillage begets tillage, meaning that by attempting to correct ruts and compaction issues too quickly, farmers could unintentionally create even more rutting and compaction issues later.

Emphasizing the benefits of controlled traffic, Reeder recommends farmers use overly wet conditions as a learning opportunity, and to consider the benefits of continuous no-till, which can include strip-till ahead of corn.

“Do the least amount of tillage necessary to get the ground ready for planting,” he advises. “Often a light, shallow tillage operation can smooth out ruts and create a surface ideal, or at least acceptable, for planting.”

Accept Murphy’s Law, and Prepare a “Plan B”

For Paul Reed of Washington, Iowa, the best way to prep for planting season is to figure out what can go wrong, and have a game plan in place that assumes if it can go wrong, it will go wrong at some point.

“Along with going through all the nuts and bolts things, we follow a simple management rule: figure out the three worst things that can happen,” Reed says. “We always have a Plan B so that if we lose a system or monitor we can continue planting and aren’t stuck on the end rows waiting to get on the phone with a service tech. As our equipment has gotten more complex, so have our problems.”

As one example, Reed says that while his operation relies on GPS and automatic steering, each planter still has mechanical markers in the eventuality that the GPS system goes down. Planting can continue using markers, rather than stalling while a technological solution is found.

The Reed family keeps detailed notes on problems or challenges uncovered during the planting season, and incorporates those records into the preparation for the next season. By focusing on what did go wrong, they improve planning for what might go wrong in the future.

“The name of the game is to keep the wheels turning to take advantage of a limited planting window,” Reed says. “Crops yield by planting date, so you have to take advantage of the planting days available. If you have only 10 or 12 days in an ideal planting window, being able to keep rolling is a big deal.”

He advises systematically checking each system on the planter, from hydraulic and air pressure systems to fertilizer and seed delivery components, looking for wear items that need replaced prior to planting. While conducting that basic planter maintenance, take stock of what parts, systems or monitors are likely to go down at some point during planting, and have replacements on hand.

“Every one of those systems can and will have something go wrong,” Reed says. “How well and how quickly you can overcome those problems is paramount to keep planting.”

-30-

SIDE BAR

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Christmas may be over, but Ohio-based crop consultant and blogger Ed Winkle advises taking Santa’s advice when it comes to planter preparations.

“Tear apart the planter today,” he says. “We tore our planter apart three times during all the rain last year, and we found something every time. We knew the planter so well that as soon as we had a breakdown, we knew where it was and how to fix it with no down time. The worst thing you can do is drag the planter out of the barn and try to go plant.”

With that in mind, Winkle shares his planter-prep checklist:

Go through each row unit piece by piece.
Go through the seeding mechanism, and match the planter to the seed size you are getting.
Go over all stress parts, as well as the frame, wheels and bearings. “You think the part isn’t worn out, but it is. Replace it. You can’t afford to stretch parts too far anymore.”
Go through hydraulics with books and gauges.
Go through 12-volt system front to back.
Go through electronics, including GPS-related modules and monitors.

What do you think, O Ye planter wizards and wannabe's? The planter in the picture is a modified Kinze after one of my talks ten years ago and still ticks like a clock after years of maintenance and thousands in profits.

Thanks,

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Erosion

There are SO many topics we could discuss today. We are discussing nutrients on Crop Talk, I brought in row width and plant feeding and inoculating and then my friend Andy in Indiana sent me this picture. Erosion!

"In nature, tillage is a catastrophic event." That is is the first quote I learned from Dr. Dwayne Beck I won't forget. It makes me think of the nature trail I took my students to behind Clermont Northeastern High School where we walked from a class II and III flat soil with poor internal drainage across, true class II-VI soils to Class XIII, more than 35% slope down to the creek.

Most called it a ravine or severe gully but it's a 100 foot drop off to the creek below. I had all eight land classes right in my backyard! I taught soils all the way to the creek and all the way back with lots of good woodland to talk about on the barked paths. There was plenty of weed identification, too!

Tillage is a catastrophic event for me and I gave it up in 1976 when we bought our first White 5100 6 row, 30 inch notill planter. I've spent a lifetime learning how to make that work.

Even with notill, we get erosion on one percent slopes here so cover crops became necessary to hold the soil in place when there isn't a cash crop holding it there. With 70 inches of rainfall in this region, there has been too much erosion even where we tried hard to prevent.

If we had a good spring, we could spend it moving soil back into place, reparing tile and installing new tile. With trying to plant a cover crop after each harvest, it's very difficult to get this done.

I see a lot of erosion on our farms I want to repair but it's small compared to many fields I see and I should feel pretty good with what I do have in place. I have lots of dead and living roots holding soil in place, ready for the next crop.

As long as there's man, there is going to be erosion. The glaciers that formed these beautiful midwest soils were massive movements so even if man is not here, erosion always is.

Our job is to figure out how to minimize it while making a living off the land. We have all the tools we need today. So I hope you find this blog your source for ag information today in answer to yesterday's question.

Have a great day,

Ed Winkle

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where Do You Go For Ag Information?


I have always credited my dad and the Extension Service for starting my love for farming and finding answers to how things grow. Soil Life just posted an interesting question on Crop Talk. Where do you go for agricultural related information?

1. Farm Magazines

2. seed catalogs, seed company meetings. Your seed dealer, DSM

3. Your State Agronomy Guide.

4. Purdue University Internet sites. One of the best. or the OSU Ag crop report.

5. Your Local Extension service office.

6. Visiting co-op meetings

7. Working with your crop scout and or your Private consulting Persons.

8. Reading Documented University Agronomy studies. available in most every state.

9. Visiting state University research farms consistently for current updates.

10. Reading Ag Talk

11. or other internet sites

12. YOUR, On the Farm plot work over the years. side by sides. trial by error or success. On your farm.

13. RFD TV ?

14. your accountant

15. your banker

16. your farm management company

17. your soil testing laboratory. Laboratory personnel.

18. Independent web sites, Blogs.

19. all of the above.

My answer is all of the above, although the rankings have changed somewhat. After teaching and farming 40 years I get more questions so I learn by digging out the answers. I use all of those categories to find answers. Any system of farming develops over time and my base knowledge is from my dad and his teachers, the Extension Service.

I wanted to be an Extension Agent among many other things and got my chance in 1987. The pay wasn't as good as classroom teaching so I went back to the classroom before retirement in 2002. Knowledge is wonderful but it doesn't mean much unless you can put it into practice. I have been blessed to be able to do that since I was born.

Farm magazines and Extension have fallen from top sources for information for many farmers as they adopt and learn the Internet. As you know, the Internet has totally changed my life but all of the 18 sources has impact on what I do.

Where do you go for agricultural information? Here's another thanks to Dad and Jim Wells and Al Rhonemus for a job well done!

Ed Winkle

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Keep It Simple


The wisdom from my Sunday Morning Sunshine group and from church today was Keep It Simple! This is a daily task I attempt in 24 hour segments as I am a complicated person living a complicated life in a complicated world!

It's just like teaching and learning, I have to break every day down into simple segments. Get up with thanksgiving and if I can't, start over! Eat a little at around 8 AM, noon and 5 PM. Make a list and do the things on my list one thing at a time. I am one to have two to ten projects all going on at the same time. Complicated me.

If I catch myself thinking the wrong thing or a bad thing, I need to correct it and don't utter it, let alone practice it. Rigorous honesty in everything I think, say and do, that is the key for daily success.

In working on taxes and yearly summaries, I see all my mistakes. Some were out of control when I did them or I didn't have full knowledge to make the right decision right then. I can't change that, I can only change right now. Each second passes quickly and before I know it, minutes, hours and days have passed. It's less than 10 days until February, the shortest month of the year and soon the year will be one sixth gone!

I read a few lines on crop talk this morning and saw all the complicated ways we as farmers face to raise the best crop we can economically. No one agrees how to do that although we really farm pretty similarly. It's the little things that make the difference.

If I keep it simple and break complex things down into basic components, I can manage them more easily.

At the end of the day I can go to bed knowing I did the best I could given the circumstances and wake up the next morning without any emotional baggage from what I did or didn't do.

Have a great week and keep it simple.

Ed

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crop(and other typesof) Scouting

Around this time in August, I found my first bacterial wilt on Prairie Road, just east of Wilmington. There began my search on what causes bacterial wilt's in corn like Goss's Wilt, that reduced U.S. corn yields so much this year.

Today is a poor day for crop scouting, even if you were looking for maple trees to tap for syrup. It is cold, windy, the ground is white and the north windows are covered with ice to the top. It's a moderately cold, blustery day in southwest Ohio.

Some guy ran out of gas between the house and the barn last night. He sat there and sat there and I finally saw a little flashlight shining up the sidewalk. I opened the door and he timidly asked if he could call for help. The answer was yes of course but the immediate thought went through our head, he doesn't even have a cell phone? Everyone has a cell phone thanks to our government!

He was my heighth and even bigger than me, a stout looking young man, guess around 30or more. I quickly noticed he had a navy blue work tee shirt and jeans and shoes, all full of holes. A rough looking character he was with thick dark hair and a very timid voice. I always wonder if such people are "God sent" and it was hard for me to imagine he was.

He made us both very uneasy and LuAnn was thankful it wasn't a week ago when I was in St. Louis. Sable didn't throw a fit over him so that added to the discernment. She thought I should have handed a phone to him on the porch but I invited him in to the kitchen where he called someone who showed up in another ragged old truck 15 mintues later or so. He had plenty of time to "case the joint" but was so timid and staring down I wasn't too worried.

He was out of gas he said and I told him I had just poured my last gallon into the log splitter. His buddy came and they got it running and off he went while the buddy just had to drive our circle drive in the barnyard and got stuck trying to get back on Martinsville Road. He finally burned his way out and was gone.

Back to crop scouting, the question was raised in the Cafe "how did you find AgTalk?" A couple of posters said "Ed emailed me about it" and half or so were renegades from agriculture.com. I found the Crop Scouting page about this time in 1995 and that even changed my life forever. How I farm, what I teach, who I talk to and live with all came from that modest beginning.

By 2000 the forum was full of growing pains and broadband was not here in the country yet. Meredith Publishing decided to put banner ads on agriculture.com and that made the forum useless to us in the country on dial up connections. I won the NoTill Innovator of the year which was presented in Des Moines so I picked up Tim Reinhart from the University of Illinois and we drove to the conference. We met with John Walter, still editor of agriculture.com and begged him to take the banner ads down.

If they didn't we were going to start our own forum. Neither one of us really wanted that so he said he would meet with the company and get back to us. He did, and the answer was NO. So David Orr, of near Circleville, Ohio, volunteered to put up the first page and it was in June, 2000.

Lots has happened in over 11 years but agriculture.com is still here and now NewAgTalk is the number one farm forum in the world.

Ed

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hydraulic Soils

I had to do some reading for today's blog. A good friend in Pennsylvania posted a really serious question entitled "hydraulic soils" on Crop Talk.

He is referring to the ability of soil to absorb water, or hydraulic conductivy of soil. Each soil has a natural hydraulic conductivity to move water through it. This conductivity has been greatly altered since man started tilling the soil for food production.

k is the coefficient for hydraulic conductivity, not potassium and usually written as ks. Darcy's Law states that J=Ki.

Where I live, I have two distinct soil formation types. The old Illinoian Glacial Till which is considered to be about 100,000 years old since the Illinoian Glacier created this soil and the Wisconsin Glacial Till which is considered to be about 10,000 years old since that glacial event formed it.

The natural conductivity of the two major soil formation types are quite different. The hydraulic conductivity of the older soil is much less, making it more poorly drained. The newer soil conducts water much more easily, making it moderately drained in most cases.

We have a situation where 60-70 inches of water fell on these soil this past year. Water is both a blessing and a curse. Six feet of water is a lot of weight! One inch of rain on one acre is 27,000 gallons and weighs 13 tons per inch. 72 inches times 13 tons is approaching a thousand tons of weight that fell on one acre this year.

Basically, most soils are not able to conduct all of this water and weight and are damaged by it. Farmers struggled to get the crop out this fall and we still have corn and beans unharvested in Ohio. The best we did on this farm was leave cleat marks the depth of the cleat of the tires. That is compaction.

Some fields are so rutted they look like you could lay tile in the ruts but they are pretty crooked as the farmer fought to keep the combine straight. How do we handle these situations?

No one has an answer but after 60 years of observing, I know for me the least amount of tillage I can do to get the next crop in the better. The soil will have to naturally heal and I have to understand those ruts will probably never fully heal in my lifetime.

Some farmers will try to rip below the depth of the rut but I don't see enough dry weather in our forecast before planting to allow that to happen. You may do more harm than good. Ideally we might take those fields out of production this year and start rebuilding them for notill. Economics is not going to allow that to happen so some tillage will be needed.

Other farmers will try to catch the soil in such condition they can blade or fill the ruts, lightly work and plant the next crop. Each farmer will have his own solution to the problem but none of them will be ideal. Some will just be better than others.

Increased tile installation and cover cropping will help as much as anything in my experience. Gypsum may improve conductivity on these soils, contact an expert before you use that as your only solution. No one thing is going to heal these damaged, disrupted soils.

It's a hard question today but one many farmers face at one time or another. Weather remains a hot topic on the farm every day because it controls our efforts and often our destiny.

Ed

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Engaged in Government


OK, Roy F., I took my one crazy pill this morning before writing this as you suggested I might do every day! LuAnn and I read our daily readings as usual this morning (on her BIRTHDAY so drop her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY at lwinkle@frontier.com)! Fox News was muted and I saw a piece about Karen Moreau, an attorney in upstate New York talking about how the lack of developing mineral rights is killing many small farms.

New York has a moratorium on horizontal fracking which has brought Pennsylvanis, Ohio and North Dakota communities alive with oil exploration. She is pushing the Governor and Legislature to allow this fracking so New York can see the boom neighboring states have.

Then I saw a piece from Freedom Works to contact my legislators to support the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Texas. I support this and was not surprised to see our President not support it yesterday so I wrote three letters and will call their offices today.

Next I saw Google's plea to contact the same legislators to vote against PIPA and SOPA that would regulate the Internet more in America. I don't know about you but I like my Internet just like it is! Regulation is killing our country, no wonder we are in debt highter than our GDP for social programs as we continue to kill job creation!

Wake Up, America! Are you readers engaged in government? Thankfully I was taught at a young age that a sincere, personal hand written letter written to a legislator represents the feelings of several hundred voters. I bet a dollar you don't believe that. Even if you did, do you prove it by acting on it?

Write and call today! That is what I am doing. It's time for me to be more engaged in government and you can bet I am going to vote every chance I get after studying the issues and seeking out every piece of dirt I can find on a candidate or position. Then I will vote accordingly.

I didn't work this hard and this long to see my country go down the path it is for the future of my children and grandchildren and generations unseen.

Get to work!

Ed

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dead Soil


I saw a story on MSN about America's Poorest Counties. I never realized so many are in South Dakota.

Thre redistribution of wealth in this country has been amazing. Education has always seemed to be a key to earning income. Farmers were always known as "asset rich but cash poor" but now have bid up to $20,000 per acre for farmland.

Why are those counties so poor? Is it education? Is it laziness, bad luck or what is it? Does our government system encourage and reward poverty now?

I saw in another article that the gasoline price in 1980 is the same as it is today taking inflation into account.

You may have seen that food safety was in the news again last week. A fungicide not approved in the U.S. is used in Brazil, now a major source for orange juice in America. The news blurb showed how COOL or country of origin labeling was kind of working but you need a magnifying glass to read the labels!

Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to South American food also and I looked on our little vine of tomatoes in the fresh fruit and vegetable bowl that sits on our kitchen counter and sure enough, those tomatoes read "product of Mexico." Many are sold by U.S. companies so you see the U.S. name larger and it may even say product of the U.S. produced in Mexico or wherever. That is pretty tricky but it is there.

Our garden is our main source for fresh vegetables most of the year. The freezer is now half gone but we still have pork from RemmPork in Nebraska and our fresh veggies and fruits. Last night we had filet mignon, Idaho bakers, green beans and I sauteed a beautiful onion from our friend Brian in Oregon. "It was to die for!" Thanks, Brian!

Have you ordered your garden seed yet? Need help on your soil test? Email or call and I will be glad to help. I read a lot of soil tests in St. Louis last week and over email so far this year.

I am trying to help one young man and his field calls for 100 lbs of AMS, 200 lbs MonoAmmonium Phosphate, 200 lbs Potash, 20 lbs of 10% Boron, 40 lbs of 10% Managanes Sulfate, 50 lbs of 10% zinc phosphate! He has soybean cyst nematodes on that farm and his special molybdenum test only showed .21 PPM. Moly on his inoculant alone could have made him an extra 5 bushels of soybeans per acre at a very low investment.

The biggest thing I noticed was his soil sample was dead. There is little living life in it. I should have really pushed him to sow a cover crop this fall with some of this fertilizer recommendation in it to get his soils perking before spring.

If he doesn't do something like this, his farm will continue to be one of the poorest in the county. Traditional NPK on barren soil isn't going to cut it!

Ed

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vacation!


It took me 40 years to even start to understand what vacation really means. All I ever knew to do was how to work.

Someone posted Take A Vacation in the Cafe. That's the difference between LuAnn and I and our parents generation. We want to see this big beautiful world God created!

"I posted earlier about something learned on vacation and someone replied"what's a vacation?".

To that person and others that don't have time to take a vacation:

Dad worked hard on the farm and Mom had an off farm job. They rarely did anything else. They did get a couple of trips in over the years. Dad finally decided to slow down so they could travel some more as Mom had plenty of vacation time she never used. They were both 70 at the time.

He got sick and Mom spent 12 years careing for Him and still working for the health insurance benefits to keep him in the nursing home. After he died Mom was going to travel. She had a spill and broke her neck. She's been in a nursing home for three years. She can barely lift a spoon. When I leave after visiting her she often says"take a vacation". Don't spend all your life working to get something and miss what you have."

We sure agree. Dating LuAnn was a vacation to New York every weekend or her coming to Ohio. Not long after we met we went to Vancouver and soon after that, Maine.

We have camped in the 48 states and will soon see our 50th together! We have seen almost all of Canada and every stinkin' Carribean island! We have been to New Zealand and most of Europe. I got to see China in 1985 but there is so much more to see!

Australia
South America
Africa
Sweden
Norway
Denmark
England
Scotland
Ireland

The list goes on and on and we could visit every place we have already been again! We are going to be halfway to Australia and New Zealand so that is going to be really tempting!

We are blessed to be born in the age of travel.

We love it!

Ed

Monday, January 16, 2012

Soil Cores

Soil coring is used extensively in soil classification and the teaching of soils and properties. Terry Taylor of Geff, Illinois brought a few soil cores from his farm to the notill conference to aid the discussion of his presentation on how cover crops have improved his farm.

Terry's soil is similar to the soil at the bottom of the hills of my rolling farms that lay on the glacial moraine between the Illinoian and Wisconsin Glacial Till. The soil is darker on top and blue to gray underneath. Those color show a lack of oxygen in the subsoil and tend to be acidic and anaerobic, not good for crops. Just think of the little roots sizzling in acid very slowly. They don't grow very much or very far.

With notill and cover crops, Terry and many of us have been able to increase the productivity of these soils a little more each year. Building richer soil on top of these subsoils increases productivity over time. In dry years the crops reach deeper into the soil profile for moisture and their decay increases the organic matter where they grew.

John Aeschliman of Washington state was impressed with Terry's soil cores and commented to me, wouldn't it be neat if we all brought a soil core from our farm to the conference? I agreed and wrote the idea down and gave it to the notill staff to consider for next year. We can bring them whether they adopt the idea or not but it is a good one.

I could bring in my best soil and a troublesome one I am working with to discuss. Terry was able to pull cores the week of the conference which was very unusual. We would have to time it before a heavy freeze sometime this fall. It is easier if you have a soil opened up to repair tile or just dig up the soil profile for easier coring. I think Terry just pounded a long 3 inch PVC pipe into the ground to get his cores but I will get more information on that.

One farmer asked me why all the interest in soil profiles and how each soil was formed and I said as we learn more about improving yields we have to get down to the core of it! Soil cores can help us see what we have and what we need to do to improve them.

I have a reply the last two days I can't read. Can anyone else read them and send them to me? Blogspot locks up when I click on those two comments.

Thanks,

Ed

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Goss's Wilt

A bacterial wilt named Goss's Wilt cost many US corn farmers 75 to 125 bushels per acre last year. My friend Amy Bandy, a scout from Iowa City gave a presentation about her findings near the Ballpark at St. Louis yesterday.

The first thing she said is what I have been saying all along- WALK YOUR FIELDS weekly! Those that didn't had those huge losses per acre. We had 500 bushel potential in the bag, as soon as we opened the bag we probably were looking at 300 bushels. I can tell you some local farmers achieved that this trying year and many came close, just look at the National Corn Growers results to verify!

She showed fields where farmers lost the first 25 bushels or more by not applying a little liquid food grade phosphorous right on the seed. When you maximize zein protein early, you maximize the number of kernels around on the cob. The 270 bushel fields I walked had maximum girth and all the other fields were a little smaller in diameter.

There are two major differences in seed corn genetics:
1. Vitreous protein corn is more orange, pearly shaped endosperm and kernels with more zein protein and found in the workhorse hybrids you can plant thick. They need more nitrogen early.

2. Floury endosperm corn is found in the pink cobbed race horse hybrids that have a lot of flex but more protein and less test weight and usually much lighter in color and weight. These corns are 15% more digestible so animal farmers like them.

The floury endosperm corn found in the race horse hybrids appears more susceptible to bacterial wilts like Goss's and the pearly kernaled, pearly endosperm corn found in work horse hybrids appears less susceptible.

The next advantage goes to notill. Microbes are happy at a soil temperature of 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the premises when temps get higher. This is when Clavorbacter Nebraskanis or Goss's Wilt takes over. It is a slimy bacteria, not a big healthy robust looking fungi. Trying to protect your crop with a fungicide can open the cells up to invasions by these slimy fungi.

Keith Schlapkohl and Jeff Littrell went on a country wide tour of the corn belt and found pink leaves from sick corn every where they went. The bacteria is now everywhere across the area where corn is grown and future farmers meet. It invaded the seed corn inbreds so hard it is now in our SEED!

So some of us will be planting this dreaded bacteria right into our fields this spring. What we can do now is walk our fields weekly and when we find that second ear dying, look for why it is and if we have Goss's Wilt apply:

2 gallons of 21-1-0 per acre with
1 quart of 42 PHI copper
6 ounces of Safe Strike
2 ounces of Procidic(citric acid) some insecticide e.g. half rate Warrior
1 quart of Defender G4

This is what they used to halt Goss's Wilt last year. It worked pretty good. Never heard of it? Contact BRT Ag.

There is a meeting at Sauder Village early Thursday morning near Archbold, Ohio if any of you are interested.

Ed

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Master of Manure

I was appointed Master of Manure this week. No one else would take the job. Too many people thought I was most qualified! You know BS, MS, and Piled Higher and Deeper? I halted my professional educational program before the piled higher and deeper!

I couldn't wait to apply my education and make more money. I did my master's while teaching and I learned more that way than just studying for my baccalaureate.

Seriously, I moderated the manure round table today and I got the group thinking about green manure versus animal manure. We talked about the differences in manure and how it is a rare commodity now in many states like Ohio. When I was a young boy on the farm, manure was our most important fertilizer and when we ran out of it, we planted green manures. Today they are known as cover crops.

Cover crops were big at the conference, everyone was talking about them. Terry Taylor brought in soil cores from his tight southern Illinois soils and the change in them with notill and cover crops for many years were dramatic. It caught a lot of attention. The young farmers don't understand that is all some of us old timers had when we were little.

I made a decision on the way home after thinking and talking to many smart people. I have known it for some time but I have decided to try and never plant a genetically modified seed on my farm again. The risk is just too great. I should have known when my tissue tests were low in micronutrients that glyphosate was chelating the minerals in my soil. It took me a few years to figure it out because I have been almost 100% non GMO since we moved here.

I have been boning up on my other chemistry's to control my weeds with other chemicals and cover crops.

I think that will work much better in the long run.

Then I won't have to be Master of Manure. My radishes in growing soybeans did catch some attention though.

Ed

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Power of Radish and Rye


Did I scare you with yesterday's blog? If I didn't, you better go back and read it again. I quoted what I heard and I don't deny the evidence. It is pretty scary. If I believed it I would never use glyphosate or plant genetically modified seed again.

Several more farmers have asked my opinion on the subject since I wrote that blog. It's amazing to me how many of you are following the convention through my eyes and ears. I had over 100 page views overnight from Wednesday's blog and more since.

Last night we heard a good talk by Mike Plumer from Illinois. I have quoted him in past blogs over the years. He showed how he has changed his southern Illinois soils so much that they don't meet the original soil classifications! A soil scientist friend of his told Mike after studying lots of root and soil pits "I am not going to reclassify all these soils you have screwed up!"

I thought that was a pretty good line. That is the power of notill and cover crops. If you can figure out how to make a living while developing your system you can very much leave your soil better than you found it. I know I am doing that after only 2-8 years on the fields we own and farm.

Mike's friend Terry Taylor just showed how he is doing that on his farm, Jeff Martin is showing how they strip till continuous corn on the flat black Illinois soils south of Decatur and Bob Yanda is doing a great job on soil biology and how amendments affect it. I see why I like high calcium lime, AMS, trychaderma, and inoculants.

Fred Yanda of Midwest Biologicals gave a really good presentation of how plants and soils work chemically and biological and how certain biologicals fit in to give a good return on investment. The biggest advancement has been in the new strains of soybean inoculants that compete for a site on the root to survive and in the process of doing so, make more nitrogen that increases nutrient uptake, health, and yield.

There are 336 first time attendees at the conference and I almost feel sorry for them. You almost have to have attended past conferences or be an experienced notiller to understand the implications of the presentations of the varied subjects.

The crowd is near 900 farmers and others who work with farmers and the hotel is maxxed out. As one farmer said, "I don't know what we would do if 200 more showed up."

Ed

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.

Ed

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NNTC


I drove through rain most of the morning to get to St. Louis. Traffic was highest around Cincinnati and other than that it wasn't too bad. Downtown St. Louis was rather empty at noon.

OnStar didn't recognize the Hilton at the Ball Park so it took me to one two blocks down the street. When I tried to get my room, they had no reservation so we figured out I was at the wrong hotel. I called OnStar back to make sure they don't route other attendees that way.

A farmer from North Dakota explained how cover crops saved his farm after 4 years of no crop in the 90's. He said God through Mother Nature made him completely change the way he farmed to survive. He showed more diversity of crop mixes than anyone I have ever listened to and he took Dr. Dwayne Beck's comments to the max or past it! He grew corn for $1.10 per bushel this year so it was quite impressive.

Warren Dick then spoke an hour on gypsum, reciting many of the things I have been teaching the past 11 years but he explained some chemically I had not heard. A ton of gypsum for a couple of years will really improve almost every farm I know of before we back off the rate because we won't need as much. He proved to me why it works.

Then the Australian NoTillBill (Twitter) Crabtree showed what he had learned around the world. He bought 4,000 acres of unproductive land for $100 an acre to prove what he had learned. He had very good wheat crops this year on hardly any rain.

The AgTalk crowd met at a nearby restaurant for dinner. I met Laurent Lorre from France and a group of Ontario farmers asked if they could tour our farms this summer. We had a lively group with lively conversation. Check out was a bit of hassle for host Adam Lemler when they brought the $500 bill and he thought they were billing each of us separately! They turned to me for help and I said NO, it was not my deal as I am not good at collecting money and I know I would have gotten stuck with part of the tab. It all worked out for the good.

Dr. Lloyd Murdock talked about forms of nitrogen in his University of Kentucky plots. It was quite interesting. I know not to use the cheapest form of nitrogen this year, urea, without imcorporating it or getting a rain in 48 hours. The third day bad things start to happen.

A fellow from Kansas went over proper phosphorous use as it is a big topic across the country. The following speaker, Joe Nester, showed how green Lake Erie was December 11 and it was worse January 4 last week. The lake will support a can of beer in some places! Divers found algae 65 feet deep!

Joe did a really good job explaining the need for soil testing but how we can totally miss the boat using it. He had me laughing on the reasons why VRT do not work. I have to get his big points and share them here. They are really good.

It's bedtime so I will sign off and report back tomorrow. We have the annual Syngenta breakfast first thing in the morning and then a very full day of discussions.

Ed

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Western Ohio Agronomy Day


I attended the Western Ohio Agronomy Day yesterday in Ft. Loramie, Ohio, a little town on the west side of Shelby County. The place was packed and it was good to see some of my old friends in the large attendance.

The topics varied from soil microbes to resistant weeds to crop insects. The presentations were good and they were timely. I really didn't learn a thing I didn't already know but I got my attention focused to a few important things.

Probably the simplest but one of the most important topics was about the qualities of our spray water. I didn't care for Dr. Whitford's teaching style, but he sure had good information. He was in your face, calling you out to answer questions which I found quite annoying but it did keep people attentive.

The answer is most pesticides work best in a pH of 4-7 and most water is 7-9. It pays to acidify your water, which I do. The exception is DuPont herbicides in the sulfonylurea class that work best in high pH's, just like the herbicide does in the soil. In fact the better your soil pH is for growing crops, the longer those herbicides last in your soil. Carryover becomes a concern.

I've shared more about weed resistance on these blogs than you would have learned yesterday but the message is timely, it is good, and it is important. More farms are having more resistant weeds each year. That is except for one, I met my first farmer who could truthfully say he doesn't have any resistant weeds on his farm! He is also one of the best consultants in the state and practices what he preaches. He sprays winter, spring, summer and fall. He has no weeds!

Corn borers and rootworms resistant to genetic events were discussed so that VT3 you have been planting may also need a complete soil insecticide just as if you were growing non GMO or conventional corn 20 years ago. Nature adapts quickly. Like my friend with no weeds I have no need for GM corn because I have none of these bugs, I rotate my crops in an area most farmers do the same thing.

The meeting was held at a beautiful Catholic Church and those are prominent in Western Ohio. It was almost too nice to be indoors but it was a good meeting.

Ed

Misconceptions


Grow posted this article on misconceptions by U.S. citizens in the Boiler Room where political debate runs wild. Since I saw that I have been guilty of saying these misconceptions, I thought I would post them here.

"3 misconceptions that need to die.

Morgan Housel, Motley Fool, 25 October 2011

At a conference in Philadelphia earlier this month, a Wharton professor noted that one of the country's biggest economic problems is a tsunami of misinformation.

Here are three misconceptions that need to be put to rest.

Misconception:
Most of what Americans spend their money on is made in China.

Fact:
Just 2.7% of personal consumption expenditures go to Chinese-made goods and services.
88.5% of U.S. consumer spending is on American-made goods and services.

I used that statistic in an article last week, and the response from readers was overwhelming: Hogwash. People just didn't believe it. The figure comes from a Federal Reserve report.

Misconception:
We owe most of our debt to China

Fact: China owns 7.8% of U.S. government debt outstanding.

As of August, China owned $1.14 trillion of Treasuries. Government debt stood at $14.6 trillion that month. That's 7.8%.

Who owns the rest? The largest holder of U.S. debt is the federal government itself. Various government trust funds like the Social Security trust fund own about $4.4 trillion.

Misconception:
We get most of our oil from the Middle East

Fact:
Just 9.2% of oil consumed in the U.S. comes from the Middle East.

According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. consumes 19.2 million barrels of petroleum products per day. Of that amount, a net 49% is produced domestically. The rest is imported."

So most of us are guilty of over emphasizing and exaggerating our economic situation. It's good to have the facts so we can work on what to do about them.

Which candidate follows your beliefs more closely? Take this survey, the answers are revealing but I must admit I didn't know which of the answers is best for the country as they are very detailed and when you choose one, it closely aligns your position with the stated position of a candidate.

Can anyone guess which candidate's platform aligned with Ed's quick answers to the survey? I don't support the one it chose and the one I have agreed with most lately came in third.

Ed

Monday, January 9, 2012

Technology


It's getting challenging keeping up with all this technology. I accidentally ran my cell phone through the washer yesterday. Why does that always happen when you need it most? A trip to the Verizon store ended up with an early birthday present of a Droid Xyboard tablet, our first tablet sized computer.

After using the kids Ipads and other devices, it seemed like a logical next move. It is even faster than the Droid smart phone LuAnn uses and every other device we own.

I tried to compare the Kindle Fire to the IPad2 to the new Droid before Christmas. I just couldn't "wrap my head around" the differences between the three. I am glad I waited until she could use it and ask questions before I purchased it.

I was impressed with the young man at Verizon. I mentioned what Dustin had showed me and when the sale was ready to be completed, he handed it over to Dustin to get the credit for the sale. I was very impressed. I would want that young man on my team, he definitely showed he is a team player.

I asked about the IPad 3 and it looks like the 2 will come down $100 when the 3 is released. I figured it couldn't be that much better than new Droid and the Droid will always have features the Apple doesn't and vice versa.

The worst thing is another $30 a month to connect to the G3 or G4 network, it works on both. It has it's own separate phone number so with the house and the OnStar, that's 4 phone numbers between us. You have to wonder if that's too much technology but we use them all.

I really could justify a dedicated line for the fax machine as much as I have been using it but that will go down soon. I haven't went to a smart phone yet, I can barely keep up with what I have. I am a sit down and think keyboard person morning or night and don't want to do that during the day. The cell phone is aggravation enough.

Ed

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Radio

This is a good piece to share on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!

CAR RADIO, AN INTERESTING TRUE QUINCY STORY

CAR TUNES
Radios are so much a part of the driving experience, it seems like cars have always had them. But they didn’t. Here’s the story.

SUNDOWN
One evening in 1929 two young men named William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the
Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, to watch the sunset. It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.

Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios – Lear had served as a radio operator in the U. S. Navy during World War I – and it wasn’t long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.

SIGNING ON
One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago . There they met Paul Galvin, owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. He made a product called a “battery eliminator” a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC current. But as more homes were wired for electricity, more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios. Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it. He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.

Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin’s factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker. Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker’s Packard. Good idea, but it didn’t work – half an hour after the installation, the banker’s Packard caught on fire. (They didn’t get the loan.) Galvin didn’t give up. He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention. Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing conventioneers could hear it. That idea worked – he got enough orders to put the radio into production.

WHAT’S IN A NAME
That first production model was called the 5T71. Galvin decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier. In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix “ola” for their names – Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest. Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola.

But even with the name change, the radio still had problems:
When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.) In 1930 it took two men several days to put in a car radio – the dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna. These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery, so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them. The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions.

HIT THE ROAD
Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the price of a brand-new car wouldn’t have been easy in the best of times, let alone during the Great Depression – Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorola's pre-installed at the factory. In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B. F. Goodrich tire company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores. By then the price of the radio, installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running. (The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to “Motorola” in 1947.) In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios. In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning, it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a single frequency to pick up police broadcasts. In 1940 he developed with the first handheld two-way radio – the Handie-Talkie – for the U. S. Army.

A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II. In 1947 they came out with the first television to sell under $200. In 1956 the company introduced the world’s first pager; in 1969 it supplied the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon. In 1973 it invented the world’s first handheld cellular phone. Today Motorola is one of the second-largest cell phone manufacturer in the world. And it all started with the car radio.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO….
The two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin’s car, Elmer Wavering and William Lear, ended up taking very different paths in life. Wavering stayed with Motorola. In the 1950’s he helped change the automobile experience again when he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention lead to such luxuries as power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.

Lear also continued inventing. He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that. But what he’s really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation. He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic aircraft landing system, and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world’s first mass-produced, affordable business jet. (Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)

Some of us have been fortunate to have met both of these gentlemen and they were - gentlemen."

"It is time for everyone to accept responsibility for their own actions and stop waiting for someone else to take the blame & come to your rescue!"

Ed Winkle

Liberty


Someone at Bayer threw a kink into our Liberty Link plans this week.

"January 04, 2012 15:45 ET

Bayer CropScience Announces Liberty Herbicide to Replace Ignite Herbicide for LibertyLink Crops

ORLANDO, FL--(Marketwire - Jan 4, 2012) - Bayer CropScience announced today during a media briefing at the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences (#BWCC12) that the global brand Liberty® herbicide will replace the Ignite® herbicide brand for use on LibertyLink® crops in the U.S. market starting in the 2012 crop season.

"Globally, the use of the LibertyLink system is experiencing rapid adoption due to growing weed resistance to glyphosate and the excellent germplasm performance, which in turn is increasing the demand for a non-selective herbicide," said Al Luke, head of broad acre crop marketing for Bayer CropScience. "Bayer is investing to increase the global production of Liberty herbicide and help ensure adequate supplies, especially in the rapidly expanding U.S. market."

Weed resistance is a growing problem and the LibertyLink system with Liberty herbicide is the most reliable and powerful in-crop or non-selective weed management solution available to battle glyphosate-resistant weeds. Using the LibertyLink system allows for the rotation of crops, traits and herbicides to preserve the utility of herbicide-tolerant technology.

"Liberty herbicide still offers the same benefits and levels of performance as the former Ignite herbicide, including the new 65 ounce seasonal maximum for soybeans," Luke said. "And Liberty herbicide should be applied according to label directions. Liberty herbicide is the most reliable and powerful in-crop weed management solution available to battle glyphosate-resistant weeds."

Luke added, "In addition, the change of the brand name to Liberty will focus and more closely link the herbicide with LibertyLink crops, including FiberMax and Stoneville cotton, InVigor canola and many corn and soybean brands."

For additional information and background on weed resistance issues, please visit the Bayer CropScience YouTube channel and Twitter handle. To learn more about Bayer CropScience, visit www.bayercropscience.us or contact your local sales representative for product information.

About Bayer CropScience
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 6.830 billion (2010), is one of the world's leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of 20,700 and is represented in more than 120 countries. This and further news is available at: www.press.bayercropscience.com.

This left lots of farmers and dealers sratching their heads this week. We are awaiting more information as many farmers have their Liberty Link seed bought but do not have their Ignite purchased to apply on these resistant seeds.

Ed

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Grain

My friend Harlan Payne in Southern Illinois posted a good question I found out about yesterday. He asks why grain buyers are offering PL contracts now? By PL he means price later as for example, Delayed Price where the farmer gives up ownership of the grain by moving it and pricing it later in hopes of higher prices.

There are other forms of PL like various forms of hedge contracts or receiving 70% of the price today by delivering the grain and pricing from the board of trade later. It gets very complicated very quickly.

I responded "CGB(Consolidated Grain and Barge) has free DP through March, many took basis contracts this week as the flow of grain was steady down SR 28 to the river.

With all the bin building and moving and repairing, more grain is in farmers hands than ever. That alone has changed in the 8 years I have been here.

"Lots of hot bins already" with the warm temps and fall harvest conditions from southern Illinois clear through the east. Our corn hasn't dried much as the fans run continuously and we watch and smell and keep moving it out on price rises or as we have time to truck it. The price is strong enough to keep selling a little at a time.

The buyers do whatever they can and need to do to keep grain moving and flowing. That is the system.

This sounds like symptoms of a shorter crop than demand or at least a location problem. It's on farms if it is there at all. We have two bins empty and that is early for us this time of the year but it is a different year and we sold more grain than ever for fall delivery. We simply had enough to fill the bins too. We would have made more money if they were all empty and we had sold it all but that didn't happen here.

I was thinking this week my little 60,000 bu set up has moved over a half million bushels of grain in the 8 years we have been here. Probably half beans, half corn over those years, maybe a little more corn. But if average price was $4 on corn and $8 on beans, think of how much money flowed through one little farm in 8 years.

It astounds me.

Another farmer posted that Bayer is changing the formulation of Ignite back to Liberty and raising the price of it. That through several farmers in a tizzy real quickly.

I will post more about that as it becomes news as it impacts me and a lot of farmers using Ignite and/or the Liberty Link seed system.

Ed

Friday, January 6, 2012

NNTC


NNTC stand for the National NoTillage Conference. The conference is held the second week of January each year at Cincinnati, Des Moines or this year, St. Louis. It draws nearly 1000 farmers who represent some of the most innovative notill farms in America, Canada and other countries.

I accidentally found it in the 90's when it was in St. Louis and I was in town for another conference. It was love at first sight. A few years later, I was nominated as a NoTill Innovator of the year and accepted the award in Des Moines with men more notable than me, like Jon Kinzenbaw, found of famous Kinze Manufacturing.

It's a great conference because it lets me "rub shoulders" with people who forgot more than I will ever know. Many of the them have not missed a conference in 20 years and hundreds have been in attendance 10 years or more like myself.

I now serve on their board and work hard at nominating the best, most thought provoking speakers I and my friends can find. We try to make the conference better each year with really timely topics and information you can't find anywhere else. We have been very successful at doing this as each conference feeds on the last one.

I can highly recommend almost every speaker this year and that in itself is quite an accomplishment. This year a young lady who scouts fields in Iowa and whom I respect will speak on the nemesis of 2011, Goss's Wilt. Goss's Wilt caused billions of dollars of income loss due to sick corn across the midwest.

I really harped on getting more on this topic of "what glyphosate does to soils" and the conference was able to get Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus from Purdue share his reasearch on the subject. I have friends who will not spray glyphosate on their farm and I have seen contracts where Round Up Ready systems are not allowed to be used on rented farms. Right or wrong, it is that serious.

These topics will help farmers get to the crux of the matter. LuAnn asked who of your buddies will be there? I drew a blank and couldn't name names. They are ALL my buddies! NNTC is truly family.

You can learn more there next week than any place I know of so if you are not super busy, you ought to make the effort to come visit. But be prepared, your brain will hurt after all the discussion!

Ed Winkle