Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent

We cannot believe the first Sunday of Advent is here.

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

That is Old Testament.  Advent awaits the coming of Jesus who changed all of that.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

We have lost family members and neighbors this week and this year.  We watch, we truly watch.  Doing it with a great family makes it all the easier.

A blessed Sunday to you all,

Ed

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Colonoscopy

Five years ago I had my first colonoscopy.  A local surgeon perfomed it at our local hospital, Clinton Memorial.  It was easy, it was quiet and serene, and I felt like a new man after the procedure.  I thought I could be the poster boy for the procedure!

I finally summoned the courage to schedule my second one as directed.  This time was a whole different experience.  The first surgeon quit doing them because he left Clinton Memorial and could practice more valuable skills in Dayton.  I almost begged him to perform this one but he said no and recommended "the best endoscope guy in Dayton."

The doctor is good but what I went through is what I would call a butt factory.  They lined up victims on gurneys and ran us through like cattle in a stockyards.  The facility was great, the people were wonderful, the doctor really knows what he is doing.  This procedure put me in the worst pain I think I've had all my life.  It's been a week from hell, not just because of the procedure.

I have concluded they pumped me too full of carbon dioxide gas so they can do the procedure quick and easy.  That gas did the same thing to me it did to LuAnn when she had her gall bladder out on September 20.  She had severe pain the week following and so did I.

Carbon dioxide kills cells and irritates the nerve endings.  I did a few Google searches and found the same sad stories we both went through.  We felt like we were going to die!

If you have not had the procedure done or its time for another one, don't let me discourage you.  Get it done.  I have lost 3 close friends because they never had it done and they died of even more painful colon cancer.  There is no sense in this.

But ask questions.  Make sure you know how they are going to do it.  I thought the prep solution made me sick at first, that big jug of PEG 3350 they have you drink the hours before the procedure.  The first time was his own recipe and I had no problems with it, just Miralax and other laxatives.  I intend to have mine done differently in 3 years as prescribed.

I am just starting to feel normal after starting this procedure a week ago.  Ask questions and make sure you can tolerate the Carbon Dioxide gas or ask for a different way of performing it.

It's an important procedure that has saved many lives but there has to be a better way of doing it.

Ed Winkle

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ohio State Vs Michigan

The third Saturday in November is reserved for the greatest rivalry in sports I have ever been part of, Ohio State versus Michigan.

This video shows many of the things I've seen and many of the things I've learned.  It's a long movie so set aside some time if you choose to view it.  It has offensive language, also.  You probably need to be a Buckeye or a Wolverine to really appreciate it but there is so much history in it I saw unfold during my life.

Basketball was the big sport in Sardinia when I was a kid. Ohio was a football state but Brown County didn't know it.   Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek probably had more influence on me than any other Buckeyes.  I don't remember that many Ohio State football games on our black and white TV as a child but there was some Ohio State basketball aired out of Cincinnati and we could catch a little Columbus TV 100 miles away.

My first real exposure to Ohio State football was in the summer of 1968 when I met team members like Timmy Fox.  I almost became a roommate in Ohio Stadium but I chose not to stay in the Stadium dorms when a "cheaper" deal arose.   I was working at the Ohio State beef barn right across the river from the stadium so I was pretty close.

W8LT, the Ohio State Amateur Radio Club was my ticket to a padlock inside a stadium gate.  That brought me very close to the weight room and Ohio State football players.  Their enthusiasm really rubbed off on me and soon I was a dedicated Buckeye fan.

I attended every year until 3 years ago when my priorities changed.  I use to live and die Ohio State wins and losses but I mellowed over time.  It's just a game, but it's a damned important game Woody taught me!

Ohio State didn't teach me what to learn but how to learn.  The Ohio State LEAD Program changed my life, 60 days of intensive study over the years of 1992-93.  I met life long friends there I would do anything for.  My Master's degree really improved my life and my ability to help myself, my family and others.

Ohio State will always be important to me, win or lose.

Ed Winkle



Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Give Thanks

Today I give thanks.  I give thanks today for our children and grand children. I give thanks for all my relatives, some are very close to me but I love them all.  I give thanks to all the spouses who do their share in their relationships.

Our family is going through some very trying times right now and family makes all the difference.  I see those with no family or no caring family and it makes me sad.

It's great to see the huge food efforts put on by local charities, neighbors, friends, churches and groups.  I've followed the huge FFA campaigns to feed people today via Twitter.  I followed the huge Ohio State effort to feed thousands of people today there too.  It's wonderful to see but I hope those people who get fed find a friend with their meal.  Being alone or down is not good and not what we should do as people.

I give thanks today for everything good and the blessings we have.  I wish we could all share in them equally.  Our country has never needed more togetherness than we need today.  It starts with choosing to do good over not doing it.  It starts with not being selfish or neglectful.  I've seen both this week and I see it every day.

Our country has become divided and really needs to be together for the good of all.  I've seen great strides to bring us together this week and great divisiveness to tear us apart.

Only we can make a difference but not all people want to.  I see great need for healing in every family.  I am pretty proud of the Winkle family today because I see the love and kindness that makes me proud to be one.  Every family has challenges and problems and sometimes someone else can make a difference to that family.  Those people are treasured friends and I've seen that this week, too.

In Gratitude
Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

Amen.

Happy thanksgiving to you all,

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Is Your State's Official Soil?

What is your state's official soil?  Do you even have one?  Is there one state official or recognized soil type in your state?  How do you farm it?

Kathy Voth has written a short article about state soils On Pasture.

This is a good topic as a farmer asked how to tile Zook Silt Loam on Crop Talk.  I gave him my best answer.  For any poorly drained or very poorly drained soil, you can't afford to get tile lines close enough to drain them properly if you have an outlet.  If you don't have an outlet, you are very limited in tiling and its resulting lack of production.

Miami Series was pushed as Ohio's State soil but it never got enough attention to be recognized as our state soil by law.  I guess they had better things to do and most people wouldn't know the difference anyway.

The whole point is do you know your soils?  They are difficult to study because they are so complicated and lie below our feet!  Break it down into little segments you can understand and keep adding to your knowledge.  Soil history in your lifetime is extremely important.

The best way to know your soil is dig it deep, down 5 feet or more.  That is preferably done with equipment!

Once you have the soil opened up, you need an experienced person who had studied soils most of their life to help you see what you have, what may have caused it and what you might do in the future to improve it.  I really enjoy doing that and remember the soil pit near Paul Butler's house while our new lifelong friend Chris Pellow from New Zealand was present.  It was pretty awesome!

Any soil can be saved and improved.  I always felt like that was my number one duty on earth.  Save the soil.  This leads to why I learned to no-till and add amendments that improves soil function.  Healthy soil is the root of all man's successes.

It's just ground up rock, it doesn't make that much difference, does it?

Everything that has happened to a soil dictates it's value to man today.

We need to figure out what to do with it within our budget.  The simplest things can yield the biggest results.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

30 Years Ago

A farmer made this post about something big that happened in agriculture 30 years I had forgotten about.  International Harvester as we knew it was never the same.

CHICAGO, Nov. 23— Tenneco Inc. will soon conclude an agreement to buy the International Harvester Company's farm equipment division, according to a spokesman for independent dealers that market Tenneco's agricultural equipment.

Tenneco's farm equipment division is called J.I. Case, and Jim Sommer, the president of the J.I. Case and J.I. Case Canada Joint Agricultural Equipment Dealers Council, said that he had received reports that the agreement would be announced Monday.

One source at Case said Tenneco was expected to pay about $420 million for the division, of which $120 million would be in cash and $300 million in debentures.

Any agreement would have to resolve responsibility for the unfunded pension liabilities held by Harvester, and the costs of any closings of Harvester plants. 

The deal reduced the companies tractor building capacity by 40%.  The farm crash was in full swing and we lost half our farmers in this period.  Size of farms sky rocketed after this with less need for smaller tractors.

I remember one friend who I always thought wore "red underwear."  He is a businessman first and traded every piece of red equipment for green when this was announced.  He still farms with green today.

That day was as sad as the day Oliver Farm Equipment closed the doors and White picked out the profitable goodies like Tenneco did with IH.  I will never forget a farmer who didn't even use Oliver farm equipment tell me it was a sin to bury the Charles City, Iowa plant.  It would be a great museum today and more.

I guess we can say that about every old farm name that disappeared.  Each one affected us each differently when it happened.

Hats off to International Harvester, a great name in farming history.

Ed Winkle

Monday, November 24, 2014

How Do You Keep Your Pellet Stove From Squeaking?

It's cold one or two months early for grandpa this year so we have two stoves going again.  It's mid November!.  I am learning how to use a new wood stove fireplace insert that weighs 450 lbs!  It went in smooth as silk thanks to a hydraulic dolly.  It doesn't put out the heat the old Vermont Defiant did but it is much more attractive in some aspects and a whole lot safer.  The fire is inside the fireplace now and not sitting out in the dining room.

We bought a Magnum Countryside pellet stove after we bought this farm and old historic farmhouse.  We have gotten our good out of it after ten seasons and finding the right pellet and keeping them dry is really important.

Still, the stirrer in the burning pot is squeaking and squawking the day after clean out.  This Greenway oak pellet from Tennessee is one of the best I've found but the pot sounds dry and not lubed enough.  I am trying to figure out how to keep it from squeaking so I am open to any suggestions from my readers.

I think the soot needs to be cleaned off the stirrer when I clean out the stove but I don't know what to do to accomplish that.  A wire brush works pretty well but that is a lot of work a week because it is noisy so often.

I think it needs to be disassembled and cleaned from the flue to the burning pot.  If I had a corn dryer, I would be burning dry shelled corn but my corn is too wet to burn from the bin.  10-12% dry corn burns best and anything higher than that causes even more clinkers in this stove.

It's so windy today it is really too windy to be burning it with gusts up to 50 MPH right directly into the flue pipe.

There is no cheap way to heat but it's been a pretty "green" and cheap stove for us.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Sheep And The Goats

It's a good day for a Sunday drive.

The parable about the sheep and goats is in many churches Bible readings this weekend.  I remember that story from childhood and never liked goats but never liked sheep, either.  We were raised on a hog and cattle farm with a few chickens!

"In Matthew 25:31 we hear "When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his throne of glory; 32 and all the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left."

Ok, question from a newbie farmer: What did Jesus have against goats!? I have acquired 5 sheep and 2 goats this summer, and I've had a blast learning how to take care of them. I have learned that sheep are not "stupid" like I've heard for years, but they are flighty and don't warm up to people very easily. They are also a bit dirty and smelly, though. They are rather fragile and easily injured, too. Now the two goats (Willy and Billy) are much more friendly (more like dogs), warm up to humans much faster, and will even eat out of my hand. They run to me when they hear my voice (so will the sheep though- they DO know their Mistresses voice)! I'm sure in Jesus' day, people "got" the sheep and the goat example, due to their experience with both animals. However, I don't understand why the goats get the bad rap in the parable, either. Can someone tell me what I'm not getting?"

Personally, I always thought that the goats always got the bad half of the deal because the sheep inevitably had to be the good ones (given the amount of religious symbolism associated with sheep and lambs, etc. ) But I looked it up in the Orthodox Study Bible and it says:

"Christ uses sheep to illustrate the righteous, for they follow His voice and are gentle and productive. Goats indicate the unrighteous, for they do not follow the shepherd and they walk among cliffs, which represent sin. "

I guess the cliffs things makes sense because cliffs are where you fall from, and I feel like I've heard several prayers talk about not falling or getting lost among the cliffs. I also found something else online:

"Much has been written about the humbleness of sheep as compared to the stubborn pride of the goat, and no doubt this has much to do with why Jesus chooses to call these people by these names. It does reveal to us, however, that one of the criteria Jesus uses to separate the two groups is by their disposition. Yet, while Christ certainly knows the heart, the Scriptures here and in other places indicate that the means by which Jesus Christ judges is by their works, which reveal their heart's disposition. A tree is known by its fruit, says Christ. St. Cyril also states it thus:

How does the shepherd make the separation? Does he examine out of a book which is a sheep and which a goat? or does he distinguish by their evident marks? Does not the wool show the sheep, and the hairy and rough skin the goat? In like manner, if thou hast been just now cleansed from thy sins, thy deeds shall be henceforth as pure wool; and thy robe shall remain unstained, and thou shall ever say, I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? By thy vesture shall thou be known for a sheep. But if thou be found hairy, like Esau, who was rough with hair, and wicked in mind, who for food lost his birthright and sold his privilege, thou shall be one of those on the left hand."

When the final inventory is taken, will be with the "sheep" or the "goats??

Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mistake On The Lake?

Cleveland got labeled as the "mistake on the lake" and the Cuyahoga River became famous for catching fire.

Is Buffalo New York the real mistake on the lake?  Anyone watching the weather channel this morning(November 19, 2014) would have to wonder!  Feet upon feet of snow in the middle of November has fallen already!

Those people are geared up for it as LuAnn taught me 15 years ago that her town of East Aurora normally gets 140 inches where Cincinnati only gets 20 inches per year.  I personally hope they keep that north as our 40 inches or double normal snowfall really made winter a challenge last year.  It's starting awfully early this year!  Our driveway looks like only some Januaries!

It is notable that Buffalo was the first Porkopolis as America grew and spread in the early days.  As more people migrated south to Cincinnati, the Queen City took over the title of Porkopolis, shipping salt pork all over the world.  The German Brewmeisters made their mark too until Prohibition changed everything.

The real mistake on the lake is what humans have done for algae growth on Lake Erie and other bodies of water.  Now I have to obtain a license to purchase or spread fertilizer on our farm?  Get serious, are we that dumb?

Yes we are!  Besides of all of the other pollution man has created, it looks like we spread too much manure on frozen ground in the north part of the state and we got caught.  Have we really learned how much erosion tillage causes?  Do we understand how mobile phosphorous is?

Obviously not, now we have to be legislated by our peers for our refusal to understand.  It's really basic agronomy.  Any major tillage causes 5-10 tons of soil loss per acre and even no-till is not perfect at around one ton per acre.

The biggest mistake I see is too much tillage.  I still see some but most have went to reduced tillage now and no-till conferences and field days are never ending.  I sure enjoyed the Ohio No-Till Field Day back in September.

We can't prevent mistakes on the lake but we can prevent soil and nutrients from getting INTO the lake.

What do you think?

Ed Winkle


Friday, November 21, 2014

Scott Strazzante

There is a nice big buck crossing the corn field outside my window.  It's 16 degrees this morning and it still isn't Thanksgiving!  I like this piece from CBS Sunday morning I thought I would share today.

Farm families and suburban familes actually share a lot of common ground -- and photographer Scott Strazzante has the pictures to prove it:

On July 2, 2002, Harlow Cagwin, a month shy of his 80th birthday, watched as the farmhouse that had been his home since childhood was reduced to rubble.

The day marked the end of Cagwin's decades of labor and, also, the conclusion of my eight-year photographic journey with Harlow, his wife, Jean, and their herd of Angus beef cattle.


I first set foot on the Cagwins' 114-acre farm in the spring of 1994, to snap some photos for a newspaper story about people who raised farm animals in suburban Chicago. But as I photographed Harlow and Jean, something told me I would return.

And I did return, again and again.

Over the years, there were many stories . . . about the changing landscape, about aging, about the economy, and, of course, about the disappearing family farm.

When urban sprawl finally forced the Cagwins to sell their farm to a developer, I thought that would be the final chapter.

I was wrong about that.

In early 2007, when I presented my farm essay to a photo class, one of my students shyly raised her hand. She told me she and her family lived in the Willow Walk subdivision, which was built on the land the Cagwins had once farmed.

By week's end, I stood on a cul de sac called Cinnamon Court, as Amanda Grabenhofer, her husband Ed, and their four children joined other young families for an Easter egg hunt.

At the time, I wasn't sure my photographs of one family's suburban life had anything in common with those of two senior citizen farmers, but I was glad to be back on a piece of land I knew so well.

On my second visit, I photographed Amanda and Ed's oldest son, Ben, as he wrestled with his cousin, C.J., on the front lawn of their home.

There was something about it that seemed familiar.

Then it hit me.

I went into my archive and pulled out a photo of Harlow Cagwin struggling to lasso a day-old calf.
I put the two images side by side. And something magical happened.

I had discovered their common ground.

Really good story and pictures!

Ed

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Is Wheat Going To Handle This Lovely Weather?


I am at the dentist office this morning  because a hard kernel of popcorn got me at the movies Friday night.  I am really careful with popcorn now but obviously not careful enough.  I broke a tooth.  That's not uncommon at my age, they are getting kind of brittle.

Did you know the average American eats 54 quarts of popped popcorn each year?  Wow.

My dentist is an avid hunter and loves to talk farming.  Why do the deer love these beans?  What does that monster combine cost?  Did you hear the story about the record deer in Brown County?  Wait a minute, that is where I was raised.  Just fix my tooth, Doc.

I get a text from a High Spots reader and my wheels start turning.  "How is wheat going to handle this lovely weather?"

Now I know this reader is a really good farmer and his wheat looks good.  Still he is young in the game and has concern, like I have all my life.

Number one, wheat is hardy and we have snow cover.  You should be fine.  If wheat goes into dormancy early as it as this year, I would not be too concerned.  Another reason to plant the last 3 days of September at my location.

Number two, the soil didn't saturate enough to heave this young wheat out of the ground.  You should be fine.

Number three, the beauty of wheat is that it covers the soil all winter and if it fails, you can convert it to another crop.

Number four, you got wheat planted and I am jealous.  I have enough seed left to plant 300 acres and its really good seed that should have gotten planted.  I dropped the ball.

The main thing is don't worry.  I used to loose sleep over these things.  I usually don't anymore.  It all depends on my perspective on a well laid out plan.

Don't worry young man, you will be fine.

That's my famous radish picture in wheat by accident years ago.  It still amazes me.

What did we learn yesterday?

Ed Winkle


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Frigid!

We nearly broke some long time low temperature records for southwest Ohio last night.  It was 12 when I got up this morning and I don't remember it ever being this cold on November 18.  In a month it will be my birthday and most years it is near this cold this early!  The wind blew the wind chill below zero.

I have to admit the snow was pretty yesterday and the road was clean to Blanchester until the wind started blowing and blew snow everywhere.  It felt more like January in Ohio.

I feel for those guys who don't have their crop out because it s NO fun trying to harvest with these kinds of weather challenges!  There are still a lot of corn acres not harvested in Ohio and other states and still soybeans out, too.  I remember shelling corn in January around 1996 and trying to cut beans in the early 2000's.  I even had double crops out until almost February a few years ago so sometimes it just happens, no matter how well we planned at planting time.

The main talk I hear is how in the world are we going to turn a profit next year?  One friend said the suppliers are worried that farmers won't be buying near as many inputs next year.  We can't, they just don't pencil out.  How do we raise a profitable crop on a shoestring budget?  That is what all my discussions are about at this time.

I am thinking if we have five more months of this I am not sure I even want to try to farm.  I am set up to grow a good crop on the cheap next year but winter weather is not high on our agenda at this stage in our life.

We don't have enough money to go away all winter like the snowbirds do and would have to make some major adjustments to live the kind of life we would really like to live.  Scottsdale was beautiful last January, even though we were there for the wrong reason, the care of LuAnn's brother.

We are going to have to figure out our priorities and figure out how to get there.

Just like trying to pencil a profit next year.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Learning To Farm Via YouTube

Jason Brown gave up the NFL to become a farmer.  He wasn't raised a farmer so he is learning to farm via YouTube!

Jason Brown was once one of the most reliable centers in the NFL.

These days Brown spends his time farming and harvesting free food for the hungry. In 2009, the Rams signed Brown to a five-year $37.5 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. Three years later the team decided to go another way and released him. Instead of going to another team, Brown decided to try his hand at farming. He purchased a 1,030 acre farm near Louisburg, N.C. and uses it to feed the needy.

"My agent told me, 'You're making the biggest mistake of your life," Brown told CBS News. "And I looked right back at him and I said, 'No I'm not. No I'm not."

Brown is confident in his decision even though he had never farmed before. He learned all he knows from watching videos on YouTube. This past weekend, Brown gave away 46,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and 10,000 pounds of cucumbers.

It's a great story with a good video, too.

An NFL center who was offered a $35million contract to play for the St Louis Rams gave it all up to start a farm near his home.

Jason Brown, 31, left football behind to grow sweet potatoes in his home county of Louisburg, North Carolina - despite being ranked one of the best players in the league.

Brown decided his Christian faith would be better served by growing food for the needy than throwing balls on a pitch - and told his stunned agent he was turning down the lucrative deal with the Rams in April 2012.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2836363/From-half-time-harvest-NFL-center-walked-away-37million-football-contract-farm-sweet-potatoes.html#ixzz3JHPp2Zdx
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This was a really good story on CBS Sunday Morning November 16.

I hope you enjoyed it!

We need more people like Jason!

Ed Winkle

Monday, November 17, 2014

Solvita C02 Soil Health Test Webinar Nov 19


Dear Ed,
Thank you for registering for "The Relevance Of Soil Biology In Assessing Fertility & Soil Health".
The subject of soil health is capturing everybody’s attention. The big question is whether no-tillers can test and measure the health of their soils and determine how it might be impacting their yields and the supply of nutrients to their crops. Get an understanding of how soil labs are working to integrate carbon dioxide respiration tests with common nutrient tests as a means of providing a broader picture of soil fertility through our upcoming No-Till Farmer webinar sponsored by Woods End Labs on Wednesday, November 19, at 10 a.m. Central time.

Here’s what you’ll learn:
• How soil biology directly and indirectly can influence crop growth
• How soil biology analyses fit in with the testing of soil nutrients
• Examples of how soil biology is related to fertility and soil management
• How to use soil respiration in soil testing to improve nutrient recommendations and potentially save on nitrogen costs without sacrificing yields

Will Brinton, the inventor of the Solvita® CO2 soil test, will help no-tillers understand the relationship between soil biology and efficient nutrient uptake from the soil profile through this 60-minute webinar. For more information about this upcoming No-Till Farmer webinar sponsored by Wood End Labs, call Lucas Rumler at (800) 451-0337 or email him at techsupport@solvita.com.

Please send your questions, comments and feedback to: meetings@lesspub.com
I plan to attend and you can sign up yet today or tomorrow.  I encourage you to do that so we can work on this together in the next year.

Why measure CO2 respiration?

Soil and plants interact in the search for and supply of nutrients. Soil provides the environment for plant growth while plants participate in building and sustaining soils by releasing exudates and leaving behind their own residues. This dynamic cycle is best described as the soil-plant system. In the process, humus is formed and carbon dioxide (CO2) is released due to microbial activity. The relationship between these processes is an important indicator of soil fertility.
Declining rates of CO2 respiration are associated with intensive tilling, compaction and over fertilizing. These soil practices are potentially destructive and inhibit the soil’s ability to sustain its humus content, the natural reservoir of organic nutrients and soil life.  As soil declines,  microbes starve for food and the rate ofh CO2 respiration decreases, indicating deteriorated soil quality.
Being able to evaluate the turnover of organic matter via CO2 respiration is important for a number of reasons:

Lets see what we can learn!

Ed Winkle

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Troubled Souls

I mentioned the words "troubled souls" one Sunday.  Kevin asked how do we console "troubled souls?"  That got my wheels turning and I sent him two broad search links on the topic.  What did Jesus teach us about tragedy?

First of all I have to be spiritually fit to even consider such ideas.  I do that by praying for God's Will for me all day and praying for the same for all people I come across who are troubled or might not be in the right place during the day.  Those people are all around us and the more spiritually fit I am the more I recognize it and can turn it over to God, who has the final say.

Still I have to do what I can do.  Readings and meditation have become part of our daily ritual.  That gets our mind off us and helps us be ready to do God's Will each day.  It is uncommon for us to not find something we read happen that day or soon after.  The readings help us understand what to do and not be focused on ourselves.

Meditation is hard for some people.  I must do it every day.  Our fellowship was discussing this one Sunday and some said counting their breathing helps them to clear the fog in our minds.  One mentioned he couldn't even county 20 breaths when he started this technique.  The first time I tried it I made it to 60 fairly easily.  That made me feel maybe I am not so crazy and self focused myself although I often catch myself in it.

Our prayer list is long.  We have and have had a lot of tragedy all around us this year.  We can't let it get us down.  We must work through it.

Our daily readings, meditation, and practicing the principles taught the past 2014 years help us do our work.

Is there tragedy in your life?  Do you know a troubled soul?

Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Liam

We drove to Cleveland for Liam's ninth birthday.  Liam is our oldest grandson and we don't know where those nine years went.  We remember staying at Top Sail Island in North Carolina when he was born this day while his dad was serving in the Marines.

We took the oldest three to see Alexander's Really Bad Day and just had a blast all day yesterday.  We are really silly and joking and rhyming when we are together.  Finn's new saying is Oh For The Love Of Winkle's!

I was overly anxious about driving up there and back after we listened to Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel.  They were predicting their usual doom and gloom and we really didn't have a problem except for getting back to their house from the theater.  We had to drive five miles on I-480 that seemed to take an hour with rush hour traffic.  We were safe and that is all that mattered.

Deidre really liked her Little People horse track deal we gave her for her present, thanks to LuAnn, my super shopper.  Becky put it together because I don't have the patience and we played and played with it.  It's pretty cool how the princess rides down the track on a horse clippety clop.

We can never stay very long because of our duties but we always stay over night because it takes 4 hours usually just to get there.  Liam had a super birthday party today and we were able to get home after visiting with uncle Roy and grandson Tyler on the way home.  We even got to watch the Buckeye's play Minnesota at Roy's and Eric's until they won the game.  It was a pretty good weekend.

Only the Lake has snow and the rest of the state was dry and harvesting the last fields of corn and soybeans.  There are several fields of corn left and a few fields of soybeans but we are finally getting to the end of this harvest.

We are thankful for all we have, a good harvest, sons and daughters who make us proud and their sons and daughters we just adore.

We are very blessed.

Ed Winkle


Friday, November 14, 2014

Beans In Kansas

A little discussion with a farmer in Kansas I thought you would find interesting:

Ed -- My comment on Resnik beans might need some explaining. The area 
I live is fairly rolling farmland with small creek bottoms every 
5-8mi. If you remember the pre "Freedom to Farm" days; this area was 
mostly winter wheat,a little alfalfa,some grain sorghum and almost no 
soybeans. After the "Freedom to Farm" bill passed the farming in our 
county changed rapidly. Wheat gave up a huge chunk of acres to 
soybeans and later on corn, and the trend seems to be here to stay. 

Up until that time the few acres of beans that were raised were only on 
prime river bottom ground. 

There are lots of fields being planted to 
beans now that 20 years ago we wouldn't have even considered beans an 
option.We raise most of our beans on very rolling ground with some 
pretty steep slopes and lots of terraces;The soil is a very tight clay 
over limestone rock. At places where erosion has been excessive the 
limestone is showing thru. It was into this environment that a whole 
generation of farmers started raising beans with almost no local 
expertise available..We were still all conventional till.
 

We raised a lot of 15-25bu/a beans in those years;round up ready was unheard 
of,weedy fields were common;clean fields were the envy of 
neighbors.... but we were still ahead of the game because after a year 
or two of beans we could go back to continuous wheat and yields were 
improved greatly. It was in this era that we started planting Resnik 
beans; most everyone was planting early group 3's......If beans were 
raised only as a break from wheat it made sense;plant a group 3 May 1 
and harvest by first week in Sept and right back to wheat! 

  Things have changed much since then: we have been 100% no till for 
almost 20 years and cover crop rye ahead of beans going into our 3rd 
year. Bean maturities have steadily gotten longer;4.7 - 4.9 is the 
norm and I'm guessing we may soon see 5's.Our yields have not only 
improved but also seem to be less erratic then they used to be. We 
used to plant group 3's in early May; now we plant late 4's in mid 
June. The improved consistency has earned beans a lot of respect they 
didn't used to have. Beans used to be what was planted as a rotation 
when  cheat grass got out of control in continuous wheat;now they are 
considered a regular crop. 

  Don't get shook up thinking we are going to swamp the markets 
anytime soon; our weather is a huge determinate in our production as 
well as the marginal ground that so much of our bean production is on. 
The  harvest we just finished was a typical year ; my best beans on a 
85a farm consisting of about 60% river bottom and 40% hilly upland 
made 47 bu/a which I considered very good.The 140 acre field around my 
house consisting of mostly steep slopes, some are quite eroded, made 
36bu/a ; which I also consider very good for soil type.
 
I have farmed 
this field for 20+ years and probably had beans on it 5-6 different 
times. This last year's yield would be one of the best, if not the 
best on this field. My lowest yields were in the 25 - 28 bu/a which 
would have been somewhat better had I planted 2-3 weeks later. This 
was the poorest ground I farm;first year I'm farming it. It's been 
abused something awful;I would expect that  5 years of high residue no 
till, cover crops,lime and added soil fertility will make a marked 
difference. 

  Back to the Resnik beans; I have often wondered if we grew them 
today;considering all we have learned in the last 20 years, if we 
might be surprised what they would do if given a second chance.  Maybe 
I'm starting to get sentimental about the good old days.... 

Boy, isn't that the truth!

Ed

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Did They Decide Which Comet To Land On?

Being the curious person that I am, how did scientists decide which comet to land on?  Why did they choose the one they did so far away with all the risk that came with it?  What good can come from it?  Who pays for all of this stuff anyway?

"Then there was more waiting, with amusing updates via the Twitter accounts of Rosetta and Philae. “Finally! I’m stretching my legs after more than 10 years. Landing gear deployed!” read a Twitter posting from Philae.

The web comic XKCD also provided real-time updates, even mentioning the problem with the nitrogen thruster. In the comic, Rosetta told Philae that mission control was worried about the thruster, and the lander responded, “I really hope harpoons work on comets.”
The harpoons turned out to be a valid concern.

“There are some indications that they might not have been fired, which could mean that we are sitting in soft material and we are not anchored,” Dr. Ulamec said. “We have to analyze what is the actual situation.”

The XKCD comic updated: “Do harpoons work on comets? Don’t know.”

For now, Philae is working, and the instruments have already sent back some images and data. But if it is not anchored, Philae may not operate as long as hoped — the original goal was next March — as emissions of dust and gas grow as the comet moves nearer to the sun.


Even if the lander cannot complete the full mission, managers have said, Rosetta will still be a resounding success. Planetary scientists have never looked at a comet so close up for so long.
Comets are frozen leftovers from the formation of the solar system. Rosetta is named after the Rosetta Stone, the engraved block that was crucial in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, and scientists hope the spacecraft’s observations will offer important clues to how the solar system came together 4.5 billion years ago. (Philae was an island, now submerged in Lake Nasser, where an obelisk provided clues to solving the Rosetta Stone.)

Previous missions have zoomed by comets at high speeds, providing only brief examinations. By contrast, Rosetta will be a constant companion as Comet 67P approaches the sun, swings around and heads out again, its instruments potentially providing more than two years of data."

As you can see there are a lot of unaswered questions.  I would like to know more about the mission since it has been such a long time in planning.

Ed

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fifty Famous Farmers

In my research of Mr. Leaming, I learned he was cited as one of the Fifty Famous Farmers.  It is quite a list of agriculturists from the 1800's.

Take a look at the list.  I have read these names and heard some of their stories over my lifetime.  Now the importance of this list is finally starting to sink in.  When I was a young student, they just seemed like boring history.  Now I see how what they did impacts you and I today.

The story I shared on Jacob Spicer Leaming led me to this list.  I can see now what an accomplishment Jacob found near our farm.  He was gifted at genetic selection before hybrids became popular.  The varieties of corn he found has helped my production here 150 years later and I can finally see it.

What else have these 50 famous farmers found that make us not dependent on our own hands for our food today?

If you read the links you find famous agriculturists from Babcock and DeLeval, famous for their work in milk to Jacob Leaming who found good seed lines we still see today in modern corn.  They all made our lives easier and better.

When I was in grade school, I remember Eli Whitney and the cotton gin but not many agricultural scientists.  George Washington Carver was one of the few.  I remember James Watt and the steam engine and that is about it.

Mr. Leaming is my favorite famous farmer from this list.

Which one is your favorite?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Finally Finishing Harvest

We are finally finishing harvesting today.  It feels so good to finish harvest after another really challenging year.

We had 15 inches of rain not long after planting our corn and it nearly killed it.  It is resting comfortably in our grain bin right now, something I only dreamed of 40 years ago.  It was not my best crop but it was a good crop.

Our best crop was our wheat crop.  It performed amazingly well, beating my expectations.  I really hope it does well for all of the good farmers who wanted seed from it.  It was a really, really good crop.

The Clermont and Jacob soybeans we planted June 28-30 are coming off really good.  We could have gotten a snow and lost them but they are going into the bins.  I am anxious to see what the seed quality is because they look about perfect to me.  I use the Central Ohio Seed Testing Lab or COST as they call it to go over my seed with a fine toothed comb.  That has worked very well for me since 1985 and even before then when dad planted Ohio Certified Seed.  When they say you have good germination with few dead seeds, you have really good seed.

I really think the gypsum I spread on every acre last fall had a good impact on our crops, just like it did for Ben Franklin on the hills of Pennsylvania 240 years ago.  We saw a T shirt at the Cincinnati Museum that had the chemical symbols of C, Mn, and Cr on it Sunday.  I told LuAnn my T shirt should have the letters Can, N, S on it.  The balancing of Calcium, Nitrogen and Sulfur on our farm has been really crucial to our success.

I hope every farmer gets to enjoy what I am enjoying right now because it is pay day.  Maybe not today but at least we have something good to sell.

This might be our last good day this year with high's in the 60's so I need to get out there and enjoy it.

I hope you do, too.

Ed Winkle

Monday, November 10, 2014

Get Your Diesels Ready

Get your diesel engines ready for the cold, that is.  Farmdude listed these good tips:

"Probably a good idea if your diesel fuel is not treated for cold weather to do so now before it gets cold. I just put my winter additive in the fuel an changed filters. Everything should be in the system by next week.

Also a good idea to add some more pressure to your tires. For every 10degree drop in temp you loose about 1 pound off pressure in your tires. I added about 5 lbs to everything. Change your hydraulic fluids an filter for things your going to use in very cold weather. Most hydraulic issues show up I cold weather due to lack off maintenance.

Maybe put some new windshield wipers on now before bad weather sets in is a good idea also. Check everything out that might freeze an make sure its winterized. Sprayers come to mind. Don't forget the small ATV ones either. Outside water faucets on houses. Hoses. If you have chemicals that might freeze store them in an are above freezing. Were done picking corn so I am going take some corn out off each bin to make sure everything works. Better to fix now when its warm then when its cold. Check your block heater to make sure they work safely. Check connections from the cord to the heater an make sure the end off the cord is in good shape. Check to see if corrosion is on the terminals. If in doubt about the cord just get a new one to be safe. Hope everyone stays safe this fall an winter."

How many tips have I missed?  I have been behind all year after the planting was done.  It seems there was never enough time in the day to get everything that needed to be done all year.

I got further behind this fall.  Harvest 3 weeks late because of rain and now it is almost Thanksgiving and we are not quite done yet.  That big storm that came across the Pacific is about to hit us next weekend and I don't know many people who are ready for it.

I really need to get my straw barriers up before the cold hits.

What do you have left to get done?

Ed

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Luke 14:15-24

LuAnn and I were discussing what this reading meant in our daily Bible study and I thought it would be good to share it here:

Scripture: Luke 14:15-24
15 When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" 16 But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; 17 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, `Come; for all is now ready.' 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, `I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.' 19 And another said, `I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.' 20 And another said, `I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' 21 So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, `Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.' 22 And the servant said, `Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' 23 And the master said to the servant, `Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"

We were at a loss as to what this means so I had to do some research.  This Bible expert wrote this:

Meditation: What can a state dinner or royal banquet tell us about God's kingdom?  One of the most beautiful images of heaven in the scriptures is the royal banquet and wedding celebration given by the King.  We, in fact, have been invited to the most important banquet of all! The last book in the bible ends with an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb and his Bride, the church: The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! (Rev. 22:17). Jesus' parable takes an unexpected twist when the invited guests make excuses. Why is this the case.?

A king or great lord normally sent out invitations well in advance to his subjects, so they would have plenty of time to prepare for coming to the banquet.  How insulting for the invited guests to then refuse when the time for celebrating came! They made light of the King's request because they put their own interests above his.  Jesus probes the reasons why people make excuses to God's great invitation. 

The first excuse allows the claims of one's business to take precedence over God's claim. Do you allow your work to totally absorb you and to keep you from the thought of God?  The second excuse allows other goods or possessions to come before God.  Does television or other diversions crowd out time for God in prayer and worship?  The third excuse puts home and family ahead of God.  God never meant for our home and relationships to be used selfishly. 

We serve God best when we invite him into our work and homes and when we share our possessions with others.  The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king and who would never have considered getting such an invitation.  The "poor, maimed, blind, and lame" represent the outcasts of society -- those who can make no claim on the King. There is even ample room at the feast of God for outsiders from the highways and hedges -- the gentiles. This is certainly an invitation of grace -- undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness!  But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. 

Grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.  Dieterich Bonhoeffer contrasts "cheap grace" and "costly grace".   "Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves ..the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance ..grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. ..Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.  Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life." 

God invites each of us to his banquet that we may share in his joy.  Are you ready to feast at the Lord's banquet table?  "Lord, you withhold no good thing from us and you lavish us with the treasures of heaven. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to lay aside anything that might hinder me from doing your will."

I wonder how many times I've missed the invitation myself and others have missed it from me?

Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Jacob Leaming

I learned something about my county this morning I never knew.  Jacob Leaming, famous for Leaming corn had a farm near me in the early 1800's and became famous for growing 100 bushels per acre, year after year.

I was reading about my famous young farmer friend Nathan Brown near Hillsboro and came across this My Own Rural Life link.  It was quite an interesting read for me since I love the history of corn, especially when it pertains to the history of our farm.

In a general sense, corn is a well-acknowledged part of Clinton County’s agricultural heritage; it has been a cultivated crop in Ohio going back several thousand years – from the Adena to the Fort Ancient people to the area’s first white settlers.

But few people know that in 1856, a Clinton County farmer named Jacob Leaming did something that few had ever done. Then he started doing it on an annual basis, which was unheard of: Leaming planted corn that yielded more than 100 bushels per acre, year after year.

As word of this accomplishment spread, farmers came from miles around to visit Leaming’s farm. According to a 1925 book entitled “Fifty Famous Farmers,” Leaming’s success, “brought many neighbors to inspect the field and get better acquainted with the newcomer who was doing such extraordinary things. Not a few of them carried away sacks of corn to be used as seed … this … was referred to locally as ‘Leaming’s corn.’”

Before too long, this Clinton County farmer found himself shipping Leaming Corn all over the nation and even overseas. Now, more than 158 years later, his accomplishments are described in many agricultural history books.

And it all started with a few hungry horses.

Jacob Spicer Leaming was born in Hamilton County in 1815. His parents, Christopher and Margaret Leaming, had a farm near Madisonville, outside Cincinnati. (I was just in Madisonville last week to pick up our cut Indiana hearth stone, one big piece of limestone)

The story goes that in 1855, Leaming was traveling one day along the Bullskin Run — which roughly traces a path along State Route 133 from the Ohio River up to Clarksville, then resumes along State Route 380 up to Xenia.

He had neglected to bring feed for his horses, so he stopped at a field where some corn was being harvested and requested some for his animals. He was reportedly so impressed with the color and size of the corn that he bought a bushel for seed.

The next spring he moved to a farm just south of Wilmington on Martinsville Pike, State Route 134, to be near his brother and there the following spring he planted his new seed corn.


According to his profile in the ”Dictionary of American Biography,” “In the spring of 1856, he planted the corn he had bought the previous autumn and by careful attention was rewarded by a yield in excess of 100 bushels per acre. Farmers regarded it as a phenomenal achievement.” Thirty to forty bushels was considered a typical crop in those days.


“He raised twice as much corn per acre as his neighbors because he insisted on selection of his seed, deep planting, and careful cultivation,” states his profile.
In “Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding,” a 2009 book, the author writes, “Leaming … spent years picking out the best ears from his fields. He was a careful and intuitive observer of his crops who noticed such things like that long thin ears ripened earliest and plants with two ears grew better in unfavorable conditions.”

According to “Fifty Famous Farmers,” “Mr. Leaming was a man of keen observation, and the long day spent with the hoe in the corn field were days of study and thought and observation.”

In the 1928 book “The Hunger Fighters,” the writer says of Leaming, “Never having seen the inside of an agricultural college, this man had his own notions of what good corn ought to be like.”

In addition to careful cultivation of the best plants, he was at the forefront of other farming methods.

In “Corn: Origin, History, Technology, and Production,” the authors state, “He was an early user of legumes in his crop rotation (corn, wheat or oats, and red clover). In addition, he had learned from his father that eliminating weeds and deeper plowing would lead to higher yield.”

As Leaming himself said in an 1883 pamphlet entitled “Corn and Its Culture by a Pioneer Corn Raiser with 60 years’ Experience in the Cornfield,” “I was taught to let nothing green grow in the cornfield but the corn alone.”

According to the authors of the “Handbook of Maize: Genetics and Genomics,” Leaming also experimented with drill spacing. “He is perhaps the father of drilled corn. One grain in a place, twelve to fourteen inches apart, in rows of four feet apart, was his rule. “
As time passed, Leaming’s seeds and methods produced year after year of high yield crops. By 1870, he was selling and shipping his corn seed all over the world.

In 1878, Leaming Corn was awarded a medal at the Corn Show at the Paris Exposition —also called the Paris World’s Fair— recognized as the best in the world.
Although the initial strain is now considered rare, Leaming Corn is known throughout agricultural history circles as the first popular variety of corn.

One newspaper (maybe with a little bias as it was a local paper) called it the “Best Yellow Corn in the World.”

According to a 1916 newspaper article, published 31 years after his death in 1885, “Leaming is the corn that has made Clinton County famous. The grain which Jacob Spicer Leaming developed with such care … has grown to a type which is recognized from one end of the country to the other, and from which, it is asserted, practically all the yellow corn grown in the United States has been developed.”

So, the next time you are enjoying corn, don’t forget to raise an ear to Jacob Spicer Leaming, a corn pioneer and, at one time, a globally-recognized Clinton County farmer. Or, as one author called him, “a new kind of corn-dreamer.”

Wow, what a great story, Kathleen L. Norman!  Thank you for digging this up!  In all my years in southwest Ohio, I never heard this story.

Ed Winkle

Friday, November 7, 2014

Insistence Of Soybean Cyst

Soybean Cyst Nematode is in the news again, especially in Ohio.  This little silent yield robber has kept county yields in the 40's where they could be in the 60's or more.

"As researchers expected, SCN has expanded in Ohio — from the western to the eastern borders of the state. In addition, researchers are identifying more fields in the state with populations above the economic thresholds. SCN populations of 1,500 eggs per cup of soil lead to 25% to 50% yield loss without any above ground symptoms.

“We’re identifying fields where the counts are getting way out of line, up in the 18,000 to 25,000 eggs per cup of soils. The cautionary tale is that folks really need to keep track of the SCN populations and sample,” said Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist.

 “SCN is an obnoxious little thing. You can’t even see the difference in the field and you are losing 15% to 20% of your yield. People think 40 or 45 bushels is not bad, but the yield potential for these varieties is 70 or 80 bushels. With SCN, you can get 10 extra bushels with just some simple changes in variety selection. You really are not going to know until you sample. Just sample the lowest yielding spots on your yield maps — a quart of soil from the same depth as a fertility sample.

I need to send them more soil because it has been awhile since I did this.  Corn and wheat in rotation has kept the populations down but as we move to more soybeans we see yields stagnant and the populations are probably going up.

Sampling is not hard work but it is work.  It is easy for me or anyone to get complacent.  I've seen my populations go down as I plant radish with wheat.  The root gases from the radish throw soybean cyst for a loop.  Good rhizobia populations from good inoculation practices also increase yields in Ohio and probably throw the cysts for another loop.

What is soybean cyst nematode costing you?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Life And Soil Minerals

Juan Alvez at the University of Vermont wrote a good piece that reiterates many of the blogs I've posted here the past six years.  Since the onset of agriculture, successful farming has meant the extraction of minerals from soil as plants grow. A relatively small world population and a vast agricultural frontier made this seem a problem of minor consideration and until relatively recently, Planet Earth seemed infinite!

However, today many health professionals agree that even human health relates to the minerals present or, lacking in the soil. Depleted soils can exacerbate metabolic diseases that may unlock an array of health consequences. “Animals and humans are the biochemical picture of the soil”, said Andre Voisin, in his “Soil, Grass and Cancer” book. This approach shows us that an imbalanced equation, with foods grown in poor-quality soils, cannot produce positive results in living organisms.
 
Minerals and other micronutrients become available in the soil very slowly. It takes millions of years for rocks to break down, generations of animal carcasses to decompose and return their constituent elements to the soil. But what takes millions of years can be depleted in a geologically relative instant.   This happens because crops and animals that grow every year in our farmlands, draw upon the minerals for their growth (present in carcasses and grains), and these “withdrawals” are rarely re-deposited. In the last 150 years, the rate ­­­of extraction of soil minerals, from crops to livestock, has been far greater than what has been put back in. To complicate this scenario even more, most agricultural soils are back on production shortly after a new season starts, extracting yet more nutrients from an already depleted system.
 
It’s true that soil amendments are frequently applied by many farmers.  But when amended, soils usually receive tiny, effectively homeopathic amounts, and these are frequently in the form of synthetic fertilizers or raw manure, compared to the considerably large quantities removed. These applications mainly replenish macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and are usually catered to a given crop. This is far from enough. Micronutrients such as, calcium, iron, magnesium, boron, zinc, etc., are as important or more for diverse life functions, (included human health), but they are usually the first to be neglected.

Actually, Calcium and Sulfur are required in large quantities to affect soil quality because a plant can only take up a little of each nutrient.  Foliar feeding is not a good option for these two elements needed in luxury amounts.
 
Ideally, minerals should be processed -ingested and digested- by soil microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, fungi, nematodes and earthworms), and aggregated into organic matter before they can be healthily absorbed through the food chain. Most soils contain micronutrients, but they are considered healthy,when living organisms are present. All these creatures need water to mobilize minerals, and water is more successfully held in soils that remain covered.
 
Making a profit next year is going to be tough.  What soil amendments are you going to add?  Which ones do you need?  What is cost effective?
 
Ed Winkle

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Soils Around The World!

I am not much for made up holidays but I have to admit special days in agriculture has brought awareness and made a difference.  As a farmer, I always like National Agriculture Day and Farm Safety Week.  They both have brought about a lot of good things we need to practice.  Even Earth Day has brought farm and non-farm a little closer together.

Nothing on this earth is more important than our soil.  It is useless without water and air but I have always been intrigued about the plants that grow from the earth.  That requires soil.  Soil requires fertility and management to be productive.

"World Soil Day, and the launch of the 2015 International Year of Soils, is just around the corner, on Dec. 5. Numerous key events related to soils are already taking place around the globe.
 
Advocacy, awareness raising, and education are at the core of this International Year with theme “Healthy soils for a healthy life”. The year aims to increase knowledge and understanding about the importance of soil for food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development.
 
The Permanent Representation of Thailand to FAO was elected to Chair the International Year of Soils (IYS) Steering Committee today during the first IYS Steering Committee meeting held at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Headquarters. The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) is part of the Steering Committee representing the world’s farmers and supporting awareness raising among civil society and decision-makers about the profound importance of soil for human life.

The main focus of the IYS Steering Committee first meeting was to establish a Steering Committee and to elect a Chair. Other key points on today’s agenda included discussion of the IYS plan of action, which was endorsed in July 2014 and is meant to be of “guiding nature”. Discussions moved onto the IYS launch event, which is set to coincide with the first official World Soil Day on 5 December 2014, coupled with concurrent events at FAO Headquarters in Rome and in Bangkok."

I've been blessed to put my hands in soil in the states, provinces and 35 countries.  The picture is soil on the North Island of New Zealand.  I am even more blessed to be "temporary caretaker" of soil right here in southwest Ohio in the bottom picture.

Nothing is more valuable than our soil.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

20 Mule Team For The Garden

"Many organic gardeners use a product that is also used to wash clothes, make cosmetics and formulate medicines -- 20 Mule Team Borax. It contains a natural substance -- sodium tetraborate -- that organic gardeners value for two primary purposes. As an herbicide, it kills any invasive weed; and as a fertilizer supplement, it provides the micronutrient boron to plants.

Boron is the lightest metalloid element that exists in nature. It is not a free element, existing alone, but it is found in chemical compounds such as borax. Borax is the common name for the chemical compound sodium tetraborate decahydrate, which contains sodium, boron, water and oxygen. Because this compound is produced as a natural residue from the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes, it is suitable for the organic garden. Even though boron and borax are organic substances, this does not imply that their misuse is harmless to your plants. It simply means that they occur in nature instead of being chemically synthesized in a laboratory.

California is home to one of the world’s largest borax deposits from which 20 Mule Team Borax is manufactured. This product is packaged in its pure form, with no chemical additives. The only processing it receives after its removal from the ground is washing, drying and packaging. The company claims its product is 99.5 percent pure, with the remaining 1/2 of 1 percent containing naturally occurring trace minerals. The use of the product in the garden is considered organic because it eschews synthetic chemicals by using naturally occurring substances that are minimally processed.

Fertilizers contain varying levels of nutrients, depending on plants’ needs. Some primary nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, are needed in larger amounts, while others such as boron are called micronutrients because they are needed in trace amounts. Some plants, such as the cole crops that include broccoli and cauliflower (Brassica spp.), need boron in slightly higher amounts than other plants. Boron deficiency symptoms may appear as hollow broccoli stems or brown cauliflower heads. If a soil test shows a boron deficiency, you can use 20 Mule Team Borax to correct the problem. Following soil-test recommendations, broadcast 1.5 to 3 pounds of 20 Mule Team Borax per acre when you apply fertilizer. For smaller gardens, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of 20 Mule Team Borax for every 100 linear feet. You can make a foliar fertilizer by mixing 0.2 to 0.3 pound of Solubor, which is manufactured by 20 Mule Team Borax, in 30 gallons of water and applying it per acre. Adjust the amounts for your size garden.

Gardeners have used 20 Mule Team Borax since the 1920s to control weeds. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) grows as a perennial weed that invades turf, flower gardens and mulched areas. This aggressive mint-family (Lamiaceae) plant can send stems up to 2 1/2 feet long in all directions. To control this weed, the University of Minnesota Extension recommends using borax as an effective herbicide by first dissolving 10 ounces of 20 Mule Team Borax in 4 ounces of warm water and then adding the solution to 2 1/2 gallons of water. Apply the herbicide to creeping Charlie with your garden sprayer."

My soil and tissue tests are all very deficient in Boron.  Creeping Charlie is taking over the old home place.  The plan next year is to start using Boron around the farmstead.

Is your farm, lawn, or garden deficient in Boron?  It is the most consistently deficient element of the 17 essential nutrients I have tested for over my career.

Ed Winkle

Monday, November 3, 2014

Should He Tear Down The Old Barn?


Should I tear down the old barn?  That is one of the most discussed questions for people who buy a new place or realize the old barn isn't what she used to be.

Frytown Farmer in Iowa posted this question on Machinery Talk.

"Has anyone tore down a solid well built barn that just has no current value to them? I have a well built barn that could easily stand for another 50 years but is right where I want a shop/machine shed. It can't be transformed into a shop. It has a milking parlor floor (uneven) and hay loft is part of the structure. The doors are 8 foot wide with heavy beams going clear to the top making it hard to make doors wider...

Lumber is heavy thick stuff antique places would die for. I'm hesitant because it is such a nice old barn. Will we be as in love with our hog barns in 50 years? That's what it is... A place to hold livestock yet it does hold a different "romantic" charm to a place.

I don't know if I can bring myself to it. Can't even get my mustang (car) in it without ramp boards to get over the unevenness of the door. Just a place to store junk I guess. Could be holding my sprayer and planter instead.

Had a carpenter come out and look at it. He said it would take as much money in labor to remodel it and have it not be what you want as it would to tear it down and put up a pole shed and have what you want .

Should he tear down the old barn?  You and I have discussed this question many times in the six years of HyMark High Spots.

If you read between the lines, I think perhaps he should tear the old barn down.  I hate to say that and I didn't do it but I wonder if he should.

Ed Winkle