Monthly Archives: December 2018
My colleague, Tyler Williams in Lancaster County is again providing a series of programs for the successful farmer to start in January at the Lancaster County Extension Office or available online. All programs will run from 9-11:30 a.m. and be at the Lancaster Extension Education Center in Lincoln or can be viewed online at Lancaster.unl.edu/ag. A summary of the programs is provided below.
Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com
January 4 – Cover Cropping 2.0 taught by Justin McMechan, Extension Cropping Systems Specialist& Paul Jasa, Extension Engineer sponsored by Sustainable Ag Research and Education (SARE).
Session Description: Utilizing cover crops has been a popular topic for many workshops and conferences. This session will focus on the next level of cover crops beyond the basics. Justin McMechan will provide an overview of pest and beneficial insects in cover crop systems, as well as strategies and practices for mitigation the risk…
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Next week I will resume the residue management topics. For this week, consider catching a UNL CropWatch podcast from Michael Sindelar, Extension Educator in Clay County. He interviews USDA-ARS scientists Marty Schmer and Virginia Jin who have conducted a great deal of corn residue baling research. You can listen to the podcast here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/NebraskaCropwatch. We haven’t traditionally had podcasts in CropWatch so Michael is focusing on this new effort.
A few weeks ago we had our South Central Ag Lab advisory committee meeting in Clay
Center. We’re blessed with the high quality research that takes place there under the guidance of researchers, technicians, and staff with great longevity there. One of those researchers has been Dr. Richard Ferguson, Extension Soil Fertility Specialist since 1985. The past few years he has served as the Interim Head for the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and I appreciated how he still responded to Extension questions! Effective January 1, 2019, Richard will be serving as Vice Chancellor for the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). As vice chancellor, Richard will provide direction for the institution, manage fiscal resources, recruit and select faculty and staff, lead development of research and extension programs, and oversee student recruitment. Opening in July 2019, the RICA is an English language institution dedicated to educating and inspiring a new generation of innovators in agriculture in Rwanda. Establishing the Institute is a joint effort of the Government of Rwanda and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln providing leadership in curriculum development and technical advising. There is a farewell reception to be held on December 13 at the Goodding Learning Center (Plant Sciences Hall) on UNL’s East Campus from 3-5 p.m. You are also invited to share on the online guest book if you’d like at: go.unl.edu/ferguson-farewell. A special thank you to Richard for his years of service to Nebraskans and beyond and we wish him all the best in this new endeavor!
Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo: You may also wish to catch the Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo to be held at the Fairgrounds in Wahoo, NE on December 13. This year’s program has a great lineup of speakers with the program running from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Dr. David Kohl, professor emeritus of Virginia Tech University, will identify financial and risk management factors that place a farm business in the upper 40% of profits and sustainability with practical steps to move into that zone. During his presentation, “Economic Update and Taking Care of Business,” Kohl also will share a domestic and global overview on the factors and transformative trends influencing customers’ financials.
Other presentations will include:
- New and Emerging Pests of Soybeans (primarily soybean gall midge) with Justin McMechan, Nebraska Extension crop protection and cropping systems specialist.
- What You Need to Know to Grow and Market Specialty Soybeans to Increase Your Profits with Darwin Rader, international sales and marketing management with Zeeland Farm Services in Des Moines.
Managing Soybeans in Storage — Is Poor Quality a Concern with Ken Hellevang, extension engineer, North Dakota State University.
- Nebraska Soybean Checkoff Update and Association Information with representatives of the Nebraska Soybean Board and Soybean Association.
Registration is at the door and includes a free lunch. For more information about the program contact Nebraska Extension Educator and Event Coordinator Keith Glewen at (800) 529-8030 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Attendees are encouraged to bring a can or two cans of nonperishable food items to donate to the food pantry. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension in the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nebraska Soybean Board, Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization and private industry.
Part 2 of my residue management series focuses on grazing corn residue. We’re blessed in Nebraska to have corn, cattle, and ethanol with the distiller’s co-product…the golden triangle as it’s been dubbed. What’s interesting is that a huge feed resource in corn residue is under-utilized each year, with an estimated 52% of our state-wide corn residue being grazed or mechanically harvested.
Because a small amount of residue is removed, many fields in Nebraska have potential for grazing, except for the case of extreme slope and/or very low yields. Regarding stocking rates, Dr. Mary Drewnoski, Extension Beef Nutritionist shares, “Corn residue is about 10% husk and 34% leaf with the remaining residue being stalk and cob. Recommended stocking rates are based on the ability of a pregnant cow to maintain body weight without supplementation of protein or energy. The rates suggest that you can graze a 1200 lb cow for 30 days for every 100 bu. of corn grain produced. This would result in the cow consuming only about 12% to 15% of the corn residue in the field and nearly all would be husk with some leaf. Cob and stalk have less energy available.”
Compaction is the main concern I hear for not grazing. An increase in a soil’s bulk density and penetration resistance can be indicators of compaction. A summary of Nebraska research studies when corn residue was grazed at proper stocking rates has shown fall and winter grazing:
- do not significantly impact soil properties that would lead to compaction;
- don’t result in changes to soil organic matter, N, P, or K (just uneven distribution of the nutrients excreted back onto the land);
- results in maintained or increased yields; and
- increases soil microbial activity.
Grazing corn residue resulted in no detrimental effects on soil properties (sixteen years in silty clay loam soils) including bulk density and penetration resistance. Increase of surface roughness was observed where cattle congregated for water and during wet conditions when soil was thawed. An Iowa study indicated the surface roughness could impact seed placement for the following no-till crop but only found that in one location in one field studied. In another study of five Eastern Nebraska locations, penetration resistance was slightly increased in two of the locations but was below the threshold for impeding root growth and did not carry over into the next year. There were no yield differences between grazed and ungrazed treatments whether continuous corn (239 bu/ac for grazed and 223 bu/ac for ungrazed) or soybean (grazed 59 bu/ac and ungrazed 62 bu/ac) in the three years at those five locations. Sixteen years of fall grazed corn residue (November to February) resulted in a statistical soybean yield increase of 3.4 bu/ac in Eastern Nebraska. There was also an increase in the soil microbial community in the grazed treatments vs. ungrazed for those sixteen years. Under continuous corn in western Nebraska, five years of fall grazing corn residue did not statistically impact yields (154 bu/ac grazed vs. 148 bu/ac ungrazed).
Some have mentioned that the weather is not allowing them to till this fall. Perhaps cattle grazing is an option? Regarding the questions I’m receiving about this: The tenant in cash rent situation owns the stalks unless the landlord has specified otherwise in the written lease. Specify in the grazing lease who takes care of fence, water, and monitoring cattle. To help connect cattle and crop producers for utilizing residue and forage cover crops for grazing, there’s a free resource called The Crop Residue Exchange at https://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu/. After establishing a log-in account, growers can list cropland available for grazing by drawing out the plot of land available using an interactive map. They can then enter basic information about the type of residue, fencing situation, water availability, and dates available and provide their preferred contact information. Livestock producers can log in and search the database for cropland available for grazing within radius of a given location of interest. There’s also an ‘Other’ category where growers can list forage cover crops for grazing. Grazing rates are listed as either a ‘per acre’ basis or ‘rate/head/day’. An excel spreadsheet called the ‘Cornstalk Grazing Cow-Q-Later’ may be of help to determine rates at this site: https://go.unl.edu/2fb6. There’s more I’d like to share but for additional resources, please see my blog site at: http://jenreesources.com or contact your local Extension Office.
Of importance is to double check in-season and fall-applied herbicide labels for any grazing restrictions. These restrictions can also be found in the ‘Forage Feed Grazing Restrictions’ in the UNL Guide for Weed Management. The forage, feed, and grazing restriction only applies to the crop for which the herbicide was applied. When it comes to grazing cover crops planted into these residues, one must use the replant/rotation restriction guidelines found on the herbicide label and in the UNL Weed Guide: ‘Replant Options Rotation Restrictions’. If the label doesn’t specify any restrictions, then it should be ok. If you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks.
- Crop Residue Exchange: https://cropresiduexchange.unl.edu
- Crop Residue Exchange Resources: https://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu/resources
- Grazing Crop Residues with Beef Cattle (excellent at explaining portion of crop residue, determining stocking rates, leasing rates, etc.)
- Cornstalk Grazing Cow-Q-Lator (excel spreadsheet guide for lease rates)
- Nutrient Removal by Cows Grazing Corn Residue, November 2018 CropWatch article
- Grazing Cornstalks Rental Agreement Considerations, 2016 Beef Article
- Renting Crop Residue: A Checklist for first-time renters, 2016 Beef Article
- Fillable leases: http://aglease101.org
- Grazing spring-calving cow-calf pairs on cornstalks-a producer’s perspective, November 2018 Beef Podcast
- Drewnoski et al. 2015. Effect of Corn Residue Removal on Subsequent Crop Yields. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Report p 53-55.
- Rakkar et al. 2017. Effect of Long-term Corn Residue Grazing on Soil Properties. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Report. p 50-52.
- Ulmer et al. 2017. Effect of Corn residue Grazing or Baling on Subsequent Crop Yield and Nutrient Removal. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef report p 46-49.
- Schmer et al. 2017. Corn Residue Use by Livestock in the United States. Agricultural & Environmental Letters.