Category Archives: on-farm research
Seward County Ag Banquet: The Kiwanis Club of Seward partnered with SCCDP and Seward Co. Ag. Society will honor Seward County Ag Leaders on Monday, March 20, 2023 with the 55th Annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet at the Ag Pavilion at the Seward Co. Fairgrounds. Social hour with wine, cheese, beer, and music will be at 5:30 p.m. with the prime rib meal and program to follow at 6:30 p.m. The cost to attend the banquet is $30.00 per person. Please contact Pam Moravec (402-643-7748) or Shelly Hansen (402-643-3636) to reserve your seat. The Kiwanis Club of Seward will use the proceeds from the event to support the youth of Seward County through a variety of programs and events.
Nitrogen Rate Studies: As growers consider pre-plant nitrogen applications this year, there’s opportunity to consider a variety of nitrogen rates to test any impacts on one’s own field(s). I covered the results of some area studies comparing rates of 50 lb N/ac nitrogen differences in an earlier article. One can easily test this for yourself in a field by either using field-length blocks as those studies did, or with the use of precision ag technologies, prescriptions can be written to try different N rate blocks that are smaller in scale (300’ long by 30’ or so wide). These blocks can then be repeated throughout areas of the field with different soil types and topography. I have an example at jenreesources.com of what this looked like from studies last year. Please let me know if you’re interested in testing this. The 2022 on-farm research results can be viewed at: https://onfarmresearch.unl.edu/.
Perennial cover crops: Several weeks ago, I shared our research on interseeding cover crops into early season corn and soybeans and said I’d share our next steps in a future column. One goal of the cooperators was to achieve a living cover that survived into the next growing season. When we saw that interseeded red clover established in soybeans and survived the following spring, we got excited about the possibility of more intentionally growing clovers as a perennial cover crop.
In March of 2022, six sites were dormant seeded with either Mammoth red clover (tall), Medium red clover, or Dutch white clover (low-growing, aggressive like clover in lawns). The clover eventually emerged at all the locations. All but two sites were lost due to the dry spring or June 14 hailstorms. Two sites in Clay County survived the June 7th hailstorm. The grower at those sites chose the Mammoth red clover. It was dormant seeded in March using a drill interseeder into cereal rye. The cereal rye was killed with 10 oz/ac clethodim prior to planting corn and after planting soybean. Once the clover had emerged and was at least 1” tall, Zidua was used in both the corn/clover and soybean/clover areas and was used again 3-4 weeks later. The check areas in the corn and soybean used the grower’s full herbicide program.
The clover provided excellent weed control in the corn. It had good weed control in the soybean with velvetleaf, sunflower, and lambsquarters being the predominant weed species. Biomass samples of the clover prior to harvest showed 30 lb N/ac available. Samples will be taken again this spring. The soybean without clover out-yielded the soybean with clover (74 bu/ac vs. 68 bu/ac). It also economically did better this first year. The ultimate goal is to get something living between the rows for reducing chemical and nitrogen inputs, providing a grazing benefit, and determining impacts to yields and economics over several years. We currently have 9 growers planning on some type of clover study in 2023. If anyone is interested, the easiest way to try this is just dormant seeding this March (can drill or broadcast) clover in 5+ acre blocks leaving a check block between the clover blocks and checks on either side. I will work with you on the combine passes to get the replications. This year the farmers are trying AberLasting clover (Dutch white X Kura), Dutch White + Medium Red, or Mammoth red clover. We also have a couple of growers trying AberLasting with either bluegrass or buffalograss. The simpler design being used by the growers is on my blog. This is a different way of thinking, in some ways going back to what our ancestors did only with today’s hybrids and varieties. These growers are desirous to find ways to reduce inputs on their own farms for the future. Please let me know if you’re interested in trying this too.
The above designs are just some ideas for doing nitrogen rate prescriptions by soil type/topography or field-length strips.
10 lb/ac Mammoth red clover was dormant drill seeded March 2022 into cereal rye. A shot of rain in the spring helped it get established. The grower felt it was more successful establishing the clover into old soybean ground prior to the corn crop. The cereal rye was terminated with clethodim around 10 days prior to corn planting. Once the clover was up 1″, Zidua was applied to the field (other Group 15 herbicides could be used instead). He used Zidua again 3-4 weeks later. The corn with the clover had excellent weed control as did his check treatment which used a full corn herbicide program. The clover got about 2.5′ tall and then laid down. We couldn’t take this study via on-farm research because two different hybrids were used across the clover/check area. He moved over with strip till rig in the fall and took out some of the clover, but quite a bit still remained. Soybeans will be planted in this field next year and the plan is to maintain the clover in the strips without needing to reseed anything.
10 lb/ac Mammoth red clover was dormant drill seeded into cereal rye in March 2022. A timely shot of rain helped with establishment. Soybeans were planted green into the field. The rye was then terminated with 10 oz/ac of clethodim and Zidua was applied when clover was at least 1″ tall (other Group 15 herbicides could be used instead). Zidua was applied again 3-4 weeks later. A June 7, 2022 hailstorm damaged the soybean and clover with the clover recovering faster than the soybean. The Mammoth red clover gets tall and it looked kind of interesting in September to see the soybeans holding the clover up so it could reach sunlight. When soybean leaves started senescing, the clover started forming more of a mat. Primary weed species were velvetleaf, sunflower, lambsquarters (weed species shift from predominantly waterhemp/palmer). This field has a history of being very clean. At harvest, the combine didn’t seem to have much issue harvesting it and the grower had combine set well so there wasn’t green material going into the tank. The field smelled like fresh cut alfalfa after harvest. The grower strip tills in the fall and moved the strip to the side of the old row, taking out some of the clover. Corn will be planted into those strips this spring with the goal of maintaining the clover without seeding any additional clover.
Well, March is here, and we start looking towards the next growing season. It was a great winter programming season, though, and it was great seeing many people!
Nontraditional Products: There’s a number of products on the market with claims of the biology or chemistry within them allowing for reduced nutrient inputs by the producer. The goal is for the biology or chemistry to make unavailable nutrients more available to the plant. Interest in the products stems from the potential to reduce nutrient inputs and enhance environmental stewardship, both of which would be beneficial. Perhaps the more recognized products currently are Pivot Bio PROVEN® and PROVEN®40? These products contain an N-fixing bacterial inoculant that is expected to fix N over the growing season. Use of biological N fixation in cereal crops has potential to reduce the use of synthetic N fertilizer, thus increasing N use efficiency and reducing N losses. We have 11 site-years of on-farm research data on the Pivot Bio products in 2021-2022. We have minimal testing on other biological/chemical products for reducing nitrogen rates. Pivot Bio was applied at 12.8 oz/ac and compared to an untreated check. The nitrogen rates were selected by the growers. Some growers chose the same N rate for both treatments, while others chose to evaluate Pivot Bio at additional reduced rates. It’s helpful to see comparisons at a range of reduced nitrogen rates to better determine nitrogen response to products tested.
Across 64 replications, the Check treatment yielded 234 bu/ac on average and Pivot Bio yielded 235 bu/ac on average, with no statistical difference at a 90% confidence level. When looking across the 64 replications, Pivot Bio had a 5 bu/ac or greater yield increase 27% of the time, a 5 bu/ac yield reduction 17% of the time, and yield difference within +/- 5 bu/ac 56% of the time. When looking at many of the individual locations, the grower-chosen N rates most likely could have been reduced beyond 40 lb/ac. Future on-farm research will focus on testing Pivot Bio PROVEN®40 at a wider range of N rates across different soil textures and landscape positions. One way to test this is by creating prescriptions for N rate blocks for different areas of the field. If you’re interested in testing something like this for Pivot Bio or any other non-traditional product, please let me know.
There’s also interest from producers seeking a regenerative ag path to grow their own microbes for reducing inputs through the use of compost extracts and teas. Compost is built through different processes then microbes are extracted from the compost using water and air. The water/microbe solution is then applied to a field while the compost is added back into a pile to be reused. One compost option is via a Johnson-Su bioreactor which uses a static aerobic composting process. Another is aerobic composting via a Turned Compost process. In 2022, a Seward Co. producer chose to compare a Check treatment of 142 lb N/ac and reduce the nitrogen rates added to the biological products in his study by nearly 40 and 100 lb N/ac. His goal was to push the system to see how the biological products compared and to have low enough nitrogen rates to see what the biological products would do in releasing N. His treatments and yields were: Check (total 142 lb N/ac yielding 235 bu/ac); Johnson-Su Compost High (total 106 lb N/ac yielding 220 bu/ac); Johnson Su Compost Low (Total 48 lb N/ac yielding 167 bu/ac); Turned Compost High (Total 106 lb N/ac yielding 212 bu/ac); Turned Compost Low (Total 48 lb N/ac yielding 164 bu/ac); and Pivot Bio Proven®40 (total 106 lb N/ac yielding 195 bu/ac). The Check treatment yielded the greatest and statistically was not different than the Johnson-Su High and Turned Compost High at the 90% confidence level. The Check treatment was different from the Pivot Bio and the lower rates of the compost extracts. The Johnson-Su and Turned Compost were applied at 8 gal/ac extract in furrow at planting. This study was pivot irrigated in a silt loam soil where the previous crop was soybean. This study will continue on these same strips for three years. Please let me know if you’re interested in testing compost extracts as we seek to obtain more data around this topic.
One thing to consider with any type of biological treatment study is it’s helpful to conduct the study on the same areas of the field for multiple years to better determine any impacts over time. 2022 On-Farm research book at: https://onfarmresearch.unl.edu/.
Sensor-Based N Fertigation
Understanding the Soil Microbiome: For those interested, this Friday, March 3, will be our last Friday conversation on ‘understanding the soil microbiome’ at the 4-H Building in York from 10 a.m.-Noon. Dr. Rhae Drijber, UNL soil microbiologist, will kick off our conversation and I’m looking forward to the discussion. If you plan to attend, please let us know at 402-362-5508.
March 4 Gardening Workshop will be held from 10 a.m.-Noon at the 4-H Building in York. Sarah Browning, Extension Educator, will share on vegetable planting basics such as site selection, rotational plan, summer care, and troubleshooting problems such as insects/diseases/weeds. Please bring your questions! This workshop is sponsored by the UBBNRD and Nebraska Extension; there’s no charge and refreshments are provided. No RSVP is required, but it does help with refreshments if you could please let us know at 402-362-6601 or 402-362-5508. If you’re interested in gardening, but don’t have the space at home, check out the Project GROW community garden in York. Plots are available for the 2023 growing season. You can reserve your space now or come to the Gardening Workshop and sign up in person.
Sensor-Based Nitrogen Fertigation: This week also brings the last of our on-farm research updates (Mar. 1 in North Platte, Mar. 2 in Kearney, and Mar. 3 in Beatrice). You can still sign up at https://go.unl.edu/2023ofr.
One of the most impactful on-farm research studies being shared (I feel) is on sensor-based nitrogen fertigation occurring since 2019. It’s similar in concept to Project Sense, for those of you familiar with sensors being retrofitted on ground rigs for in-season nitrogen applications.
Sensors mounted onto a drone could allow for improved nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) by responding to actual plant needs in season. A grower determined base rate was applied to the field across treatments. Then grower fertigation management was compared to the sensor-based approach in 15 degree sectors on half a pivot. Indicator and reference plots in the field received at least 30 lb/ac less N and 30 lb/ac more N respectively and were established around V7. The field was flown weekly with a drone, imagery was analyzed, and fertigation decisions were made for each treatment sector.
The treatments were: 1) Grower rate 2) Risk averse post-establishment (RAP) (fertigation events applied up to R4 but 30 lb N/ac applied when needed between V9-V14) and 3) Risk averse post-establishment Increased Rate (RAP-IR) (fertigation events applied up to R4 but 60 lb N/ac applied when needed between V9-V14).
Since the beginning of this effort, 100% of the RAP-based sensor treatments were more efficient across all sites than the typical N grower management. Encouraging to me about this method is that it’s all based on what the plant needs after what the soil provides to the plant. There’s no determination of an N rate ahead of time based on plant removal, yield goal, etc.
There were 4 studies in 2022, but I will share on two of them. In a Hall county field with silt loam soils, both sensor based fertigation treatments triggered a total application of 95 lb N/ac vs. grower applying 196 lb N/ac. The grower treatment resulted in a yield of 277 bu/ac at 0.71 lb N/bu NUE. The two sensor based treatments resulted in yields of 271 and 274 bu/ac at only 0.35 lb N/bu NUE! That was pretty incredible for me to see 0.35 NUE and those kind of yields! It shows there is opportunity to consider further reductions in nitrogen applications. At a Saunders county field, no grower rate was used and the beginning base rate was only 33 lb N/ac. The RAP sensor treatment had 108 lb N/ac total applied yielding 258 bu/ac with 0.42 lb N/bu NUE. The RAP-IR sensor treatment had 101 lb N/ac total applied yielding 274 bu/ac with a 0.37 lb N/bu NUE.
You can read more details of this study via the online version of the 2023 On-Farm Research book found at: https://on-farm-research.unl.edu/ (beginning on page 80). For 2023, growers interested in trying this via on-farm research can receive monetary support through a Conservation Innovation Grant to help with purchasing fertigation equipment and/or for the aerial imagery services through Sentinel Fertigation. I would love to see 5 of these in our area of the State this coming year. Please let me or Laura Thompson (email@example.com) know if you’re interested!
You can still register for the CPIA Conference or walk-in the day of the event. Really practical info. for growers and ag industry!
Nitrogen Rate and Timing Studies
Many farmers are interested in finding ways to grow the same or more bushels with less inputs. Nebraska On-Farm Research has been working with farmers to test different studies, including nutrient management ones, on their farms since the 1990’s. Area on-farm research cooperators and I started the 2022 season with 35 studies, but only 15 made it to harvest with the hail.
While there’s numerous nutrient management studies throughout Nebraska, I’ll focus on local data. Since 2020, one farmer in the Henderson area has been testing nitrogen rate and timing studies. Fields were impacted by July 9 windstorms in 2020 and 2021 and the June 14 hailstorms in 2022. His goals include testing any benefits (yield and nitrogen carryover) to split applying nitrogen vs. applying it mostly up front, and also testing his nitrogen rate vs. +/- 50 lb N/ac. He’s currently amassed 7 site-years worth of data of which only 3 have shown a difference when reducing his grower rate by 50 lb N/ac. For reference, the soil type is silty clay loam/silt loams and his yield goal is around 240 bu/ac. These studies received partial sponsorship from the Upper Big Blue NRD. All the data is shown in charts at jenreesources.com.
In 2022, his nitrogen timing study was conducted on the same strips as in 2021. This study looked at spring vs. split application of nitrogen at 50 lb rate differences. Treatments were: Spring anhydrous of 180 lb N/ac, Spring anhydrous of 230 lb N/ac, Split 180 (120 lb N as spring anhydrous + 60 lb 32% UAN sidedress), and Split 230 (170 lb N as spring anhydrous + 60 lb as 32% UAN sidedress). The field received 35% hail damage at V5 with harvest stands reduced to around 23,000 plants/ac. Yields from the four treatments listed above respectively: 226, 229, 227, and 230 bu/ac with no yield differences amongst the treatments. In 2021, on the same strips of spring vs. split, treatments of 140 vs. 190 lb N/ac were compared. There again were no yield differences with yields ranging from 235-237 in 2021.
In 2022, he also conducted a study testing the economically optimum nitrogen rate on irrigated corn. The previous crop was soybean and this field had 25% hail damage at V6 on June 14, reducing harvest stands to an average of 23,500 plants/ac. Fall anhydrous in November 2021 was applied at rates of 0, 50, 100, 150, and 200 lb N/ac. All treatments then received a sidedress application of 50 lb N/ac as 32% UAN at V8. The sidedress was surface applied and didn’t get incorporated until a rain 10 days later. 2022 was a high mineralization year, but it’s still incredible to see that with only 50 lb N/ac, he achieved 211 bu/ac! The 100 lb N/ac received 222 bu/ac. There were no yield differences between the 150, 200, 250 lb N/ac treatments with respective yields of 231, 232, and 230 bu/ac. The economically optimal nitrogen rate was determined to be 121 lb N/ac for this field. Studies like this are interesting to show what our farmers are trying. They’re also helpful for examining and rethinking nutrient application rates and timing to our fields. If you’re interested in learning more, would encourage you to RSVP for our on-farm research update held Feb. 15 at the Holthus Convention Center in York at: RSVP: https://go.unl.edu/2023ofr.
Hamilton Co. Ag Day: Steve Melvin has put together great opportunities for the Hamilton and Merrick Co. Ag Days this year! Jan. 31 is Hamilton Co. Ag Day at Fairgrounds in Aurora with registration at 9 a.m. and program beginning at 9:30 a.m. with Corn and USDA updates. Additional morning topics include corn and soybean insect and disease updates and irrigation scheduling info. Lunch is sponsored by AKRS equipment. The afternoon is focused on a Farm/Ranch Transition Succession Workshop with Al Vyhnalek, UNL Farm succession specialist and Tom Fehringer, Attorney. I’ve heard a lot of farm succession speakers and this duo of Al and Tom is extra helpful. They are so practical and share in a way that is easily understandable and relatable. I could relate to the family stories they shared and have seen some people in tears for two main reasons: wishing they had heard the info. earlier and also grateful they had the info. now to change things for the future. Please consider attending!
2020 York County Spring Anhydrous Nitrogen Rate on Corn
This study essentially showed what the previous studies had: that less nitrogen can be applied without hurting yield or net return. 50 lb/ac N above the grower rate resulted in reduced profit. Field yields were impacted by the July 9, 2020 wind storm. This study is sponsored in part by the UBBNRD.
|Pre-Plant||In-season||lbs N/bu grain||Yield||Marginal Net Return|
|110 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)||25 lb N/ac as UAN May||0.73 C||184 A||$599.14 A|
|160 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)||25 lb N/ac as UAN May||0.98 B||189 A||$600.38 A|
|210 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)||25 lb N/ac as UAN May||1.23 A||191 A||$594.88 A|
2020 Hamilton County Evaluating Nitrogen Rate and Timing on Corn
This study showed no difference in nitrogen timing nor rate on yield and showed less nitrogen can be applied without impacting yield. Yields were impacted by the July 9, 2020 windstorm. This study is sponsored in part by the UBBNRD.
|Pre-Plant||In-season||lbs N/bu grain||Yield||Marginal Net Return|
|180 lb N/ac Fall NH3||25 lb N/ac as UAN May||1.03 B||199 A||$629.85 A|
|230 lb N/ac Fall NH3||25 lb N/ac as UAN May||1.27 A||201 A||$625.49 A|
|180 lb N/ac Spring NH3||25 lb N/ac as UAN May||1.02 B||201 A||$638.30 A|
|230 lb N/ac Spring NH3||25 lb N/ac as UAN May||1.24 A||206 A||$641.70 A|
|120 lb/ac N Spring NH3||25 lb N/ac as UAN May|
60 lb N/ac side-dress V8
|1.00 B||205 A||$645.69 A|
|170 lb/ac N Spring NH3||25 lb N/ac as UAN May|
60 lb N/ac side-dress V8
|1.24 A||206 A||$633.50 A|
2021 Hamilton County Spring Anhydrous N Rate Study
This study showed no reduction in yield of grower rate vs. 50 lb N/ac under the rate; however, the yield from the -50 lb rate treatment was different from the 50+ rate. There were no differences in marginal net return. This field received 20% wind damage from July 9, 2021 storm. Partially sponsored by UBBNRD.
2021 York County Spring Anhydrous N Rate Study
This study showed no yield difference between the grower rate and 50 lb N/ac over the grower rate but they yielded significantly more than the 50 lb N/ac under treatment and had greater marginal net return. This field received 20% wind damage from July 9, 2021 storm. Study partially sponsored by UBBNRD.
2021 York County Timing by N Rate Study
(Sponsored in part by UBBNRD)
Spring 140 lb/ac: 110 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide
Spring 190 lb/ac: 160 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide
Split 140 lb/ac: 50 lb/ac N as anhydrous, 30 lb/ac N with herbicide, and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8
Split 190 lb/ac: 100 lb/ac N as anhydrous, 30 lb/ac N with herbicide, and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8
2022 York County Timing by N Rate Study (same strips as 2021)
(Sponsored in part by UBBNRD)
35% hail damage on June 14, 2022 at V5
Spring 180 lb/ac: 180 lb/ac N as anhydrous
Spring 230 lb/ac: 160 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide
Split 180 lb/ac: 120 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8
Split 230 lb/ac: 170 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8
2022 Economically Optimum Nitrogen Rate
(Sponsored in part by UBBNRD)
25% hail damage on June 14, 2022 at V6
Treatments: Fall anhydrous applied November 2021. Sidedress application of 50 lb N/ac 32% UAN at V8.
50 lb N/ac (0 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
100 lb N/ac (50 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
150 lb N/ac (100 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
200 lb N/ac (150 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
250 lb N/ac (200 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
2022 Soybean Production Studies
Ag Conference: Thank you to everyone with the York Chamber, Holthus Convention Center, Chamber Ag Committee and Ambassadors, York Visitors Bureau, Sponsors, Vendors, Newspaper and Radio for all their work and help with the York Ag Conference last week! It takes a great team to pull off a successful event. Several individuals were very helpful to me with the pesticide certification trainings; I’m grateful to each of you for your help! Grateful for all the farmers who attended and it was great to catch up with several of you!
Crop Production Clinic Clarification: Both commercial and non-commercial applicators in the ag plant and research and demonstration categories can renew at any of the crop production clinics. The York clinic is reformatted compared to the other clinics, but recertification can be received at any CPC. You can pre-register or walk-in that day for same cost. Info: https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc.
This week I’ll share on soybean production studies. Our on-farm research update with farmers sharing their results will be Feb. 15 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. Pre-registration at: https://go.unl.edu/3j8q. Grateful for all the cooperators who work with me via on-farm research!
Soybean Seeding Rates: A first-year cooperator from the Utica area chose a soybean seeding rate study of 100,000 vs. 130,000 vs. 160,000 seeds/ac. He planted April 18 with NK 28-T3XF strip-tilled into corn. I started emergence counts May 9 when cotyledons had pulled just above the soil surface. 68% of the 130K, 52% of the 160K, and 48% of the 100K had emerged on Day 1. By Day 9 when I took the last counts, 95% of the 160K, 93% of the 130K, and 94% of the 100K had emerged. The May 22 frost with heavy residue reduced stands in areas of the field down to 35,000 plants/ac. The farmer decided not to replant a large portion of the field including where I had taken these initial emergence counts. This field missed the June 14 hail. The data shared doesn’t include the areas of the field down to 35K. At harvest, 81% of 160K (129,000 plants/ac), 79% of the 130K (103,000 plants/ac), and 86% of the 100K (86,000 plants/ac) remained. There were no yield differences with the 100K yielding 71 bu/ac, 130K yielding 72 bu/ac, and 160K yielding 73 bu/ac. The study results follow 17 years-worth of on-farm research results showing no yield loss when reducing seeding rates of 160-180K down to 120-140K in heavier textured soils. Our Nebraska data also shows that soybean planting rates of 80,000 to 120,000 seeds/ac resulted in the highest profitability.
Soybean Maturity Studies: Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota shared that compared to lower yielding varieties, highest yielding varieties produce between 20 to 40% greater yields. Thus, variety selection is the greatest factor for impacting soybean yield. Third-party information is limited in Nebraska. If there’s interest in a soybean grower plot in the area (particularly someone willing to host this), please let me know. Some third-party resources include: F.I.R.S.T Soybean Testing Program (https://www.firstseedtests.com/), and data from Universities such as Iowa State, K-State, South Dakota State, and Missouri. Seed companies have numerous locations with data. When possible, look at how a variety performs over multiple years at multiple locations.
We now have 13 site-years worth of data from Seward and York counties comparing Group 2 and Group 3 maturity soybeans. Reasons for considering a Group 2 variety in our area include spreading out harvest, opportunity for planting cover crops for greater fall growth, and spreading risk from weather events. In 10 of the 13 site-years, there were no yield differences between high-yielding Group 2 and 3 varieties when planted mid-April to early May. In the other three site-years, the Group 3 varieties had higher yields than the Group 2 varieties. One reason was late season rains benefited Group 3 soybeans in non-irrigated environments in two site-years. In the gravity irrigated ridge-till environment, harvesting the Group 2 variety sooner may have helped reduce plants from lodging down into furrows that are difficult to pick up at harvest.
This past week was beautiful! We saw more recovery on frost-damaged plants and it allowed for a lot of post-herbicide spraying. A question I kept receiving was how long to wait to spray crops that were frost damaged. Some labels will say to wait 48-72 hours before applying a herbicide while others don’t give a time, they just mention that injury to the crop can occur under specific temperatures or when plants are under stress. How I answered based on what we have recommended in the past is for any type of adverse weather event impacting crops (hail, frost, etc.), wait at least 3-5 days based on the label or until one starts to see plant regrowth of both the crop and the weeds. We would say the same for anyone who unfortunately experienced hail damage this weekend.
Interseeded Cover Crops: This past week was also a busy one for our team interseeding cover crops into V3-V4 corn. We are currently in the third year of a partnership between our farmer cooperators, The Nature Conservancy, Nebraska Extension, UBBNRD, and Kellogg’s. A couple cooperators are in the 4th year. The goals for planting cover crops into early season corn and soybean include reducing nitrogen inputs, weed control, improving soil health, increasing diversity, and providing forage for livestock. We’ve successfully achieved cover crop establishment and season long growth, covers that survived after harvest and survived into the spring to various extents in all years of the study. In the on-farm research locations from 2019-2021, the interseeded cover crop yielded less in 5 of the 12 site-years but yield was not impacted in the others. In 2021, there was no yield difference between the interseeded cover crop and check strips when seeded into soybean at two locations. Yields in 2020 and 2021 were impacted in some fields due to the July 9th windstorm in both years which opened up the canopy producing greater cover crop biomass.
Biomass samples taken in late September pre-harvest and pre-frost has ranged from 97 lb/ac to 2192 lb/ac. These are field averages as individual reps were over 4000 lb/ac in severely wind damaged fields. Additional growth was achieved after harvest but not collected. Biomass samples for nitrogen content taken in 2021 ranged from 5-200 lb N /ac. Beginning soil health assessments were taken the first year of the study and will be completed in September of 2022 for comparison.
We’ve also learned a lot about herbicide interactions with cover crops; they are fairly resilient. For the corn locations, we’ve went with a full PRE herbicide (generic Lexar, Callisto, Acuron…have not used Resicore) and then for POST, within 3 days either direction of interseeding using Roundup, Liberty, and sometimes dicamba with no impacts to the covers that we interseed. We have also had success using ½ rate of Lexar or Callisto at least 1.5 weeks prior to interseeding. The covers were scraggly, but they did come through it. We have never used a residual on the corn we interseed, but using a Group 15 was an option once the covers emerged and got up about an inch to provide residual if the guys wanted it.
For the soybeans, if a full PRE was applied at least 3 weeks prior to interseeding, we didn’t worry about it (which was the case in 2021). For POST, we just used Roundup and either Liberty or Dicamba within 3 days either direction of interseeding with again, the thought of a Group 15 if needed for residual once the covers were 1″ tall. In soybean, we interseeded 10 lb/ac red clover with 20 lb/ac of wheat. The field we interseeded at emergence had red clover survive the entire growing season, through harvest, and was growing this spring for the successive corn crop. It was unexpected and gave us insight into another way of potentially establishing a perennial crop for nitrogen. It ended up being killed out by the corn herbicide, but is something we’re repeating in different ways in 2022.
Regarding species that we feel are most successful in the corn, we like buckwheat, iron and clay cowpeas, clovers (red and sweet), brassicas such as collards and radishes, forage soybean, annual and Italian ryegrass. We’ve consistently seen sweetclover and the ryegrasses survive the winter into the spring. Depending on the year, we’ve also seen red clover and hairy vetch survive the winter. We’ve learned much more that I don’t have room for here. If you’re interested in learning more, be watching for our articles at cropwatch.unl.edu. Also, save June 30th for a potential Interseeding Cover Crop Driving Tour.
Grateful for a little moisture last week! Lots to share based on questions. For those with poultry, the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has impacted a fourth Nebraska farm. Farms impacted thus far have been in Merrick, Butler, and Holt counties. All were under quarantine with birds being humanely depopulated and disposed of in an approved manner. HPAI is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick, while domesticated birds can become very sick. Symptoms of HPAI in poultry include: a decrease in water consumption; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea. HPAI can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing any other symptoms. Poultry owners should restrict access to your property and poultry and report unusual poultry bird deaths or sick birds to NDA at 402-471-2351, or through USDA at 866-536-7593. More info: https://nda.nebraska.gov/animal/avian/index.html
Preliminary farm real estate numbers were released this week at: https://cap.unl.edu/realestate.
Weed Guides: We didn’t receive 2022 weed guides. I do have some flash drives with PDF copies for those interested. Otherwise, print copies can be purchased at: https://marketplace.unl.edu/default/ec130.html.
CropWatch at cropwatch.unl.edu covers a variety of topics including drought outlook and BT trait table.
On-Farm Research Results Book: PDF version can be viewed at: https://go.unl.edu/vfi4.
Nutrient Management: If you’re applying fertilizer this spring or in-season, it may be an opportunity to cut back on fertilizer rates in some strips. Protocols for consideration that can be adjusted at: https://jenreesources.com/2022/02/06/jenrees-2-6-22/.
Also received questions regarding starter fertilizer. Javed Iqbal and Laura Thompson shared the following in this week’s CropWatch, “From 1995 to 2019, farmers working with the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network conducted 35 studies looking at starter fertilizer on corn. The results of these studies can be found in the Results Finder database at http://resultsfinder.unl.edu/. Some were in the same field for a number of years, others moved around. Various starter materials were evaluated, and not all studies reported soil test Phosphorus (P) levels.” UNL’s critical soil test levels for P are when Bray-P is less than 20 ppm for corn after corn (C/C) or 15 ppm for corn after soybean (C/S). The information below is focused on studies comparing 10-34-0 to no starter.
“Eighteen of the studies compared a 10-34-0 starter fertilizer in the range of 4-6 gal/ac to a no starter check. Soil P levels were between 4 and 35 ppm. The crop yield response across range of soil P levels:
- For soils with P soil tests at or below 10 ppm, there was an average yield increase of 14.3 bu/ac due to the starter (four sites).
- For soils with P soil tests of 10-20 ppm, there was an average increase of 2.6 bu/ac (five sites).
- For soils with P soil tests of 20-35 ppm, there was an average increase of 0.3 bu/ac (nine sites).
- When all the data were combined, regardless of soil test values, there was an average increase of 4 bu/ac.
In spite of this analysis, of the 18 studies, only five had statistically significant differences. Of these five, the average yield increase was 12 bu/acre and the average soil test P level was 9 ppm.
To summarize, when fertilizer is used as a starter (as defined above with soil test levels above the critical value), the data shows that it is largely not effective in terms of yield or economical response (even though plants with starter applied will be greener early on); however, if the fertilizer is added to a soil that tests low for soil test P (less than the critical value), a yield response to that fertilizer is expected.
A similar analysis of the soybean on-farm research found six starter studies between 1992 and 2015, with only three sites reporting soil test P, all of which were greater than 17 ppm. Average yields for the no-starter studies were 61.2 bu/ac and for soybeans with starter, 61.3 bu/ac.” If you’re interested in trying this for yourself in corn or soy, consider this simple protocol.
I’ve so greatly appreciated the discussions and learning opportunities at meetings this past winter! We have one final cover crop meeting this Friday, Feb. 25 from 10-Noon at the 4-H Building in York. The topic is discussing the economics of cover crops. I’m often asked about this and have ideas, but don’t have answers, so am seeking a discussion around it. We know grazing often is the one way (not always, but often) where cover crops will pay. Looking forward to a deeper discussion on additional ways to look at economics of cover crops, such as assigning a dollar value to any soil changes over time. Please join us if you’re interested!
Estate Planning Workshop March 8: We’re excited to offer an estate planning workshop for farmers and ranchers from 1:30-4:00 p.m. on March 8 at the Seward County Extension Office (322 S. 14th St. in Seward). My colleague, Allan Vyhnalek, an extension educator for farm and ranch transition and succession, will offer tools and strategies to effectively plan, start and complete estate plans, offer background on common mistakes during the process, and highlight essential considerations for creating and carrying out estate and succession plans.
He also asked Tom Fehringer, an attorney based in Columbus, to present during the workshop. Fehringer specializes in estate planning, business planning and trust administration, among other areas of practice. It’s just a great opportunity to learn more and ask questions (especially of an attorney) for free! Please RSVP by March 7th at 402-643-2981.
K-Junction Solar Project Public Meeting Feb. 24: EDF Renewables is inviting the public to a meeting to learn more about the K-Junction Solar Project on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 5:00-7:30 p.m. at the Stone Creek Event Center in McCool Junction. Food and beverages will be provided.
Results of Xyway™ LFR® Fungicide in Furrow: Last week at the on-farm research update, three area farmers and I presented the results of our on-farm research Xyway™ LFR® studies. This fungicide, applied at planting, translocates within the plant providing disease protection for a period of time. In 2021, Xyway™ LFR® was tested at 8 on-farm locations in Buffalo, Hall, York, and Seward counties. Emergence counts taken at 4 locations in Buffalo/Hall counties showed better emergence with Xyway in one of the locations and slower emergence with Xyway in the other three locations. Early season stand counts were taken at all 8 locations. Of these, one location showed better stand with Xyway compared to the check, two showed less stand with Xyway, and the others showed no differences. Three of the 8 locations showed a yield reduction with Xyway compared to the check while the other five locations showed no difference. Half of the locations showed reduced profitability while there was no difference in the other half. At the two York locations, I also did disease ratings. In spite of it being a low-disease year, in one of the two locations, Xyway reduced gray leaf spot pressure on the plants compared to the check. At neither location was there a difference in overall southern rust severity. In general, the growers who tried this felt it was helpful from the standpoint their fields are near towns or powerlines where it’s difficult for arial applications. FMC recommended during the meeting to move the Xyway™ LFR® product away from the seed for those trying it in 2022.
Our Crop Science Investigation Youth (CSI) group worked with Jerry and Brian Stahr on their Xyway study as part of the Nebraska Corn Board’s Innovative Youth Challenge. It was a great way for youth to utilize the scientific method while learning about crop scouting and participating in on-farm research! The youth won first place and share their results in the following video: https://youtu.be/B87xqr0pWMk. If you know of youth interested in science and plants who may want to join us for CSI, please let me know! We meet monthly throughout the year. Next meeting is Mar. 15.
It’s been so great to see people at winter programs again and January just flew by! Last winter was different teaching via zoom and I’ve appreciated the interaction and discussions at meetings this year. This week sharing a few answers to questions I received and also a few additional February programs.
Weed Guides: For those who needed private applicator recertification, you were mailed a sheet of paper which shared how you can purchase a weed guide. On the paper it says that shipping is free, but I was told that’s not the case if you order it via Marketplace. In order to have free shipping, you need to mail the piece of paper with your $25 to the Pesticide Office via the address on the paper. For anyone who doesn’t need the 2022 Guide but would be ok with a 2021 Guide, please let me or your local Extension educator know and we can arrange for you to get a copy of last year’s for free.
Extension Meeting Updates: Just a note to please RSVP when attending Extension events as not everyone is as flexible as I’ve been! This helps for meals and also any covid requirements.
Update on Soil Health Conference Feb. 2: There’s now a virtual option. They are not allowing walk-ins, so regardless if you plan to attend in person or virtually, you can register at: https://go.unl.edu/vn85.
Reminder of Ag Update at Fairgrounds in Aurora this week on Feb. 2 which also qualifies for UBBNRD nitrogen certification credits. Registration at 9 a.m. with program from 9:30-4 p.m. RSVP: 402-694-6174.
Also reminder of my first of a series of meetings on Practical Cover Crop Management on Feb. 4th from 10 a.m.-Noon at the 4-H building in York. This week we will hear from Keith Berns on basics of how to get started with cover crops. We will also hear from additional farmers in how they started using cover crops in their operations. RSVP to 402-362-5508.
Feb. 8 Building Farm and Ranch Resiliency in the Age of Financial Uncertainty is the last of the Farmers and Ranchers College meetings this winter. It will be held at the Fairgrounds in Geneva with registration at 8:45 a.m. and program from 9 a.m.-Noon. The workshop will cover cash rental rates, land values, leasing strategies, landlord/tenant communication, farm and ranch succession planning and an overview of farm programs for landowners. There’s no charge and please RSVP to 402-759-3712.
Feb. 17 On-Farm Research Updates for our area will be held at the Cornerstone Event Center at the Fairgrounds in York from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (registration at 8:30). Meetings like this, to me, are the most powerful as they provide an opportunity to hear directly from the growers who conducted on-farm research. Replicated, field-scale comparisons were completed in growers’ fields, using their equipment. If it wasn’t for these growers, often, I wouldn’t have the information I do to share on the various questions asked of me. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the 2021 Research Results Update book, which contains results from on-farm research studies, including studies on products such as Xyway in-furrow fungicide, Pivot Bio PROVEN, nitrification inhibitors, and non-traditional products. Production and technology studies include ones on hydraulic downforce, soybean practices, starter fertilizer, nitrogen rates and timing, crop models for N management, and cover crop and soil health. The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. Please RSVP at: GO.UNL.EDU/2022ONFARMRESEARCH. This meeting also qualifies for UBBNRD nitrogen recertification credits.
Hopefully the rains were a blessing in helping the crops where crusting was a concern, adding moisture to the seedbed, and in activating herbicide. This article reaches people throughout the State, so with some experiencing frost potential as I write this, if rhubarb leaves are not damaged too much by frost and the stalks remain firm, it is still safe to eat. If the leaves are severely damaged or the stalks become soft or mushy, do not eat these stalks. Remove and discard them. New stalks can be harvested and eaten. Rhubarb often develops seedheads following cold temperatures, but this also does not affect eating quality of the stalks. Remove rhubarb seedheads and discard.
This week will share on the results we obtained from on-farm research studies where cover crops were interseeded into corn. In 2019, there were two locations in York and Seward counties (interseeded at V5-V6). In 2020, 6 of 11 locations were conducted via on-farm research in York, Seward, Clay, and Hamilton counties (interseeded at V4). Four of the six locations compared an interseeded cover crop to a check treatment of no cover crop. One location compared two corn populations (27,000 vs. 31,000 seeds/ac) to determine corn yield and cover crop biomass impacts. One location compared using only the middle drill unit to interseed the cover crop vs. using all three drill units between the rows to determine any differences in cover crop biomass.
2019 Results: In 2019, the cover crop at the Seward county location emerged and then died, we hypothesize, due to reactivation of Group 27 herbicide. Thus, no biomass samples were taken. At the York county location, cover crop biomass sampled prior to the first hard freeze ranged from 97-220 lbs/ac. It was good to see successful establishment at both locations and that cover crop growth occurred at one of them. In 2019, there were no yield differences between the corn in the check treatments (241 and 258 bu/ac) vs. cover crop interseeded treatments (241 (N mix), 243 (diversity mix), and 256 bu/ac) at the York and Seward locations respectively, which was also encouraging. Net return was less for the interseeded cover crop treatments vs. the check.
2020 Results: In 2020, cover crops emerged at all locations and grew throughout the season. Cover crop biomass varied by location with the most occurring in fields that were damaged by the July 9, 2020 windstorm (the location with the greatest biomass had 45% green snap). Thus, the open canopy resulted in greater weed and cover crop biomass. Biomass samples were collected in late September by taking three 30” X 30” or 36 X 36” squares for each treatment (dependent upon row spacing). The samples were sorted in the field into weeds, interseeded forbs/legumes, and interseeded grasses and placed in separate paper bags. Samples were weighed and dried. We wanted to compare any differences in weed biomass between the check and interseeded treatments, especially since no residual herbicides were used in 2020. There were no differences in weed biomass between the check and interseeded cover crop treatments. Total cover crop biomass accumulated varied by site and ranged from 277 lb/ac to 3818 lb/ac. It should be noted that the cover crops continued to grow after we sampled until the first hard freeze occurred. The cowpeas provided the greatest biomass and grew to the tops of the tassels. They also formed a ‘bridge’ between corn rows where the canopy broke open. Cowpeas, hairy vetch, sweetclover, and forage soybean were all fixing nitrogen during the 2020 growing season. The red clover and hairy vetch that survived the winter were fixing nitrogen in the spring of 2021.
The windstorm greatly impacted yields as well. Across all the sites, corn yield for the check averaged 214 bu/ac while corn yield for the interseeded treatment yielded 209 bu/ac. At four of the six sites, yield was significantly lower where the cover crop was interseeded. At the remaining two sites yield was not different between treatments. Net return for the corn where the cover crop was interseeded was less at five of the six locations. Net return includes the yield and price of the corn crop and cost of cover crop seed and application. Other than the York county location (two years), all the location data is based on one year of research. These studies will continue in the same fields and strips for at least three years, so it will be interesting to watch for any changes in soil biological and physical properties over time as well. Visually, in the field where the center drill unit vs. 3 was used, it appeared that the 1 drill unit had more biomass. Statistically, it ended up the same as the three drill units for total cover crop biomass. At the York location where cover crops were interseeded into two corn populations, there were no yield differences between the corn populations; however, both yielded less than the check treatment. A special thanks to all the growers working with us on these interseeding cover crop studies and to The Nature Conservancy, Upper Big Blue NRD, NRCS, and Kellogg’s for their partnership with Nebraska Extension on this effort. If you’d like more information, I’ve provided tables of data and links to videos we produced at my blog site jenreesources.com.
Cover crop biomass as a result of interseeding using three drill units (left) vs. only the center drill unit (middle). Close up of Penn State Interseeder drill units (right).
Nebraska On-Farm Research Virtual Field Day Interseeding Videos:
- Interseeding drills: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/interseeding-cover-crops-steve-melvin-june-12-2020
- Interseeding into Soybean: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/interseeding-cover-crops-soybeans-steve-melvin-june-10-2020
- Interseeding studies: https://youtu.be/gQKAGzkweG4
- Interseeding Mixes: https://youtu.be/b64PCMV1pwc
- Interseeding and Herbicide programs: https://youtu.be/5P8tE3oQ7hA