JenREES 12-30-18

Happy New Year! The following are upcoming programs you may be interested in attending.

York Ag Expo: Hope to see you at this year’s York Ag Expo at the Holthus Convention Center in York January 9 and 10th! The list of sponsors and exhibitors can be viewed at: https://yorkchamber.org/event/ag-expo/. Educational sessions are being offered again at the Expo. On January 9th, Chemigation training (both initial and recertification) will begin at 9 a.m. There is no charge and please bring a calculator with you. If you are coming for initial training, I’d recommend you get the materials before-hand to look through and you can receive them from the Extension Office. At 1 p.m., Brad Lubben, Cory Walters, and Austin Duerfeldt with UNL will share the latest on the Farm Bill, Crop Insurance decisions, and Farm Tax information. Farm Credit Services of America will also share information. On January 10th, I will have a private pesticide training session at 9 a.m. Please bring your barcode letter from NDA if you have it and the cost is $40. Then at 1 p.m., Mary Drewnoski, Michael Sindelar, and I will discuss residue removal considerations via baling and grazing. Tim Mundorf with Central Valley Ag (CVA) will be sharing on the value of manure as well. At 4 p.m. on Thursday the 10th, Chad E. Colby, Ag Technologist and well known on Ag Twitter, will be the keynote speaker. He is being sponsored by CVA. This will be followed by the Celebrating Ag Social Hour sponsored by the Rural Radio Network from 5-7 p.m. Lunch will be served both days beginning at 11:30 a.m. and sponsored by Cornerstone Bank. Hope to see you there!

Pulse Crop Expo:  There’s been quite an interest in pulse crops the past few years in Nebraska. Some growers are looking at pulse crops to change up labor requirements during the year, looking for a different market and price, or looking for another crop that allows cover crops to be planted and established after harvest.  To learn about getting started with pulse crops or how to enhance your existing pulse production, don’t miss the 2019 Nebraska Pulse Crops Expo January 7 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lucas Haag, northwest area agronomist with Kansas State University, will be the keynote speaker, presenting on field pea growth and development and management of field peas at critical growth stages. Other presentations include research-based information on production practices, tillage, seeding rates, and irrigation. The 2019 NE Pulse Crops Expo is sponsored by the SARE (Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education), the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and pulse crops industry partners. There is no charge, but please register by going to: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/nebraska-pulse-crops-expo-registration or calling 402-318-1124.

Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College:  This annual program will be held at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and Great Plains Veterinary Education Center near Clay Center on January 14, 2019 with registration, coffee and donuts starting at 9:30 a.m. The program will run from 9:55 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension’s Farmers and Ranchers College and RSVP is needed for the noon meal. Speakers include: Welcome by Dr. Mark Boggess of USMARC and Dr. Dale Grotelueschen, Director of the Great Plains Veterinary Education Center; Mary Drewnoski with “To Graze or Not to Graze?  Factors that Affect Risk Nitrate Toxicity in Annual Forages”; Rick Funston with “Increasing Production Efficiency”; Brandy VanDeWalle on “Family Farm Stress”; Amy Schmidt with “Top 3 Environmental Considerations During Short-Term Cow-Calf Confinement” and Dr. Kip Lukasiewicz on “Animal Husbandry Strategies to Improve One’s Efficiency”.  Please pre-register by January 8th, to (402) 759-3712. Walk-ins are accepted, but may not get a lunch. You may also complete your registration online at http://go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege.  Remember, your contact information is required to be on the U.S. MARC property, so pre-registration is helpful and will save you time at the door!

23rd Annual Great Plains Growers Conference: This conference will be held in St. Joseph, Missouri on January 10-12 for anyone interested in growing fruit, vegetable, hydroponics, cut flowers for production. Topics on Jan. 10 include: “Cover Crops and Soil Health”; “Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Grower Training”; “Hops Potential”, “Selling Local Foods” and “Honey Bees & Beekeeping”. Concurrent sessions on Friday and Saturday Jan. 11 and 12 provide more than 50 presentations on a wealth of subjects. In addition to presentations on conventional and organic vegetable production, there will be tracks on tree and small fruit production; organic and conventional vegetable production; season extension; greenhouse and hydroponics; cut flowers and technology for growers. A full program, registration information and more information can be found at the website: www.greatplainsgrowersconference.org.

JenREES 12-23-18

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and time to celebrate this special time of year with family and friends!

With the re-registration of the restricted use pesticide (RUP) dicamba products, I’ve been receiving questions regarding the training and label requirements. Dr. Rodrigo Werle who is now a weed scientist in Wisconsin put together a really nice blog post to help understand the new buffer label requirements at: http://www.wiscweeds.info/post/dicamba-buffer-requirements/.

RUP dicamba training can be obtained at the Crop Production Clinics (CPC), Nebraska Crop Management Conference (NCMC), Approved Industry Trainings, Extension Trainings, and via an online course. It is not built into our private applicator pesticide training, but many of us are offering it as an option on the same day and at the same location as pesticide training. There is no charge for dicamba training (unless you’re taking it at a program that requires a fee such as CPC and NCMC). You have to be a certified pesticide applicator to apply RUP dicamba this year and you need to provide your applicator number for dicamba training.

All information from the Nebraska Department of Ag including labels, best management practices, list of trainings and list of certified applicators who’ve taken the training, can be found at: http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/pesticide/dicamba.html. The online dicamba training (available after January 1, 2019) and additional informational resources from UNL can be found at: https://pested.unl.edu/dicamba.

I’ve been thinking about these dicamba buffer requirements in addition to how heavy palmer and other weeds often are on our endrows. Research shows that palmer is sensitive to red and natural light in triggering germination. Research and observation have shown incorporation of a small grain helps with reducing palmer amaranth germination early in the season, and if taken to grain, delays germination till after harvest of the small grain. Chris Proctor, Extension Educator, and I were talking and wondered if we should consider incorporating a small grain into our endrows (especially in soybean fields) or possibly even perennial grasses for situations that would be a better fit?  I’m unsure how practical this is for every farmer or every situation, but in floating the idea with farmers as I’ve presented about palmer, it seems like it may work for some. We’ve seen from previous years the challenges with weather in being able to spray dicamba and herbicides in general. With the buffer requirements and the fact that endrows often have heavier weed pressure, I just wonder if we need to start looking at treating endrows differently. Would like to hear your thoughts on this and/or other ideas!

We also know from research at the University in Arkansas in greenhouse studies that palmer only took three generations to become resistant to dicamba. Considering three generations, it’s like saying dicamba is applied to soybean one year, corn the next year, and soybean again the following year with year 4 showing resistance developing. Dicamba is a great tool in our toolbox and palmer is perhaps our most difficult weed to control right now. Consider choosing which crops you will use dicamba on this next growing season and think through the next few years’ crop rotation and herbicide program on your different farms to help with selection pressure and resistance management.

Area Extension Dicamba Trainings:
  • Jan. 21: York County, 5 p.m., 4-H Bldg, York
  • Jan. 22: Thayer County, 5:30 p.m., Community Center, Davenport
  • Feb. 5: Merrick County, 10:00 a.m., Fairgrounds, Central City
  • Feb. 6: Hamilton County, 10:00 a.m., Fairgrounds, Aurora
  • Feb. 7: Seward County, 11:30 a.m., Civic Center, Seward
  • Feb. 12: Kearney County, 12:00 p.m., Fairgrounds, Minden
  • Feb. 14: Webster County, 12:00 p.m., Community Center, Blue Hill
  • Feb. 19: Franklin County, 1:30 p.m., Fairgrounds, Franklin
  • Feb. 20: Clay County, 2:00 p.m., Fairgrounds, Clay Center
  • Feb. 28: Nuckolls County, 10:00 a.m., Community Center, Nelson
  • Mar. 5: Hamilton County, 10:00 a.m., Fairgrounds Aurora,
  • Mar. 11: Adams County, 4:00 p.m., Fairgrounds, Hastings
  • Mar. 12: Jefferson County, 10:00 a.m., Fairgrounds, Fairbury
  • Mar. 13: Gage County, 10:00 a.m., Extension Office, Beatrice
  • Mar. 14: Saline County, 10:00 a.m., Extension Office, Wilber

JenREES 12-16-18

This year we’ve seen quite an increase in baling of soybean residue in the area. I’ve also heard this in other parts of the State. Soybean residue can be used for bedding, or for feed as roughage or mixed with distiller’s grains. In speaking with farmers and livestock producers, there’s perhaps a number of reasons why we’re seeing an increase in soybean residue acres baled this year. While we’re not short on corn residue, the late harvest delayed baling of corn residue for some and they were looking for another forage source. Hay prices have been higher this fall and continue to increase, making soybean residue a less expensive alternative. Some crop growers may also have been seeking added income.

Some colleagues and I addressed questions we were receiving in a recent UNL CropWatch article. Questions have centered around the value of this residue. I’ve shared in previous articles that approximately 1 ton of corn/grain sorghum residue is produced for every 40 bushels. For soybeans, it takes 30 bushels to produce 1 ton of crop residue. So to give an example, a corn field averaging 240 bu/ac would result in approximately 6 tons of residue/acre. In comparison, a soybean field averaging 60 bu/ac would only produce 2 tons of residue/acre.

In general, there’s not too much difference in the amount of nutrients removed from corn vs. soybean residue.

  • Corn (17 lbs N, 4 lb P2O5, 34 lb K2O, 3 lb S)
  • Soybean (17 lbs N, 3 lbs P2O5, 13 lbs K2O, 2 lbs S)

To determine the value of these nutrients, one would need to know the current fertilizer nutrient price per pound. Value also includes maintaining soil properties, which is harder to place a value upon. Based on the research, it’s recommended to leave at least 2 tons/acre of residue in the field to maintain soil organic matter. More needs to be retained for many fields to prevent excessive soil erosion and some fields should not be harvested. In previous articles, I shared our best management practices to consider for removal of corn residue. In the corn field example above, 6 tons of residue are available. Removing 2-3 tons of residue still leaves 50% or more residue on this field. In comparison, the soybean field with 2 tons/acre of residue at harvest is already at the 2 ton/acre limit to maintain soil organic matter. Regular soybean residue removal is not recommended as it is expected to result in reduced organic matter and increased soil erosion.

Soybean residue is a lower quality feed than corn, sorghum, and wheat residue. Forage tests show a range of 35-38% total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 3.9-4% crude protein; these numbers are less than wheat residue. For comparison, forage tests from corn residue ranged from 47-54% TDN and 4.5-6.5% crude protein (sorghum residue would be similar). The highest edge of those ranges would be similar to average grass hay.

USDA showed a price of $50/ton for soybean residue. Assuming 88% dry matter (DM), then that is $162 to $189/ton of TDN with 4% crude protein. In comparison, corn residue bales were $60 to 65/ton. Assuming 83% DM and 50% TDN, corn residue is a better deal (on an energy basis) at $150 to $156/ton of TDN with 5-6% crude protein. For perspective, good grass hay is $85 to $100/ton. Assuming 88% DM and 55-60% TDN, it is $160 to $205/ton TDN. A true economic analysis would take into consideration the residue removal costs, nutrient removal, and potential for soil loss (even though it’s hard to put a value on that). The 2018 Nebraska Farm Custom Rates shows rates for cornstalk raking and baling. Soybean residue removal numbers aren’t provided.

As a source of dry matter, soybean stubble is a low cost source for feedlots. However, soybean stubble is less valuable than both corn and wheat baled residue on an energy basis. The reduced feed quality and higher cost of the feed value doesn’t justify the economics of baling and feeding soybean residue for cow-calf producers. From a short-term and long-term soil productivity perspective, including for soil and water conservation, soybean residue removal is not justified for agronomic and economic purposes. Factors such as late harvest delaying baling of corn residue, higher hay prices, and opportunity to sell soybean residue may have resulted in more soybean residue baling this year.

 


 

Table 2: Farm custom rates for cornstalk raking, baling, and moving
OPERATION STATE AVERAGE
REPORTED COST
Shredding cornstalks $16.20/acre
Raking cornstalks $8.09/acre
Baling cornstalks, large round baler
(average 1258 lbs/bale)
$15.63/bale
Lifting/moving large round bales with tractor
(average distance 1.54 miles)
$2.85/bale

References

eXtension Article. October 24, 2008. “What is the comparison between corn stalk bales, soybean bales and milo stalk bales?

Nebraska Hay Summary. https://www.ams.usda.gov/market-news/hay-reports

Wortmann, Charles S., Robert N. Klein, and Charles A. Shapiro. 2012. Harvesting Crop Residues. Nebraska Extension NebGuide G1846.

York Ag Expo

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Successful Farmer Series

Views from VanDeWalle

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.

corn field Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

January 4 – Cover Cropping 2.0 taught by Justin McMechan, Extension Cropping Systems SpecialistPaul 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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JenREES 12-9-18

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

IMAG6878-20181206-082139906

Dr. John Westra, Associate Director of Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center, awards Dr. Richard Ferguson with a plaque for his years of service.

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.
  • 2018 Nebraska Soybean Expo Flyer

    Please click to enlarge.

    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 kglewen1@unl.edu. 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.

UBBNRD Winter Workshop Dec. 12

Project Grow

JenREES 12-2-18

Part 2 of my residue management series focuses on grazing corn residue. We’re blessed cattle in corn stalksin 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.


Resources:

Dr. Kohl Recap

Views from VanDeWalle

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_7c93Kicking off the 2018-2019 Farmers & Ranchers College programming year with a full house was Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus from Virginia Tech. As usual, he did an excellent job describing global risks which affect us and how those risks will affect the agricultural industry.  International trade issues continue to emerge and it will be interesting to see how they play out. One of the things to watch closely is China’s “Belt & Road Initiative” which is an ambitious effort to improve regional cooperation and connectivity on a trans-continental scale with China and approximately 65 other countries. This is important to monitor because countries impacted in this Initiative account for about 30 percent of the global GDP and 60% of the world’s population.

In regards to energy economics, the U.S. is the world’s major energy producer. As there is a continued drive towards efficiency, there is also a push for…

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JenREES 11-25-18

With harvest finished or wrapping up, focus has shifted to anhydrous applications and managing residue. Corn residue management has been a topic of discussion for years. Research on this topic has included use of tillage, baling, grazing, and use of products like nitrogen.

Iowa State conducted a three year study evaluating the effects of conventional tillage, no-till, and strip-till on residue breakdown on Bt and non-Bt corn residues. They did this by placing bags of residue of Bt and non-Bt hybrids in the three different tillage systems and evaluated decomposition after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months in a corn/soy rotation. The results showed no significant difference between tillage systems or Bt and non-Bt hybrid decomposition. These researchers also studied the impact of nitrogen applications on corn residue breakdown over two years in no-till. Immediately after harvest, three N rates (UAN 32 percent) of 0, 30 and 60 lb N/acre were applied to corn residue. A specific amount of residue was placed in nylon mesh bags and left in the field for 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, after which residue decomposition was evaluated. The different rates of N resulted in no differences in rate of decomposition. In general, the longer the residue remained in the field, the more it decomposed over time, regardless of N rate. Thus the authors shared that applying N after harvest for residue decomposition was not effective nor economical as soil and air temperatures decreased over time after harvest. They shared that in general, decomposition of crop residue is primarily influenced by soil moisture and temperature which allow for microbial activity.

Last year I wrote a series of articles for my news column and shared them in CropWatch hhd-baling-teamregarding cornstalk baling. A team of Extension Specialists/Educators and USDA-ARS also worked together on a workshop at 2018 Husker Harvest Days on this topic. I’ve received various reactions to these efforts, but my desire is to present the research. My perspective is twofold:

  1. Better serving farmers/landowners in helping answer your residue management questions via the research available and
  2. With the high winds, dust storms and vehicle accidents last winter/early spring, 
    imag39911

    I took this photo Feb. 2018 on I-80.

    could we potentially rethink residue management besides so much conventional tillage for this part of the State?

I’m not saying conventional tillage doesn’t have a place, especially as we think of one-time burial of weed seed. I just wonder if we can help reduce soil loss by utilizing other methods of residue management, perhaps including increased use of livestock grazing and cornstalk baling under the right field situations?

Summarizing the research, cornstalk baling is not for every piece of ground or every IMAG1311situation. From the research, our recommendations are that baling of corn residue should only occur on ground with less than 5% slope that yields 180 bu/ac or more, harvesting no more than 2 tons/acre. Retaining at least 2.4 tons of residue allowed for soil carbon maintenance and retaining more residue also reduced erosion. Every 40 bu/ac of corn results in 1 ton of residue at 10% moisture. Baling on fields fitting the above-mentioned criteria should occur a maximum of every other year in continuous corn or once every four years in a corn/soy rotation (due to reduced residue already present after soybean harvest). The research showed no significant impact on soil properties or soil carbon following those guidelines. Other recommendations would be to use a reduced tillage system in the field where baling occurred and consider planting a cover crop and/or adding manure.

In 239 site-years across 36 studies, corn residue baling resulted in 3% average yield increase where moisture was not limited, most likely due to more uniform stands. The average nutrients found in 1 ton of corn or sorghum residue was 17 lbs of Nitrogen, 4 lbs of P2O5, 3 lbs of Sulfur, 34 lbs of K2O (which due to Nebraska soils being high in K, the value may be 0-50% of this depending on soil test results), and cations equivalent to 30 lbs of lime. There’s also research that suggests less nitrogen is needed the following year going into corn due to the change in the C:N ratio and increased mineralization. So corn residue baling, based on the research, can be an effective way of managing residue without significantly impacting soil properties if done using the considerations mentioned above. Many fields I’ve observed cornstalk baling in the area this year look good regarding these criteria and most took less than 50% residue off the fields. 

This year we’ve also seen a large increase in soybean residue baling in this part of the State. I realize it’s mostly being used for livestock bedding. In a future column and CropWatch article, the research regarding soybean baling will be shared in addition to an economics comparison of various residue management strategies. I will also share on grazing research for residue management in a future column.

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