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.
Nitrogen Rate and Nitrogen Model Studies: One topic that has much discussion at winter meetings this year is nitrogen rates. I know many people did what they could to get fertilizer applied last fall. Yet for those who are still planning on applying spring and/or in-season nitrogen, there’s also much discussion about rates. This is one of our on-farm research focuses for this year: to compare nitrogen rates. We’ve done quite a bit of research with timings and inhibitors. I think there’s more to learn when it comes to rates. And, I think there’s opportunity for all of us to work together to learn more.
One option to study this is to compare full-length strips across the field of a grower rate to 50 lb +/- that rate (or if that’s too scary, 30 lb +/- that rate). For example, if the grower rate is 180 lb N on corn/corn ground, also comparing 230 lb N/ac and 130 lb/ac. I shared the data from 5 nitrogen rate/timing studies conducted in York/Hamilton counties in a previous blog post. The data showed in 4 of the 5 studies, no more than 7 bu/ac less yield with 50 lb less N/ac and in all 5 of the studies, no more than 7 bu/ac yield increase by adding 50 lb N/Ac. This was very interesting to the grower and has been interesting to others who have commented on the studies.
Another option for comparing rates is to use precision ag tools and compare what models such as Granular, Adapt N, Maize N recommend vs. a grower rate. Nitrogen ramps (varying nitrogen rate blocks of 50 lb N/ac differences) can also be included. That may sound complicated but is less so with precision technology using prescriptions and then harvesting using yield maps. These prescriptions could also be built by zones in the field comparing a grower rate vs. a nitrogen model rate if the grower preferred. There’s a number of ways to compare nitrogen rates. We just feel this is an excellent time to try some of these things. And, on-farm research provides a way to try this on a smaller number of acres before trying it larger scale on more acres.
There is also a financial stipend for trying precision nitrogen studies via a USDA grant that Nebraska on-farm research received. So, would encourage farmers, and crop consultants/ag industry professionals to consider working with a farmer(s) to try some of these in the future. To learn more, go to: go.unl.edu/PrecisionNitrogen. For those interested in field scale nitrogen rate strips across your field, please contact me or your local Extension educator. And, if you’re interested in learning about the results of all the nitrogen studies from 2021, consider signing up for the on-farm research meeting in York on Feb. 17 at: GO.UNL.EDU/2022ONFARMRESEARCH.
Practical Cover Crop Management: I so appreciated Keith Berns sharing at our Practical Cover Crop meeting last Friday! The discussion and questions throughout that time is what I was hoping for with this meeting in all of us learning from each other and together. I’m not recording them and my goal with these meetings is the discussion/interaction/connections, so if you’d really like the information, it’d be most helpful to attend in person. This next meeting on Friday, Feb. 11 from 10-Noon at the 4-H Building in York will be on termination timing of cover crops, including planting green. I’ve asked a number of farmers to share their experiences as each does things slightly differently in their corn/soybeans with tillage practices, timing, herbicides/lack of. This is very informal with just discussion and please come with your questions and willingness to share as well! It is helpful for me to have RSVP at 402-362-5508 but I do allow for walk-ins.
Save the Date! Two newly scheduled upcoming meetings include an Estate Planning meeting in Seward at the Extension Office on March 8th at 1:30 p.m. Also, a small grain silage conference on March 17th at ENREC near Mead: HTTPS://GO.UNL.EDU/SILAGEFORBEEF2022.