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Take a picture - Identify weeds

by Jared Goplen – Extension Educator, Crops

It really can be that simple. Last summer I was introduced to an app / website called iNaturalist, a tool commonly used by those working in natural resources. While it can be used to help identify nearly any species, it works especially well to identify weeds. Best of all it is free!

The app / website works by using facial recognition software and machine-learning to provide an instantaneous “likely” ID based on what the software matches the picture to. The app then provides descriptions and pictures of the “likely” matches to help determine what the species might be. Finally, you can upload the photo so other users can confirm your ID or provide other suggestions via crowdsourcing.

At first I was skeptical that an app like this would actually be useful. In trying it last summer, however, even difficult identifications would at least key to the genus-level with the photo-recognition aspect. This at least sped up the process of using a wee…
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Safe Handling of Treated Seed

By Lizabeth Stahl, Extension Educator in Crops and Bruce Potter, Integrated Pest Management Specialist

A significant amount of seed planted this year will have been treated with one or more fungicide, insecticide, nematicide, or biological seed treatments. The following are some key precautions and reminders to follow when working with treated seed to help prevent pesticide exposure to handlers, non-target organisms, and the environment.

Read the seed tag label.  This is a basic, but key first step in understanding what steps and precautions to take when working with seed that has been treated with a particular product(s).  Be familiar with any restrictions listed on the seed bag label before you use the seed. Wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling treated seed. Most seed tag labels will state that at minimum, a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and chemical-resistant gloves be worn when handling treated seed.Take care of any spills immediately.  Clean up or co…

Updates to corn and soybean potassium fertilizer guidelines in Minnesota

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension Specialist

Changes were recently made to the University of Minnesota’s potassium (K) fertilizer guidelines for corn and soybean. These changes were made to reflect research evaluating critical soil test levels and primarily centers on medium and fine textured soils.
How are the new guidelines different? The new guidelines follow the same fertilization strategy used in Minnesota for many years. The guidelines differ in that the ranges for the soil K classes have been adjusted to reflect current research which has shown the need for slightly higher critical soil test K levels for poorly drained medium to fine textured soils. Changes in the ranges were made for both corn and soybean, putting the critical level at 200 parts per million (ppm). These changes reflect the use of the dried ammonium acetate K test, which is recommended in Minnesota. In addition, suggested K application rates for soybean have been increased for the Medium and High soil test K classif…

Farmers sampling for soybean cyst nematode (SCN) surprised by what they find

Angie Peltier and Jared Goplen, Extension educators and Seth Naeve, Extension soybean agronomist
Sampling program results Samples submitted through the Minnesota SCN sampling and education program originated from 28 Minnesota counties, with the majority of the 363 samples coming from the most newly infested northwest region (Figure 1). While 49.6% of samples had SCN population densities below the limit of detection of 50 eggs per 100 cubic cm of soil, the remaining 50.4% tested positive. One sample submitted through this survey included the first documented infestation in Beltrami County.

Among samples testing positive:
43% had egg densities high enough to cause some yield loss on SCN susceptible varieties.45% had egg densities high enough to cause yield loss even on SCN resistant varieties.7% had egg densities so high that soybean yields would be impacted enough that planting soybeans would not be recommended (2). Research has shown that when SCN is present at moderate densities, p…

Winterkilled or delayed alfalfa termination - Should I consider planting soybean?

Lisa Behnken, Fritz Breitenbach, Ryan Miller and Jeff Gunsolus

Plans change. Perhaps you planned to terminate an alfalfa stand last fall but the weather made tillage impossible to complete. Or, the winter weather has severely damaged your alfalfa stand. In either situation, is planting soybean after alfalfa when it's terminated in the spring a viable option?

Spring termination of an alfalfa stand due to planned rotation or winter injury can increase the probability of volunteer alfalfa in the subsequent crop. Volunteer alfalfa becomes even more challenging to control if it is a glyphosate tolerant variety. Our studies show that soybean technologies (dicamba-, 2,4-D-, and glufosinate-tolerant) offered herbicide choices that controlled volunteer alfalfa well after spring termination, making soybean a viable crop option.
Planting decision Corn is the preferred crop to plant in rotation after alfalfa, due to its nitrogen contributions. In addition, volunteer alfalfa is easier …

5 tips for designing on-farm field trials

By: Brad Carlson, Extension educator

With planting season right around the corner, many farmers are looking at designing on-farm trials in some of their fields. Here are a few pointers to help ensure that you are able to answer the questions you are trying to evaluate:
1. Choose a uniform site Avoid fields that have areas of poor drainage, or sandy spots. Also, make sure that the field received consistent management in the recent past. Some things that could cause problems include: old field boundaries, uneven manure applications or partial residue removal (like baling corn stalks from only half of the field). Variability in the soil that you cannot see can cause yield variability, so controlling what you can see is critical.
2. Use replication and randomization Simply splitting a field, or comparing one field to another, cannot provide reliable answers to agronomic questions. Even with no differences in management, you will find a higher yield in one field versus another, and …

5 tips for managing potassium fertilizer

By: Daniel Kaiser, Extension specialist

Decisions on optimal fertilizer management can be challenging in years with low commodity prices. Work is underway to overhaul the corn and soybean potassium (K) guidelines in Minnesota. When making decisions for applying K for corn and soybean, here are a few things that you should consider: 1. Focus on rate, not timing Applying the correct rate that is needed over one or two years in a crop rotation has been shown to be more important than the time when the fertilizer is applied. Much of our current data has demonstrated that timing of application in a multi-year cropping rotation is not important. Applying ahead of the crop that will get the greatest advantage from the K is the best way to get the most bang for your buck.
2. Focus on a proven yield, not a yield goal When making decisions about how much K to apply, it can be difficult to determine what yield should be used for both a sufficiency-based or build and maintenance strateg…