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Showing posts from March, 2021

How Deep is Too Deep?

Jochum Wiersma, Extension small grains specialist This is my next installment in the 'how much is too much' series of blog posts. As of March 25th, the US Drought Monitor has all of Minnesota either rated as abnormally dry or in a moderate drought. That probably has you wonder how deep you can seed wheat, barley, and oats to get it into moisture. Ideally, we like you to seed wheat, barley, and oats around 1.5 inches deep. The idea is that the seed should be placed deep enough to have access to adequate moisture yet shallow enough to emerge as quickly as possible. Seeds too close to the surface absorb moisture but are at risk of dying because roots cannot reach moisture quickly enough to sustain the germination and seedling growth. Deeper seeding can reduce stand density and plant vigor because of the inability of the coleoptile to reach the surface. Given the dry conditions, the question arises how deep we dare to drill wheat, barley, and oats down to place the seed into

On-farm research helps to complement, challenge Minnesota's corn nitrogen guidelines

By: Paul McDivitt, Extension communications specialist University agricultural research has traditionally relied on small plot research on university-owned land, making some growers uneasy about applying university findings on their own farm. Two on-farm research projects in Minnesota are putting the University of Minnesota’s corn fertilizer guidelines to the test on farms around the state. AFREC on-farm research Minnesota’s fertilizer check-off dollars fund the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Promotion Council (AFREC) , which is made up of representatives from many of the state’s largest agricultural groups. Starting in 2017, AFREC funded independent agronomist Matt Wiebers to work with growers and crop consultants around the state to conduct on-farm research trials to study nitrogen (N) rates. Wiebers wanted to know if the university’s suggested nitrogen rates (currently 120 to 145 pounds of N for corn-following-soybean and 152 to 180 pounds for corn-following-corn at the .10 p

Why corn growers shouldn’t overreact to rising nitrogen fertilizer prices

By: Brad Carlson, Extension Educator The recent increase in fertilizer prices has created quite a buzz in the agricultural community. With the price of most types of nitrogen fertilizer doubling since fall, many corn growers are questioning whether they should adjust their nitrogen fertility plans for the 2021 growing season. The short answer is: probably not. Price ratios and the MRTN system In 2005, most states in the Midwest, including Minnesota, adopted the Maximum Return To Nitrogen (MRTN) method of determining appropriate N rates for corn. At that time there was a significant increase in fertilizer prices and many farmers were asking whether the guidelines should be modified to reflect increased N fertilizer costs. One of the nice things about the MRTN rate calculator is that it is adaptable to changes in prices by using a price ratio. The price ratio is a simple calculation of the current cost of N fertilizer (per pound) divided by the price of corn. For example, if N is

Video: Why soil structure is important for crop production

In this short video, Extension soil health specialist Anna Cates discusses why soil structure matters for crop production. She takes you into soil pits in a recently harvested pea field in south-central Minnesota to explore how farming practices can change soil structure. Cates also provides growers with useful tips for maintaining and restoring healthy soil structure. Additional resources: Minnesota-specific cover crop recipes: z.umn.edu/MNcovercrops Minnesota Office of Soil Health (MOSH): mosh.umn.edu Gopher Coffee Shop podcast: Soil health research and outreach Blog post:  Growing cover crops in Minnesota: 4 great resources to get you started Video produced by: Eve Daniels, Paul McDivitt, & Adam Olson --- For the latest nutrient management information, subscribe to Minnesota Crop News email alerts, follow UMN Extension Nutrient Management on Facebook  and  Twitter , and visit our website . Support for Minnesota Crop News nutrient management blog posts is provided in part by the

Optimize the rotation from alfalfa to corn

 by Jeff Coulter, Extension corn agronomist Including alfalfa in a crop rotation can provide several benefits to the first two crops of corn that follow it. When compared to rotations with only annual crops, these benefits often include reduced soil compaction, improved soil aggregation and soil infiltration rate, a reduction in soil- and residue-borne pathogens and insect pests, lower populations of annual weeds, potential for earlier corn planting, and most notably greater corn yield and reduced nitrogen (N) application requirement for corn. Grain yield benefits Across 15 years in Wisconsin and 21 and 30 years in Iowa , grain yield of first-year corn following alfalfa was 9 to 18% greater than that of continuous corn and 0 to 8% greater than that of corn following soybean (Mallarino and Ortiz-Torrez, 2006; Stanger and Lauer, 2008). Additionally, grain yield of second-year corn following alfalfa was 6 to 8% greater than that of continuous corn, but up to 8% less than that of corn foll

Sauk Centre Hay Auctions: March 2021

Nathan Drewitz, Extension Educator-Crops, Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties Keeping up with current local hay prices is important for livestock producers and growers. The Mid-American Hay Auction in Sauk Centre, Minnesota provides an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of what current hay prices are for the region. That hay auction information is organized, summarized, and listed below.

When is Early Too Early (part II)

Jochum Wiersma, Extension small grains specialist Below is a bit more detail about the risks of seeding wheat, barley, and oats too early. This is an excerpt from a 2012 blog post I didn't have access to last week. I have updated a few things in this blog post, including the 10-day extended outlook for the southern and northwestern half of the state. Spring wheat (and spring barley and oats) will start germinating in earnest when soil temperatures reach 40⁰F. Once the imbibition phase starts there is no return to dormancy and the germination/emergence should be as quick as possible to establish a healthy, vigorous seedling. Protracted emergence will predispose the seeding to attacks of soilborne fungi like Pythium damping-off or common root rot, ultimately reducing stands. Daytime highs in the sixties and night temperatures around 40 are great and will allow the crop to emerge in 8 to 10 days and make for a robust stand. During this whole germination and seedling eme

Wheat nutrient management: How to maximize yield and maintain protein near 14%

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, two U of M researchers and Dave Franzen from North Dakota State University discuss wheat nutrient management. Why is nitrogen important for wheat production? What makes managing nitrogen more challenging for wheat than for corn? What was the rationale behind recent changes to the wheat nitrogen guidelines in North Dakota? What are the best management options for ensuring high wheat yields that maintain protein near 14%? Listen to the podcast View the podcast transcript Guests: Dan Kaiser, Extension nitrogen management specialist Jochum Wiersma, Extension agronomist at the Northwest Research & Outreach Center Dave Franzen, Extension soil specialist, North Dakota State University Additional resources: U of M Extension's wheat fertilizer recommendations NDSU's wheat nitrogen calculator NDSU small grains fertility management Subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode on iTunes and Stitcher ! For the latest nutrient m

With rising fertilizer prices, how can farmers reduce costs this spring?

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist In talking with growers this winter, some have voiced concerns about planning for the 2021 cropping season with rising fertilizer prices. This is a good time to go back through a few fundamentals when it comes to planning fertilizer purchases. Here are a few tips that I would suggest growers consider if they are looking to reduce fertilizer costs this upcoming spring. 1. Prioritize macronutrients over micronutrients Cutting fertilizer application rates across the board is not the only way to trim costs. For corn, the nutrient that is going to provide the greatest return on investment is nitrogen (N) as it is generally most limiting to the crop. The need for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) for a crop is highly dependent on management philosophy. The soil can contain enough of each nutrient that it may be easier to cut down on P and K than N or sulfur (S), which readily leach from the soil in their crop-available forms. I also c

When is Early too Early

The last couple of days really have felt like spring has already sprung. You heard me say more than once that you should seed spring wheat, barley, oats early and as soon as the ground is ready. But can you actually be too early? The simplest answer is 'probably not', as long as the seed can get through the imbibition phase and the little germ starts actively growing. Once the radicle and shoot appear, the young seedling can handle some freezing temperatures even if the coleoptile hasn't reached the soil surface yet.  So if you can prepare a good seedbed and the immediate forecast is warm enough that you can accumulate about 150 to 180 growing degree days in the 4 to 5 days after seeding, and before freezing temperatures return, you can probably seed your first small grains.  Even if we're only the middle of March and winter weather might return later this month or in April. 

Spring fertilizer decisions: Should you use nitrogen inhibitors and other enhanced efficiency fertilizers?

Urea vs polymer-coated urea, 24 hours after application. The polymer-coated urea is still on the surface whereas the urea has started to hydrolyze and some was probably lost by volatilization as NH3. Please note that applying polymer-coated urea on the soil surface (as pictured) is not suggested, as heavy rainfall can lead to runoff of the granules that float with water. By: Fabian Fernandez, Extension nitrogen management specialist Enhanced efficiency fertilizers, such as nitrogen inhibitors and slow- and controlled-release products, are fertilizer that has been modified to reduce losses to the environment and increase nutrient availability. These products can help farmers increase yield, save on fertilizer costs, and protect the environment, but there are some things you should keep in mind. Nitrogen inhibitors Inhibitors are sometimes referred to as stabilizers, but I believe this word can be misleading. In the soil, there is nothing stable about urea or ammonium. They will eventual

Growing cover crops in Minnesota: 4 great resources to get you started

By: Anna Cates, Extension soil health specialist There are a lot of choices associated with planting cover crops—species (and even variety!), planting method, date, termination plan—and it all has to fit with your cash crop management system. Incorporating cover crops into your system could change your tillage regime , fertility, and weed control for cash crops.  As spring planning gives way to spring planting, it’s a good time to consider how implementing cover crops can work on your farm. Below are some resources on cover crops, many newly updated from the U of M and regional partners. U of M Extension Cover Crops web pages. Extension’s website has lots of useful information on cover crops, including the benefits of cover crops , how to evaluate the herbicides in your rotation for interaction with cover crops, and termination options . This site includes research updates and recommendations as they come out, so check back! The  Minnesota Cover Crop Research Guide  (funded by the M

Register now for Advancing Ag series: Smart manure management

Smart manure management - innovative practices that are showing great potential to improve our food production system will be the topic of discussion at the SWROC’s March Advancing Ag webinar on Wednesday, March 24th at 11 a.m. To register for this free webinar, visit z.umn.edu/advancing-ag. Associate Professor Paulo Pagliari will lead a panel discussion on innovative manure management practices including the benefits of injecting liquid manure into cover crops, side-dressing emerged corn with liquid manure, and water quality and manure management. Panelists include: Glen Arnold, Associate Professor and Manure Nutrient Management Specialist at Ohio State University Christine Brown, Field Crops Sustainability Specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Melissa Wilson, Assistant Professor and Manure Nutrient Management Specialist at University of Minnesota This diverse panel of researchers will engage in a dialogue with one another and take questions from p

Alfalfa production survey - Seeking your help

Jared Goplen, Extension Educator - Crops The University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, and the USDA-ARS are asking farmers and crop consultants to complete a quick 10-minute survey to help increase our knowledge base on alfalfa production practices in the upper Midwest.  This survey is designed to help inform an alfalfa and sustainable cropping systems project exploring how changing crop rotations and alfalfa production methods affects soil health, crop and dairy production systems, and farm profitability. The information you share will help us understand how alfalfa production varies and could be improved across the upper Midwest If you produce alfalfa or work with producers to make management decisions, please visit https://z.umn.edu/alfalfasurvey for more details and to participate in the survey. Participation is completely voluntary. Information provided will remain anonymous. We thank all respondents in advance for their participation!

Sauk Centre Hay Auctions: February 2021

Nathan Drewitz, Extension Educator-Crops, Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties Keeping up with current local hay prices is important for livestock producers and growers. The Mid-American Hay Auction in Sauk Centre, Minnesota provides an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of what current hay prices are for the region. That hay auction information is organized, summarized, and listed below.

Wheat nutrient management

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, two U of M researchers and Dave Franzen from North Dakota State University discuss wheat nutrient management. Why is nitrogen important for wheat production? What makes managing nitrogen more challenging for wheat than for corn? What was the rationale behind recent changes to the wheat nitrogen guidelines in North Dakota? What are the best management options for ensuring high wheat yields that maintain protein near 14%? Thank you to Minnesota's Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) for supporting the podcast.

Manure Research Update: Injecting liquid manure into a cover crop

By: Melissa Wilson, Extension manure management specialist, and Manuel Sabbagh, graduate student Key Points: Injecting cover crops with liquid manure can work but using low-disturbance injection is important. When it comes to corn yield, manure application timing in the fall appears to be more critical than if a cover crop was planted or not. When corn followed corn (sweet corn or silage), fall manure tended to increase yield compared to spring-applied fertilizer. This was especially the case when manure was applied when soil temperatures were at or below 50°F. On the other hand, when corn followed soybean, manure and fertilizer resulted in similar yield. What we did: Our goal was two-fold. First, we wanted to test different cover crop planting times or techniques to get cover crops established more consistently. Second, we wanted to see if a cover crop can help retain the nutrients provided by the manure to the soil, even if the manure was injected a little earlier in the fall than we