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Showing posts from March, 2022

Kernza: What is it and why should farmers consider growing it?

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, we discuss Kernza, on track to becoming the world's first perennial grain crop.  What is Kernza and why should farmers consider growing it?  What do we know about Kernza’s soil fertility needs?  For organic producers, what nitrogen sources are suitable for production?  What is Kernza’s potential to be used as a “dual-use crop”? View the podcast transcript Guests: Jake Jungers, U of M Assistant Professor, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics Jared Goplen, Extension educator - crops Brad Heins, U of M Associate Professor of Animal Science, West Central Research and Outreach Center Additional resources: Kernza website Kernza: Perennial Progress at University of Minnesota U of M Forever Green - Kernza U of M Sustainable Cropping - Kernza Minnesota Kernza Twitter account --- For the latest nutrient management information, subscribe to the Nutrient Management Podcast wherever you listen and never miss an episode! And don't for

Taking soil samples for nitrogen analysis could pay big this year

By: Brad Carlson, Extension educator Record high nitrogen (N) fertilizer prices have received plenty of attention over the past several months. While farmers are scratching their heads trying to keep input costs down, an unusual opportunity is presenting itself this spring. Last year’s exceptionally dry weather may have led to a nitrogen carryover credit that is not normally there. The 2021 drought and soil nitrate levels The nitrogen cycle naturally converts nitrogen in soil to the nitrate form. The nitrate ion is negatively charged, like soil particles, and therefore is not bound to the soil. Nitrate moves readily with water beyond the rooting zone or it can be lost via “denitrification” to the atmosphere if the soil stays saturated for long periods of time. Some nitrate naturally accumulates in the soil after the crop matures but before the soil cools down. This accumulated nitrate, together with any leftover fertilizer from the previous growing season, is usually lost during

Strategic Farming session focused on biological pest control

Phyllis Bongard, Educational content development and communications specialist Sometimes organisms in our fields are already helping us with pest control. Dr. George Heimpel, University of Minnesota entomologist, joined Extension Educator Anthony Hanson for a discussion on the types of organisms that can aid you in managing soybean aphid in the March 23 session of Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops! The hunt for biological control agents The soybean aphid, a major pest of soybean, invaded the U.S. from eastern Asia in 2000. Shortly after its arrival, Dr. Heimpel and other entomologists traveled to Asia to hunt for natural predators of this pest. Their hope was that they might be able to bring biological control agents back to the United States for release in soybean fields. Parasitic wasp attacking an aphid They found about 20 species of tiny parasitic wasps, called parasitoids, that were attacking the soybean aphids in their native range. Some of these went through extensive safety

Those pretty flowers by the side of the road: Birdsfoot trefoil

 Craig Shaeffer, Agronomy Professor, Jared Goplen, Extension educator-crops, Troy Salzer, Extension educator, Roger Becker, Extension weed scientist, and Nancy Ehlke, Agronomy Professor Figure 1. Roadside revegetation with a mixture of birdsfoot trefoil and cool season perennial grasses. Among the dried grasses on roadsides and pastures during this past summer’s drought, the eye-catching bright yellow flowers of birdsfoot trefoil (BTF) emerged (Figure 1). Though its use as a forage has declined, birdsfoot trefoil can still make significant contributions in a grazing system. In addition to its high forage quality, the legume can supply nitrogen to grasses in the mixture and together they stabilize the soil, reducing wind and water erosion. Identification and growth habit Figure 2. A close-up of birdsfoot trefoil inflorescence in a group of 4-8 flowers. Note the elongated seed pods that resemble a bird's foot. Birdsfoot trefoil has clusters of 4-8 flowers that are arranged in an

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops! session discusses whether and why we should want to store carbon in production ag systems

By Angie Peltier, UMN Extension crops educator, and Phyllis Bongard, UMN Extension educational content development and communications specialist Strip-till in corn. Over the last couple of years, it seems that few weeks go by without at least one new article or video about carbon markets in the ag press each week. On March 16, 2022, Dr. Anna Cates, University of Minnesota Extension state soil health specialist and Jodi DeJong-Hughes, UMN Extension soil health and water quality educator joined UMN Extension crops educator Liz Stahl for a wide-ranging discussion on whether storing carbon is possible in production ag systems and the potential benefits to soil resiliency (and one’s pocketbook) by working to improve soil health. This was the eleventh episode of the 2022 Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops! webinars. To watch this episode: Carbon Smart Carbon is the one of earth’s most common and important elements and is one of life’s building blocks. Carbon m

High nitrogen fertilizer prices: Is now the time to try polymer-coated urea?

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, & Jeff Vetsch, soil scientist, Southern Research and Outreach Center (SROC) With high fertilizer prices, farmers are looking for alternatives to make every pound of nitrogen (N) fertilizer count. Is now the time to try controlled-release polymer-coated urea? To be as efficient as possible with nitrogen, the most important thing you can do is to follow our soil fertility best management practices (BMPs), which have been established through years of unbiased research. While nitrogen management discussions are often centered around nitrogen rate, it is i

It's time for frost seeding: Using legumes to meet nitrogen needs

Criag Sheaffer, Agronomy Professor, Jochum Wiersma, Extension small grains specialist, and Jared Goplen, Extension educator-crops Figure 1. Frost seeding red clover into intermediate wheatgrass, a new perennial grain.  “Frost seeding” is the seeding of legumes and grasses on the soil when it is frozen during late winter and early spring. With frost seeding the seed becomes buried in the soil through alternating freezing and thawing events. When favorable temperatures (45 F and above) occur, the seed germinates and emerges. It's considered a simple, low-cost approach to improve pastures and to add red clover to overwintering grains. Establishing nitrogen-fixing legumes provides additional advantages when fertilizer prices are high as they allow nitrogen to be fixed from the atmosphere and can replace at least a portion of costly nitrogen fertilizer. Frost seeding for pasture improvement/renovation Frost seeding is often recommended for pasture improvement or renovation when tillag

EPA Approves 2022 Minnesota-specific restrictions for dicamba herbicide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given approval to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) state-specific use restrictions for three dicamba herbicide products during the 2022 growing season in Minnesota. The restrictions are aimed at curbing off-site movement of the products. The affected dicamba formulations are Engenia by BASF, Tavium by Syngenta, and XtendiMax by Bayer. These are the only three dicamba products labeled for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans. Date and temperature restrictions were added to the dicamba label as follows: DATE CUTOFF : No application shall be made south of Interstate 94 after June 12, 2022. North of Interstate 94, use is prohibited after June 30, 2022. TEMPERATURE CUTOFF STATEWIDE : No application shall be made if the air temperature of the field at the time of application is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit or if the National Weather Service’s forecasted high temperature for the nearest available location for the day exceeds 85 degre

Benefits of legume-grass mixtures

Craig Sheaffer, Agronomy Professor, Jared Goplen, Extension educator - crops, Carmen Fernholz, Farmer, and Troy Salzer, Extension educator An alfalfa-meadow fescue mixture. Meadow fescue is a relatively new grass in MN, with good persistance and high fiber digestibility. Source: J.H. Cherney, Cornell University The most compelling reasons to use mixtures containing both legumes and grasses are related to the benefits of plant diversity on sward productivity, yield persistence, and livestock nutrition. Advantages of a forage mixture Legumes and grasses have unique herbage and root morphology traits that allow for a greater combined use of environmental resources such as light, moisture and minerals. However, legumes and grasses should be selected for mixtures with similar adaptation to harvest regimes and environmental conditions. Here are some agronomic benefits: Legumes have unique root systems . Nodules on legume roots are able to fix N from the air for their own nutrition and can

Tenth Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops! focused on corn insects

Phyllis Bongard, Educational content development and communications specialist Western corn rootworm feeding on corn silks When it comes to corn insect pests, successful management requires planning ahead and knowing which pests are in your fields. Bruce Potter, IPM specialist and Dr. Ken Ostlie, recently retired Extension entomologist, joined Extension Educator Anthony Hanson for a wide-ranging discussion on what corn insect issues we might expect in 2022 in the March 9 session of Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops! Know your pests! Minnesota corn insect pests fall into two broad groups. The first group includes insect pests that can survive our winters, such as corn rootworm and European corn borer. The second group, which includes black cutworms and armyworms, cannot tolerate our freezing winter temperatures and migrate in from the southern U.S. Migratory corn insect pests The risk of crop damage from these insect pests in 2022 depends not only on the conditions where they overw