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Showing posts from April, 2023

Nitrogen-fixing biological products: New report summarizes research from across the Corn Belt

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist I have been fielding a lot of questions about biological soil fertility products the last few years. With the sheer number of products that are available to farmers, it is not feasible to conduct research on all of them. So, what resources are available? There is a new regional publication put together by Dave Franzen from North Dakota State University summarizing the NCERA 103 committee’s recent research on biological products. While this will not cover every product on the market, the new report contains independent research on several of the most common products being marketed to farmers in the Midwest. Read the full publication (PDF) What are biologicals? While there are many classes of what we call “biostimulants,” most of the more heavily marketed products fall under the category of beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are commonly free-living N fixers that are already found in most of our soils. What is being attempted is to

Special podcast episode: Early season planting update

It's late April in 2023 and it's still wet and difficult to get field work done across the state. While it's a bit too early to discuss pests, the later spring could set the stage for future early-season pest issues, so it's important to look at agronomic issues related to planting when soils are still cold and wet. Dave Nicolai chats with U of M Extension agronomists Drs. Jeff Coulter and Seth Naeve about current field conditions and when to plant corn and soybeans. Listen to the podcast

Manure application: 5 options for high-phosphorus soil

By: Chryseis Modderman, Extension manure management educator Phosphorus is an essential macronutrient for most crops, so it’s needed in the soil. But you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Soils with high phosphorus levels can lead to runoff, putting the environment (especially waterways) at risk. Many areas have regulations requiring a plan to reduce high soil-phosphorus levels over time. From a general nutrient management standpoint, we recommend refraining from applying phosphorus to the soil until the high levels have drawn down to a more moderate level. With commercial fertilizer, this is easy: simply don’t apply a phosphorus fertilizer. If manure is your most common nutrient source, this is trickier. The nutrient ratio of manure is fixed, so we can adjust the application rate up and down, but the overall ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus (and all other nutrients) will remain the same. As if that weren’t challenge enough, manure also tends to overapply phosphorus fo

Strategic Farming: Field Notes launches May 10 with a crop and weather outlook

Join us for the Strategic Farming: Field Notes  launch on May 10th when we welcome Dr. Dennis Todey, Director of the Midwest USDA Climate Hub, for a weather outlook for the 2023 growing season. Dr. Jeff Coulter, UMN Extension corn agronomist, will also be on hand to address corn planting concerns.  Field Notes  is designed for farmers and agricultural professionals as a weekly webinar to address your crop-related questions in real-time in an interactive, discussion-based format. The program begins Wednesday, May 10 from 8:00 – 8:30 a.m and will continue weekly through the 2023 growing season.  Topics will be announced the week of the program and may include issues related to soil fertility, agronomics, pest management, equipment, and more. Learn more and register Can’t make the live session? No problem. The discussion-based series will be posted immediately following the webinar to your favorite podcast-streaming service to listen at your convenience. Thanks to the Minnesota Soybean Re

How to interpret a water test for nitrate

By: Brad Carlson, Extension educator The focus on nitrate concentration in water, both surface and groundwater, has prompted many farmers and other rural residents to submit samples for testing. Most individuals who participate in testing opportunities have genuine curiosity regarding the results, but may not be completely sure as to what they mean. Interpretation of the numbers is not difficult, but it is important to realize that it may not be conclusive either. Sample collection and storage Be sure the sample was collected properly. The sample vessel should be clean prior to collection. Avoid storing the sample at ambient temperature, as this can lead to nitrate loss through denitrification depending on what else might be in the water. If you are not going to have the sample analyzed within a day or two, it is preferable to freeze the sample (making sure the container can withstand this). Interpreting results from tap water You will receive your results in either parts per mil

What are my best options for terminating a cereal rye cover crop this spring?

By: Eric Yu, Graduate Research Assistant; Liz Stahl, Extension Educator - Crops; & Debalin Sarangi, Extension Weed Specialist  Fig. 1. Cereal rye cover crop at the tillering stage in  Rosemount, MN, on May 5, 2022. When managed properly, a fall-planted cereal rye cover crop can provide several soil health and weed management benefits. However, adequate termination of cereal rye in the spring is important for proper cash crop establishment and to prevent the cover crop from becoming an unwanted plant in the field. Inadequate termination can lead to unwanted competition with the cash crop for moisture, nutrients, and/or sunlight, which can ultimately lead to yield reductions of the cash crops.  Evaluating mechanical and chemical options Field experiments were conducted at Lamberton and Rosemount, MN, in 2022 to evaluate various mechanical and chemical options for cereal rye cover crop termination in the spring. The mechanical treatments included mowing the cereal rye at ground level

New study finds foliar fertilizers rarely increase soybean yield

A recent study conducted by agronomists from 16 U.S. states shows that the use of foliar-applied nutrient products on soybean crops does not consistently increase yield. The study, which was conducted over the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons, tested six foliar nutrient treatments on soybean grain yield and composition at 46 different sites. Results showed that soybean grain yield and composition differed among sites but not among foliar fertilizer treatments. The study concludes that the prophylactic use of foliar fertilizers is likely to decrease the profitability of soybean production. As such, foliar fertilizer products tested in this study and similar products should not be recommended to U.S. soybean farmers in the absence of visual symptoms of nutrient deficiency. This finding is important for the soybean farming industry as many farmers have been interested in using foliar-applied nutrient products to increase soybean yield since the 1970s, despite limited evidence that these prod

Crop and livestock integration survey

A Midwestern collaboration is inviting you to participate in a survey that focuses on crop and livestock integration in farm enterprises.  Survey responses will help the the collaborators better understand both opportunities and challenges in integrated systems in the cornbelt and identify environmental, economic, and social benefits.  Farming practices that integrate crops and livestock, such as grazing cover crops or crop residue, can create mutual benefits on both the crop and livestock sides. For example, crop enterprises can save on fertilizer costs, break pest and disease cycles, add soil organic matter, market their cover crop as forages, and potentially receive ecosystem service credits; while livestock enterprises can use cover crops and crop residue to stretch the grazing season into winter.  Take the survey . “ Match Made In Heaven: Livestock + Crops ,”is a collaboration of over 50 groups and includes crop and livestock associations, state and federal agencies, universities

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops! focused on planter settings and soybean planting considerations

By Angie Peltier, UMN Extension crops educator & Brian Luck, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison Extension machinery ag systems specialist and Seth Naeve, UMN Extension soybean agronomist On March 29, 2023, Brian Luck and Seth Naeve joined UMN Extension crops educator Dave Nicolai for a conversation about planter setting and soybean planting considerations. This was the final episode in the 2023 Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops! series of webinars. To watch this episode: Which closing wheels provide the best corn emergence? For three years over multiple locations (13 site-years), Dr. Brian Luck’s team researched what had initially come to him as a question from a local watershed group in Wisconsin about which closing wheels worked best in heavy residue or when planting into a living cover crop. In plots long enough (80 ft) so that the 140-170 horsepower tractor could reach and maintain a speed of 5 mph under RTK guidance, Luck’s team tested

Before applying manure, check the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast

By: Chryseis Modderman, Extension educator Ding! It’s dawn and I get a text from the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast telling me, “Areas in my county are under severe runoff risk for today.” I click the link and zoom in on the GIS map to see that, yup, my whole area is likely to experience snow melt, and therefore, runoff; today might not be a good day to apply manure. I’m glad I opted into text alerts to tell me, so I don’t waste time and resources applying a nutrient source that’s going to run off and be useless to my crops and possibly end up in a waterway. The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is a free online tool that compiles data from weather forecasts and local weather stations to help farmers and commercial applicators determine the best time to apply manure. This tool doesn’t just take precipitation into account to predict runoff, it also looks at soil temperature, soil moisture content, and snow accumulation and melt. In addition to runoff risk forecasted up to 72 hours in the fu

Starter fertilizer for corn: 5 things to know

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist & Jeff Vetsch, soil scientist, UMN SROC The inclusion of starter fertilizer in cropping systems is decreasing in some areas of Minnesota, yet crop producers still have interest if the practice contributes to greater yield. While starter does make sense in some circumstances, getting an economic benefit is not always guaranteed. Here are a few things to consider before trying to determine if starter fertilizer is right for you. 1. Make your decision Research does not overwhelmingly support the widespread use of starter fertilizer across Minnesota. The most noticeable benefit to starter is increased early growth. However, this effect can be purely cosmetic and not provide any benefits for yield. The primary benefit to in-furrow application is enhanced uptake of nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, that are in short supply early in the growing season. Reduced tillage systems may have a greater benefit when using in-furrow st

Spring fertilizer outlook: What should farmers be thinking about in 2023?

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, we’re discussing spring fertilizer decisions. Will the dry conditions last year have repercussions on how fertilizer is managed this year? What considerations should growers be making regarding fertilizer for a potentially late spring? Is there any new research on fertilizer products like biologicals or inhibitors that Minnesota growers should be aware of? Transcript Guests: Brad Carlson ( ), Extension educator (Mankato) Daniel Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist (St. Paul) Jeff Vetsch, U of M researcher (Waseca) Additional resources: For the second year in row, taking a pre-plant soil nitrate test this spring could pay big Planting or nitrogen application: With a wet spring, which one comes first? Nutrient Management Podcast: Phosphorus and potassium application in a late spring What's new on the topic of biostimulants? --- For the latest nutrient management information, subscribe to the Nutrient M