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Showing posts from February, 2024

Cover crops in Minnesota: Recent challenges and future solutions

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, we’re talking about recent cover crop challenges and potential solutions. What were the cover crop issues for 2022 and 2023? Based on the conditions right now and from last spring, what might some good management practices be going forward? What was the decision-making process for adjusting rye seeding rate requirements in the fall of 2024 when drilled? What advice would the panel have for someone brand new to cover crops, and who has concerns that were exacerbated by this last cycle? TRANSCRIPT   Guests: Anna Cates, Extension soil health specialist (St. Paul) Jeff Vetsch, U of M researcher (Waseca) Jared House, Grant County Soil & Water Conservation District (Elbow Lake) Ryan Buetow, Minnesota NRCS State Agronomist (St. Paul) Additional resources: Why did cover crops cause issues in Minnesota the last two years and what should growers do going forward? Recording of Feb. 2024 Strategic Farming webinar on "Thirsty cover cro

MN CropCast: U of M Agronomy Alum Update with Matt Pfarr

In episode #30 David Nicolai and Seth Naeve chat with Matt Pfarr. Matt is a Field Solutions Manager for Lallemand Plant Care and a graduate of the Applied Plant Sciences graduate degree at the University of Minnesota. We invited Matt into the studio to talk about his own history, his time at the University of Minnesota and Lallemand, and the biologicals business. We had a great time. Matt talked about his family’s strong ties to the University of Minnesota. Not only did his father attend the U, but so did he and his three siblings (and their spouses). All four have CFANS based degrees and his sister continues to work as a postdoctoral research geneticist with the Cereal Disease Laboratory. Matt worked on a soybean physiology project with Seth from 2014-2016. His experiments were focused on environmental effects on secondary constituents of soybean seed. Today, his work forms the cornerstone of our understanding of the tradeoffs between protein quantity and quality in soybean th

Farmers needed for research on soil pests in corn and soybean

Drs. Fei Yang, Extension corn entomologist, and Bob Koch, Extension soybean entomologist, are initiating a new project to evaluate pests that feed on seeds and seedlings in corn and soybean fields. In areas with severe infestations, these pests can cause significant stand losses or even require replanting of fields. Despite these potential impacts, much remains unknown about these pests in Minnesota corn and soybean. They are seeking cooperating farmers to allow their research team to sample corn and soybean fields from April to June 2024 . They are especially interested in sampling corn and soybean fields with the following characteristics: have recently come out of pasture, CRP, etc., are no-till, are following cover crops, have high organic matter, and/or have not had insecticide seed treatments used in recent years. However, the sampling will not be limited to fields with those characteristics. Farmers with fields selected for sampling will receive a free report on the pests enco

Manure and minimum tillage: How to balance soil health and nutrient loss goals

By: Chryseis Modderman, Extension educator In the manure management world, we’re constantly telling you to incorporate your manure into the soil; get it under the soil surface as soon as possible after application or you could lose up to half of your total nitrogen. This advice directly contradicts soil health advice which advocates for minimum soil disturbance. Both recommendations are correct, and manure use and soil health are complements, not contradictions; so, what is a producer to do? Why do we recommend manure incorporation? We’re trying to minimize volatilization and nutrient stratification. Volatilization occurs when the ammonium form of nitrogen in manure converts to ammonia gas and is lost to the atmosphere. Volatilization is minimized when the manure is incorporated into the soil and not left on the surface. Most of this loss happens within the first 24 hours of application, and after four days we consider nearly all the ammonium form nitrogen to be gone. Remember, manure

Announcing the University of Minnesota Extension Cover Crop Academy

By Liz Stahl, Extension Educator - Crops, Phyllis Bongard, Educational Content Development & Communications Specialist, and Anna Cates, Extension Specialist in Soil Health Do you work with farmers who want to use cover crops but are struggling to incorporate them into Minnesota’s short growing season? Are you striving to help producers build soil health systems that are agronomically and economically successful? If you want to learn more about using cover crops to help address crop production challenges, join us for the University of Minnesota Extension Cover Crop Academy. The UMN Extension Cover Crop Academy is a hybrid, year-long, statewide course for crop advisors, consultants, educators, agency personnel, and ag advisors who work with cover crops in coops, ag retailers, lending institutions, non-profits, soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices. This unique opportunity will take a deep dive into cover crops and wil

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops focused on what pays for soybean pest management

Phyllis Bongard, Extension content development and communications specialist, Bob Koch, Extension soybean entomologist Which soybean pest management practices will pay off in 2024? Dr. Bob Koch, Extension soybean entomologist, described the latest developments in soybean pests and their management in the February 21 Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops session. Soybean aphid Insecticide management Early soybean aphid infestation. Photo: Bob Koch For over 20 years, insecticides have been used to control soybean aphids (SBA). Keeping track of the available products has been something of a roller coaster ride recently, particularly as it pertains to chlorpyrifos, one of the organophosphate insecticides (Group 1B). In 2022, the EPA revoked the tolerances and chlorpyrifos could no longer be applied to Minnesota crops. Then in November, the 8th Circuit Court vacated that order, which allowed the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to begin conditionally registering products containing chlorp

When is Early too Early (to Plant Wheat, Barley or Oats)?

In all likelihood, this winter will go in the books as the warmest on record for Minnesota and even surpass the winter of 1877-1878 that was dubbed the Year Without a Winter .  Much of the state has enjoyed an extended "January Thaw"  with daytime highs well above freezing. In the metro area, for example, daytime temperatures never dropped below 32 between January 22 and February 14th. Needless the say, fields are bare and drying off rapidly. That immediately begs the question of whether to start thinking about seeding wheat, barley, and oats. After all, early seeding is very advantageous for the yield potential of these cool-season grasses. This scenario of a possible very early start to the growing season played out in the first and second week of March 2012 too.  Below is an updated/expanded version of what I wrote then. Spring wheat (and spring barley and oats) will start germinating in earnest when soil temperatures reach 40⁰F.  Once the imbibition phase starts there is

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops session talks adjuvants for maximizing herbicide efficacy

By Angie Peltier, UMN Extension crops educator, Joseph Ikley, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension weed management specialist, and Greg Dahl, retired Winfield product development manager On February 14, 2024, Joseph Ikley, NDSU Extension weed management specialist and Greg Dahl, retired Winfield adjuvant development advisor joined UMN Extension crops educator Dave Nicolai for a wide-ranging discussion of herbicide adjuvants and how best to use them effectively. This was the fifth weekly episode of the 2024 Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops! webinars. The series runs through March. To watch this and other episodes, visit   A long history and current abundance of adjuvants Tank-mix adjuvants are products that can be added to the tank that make a pesticide active ingredient work better. Formulators may add adjuvants directly into the herbicide formulation if there is enough room and the adjuvant does not cause storage or compatibility issues. Often there

Advanced Nitrogen Smart training March 1 in Farmington: A deep dive into the 4Rs

University of Minnesota Extension is hosting an Advanced Nitrogen Smart training in Farmington on Friday, March 1. The session, “A Deep Dive Into the 4Rs,” runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the Dakota County Extension and Conservation Center, 4100 220th St., Farmington. This training is free and registration is not required. Most involved in agriculture in southeast Minnesota are aware of the issues surrounding nitrates in groundwater, and the recent EPA directive to the state to take additional action to address the problem. It is imperative that farmers understand the issues and how they can help address the situation. “A deep dive into the 4Rs” picks up where the Nitrogen Smart Fundamentals course left off, with a detailed discussion on N rate, the contributions from soil and the stress from climate factors. The 4Rs were developed in collaboration between university researchers and the fertilizer industry during the late 1980s. They promote a nutrient management approach that balances c

European corn borer: Old pest, new problems

Wilfrid Calvin, University of Minnesota Dept. of Entomology, Postdoc Researcher Tatum Dwyer, University of Minnesota Dept. of Entomology, MSc Student Fei Yang, University of Minnesota Extension corn entomologist What is European corn borer? The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis (H ü bner), is a significant pest of corn and once caused substantial yield losses and economic damage throughout  the U.S. Corn Belt and  most corn growing states east of the Rocky Mountain range. Damage and management costs were historically estimated to exceed one billion dollars annually. In 2021, ECB alone was responsible for the losses of approximately 338.6 thousand bushels of corn in the U.S. The presence of ECB in the U.S. dates back to its initial discovery near Boston, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1917. It is widely believed that ECB was introduced into the country from Europe through shipments of broomcorn. Since its introduction, the pest has rapidly spread to all major corn-growi

MN CropCast: "Where is winter in Minnesota?" with Dennis Todey

In episode #29 Dave Nicolai and Seth Naeve chat with Dennis Todey, Director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa. In this podcast Dennis discussed and reviewed the major factors involved in this winter’s above-average temperatures and lower than average snowfall/precipitation. Dennis also reviewed the effects of warmer than average El Niño and anticipated La Niña and its possible effects on upper Midwest agricultural weather events for the 2024 cropping season.  Dennis is a native Iowan with his BS and PhD from Iowa State in Meteorology and Agricultural Meteorology. He has spent two stints in South Dakota, first completing his MS at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and most recently as Associate Professor and State Climatologist for South Dakota at South Dakota State University before moving to the Midwest Climate Hub, based in Ames, Iowa.  The mission of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub is to develop science-based, region-specific information and technologies along

Expanding Agroforestry Incentives Project

A new Agroforestry incentive project provides funds for producers to plant trees in sustainable practices in rural areas. Over the course of five years, $36 million will be paid out to producers in direct incentive payments to transform 30,000 acres spanning 30 states into agroforestry systems, thus building a foundation for expanding agroforestry practices nationally. Agroforestry includes 5 practices, windbreaks, alley cropping, silvopasture, riparian forest buffers and forest farming. Three of these practices, windbreaks, silvopasture and alley cropping will be funded under this new project. Learn more about how to apply The Expanding Agroforestry Project is one of 141 projects funded by the USDA's  Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. The Nature Conservancy, the project lead, is working with several organizations in 6 regions to manage the project, including coordinating with national partners to expand financing and develop markets for agroforestry commod

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops! discussed how to make herbicides work better

By Liz Stahl, UMN Extension Educator – Crops, Tommy Butts, Weed Scientist, University of Arkansas, and Tom Hoverstad, Researcher, Southern Research and Outreach Center. Proper nozzle selection, which impacts spray droplet size and coverage, is a key factor in making an effective herbicide application. Applicators need to make sure they are using enough  spray volume to achieve adequate coverage, particularly when  dealing with a high density of tough-to-control weeds.  Photo by Liz Stahl, UMN Extension. On February 7, 2024, Dr. Tommy Butts, Extension Weed Scientist with the University of Arkansas, and Tom Hoverstad, Researcher at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, joined UMN Extension Educator-Crops Ryan Miller for a discussion on “Making Herbicides work better”. Specifically, this session focused on making choices and adjustments to ensure a successful herbicide application and was part one of a two part series titled “Making herbicides wo