Research 2017

Research Supports Future Growth is a series of videos highlighting crop nutrient research conducted by the North Central Research Station.

In the week 4 Research Supports Future Growth, Field Agronomy Research Manager, Stephanie Zelinko discusses long term fertility programs in corn and soybeans.

In this week’s Research Supports Future Growth, Dr. Jerry Wilhm discusses how a complete cotton crop nutrition program that enables extended nutrient feeding and will help realize better boll set and yield.

Field Agronomy Research Manager Tim Duckert discusses foliar applications on sugarbeets.

Field Agronomy Research Manager, Stephanie Zelinko, discusses C-TECH, an easy-to-use, precision solution designed to supply season-long nutrition while creating a biologically-active soil.
C-TECH is specially-formulated with specific microbes and BioActivites, combined with plant nutrients to help better hold nutrients in poor soil types, release nutrients within soil solution, promote biological activity and help increase overall plant health.

LAND OF LIQUID. Ag Ph.D. and the NCRS: Shared research project to help corn farmers

So did you know that there was a bonus event at the recent Ag Ph.D. field day?  It was a joint research project conducted at the Ag Ph.D. farm plus at the NCRS.  It was an experiment evaluating different nitrogen advisement programs for corn.  Of course the corn had a planter application of Pro-Germinator + Kalibrate to get it off to the best start.  The interested participants assembled in the new building by the field day site.  The AgroLiquid inflatable marked the place.

 Brian Hefty gave the welcome and provided some insight for being profitable in farming today.

 Then we went out to the test site.  Darren gave his thoughts on growing a great corn crop from soil to providing a good growing advantage.

 One of the reasons people like to listen and learn is the many stories Darren shares about growing a top crop.  Darren will be on the Responsible Nitrogen Management plot tour at the AgroExpo next Thursday.  So come join us.  I guarantee that you will learn a lot.  I know I have, and I work there!

 Hey, there goes the AgroLiquid tanker off on another mission.  Galynn and Quinten wish him well.

Since this was an experiment on in-season nitrogen applications, Tom Mundorf from Midwest Labs talks about the Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) that can indicate how much nitrogen to apply based on how much is already found in the soil.

 But to get an accurate result, you must take an accurate soil test.  Tom goes over the principles for that as well as how to handle the soil after sampling.  Send it to Midwest Labs and get a nitrogen recommendation.  The PSNT has been around for years and can be a good way to better manage nitrogen applications so that you don’t over or under apply.  Especially in challenging economic times like now.  In case you are noticing that this corn is way short for this time of year, that was intentional.  We planned for some late planted corn since we are talking about side-dress nitrogen for this field day.  Clever huh?  It was my idea.  Brilliant.

 Ag Ph.D researcher Glenn Herz explains how the experiment was conducted.  Glenn is responsible for the planting of this test as well as the plots on the field day grounds.  Darren wisely gets some shade on this sunny day.

 Now in addition to the PSNT, there are several newer programs available to give nitrogen application advice. Two are based on weather models for the field.  Certainly weather and specifically rainfall can influence crop growth and nitrogen availability.  Here Troy Hageman of Climate Corp. explains that program.

 And Jamie Sietzer of Encirca introduces their advisement process. Now Encirca was not part of this actual field test, but Jamie did a nice job of explaining how Encirca works.  (Encirca is part of the NCRS test.) In addition, there was a plot from 360 Yield Center that used the Soil Scan, a machine that will measure soil nitrate level right there.  They will give a nitrogen recommendation based on that rather than weather models.  However, their rep wasn’t able to attend as his wife picked the previous night to have a baby, and he thought he should stick around.  I guess she forgot about her husband having to attend this important field day.

It was noticed that the nitrogen rates recommended by Encira, Climate and PSNT were all pretty close.  So that is reassuring I guess.  But all were lower than the so-called “regular” farmer application.  So there is great potential for achieving yield goal while applying less nitrogen which is good for the wallet and environment.  Well these will be harvested to see.  Now you should all come to the AgroExpo next week to see the similar test at the NCRS that will be featured there.  So it was nice to run a similar experiment both in Michigan and  South Dakota to see how the nitrogen advisers measure up.

LAND OF LIQUID: Who Needs Mountains? Go Climb a Washington Wheat Field.

So the next day offered up more wheat field adventures.  I have talked about the Palouse of Washington, Idaho and Oregon several times in the past.  It is a hilly area of rich soil in SE WA and SW Idaho.  Look it up.  I have shown pictures from the bottom of some steep fields, but never had the opportunity to climb up one….till today.  It seems that we have some on-farm fertilizer trials, one of which with Eric Odberg of Genesse, ID.  I talked about being there last September 24 to set up some trials, and here we are in the middle of one.  Here we see our friend Kay Mercer who is the Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (PNDSA) and a couple of Eric’s.  Eric O. is a busy guy.  Not only does he farm a large amount of ground in the Palouse, but is also on the PNDSA board, and was selected as a Responsible Nutrient Practitioner at the last National No-Till conference.

If you have the ability to make this picture large and look closely towards the top, about in the middle, you can see an orange flag.  That is the divide of the plot comparing Eric’s normal liquid drill program vs one from AgroLiquid featuring a test liquid phosphate formulation with micros, sulfur and High NRG-N.

 Well the mountain won’t come to us, so up we go.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was having fun making the climb.  The wheat looked great thanks to ample rainfall.  And fertilizer of course.

 Up on top of the hill it flattens out.  But it is noticeably drier on top vs the slope.  I am on the divide with one plot on the left and the other on the right.  Can you see a difference?  Well before long the combine will tell how this story ends.

 Nearby, in one of Eric’s fields was a University of Idaho wheat variety plot.  It was interesting to see all the differences in the varieties.

There was another field comparison back over in Colton, WA.  This one was on Kay’s family farm managed by brother Frank Wolf.  That’s him in the middle.  The guy on the left is Kay’s husband Ty. He manages his family farm that is near the Wolf farm.  Ty is also on the PNDSA board and is the Production Ag Manager for the Spokane Conservation District.  So it was decided to put the three drill-applied treatments next to each other on the same farm.  The treatments were one with the test phosphate fertilizer, one with Pro-Germinator and the regular Wolf wheat fertilizer.

 For reference, that’s Sales Account Manager Eric all the way on the other side of the two AgroLiquid plots.  Each plot is nearly 20 acres.

The wheat is quite tall, which was not the case last fall when Kay put marker flags in the ground.  So it took some walking, but the flags were found, and then the wheat itself was marked with orange tape.  But like I said, I thought it was a nice day for a walk.  Or a climb.

Up on top of one of the field hills, you could watch an aerial applicator making a fungicide (I think) application to another wheat field.  There is wheat rust all around that is being sprayed.  Also spotted some Russian wheat aphids.  But not many.  Darn Russians anyway.

So that was a nice couple of field visits.  On the way back to Spokane we came across an unusual sight.  There was a wheat field that had at least a mile long strip and some other spots that looked like it had been sprayed with Roundup.  Don’t know if it was a disgruntled sprayer operator or if someone poured some left over Roundup into an empty fungicide jug and forgot.  Well this is probably a memory jogger.

Well winter wheat harvest isn’t that far away, so we will see how the test turns out.  But the blog isn’t through with this trip yet…so tune in later.

Calcium on Apples

Why is calcium important?

Calcium is the third most important element in a plant. And, calcium is the fifth most abundant element on the planet. It makes sense that traditionally, growers don’t apply much calcium, because they assume the plant will get what they need from the soil. But, calcium is usually found in a form that is not easily taken up by plants.

In an apple tree, the leaves, new shoots, and fruit all take calcium and the nutrient will be found in the tissues and the root, but, the fruit cannot compete with the other parts of the plant hence why the fruit often doesn’t get enough calcium. That is why calcium deficiencies are evidenced on the fruit, rather than the rest of the tree. In apples, a calcium deficiency causes a disorder known as bitter pit. Bitter pit is a physiological breakdown of the cell walls in the fruit that occur below the skin of the fruit. For that reason, when scouting for calcium deficiencies, it is important to test the fruit, rather than relying solely on leaf or soil tests.BMSB.-Bitter-Pit-1h84hub

In this particular trial, Horticulturists were testing for fruit firmness, how many apples produced on each tree, and how much the fruit weighs. At the North Central Research Station High-Density Apple Orchard, researchers test approximately 10 apples per experimental plot for firmness. They use a pentameter, which measures the pressure needed to break the cell part inside the apple. They test four spots on each apple, as research has shown there is a difference in firmness between the side of the apple exposed to sun, versus the shade-side. The average fruit firmness is reported.

A trial of the effects of LiberateCa™ in 2015 at the NCRS High-density Apple Orchard in Michigan showed that the apples treated with LiberateCa™ fall close to the preferred range of 14.5 lb – 17.5 lb for fruit firmness, while the untreated trees’ fruit firmness was significantly higher than desired. In addition, the treated trees had more apples per tree, and overall yield per tree increased as well. These trees were planted at 3 ½ feet between trees, 11 feet between rows, with a planting density of 1,100 trees per acre.Ca on apples

“If you can hang two more apples per tree, with 1,100 trees, you have 2,200 more apples – and that means more money in your pocket.” Horticulturist Jacob Emling

Research Supports Future Growth: Dr Jerry- K 2

AgroLiquid Senior Research Manager, Dr. Jerry Wilhm discusses spring-applied potassium for corn in this short video. Dr. Jerry briefly explains how Muriate of Potash can be an effective soil amendment when soil test K levels are low. He discusses timing of application of broadcast potash, and explains why Sure-K is the best option if you need to feed this season’s corn.

Fertilizer Program Sustainability in Corn 2011-2015

Senior Research Manager, Dr. Jerry Wilhm discusses how and why the lower applied rates of AgroLiquid nutrients are sustainable and more efficient in feeding the plant the nutrients it needs to thrive. In this short video, Dr. Wilhm further demonstrates this through a four-year sustainability study from the North Central Research Station (NCRS).

Download a pdf version of Fertilizer Sustainability in Corn

Increasing Grape Yield: Switch to AgroLiquid

In grapes, a combination of variety, management, and training system dictates how much quality fruit the plant can produce. One of the best options is using fertilizer applied in the spring that can be easily taken up by the vine. Over the last four years, we have been looking at what AgroLiquid products can do on grapes. All fertilizer is soil applied in the spring underneath the vines.

  • Conventional Program: 12 gallons of 28%UAN + 12.9 gallons of 10-34-0 + 100 lbs. of sulfate of potash.
  • Agroliquid Program: 11 gallons of High NRG-N + 4.2 gallons of Pro-Germinator + 4.2 gallons of Sure-K + 1 gallon of Micro 500 + 0.125 gallons of Manganese.

Details about this project can be found in the 2015 Research Report.

2015 grape research