LAND OF LIQUID: Last Week at the NCRS. Part 1.

So last week was a busy week at the NCRS, as they all are.  But I was on hand to be able to file this report.  We got some new drop style irrigation nozzles on our linear Reinke system on Farm 3.  They were installed by Farm Services of Lakeview, Michigan, the same people who first put the system together back in 2001.  Or maybe 2002.  But it was awhile ago.   We have been very dry and in need of rainfall lately.  So the two farms with irrigation should be getting watered. The funny, well kind of, thing is that when I came out Monday and saw the linear way up the field to the North, I asked why wasn’t it running.  I was told that it was.  But sure enough it was.  It’s just not as obvious from afar.  And then later that day back at the office, Troy asked me why the irrigation on Farm 3 wasn’t running.  But he thought as I did earlier.  I guess you had to be there.  But we are applying water where we can.

 On Farm 5 it is easy to tell when the irrigation is on.

 Side-dressing of corn plots has been going on recently.  Here is the plot Hagie making applications with the Y-Drop system that we like.

 It places the nitrogen band on both sides of the base of the plant.  We have found this to be better than the coulter injection in the middle of the row.  And coulter injection is better than dragging hoses which is still done in places.

On the May 14 blog I showed the new Y Drop system for our other Hagie for our production, or non-plot corn.  Well it was initiated on Friday, starting on Farm 12.  Fortunately I was there for the occasion.  We can do 18 rows at a time which should certainly speed up the side-dress applications.

 It seemed to work fine to my critical eye while riding with Phil at the helm.

 Back on the plot scene, it was time for nitrogen applications and hilling of the potato plots on Farm 1.  This is primarily an evaluation of Primagro fertilizers, and Dr. Massri guides Tim B through the plots. These are Snowden potatoes which are used for potato chips.  Did you know that Michigan is the number one potato chip producing state?  Well it is.  And did you know that potato chips are the number one snack food.  Hey, I don’t compile all of that, I just report it.  It’s on the Internet, so it must be true.

Remember last week when we were making dry fertilizer applications to the alfalfa plots at the NCRS on Farm 5?  Well a week has gone by and it was time to make the Liquid applications.  Here we see intern Jacob making fertilizer applications with the backpack sprayer.  Did you know that this backpack sprayer was the first piece of equipment that I bought when I started back in 1992? Well it was and I’m glad to see that it is still in action.  Although Jacob wasn’t born yet when I first bought it, he’s using it now. And like me, still in peak condition.  And by the way, we use an internet metronome to maintain a steady pace.  Accuracy counts.

So it’s hard to believe that all of this happened in a single week at the NCRS.  But there is still more that will be reported tomorrow.  And what better way to spend a Saturday night than reporting on the cool happenings at America’s premier research facility.  That’s the North Central Research Station in case you were wondering.

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

Research Field Days 2015

Updated Kalibrate Research, Positioning

Just in time for the new year, new research on the use of Kalibrate gives us better insight into the product’s best positioning in the market.

Larger scale tank mixing tests have shown more compatibility than originally anticipated — both eNhance and boron can be mixed with Kalibrate despite previous reports of incompatibility, leaving only Microlink Calcium on the list of Kalibrate’s incompatibilities.

More experience with the product in the field has also given us more insight into the requirements of storage and its propensity to expand and retract with changing temperatures.

Exact mixing requirements, updated storage recommendations and more can be found in the new Kalibrate Positioning Packet. Click here to download the packet.

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: NCRS Video…on the set

So a couple times this summer at the NCRS we made a video about progress through the season. You can see the first two on the agroliquid web site at the bottom of the home page.  They are NCRS Progress Series Episodes 1 & 2.  Well now we are in field crop harvest, and that would indicate that it was time for Episode 3.  So we did just that last Thursday. Our regular crew from Creative Services was on the job once again.  So it will be good.  And of course it was cold and cloudy, this being fall and all.

I gave the welcome and related progress since Episode 2, which included the Research Field Days. There will be footage of that in Episode 3, so if you were there, check it out soon for your cameo.

One cool new feature that Creative Services has now is a video drone.  I’ve seen footage of what they have done with the drone previously at at the Field Days and was anxious to see it here during harvest.  Here is pilot Mike getting ready for liftoff.  That’s a cell phone on the controls that serves as a camera monitor showing what the drone “sees”.

Up, up and away.

I looked over Mike’s shoulder to see the aerial shots of the combine and scaled grain cart working their way through the plots.  Mike is a good pilot and Episode 3 will be quite a visual extravaganza. 

I was so focused on the video images that I forgot to take a picture of the cell phone monitor.  So here is an artist’s reconstruction of what I was seeing.  This artist is quite good.  It really looked like that. 

Next we went inside the farm office to show Stephanie on the job taking test weight and grain moisture measurements of the corn samples from each plot.  She did a good job on camera, having done this a time or two in the past.  Or maybe it was thousands.  Many thousands.

Couldn’t do an NCRS video without a fruit and vegetable segment.  In something new, Brian gave an overview on strawberry fertility in answer to a video question from a grower.  He also talked about the massive amounts of food donated to the Mid-Michigan Food Bank over the years.  It’s up to around 200,000 pounds in recent years.

So that was fun.  Look for the premier of Episode 3 coming soon to a website near you.

Research Field Day Plots Give Hint of Best Corn Program for 2015

(Note: The Fall issue of the AgroLiquid Quarterly Newsletter just came out.  However there was an error in my article where for some reason the correct picture was not included in the article.  So my descriptions in the article are not clear for the pictures that were printed.  So here is the article in its original form for those that don’t know what I am talking about.  Which is a common occurrence, but this time I had an excuse.)

The recently completed Research Field Days showed AgroLiquid fertilizers in action.  Well maybe action is a little strong, but results of the use of AgroLiquid were clearly on display in many venues.  Take, for instance, one of the research plot stops on Farm 7.  Several different corn fertilizer applications were on display.  There were full rate conventional fertilizer programs for potash/10-34-0/28% plus an all dry treatment.  There was the comparable AgroLiquid treatment along with a treatment with conventional fertilizers, but at a greatly reduced rate of application to closely match that of the AgroLiquid program.  And then there was a nitrogen only treatment, so that the effects of the P and K fertilizers could be measured.  The same treatments were applied last year in this experiment as well, but in the adjacent test to enable a corn-soybean rotation.  On the field day itself, I went into the border rows for these treatments and pulled three adjacent ears as well as some roots that were dug.  They are on display in the picture, along with the yields from 2013 and then the pounds of N-P2O5-K2O for each treatment.  (Note: in the conventional treatments, two years worth of potash is applied after the previous soybean crop for the next year of corn and then the following soybean crop.)


 There is certainly a visual difference in the ears. The full rate conventional and AgroLiquid ears are all larger than those of the N only treatment (4).  Furthermore, the ears of the AgroLiquid treatment (5) are also much larger than the low rate conventional treatment (1), even though virtually the same rates of fertility was applied.  So I guess the adage: It’s nutrients, not numbers rings true here.  The nutrient technology used to make AgroLiquid more efficient is clearly seen.  The roots also showed the Liquid advantage for a larger root system to better explore the soil.  Furthermore, the yield in 2013 with AgroLiquid was greater with AgroLiquid vs all programs, but especially vs the equal rate of conventional.  So let advanced nutrient technology be your guide in 2015.  Higher yields with lower rates (more acres planted between fill-ups) and planter applied P and K to save trips.  Of course the plot harvest coming up later will complete the story.  But indications are strong for AgroLiquid.  So when making decisions for next year, don’t cut what is research-proven for higher yield.


LIVE FROM THE NCRS: Melon & Pumpkin Contest Here in St. Johns

So the weekend before last was the big giant pumpkin and watermelon contest at Andy T’s Farm Market here in St. Johns.  It’s an annual event featured annually here in the blog.  Why?  Because Liquid’s own specialty crop researchers Brian and Tim have entries each year.  Sadly I was away and missed it, but Tim’s wife Pauline provided this photo-account.  Below are some of the giant pumpkin entrants awaiting the call to the scales.  Not sure about the genetics, but I like a bright orange pumpkin compared to the pale ones.  But beauty is sacrificed for size it appears.

 Here is Brian’s pumpkin from Farm 12 of the NCRS.  It was a whopping 779 pounds.  That was an improvement over the previous years and a good sized gourd.  However, first place was 1656 pounds!  And second was 1655 pounds!  That was a neck and neck finish, or maybe stem and stem. Brian finished in the top half of the 29 the entries which is pretty good.  But he has so many other responsibilities at the NCRS that sometimes he missed story hour and morning snack with his pumpkin.  I told him to go out next year and shoot for a thousand pounder.  But he will be back.

But Tim was once again the Watermelon King.  He successfully defended his title with a gushing 224 pound melon.  Tim grew his with AgroLiquid, but is a little tight lipped with all of his secrets for success.  It doesn’t matter, just keep winning Tim.  Congratulations!

So I’m sure that they already have next year’s contest date circled on the calendar.  And you know results will be reported here.  So see you next year.

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: Fall Field Crop Work is Underway


So the fall has been pretty rainy so far, but last Monday it was clear and dry long enough to hit the field and start some harvest action.  Here we see some Navy Bean plot harvesting on Farm 7.  Unfortunately, with the cool season the bean plants didn’t size up as much as normal.  But harvest them none-the-less to measure treatment effects. 


There were two Navy bean tests, on Farms 3 and 7.  Since soybean harvest will be late this year, again due to the cool summer, the winter wheat plots will follow Navy Beans.  Taking advantage of the dry day, the wheat plots were planted into the evening.


Time out for a few days of rain, and then back to sunflower harvest on Thursday.


Also on Thursday, some of the fall Strip Till plots were established on wheat ground for planting next spring.  Strip till plots will evaluate product placement, different nutrient formulations and rates in combination with planter applications.  Stephanie used her photo artistry for this shot.  Or she had tripped and clicked this before hitting the ground. Probably the former.



Well more rain has set in, and probably need a few days of sun and dryness to help with crop maturity.  But now we know everything works and is ready to roll when conditions allow.


LIVE FROM THE NCRS: Research in Oklahoma

So I was back in Oklahoma last week.  By chance, there was a farmer tour that I was able to attend at a place that helped to steer me down the road of crop research.  It was at the Caddo Research Station near Ft. Cobb in SW OK.  As an undergraduate college student at Oklahoma State University, I got a job at the OSU Agronomy Farm in the Weed Science department helping with field plots.  One of the farms where we established replicated plots for herbicide evaluations in peanuts was this one right here.  It’s a couple of hours drive here from OSU in Stillwater, but I was down here frequently back in the day. So it was fun to be back on the farm for the first time in….well, many years.


One memory I have of the place is the time I was driving here and turned on the radio and they were playing all of these Elvis Presley songs.  I remember thinking “did Elvis die or something?”  And sure enough as I drove down this lane to the station, the announcer said that Elvis had in fact, died that day.  It was August 16, 1977.  So I remember that moment 37 years ago, but admittedly this morning is a little fuzzy.


Actually, AgroLiquid was one of the sponsors of this tour, being the farming community boosters that we are.  I was accompanied by Area Sales Manager Ed Granger who lives nearby, and field agronomist Reid.  Here we see Ed and Reid pulling each other’s leg, although don’t pull Reid’s too hard right now.  (You know, that’s another one of those odd sayings.  I like to joke around, but really have no desire to actually pull someone’s leg. Who knows where it’s been?  There’s probably some strange origin of that. I’ll let you know if there is.)



One stop was to see some of the new genetics in cotton for dicamba tolerance, which is the XtendFlex trait.  Dicamba is the active ingredient in the herbicide Banvel, or Clarity as it is now.  Well dicamba can drift and even small amounts are pretty harsh on cotton.  But they have incorporated dicamba tolerance now to go along with glyphosate (Roundup) and glufosinate (Liberty) tolerance.  So this gives other options for weed control where resistance could be an issue.  These were from Deltapine and Americot seeds, and it will be several years till wide-spread sales.  But I wonder how smooth the transition will be.  Everyone probably has a dicamba story, but I remember spraying Banvel on corn at the NCRS years ago.  We had poly (polyethylene) tanks on the sprayer then.  We then cleaned the tank, thoroughly we thought, to spray something else. Well we sprayed two tanks of something else on corn, and then loaded up a tank of Roundup to spray some soybeans, and later saw some dicamba injury on those beans! After that we converted to stainless steel sprayer tanks.  So we will see how the transition goes. I forgot to say that since this is still under development, they had it all roped off and you had to sign your name in order to view the plots. It was similar to the Enlist trait in soybeans for 2,4-D tolerance that I reported on from the Ag Ph.D field day in July.


Another stop was to look at different peanut varieties being tested, both established and experimental. They also had some stops for cotton and peanut weed control.  But sadly nothing being researched on fertility.  Hmmm.


We also stopped to see our replicated plot research  at a facility in Hinton.  That’s Area Sales Manager Parker Christian on the right with Reid.  (He proudly wears his Aggie hat everywhere. Nice to see that in Oklahoma.  Not.)  It looks like something has caught Reid’s eye.

IMG_3065Yikes. On the underside of a milo leaf there is an explosion of what looks like aphids.  Well Parker and Reid informed me that they are Sugarcane Aphids.  Well I had never heard of these and they are new this year to Oklahoma.  I did a little reading and it seems that they blew up from Texas this year, having moved over from Sugarcane in Louisiana over a decade ago.  But they haven’t really been much of a problem in Texas sorghum until last year.  And now here they are in OK.  Although you can’t see it from here, they are all female, and produce asexually (what?).  They actually give live birth to 8 to 20 baby aphids.  That’s why you see different sizes in the pic.  And so many.  Well they aren’t babies for long as they reproduce again in only 2 to 7 days after they are born themselves.  So no boys, no prom….no fun.  See those black things?  Those are Ladybug larvae eating them.  But they are definitely not keeping up.  If you see 40% of plants infested, then it suggested to spray. Dimethoate is effective.  But infested plants decline in growth and grain production, especially with early infestation.  These were likely recently attacked.


Here is another problem.  The leaves underneath the infested leaves become all wet with aphid Honeydew.(Can’t believe in ancient times they drank this stuff.)  Well this can clog up a combine at harvest if there are too many infested plants.



Fortunately our plants were below threshold and harvest isn’t that far off anyway.  But if they are able to overwinter up here, then look out next year.  (Note: the lighter leaves on the right half are that way in the pic due to the sun angle, not from aphids or treatment differences.  Now some underhanded researchers may say it’s a treatment difference, but we’re too honest.  No, really.)

Well I learned some things on this trip, although I could have done without the aphid education. Farming is tough enough already.  Tomorrow I will show some more Oklahoma adventures in real farmer fields.  Tune in again.  You’ll be glad you did, and no pests will be mentioned.  Well besides Reid that is.