Research Field Days 2015

NCRS Harvest Re-Cap

In the newest, installment of video from the North Central Research Station, Dr. Jerry Wilhm provides a comprehensive harvest re-cap, giving a glimpse into the harvest process that make AgroLiquid plot work possible.

Dr. Brian Levene also makes an appearance. Brian addresses grower questions from George McDonald of Catesa Farms in Riddleton, TN. Catesa Farms is a producer of high quality plasticulture strawberries and George is looking for the best step-by-step fertility program to bring sweet, firm berries with a good shelf life to market.

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: More Harvesting

Plot harvest at the NCRS has been a challenge this year.  Wet weather has kept the harvest crews out of the field for extended times.  But the field crop crew has been putting in long days through the weekend.  I went out last Thursday to see what was going on.  Over on Farm 5,  Phil unloads soybeans from a plot into the scaled grain cart.

Stephanie watches the weight numbers roll up.

 Then she punches the weight into the mounted iPad.  It is linked to the computer in the NCRS office and records the number in the program, so that when the harvest for the test is complete, the data is already summarized.  That is something new this year that will make data summary much easier. Good thing since there are over 1800 individual field crop plots set for harvest in 2014.  (By the way, that’s MSU intern Kalvin driving the tractor.  Although I guess his internship is over, so now he is just a regular NCRS researcher.  We are very fortunate that Kalvin was willing to continue working this fall around his busy MSU class schedule.)

Over on the Specialty Crop Crew, Jake and Brian have borrowed a grape press from Kalvin, and go to work making juice from the Concord Grape plot harvest.  I tried it.  It’s good!

Over on Farm 7 there was a sugarbeet experiment being harvested.  Recall that we have six-row plots, but harvest the middle four rows.  Here is what they look like after the topper has removed the…tops.  Why else would it be called a topper?

Now the beet lifter lifts the beets out of the ground.  Why else would it be called a lifter?  The beets are dumped into the tank and there is a scale and monitor that reads the weight for that plot.  Still remarkable compared to the old ways and days when I actually worked there.  Yes it’s an old lifter, but it works just fine for these plots.  That’s Jeff at the helm of the tractor there.  And Ron on the dump trailer tractor in the back.

Determining the plot weight is just the first step with sugarbeet harvest.  Beets need to be graded for per cent sucrose plus several other quality measurements.  This is how the payment to growers is determined, and these can be affected by fertilizer inputs.  So plot samples need to be collected.  Here Tim collects some beets from the back door installed on the lifter tank.  These will be taken to the Michigan Sugar Company lab for evaluation.  The beets are then unloaded into the trailer there and then dumped in a row along the road for collection to be taken to a sugarbeet piling ground for transport to the sugar company plant.  Tim also punches the weights into the iPad here too.

After all of that, the lifter moves on to the next plot.

Round and round they go.  That’s the way all of the field plots are harvested here at the NCRS.  You are usually too busy to get dizzy though.

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: Weekend Warriors

So the rainy weather has gotten in the way of soybean harvest, but the past weekend provided some good days to get some harvesting and wheat planting completed.  Stephanie gave me these pictures to show how she spent her weekend.  This view of the combine cutting 30″ row beans shows that the border rows are cut first and then the middle four rows are harvested for yield determination.  We always remove border rows no mater the row spacing or crop being harvested.

 Round and round they go.  Here is Stephanie’s view from the scaled grain cart following Tim in the combine.  And who is that in the tractor?  Why it’s our dedicated CEO Troy.  He was glad for the opportunity to step in and help on the weekend.  He is often seen hiding in the bushes looking longingly at the operation of all the field equipment that he has bought for us.  So occasionally it is good to let him take the wheel.

 Impending sunset makes for a nice view of finishing up a test on Farm 5.

Sadly the rain has returned on Monday and Tuesday.  But it’s good for the wheat.  (Trying to look on the bright side of the gloomy day.)

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: Oklahoma Farmland: No-Till and Liquid Shine

So while I was in OK last week, Reid and I also had the chance to see some Liquid in action on some grower’s fields.  Here we are down near Cordell still in SW OK. This year the cotton crop looks outstanding thanks to some timely rainfall and lower temps (that is, not so oven-like) during the season, plus good nutrition.  Area Manager Parker holds a typical cotton plant just loaded with bolls.  This was not a selected giant, but a typical one in this field that received a planter application of 3 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 1 qt/A of Micro 500 + 15 gal/A of High NRG-N. It was applied in a surface band about an inch over from the closed furrow.  Parker is also a custom applicator who made a foliar application of a ferti-Rain + eNhance + Iron blend at a volume of 3 qt/A.


Here they are in another field of the same grower.  It too looks good and full of bolls as Parker enthusiastically explains.


However directly across the road is a field of another grower.  Obviously not as good as the other one.  In fact, Parker has nothing good to say here and keeps his arms folded.  there are two main factors working against this field.  One is that it didn’t have Liquid fertilizer.  And two is that this was grown under conventional tillage, whereas the first field was under No-Till.  I really don’t understand why growers would work ground in a state where soil moisture is so precious.

IMG_3087 Look at the good No-Till/Liquid field again where there is sizable growth and you can still see crumbling milo stalks from the previous crop.  This saves moisture, money and soil biology.


We also looked at some recently planted No-Till wheat that was planted early for wheat pasture.  Pro-Germinator + Micro 500 + 3 to 4 gal/A of High NRG-N through the drill gets the wheat off to a fast growing start.  A little rain would sure be beneficial, but the Liquid and No-Till are keeping it at it’s best.


One day we went up to see Area Sales Manger Todd Woods near Perry, in NC OK.  This area usually gets more moisture than does the SW, and they will grow double crop soybeans here.  These beans are really looking good today, having received some Pro-Germinator and Micro 500 at plantingIMG_3116

I was impressed by the large number of pods present.  But a little rain would be nice to ensure maximum production.


Here is some of Todd’s own ground that is planted to wheat for pasture.  He used 4 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 1 qt/A of Micro 500 + 3 gal/A of High NRG-N through the drill.  He will put on some more High NRG-N in December or January as a topdress.  But it is growing good and strong and will make great pasture soon.  Note the water tower in the background.


Here is another field that received broadcast dry fertilizer, likely DAP and urea, and tillage to work it in before planting.  Won’t people ever learn?  It was planted at the same time as the neighboring field above.  (See the water tower for reference.)  Cows will have to tighten their belts for awhile before being turned out in this pasture.


While in Oklahoma, I had to venture over to McLoud, which is around 40 miles East of Oklahoma City, to see my old friend Jake.  Whatever happened to him, you ask?  Well is is completing his first year back on the farm.  And it was a good one for corn.  Although no one is happy about the low price, at least if the price is low you better have lots of bushels per acre.  And they certainly did.  I don’t want to divulge numbers as it’s not my place to do that.  But their farm average was right at the earlier estimates for the national average, which is outstanding for dry Oklahoma.  Planting a low population of under 20k plants per acre, he applied an in-furrow application of Pro-Germinator + Micro 500 to get a good start and a strong finish in the favorable conditions of the summer.  Here we see him unloading some corn from a bin to take to market.


Because this is going to a large dairy that sells their own milk and ice cream, an aflatoxin test is required.  Aflatoxin is a mold that can affect the corn, and a dairy has a zero tolerance for it.  Jake said it is an expensive test, and they bought their own test kit.  You have to bring the indicator strips with the load of corn.  It was negative.  I had not seen this test before, but Jake is a good chemist when it counts.


I rode over to Tuttle, OK with Jake and the corn.  It was a short trip so I didn’t get to try out the sleeper.


Jake makes sure that every Liquid-fed kernel goes into the pit.


And fortunately I was able to attend a Cowboy football game later in the week and watch the home team pummel the Red Raiders of Texas Tech 45-35.IMG_2811-001Good crops, good people and a great game.  Sounds like a complete week to me.

Top Crops in Nebraska

So last week I went on a Fertilizer Mission to see some of our contract research plots in Nebraska. These were out in the central part of the state. It was a nice week. Here we see researcher Josh with SAM Brad looking at the soybean plots. Among other things, we are testing in-furrow fertilizer rates and treatments on 30″ row soybeans. Always a crowd pleaser.


We also have a couple of corn tests: one with nitrogen and one with planter fertilizers. We had very good results with the nitrogen test last year. It’s in the Research Report. As you can see, this corn is furrow irrigated and should produce high yields. You may be able to tell that this corn had been hailed on recently. That is a common occurrence out here. But it did not do any damage.


There are a lot of corn tests here as Josh and Brad go down the line.


And it looks like this corn is at early black layer. This is 110 day corn planted on April 19.


The next day we met up with Area Manager Randy Timms near Adams. Here he is showing me some of his soybeans that received an application of ferti-Rain this summer. Look at the cluster of pods at the top of the plant. That’s what we like to see, and ferti-Rain makes sure it has the nutrition it needs to do this.

Randy Tim 1

Here was another field that got ferti-Rain earlier in the season. There was frost recently and many fields had crispy upper leaves. But it did not go down any lower to hurt the plant. The beans in the developing pods are still greenish yellow. So hold off with anymore frost, OK?


Here is some of Randy’s dryland corn. They only plant around 20,000 seeds per acre for dryland here. Because it can really be dry in most years. But this year there was decent rain as can be seen by these full ears. Certainly helped by Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500.


Later that day we drove over to Deschler. This is where Brad lives, and is also the home of Reinke Irrigation . Here is a sign for what is the first irrigation system that they built back in 1968. Center Pivot #1 and Still Going Strong!


Here is the company. Big operation in such a small town, population 747.


This must be their show room.


And the reason I was interested in this is because we run two Reinke systems at the NCRS. They have been Going Strong for us for over 14 years. Like here on Farm 5.


And on Farm 3. Very reliable for us.


Later that day we went to Rustin for a customer appreciation dinner put on by C and M Supply. They are also Area Managers for AgroLiquid. This is one of my favorite work functions, as there was steak, shrimp, potatoes and lots of other fixings. So I appreciated their customer appreciation. This is the town that Brad grew up in. Unfortunately, the school has closed and the kids are now bused to nearby Deshler. But I asked Brad if he played basketball in this gym and he said that he did. Which kind of started a chain reaction of the people around recalling their playing days in this old gym. One woman remembered playing volleyball there back in the ’50’s. She wins. But that’s a cool thing about rural America.


Hope I can make back next year.

RFD’s are Wrapped Up and Put Away Till Next Year

So just like that and they’re gone. Research Field Days for 2014 are but a memory. Hope you had a chance to join us. There was certainly plenty of opportunity with 16 scheduled tours. And last Thursday (August 29) was the last one. The NCRS looked good and fresh the whole time thanks to the ample rainfall through the summer. We didn’t even have to add water to these sunflowers on the Demonstration Farm. The first RFD tour week was shown earlier in a blog post. This is to tie up loose ends and show more stuff.


Prior to the arrival of the first bus there is a difference of opinion over tour directions.


Well they got it figured out as the first bus rolled in and passengers debussed to start the demonstrations tour.


I didn’t get a close-up of Jeff last time, but here he is showing the root digs and something new. He has a fertilizer demonstration of corn growing in these new cylinders. Hard to see in the pic, but the Liquid corn is a little taller and darker green that that of the 10-34-0 or dry DAP.


There was a schedule to be followed, and Phil sounds the rotation horn to make sure we stick to it.


Here we see Kalvin showing a group the winter wheat demonstration. It was planted several weeks ago so that you could see fertilizer effects on this tour. You could. (And I missed Kalvin last time too.) School had started for the other interns, but Kalvin arranged his schedule so that he could be here for the last day. Unless all of his teachers are reading this. And why wouldn’t they be?


Here is something Brian sets up each year. Taste and see if you can tell differences in fertilizer sources for watermelon, cantaloupe and green pepper. Summer work crew members Josh and Nick mind the store.


When it was time to be trailered over to the replicated plot research on Farm 7, we were pulled by either Tim B or Ron. Well I guess I mean that they drove the tractors that pulled the trailers. That’s Tim below ready for business.


And there’s Ron with no time to pose. Thanks for the trips guys.


And here was something I thought was interesting. Well since I talked about it for two weeks. But it is a research plot on fertilizer sustainability. Like what happens to yield and soil test after years of different fertilizer usage? Well this is a long-term corn-soybean rotation of the same fertilizer programs in the same replicated plots each year under dryland conditions. This is the fourth year. For corn, a 180-30-60 plus micros program is followed for conventional liquid and dry fertilizers. And of course there is an AgroLiquid recommendation as well with those reduced rate nutrients. Two other treatments were nitrogen only (using reduced rate 28% with eNhance) and a treatment that applied the same actual rates of nutrients that were applied with AgroLiquid, but using conventional products. (Note: In the conventional treatments, two years of potash is applied after the previous soybean crop to feed the next corn and soybean crops.) Below we see ear (three consecutive) and root samples from the plot border rows of Rep 3, where we are.

14-714 RFD corn

The ears from the full rate conventional treatments and the AgroLiquid treatment are larger and darker yellow than the low rate conventional and especially the N only ears. Similar with the roots, although the AgroLiquid roots covered more area. Now this is a simple single sample, but it is telling. Certainly there is a P and K and micros response vs N only (trt 4). Treatments 1 and 5 have the same pounds per acre of applied nutrients, yet the AgroLiquid is much larger in ear and root size. But yield is what matters, and the AgroLiquid has the highest 3-year average yield by a good bit. This difference is more than was expected, but this is what it was. Also of note was the high average to date with the low rate conventional treatment (trt 1). It was high the first two years, but dropped off to be 10 bu/A less than the full rate conventionals last year. And based on appearance this year, it doesn’t look sustainable here in year four. But time will tell, and time is running out.

Ohio Crop Tour: Day Two

Day two of the Ohio Country Journal Crop tour wrapped up with a largely positive outlook on the yield potential still in the fields. A lack of rain and the possibility for an early frost remain as the two biggest risk factors for the remainder of this season. AgroLiquid VP of Operations and Organizational Planning Nick Bancroft and other crop participants share their thoughts in the video above.

Check out the day one wrap here.

Fertilizer Program Comparisons in Soybeans R&D Research Farm. Washington, LA

Experiment Info 2013 13-308

Planted: 6/24
Variety: P95Y70
Population: 50 lb
Row Spacing: 19”
Previous Crop: Soybean
Plot Size: 6 ft x 30’
Replications: 4
PPI: 6/23
Foliar: 8/15
Harvested: 11/11

Soil Test Values (ppm)

pH: 5.8
CEC: 10.5
% OM: 1.5
Bicarb P: 73
K: 180
S: 12
% K: 4.1
% Mg: 15.3
% Ca: 60.4
% H: 0
% Na: 1.1
Zn: 0.9
Mn: 43
B: 0.5


Compare effects on soybean yield of different types of fertilizer applications for soybeans. Fertilization of soybeans has several different options from nothing to multiple applications of fertilizer. A common practice is to allow the soybeans to feed on whatever fertilizer is left from the previous crop. Sometimes it is difficult to show a fertilizer response in soybeans. But this experiment was set up to compare no fertilizer, dry fertilizer (potash), potash plus foliar, foliars only and liquid applied at planting. AgroLiquid has developed several effective foliar fertilizers including Sure-K and ferti-Rain. Included in this test was an experimental foliar fertilizer called FK-12, of undisclosed analysis. Treatments and yield results appear in the chart.


• The potash only application showed a yield increase over no fertilizer, but the highest yields were with several different AgroLiquid programs.

• Addition of foliar fertilizer increased the yield with the potash application.

• All of the foliar fertilizers produced similar yield to that with planter fertilizer, but at lower applied rates.

Fertilizer Programs for High-Yield Strip-Till Soybeans Irrigation Research Foundation. Yuma, CO

Experiment Info 13-308

Planted: 5/23
Variety: NK S28-K1
Population: 220,000
Row Spacing: 30”
Previous Crop: Corn
Plot Size: 4 rows x 500’
Replications: 1
Strip: 4/8
Harvest: 10/8

Soil Test Values (ppm)

pH: 7.1
CEC: 11.8
% OM: 1.2
Bicarb P: 8
K: 369
S: 6
% K: 8
% Mg: 24
% Ca: 67
% H: 0
% Na: 1
Zn: 1.9
Mn: 4.6
B: 0.5


Compare a high yield AgroLiquid fertilizer program for soybeans against a standard conventional. The Irrigation Research Foundation (IRF) is a non-profit research farm set up for the purpose of  agricultural research under intensive crop management in Northeastern Colorado. Strip tillage is the leading cultural practice in this area. An Orthman 1TripR is the implement used for the strip tillage and fertilizer application in the strips. Additional fertilizer is added in 2×2 placement in the 30 inch rows. There is also nitrogen solution fertilizer applied through overhead sprinkler irrigation. So the soybean crop is well fertilized and a high yield is expected. In this simple experiment, two different fertilizer programs were compared: a standard IRF program and an AgroLiquid program. Treatments are listed in the chart. Conventional nutrition was applied in a total of 35.5 gal/A compared to only 12.5 total gallons per acre of AgroLiquid nutrition. It was hot and dry as usual in this part of Colorado, and irrigation is critical. A total of 15.75 inches of water was applied during the growing season. Treatment yields appear below.


• The AgroLiquid fertilizer program resulted in 14 more bushels of soybeans per acre compared to the IRF standard, even though only 43% of the total application volume was applied.