Cover Crop Dividends
Farmers had several state and national opportunities to receive payments or premiums from planting cover crops. Some deadlines are past, others have been extended. Farmers may want to review some of these programs and look at the current benefits from planting cover crops yet this fall.

Plant Health Pyramid

Soil health and plant health are closely related. Most pest issues are due to inadequate plant nutrition and poor plant health. Most weeds thrive where at least one plant nutrient is lacking. Healthy plants have adequate nutrients levels to repel insects and disease organisms.

Transitioning to Soil Health

Farmers in a conventional tilled corn-soybean rotation often ask how they can improve soil health. It is not easy but also not impossible. Improving soil health starts with evaluating your soil and then fixing those problems.

Reading Weeds

Weeds often tell a story about how a farm is managed. Most weeds grow really well in soils low in calcium with low humus. Often potassium and/or magnesium levels are high, but not always. Many weeds act as collectors of minerals that are deficient in the soil.

Corn Brace Roost: What Do They Tell Us?

The 2021 crop year has been quite variable. A dry winter/spring followed by periods of excess rain and dry hot weather has caused considerable plant stress. Corn plants typically give us many tell-tale signs of soil conditions.

Improving Photosynthetic Potential

Farmers do not often think about how their management practices can influence the rate of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis has always been assumed to be constant, but it is not.

Soybean Pests

Many pests and diseases are rearing their ugly head this year. Fall armyworm, aphids, soybean cyst nematodes (SCN), sudden death syndrome (SDS), and white mold are common problems. Weather and management play a key role in the severity of these pests.

Using Electricity to Assess Soil Health

A new break-through in soil health testing has occurred which may allow researchers and farmers to instantly measure soil health and microbial activity. A group of Washington State University researchers are using small electrical currents to assess soil microbes and soil health impacts.

Fall Slug and Vole Control

Slugs and voles are becoming major problems on some farms. One farmer lost 80 acres to slugs, another 40 acres. Slugs and voles prefer moist, wet conditions, slow crop growth, and lush vegetation.

Overwintering Cover Crops & Small Grains

The H2O Ohio program is a state conservation program that pays farmers for conservation practices. It includes overwintering cover crops and a small grains program to help keep nutrients out of Lake Erie.

Understanding Genes and the Environment

Two new scientific articles help explain how DNA, which makes up our genes, and the environment work together to express those genes. It was thought that humans had over 3 million genes, but now estimate that it closer to 300,000 genes.

Manure Incorporation with the Ohio H20 Program

Livestock farmers have an opportunity to be apart of the Ohio H20 program on manure incorporation. This program pays famers for three years to apply manure to a cover crop or a growing crop in the summer or early fall. The program is designed to encourage farmers to tie up nitrogen or phosphorus in manure to decrease the risk of manure or nutrient runoff into surface water.

Monitoring Plant Health

Farmers are often looking for a quick way to measure plant health. Soil and tissue tests are commonly used, but the results may take several days or even weeks in some cases. This can be too late on a growing crop.

Corn Fungicide Use

With humid wet weather occurring comes the concern for corn fungal diseases. The goal of using fungicides is to optimize plant health and keep your corn crop alive to optimize crop yield. Healthy biologically active soils should be your foundation for healthy plants and yields.

Double Crop Soybeans or Cover Crops

Approaching mid-July, some farmers are still debating whether to plant soybeans after wheat harvest. Double crop soybeans are risky but high soybean prices, early summer planting and good weather favor farmers taking the risk. As summer progresses, the risk of failure increases on double crop soybeans.

Controlling Poisonous Weeds

Some weeds are worse than others, especially poisonous weeds that are dangerous to humans, livestock, and pets! While attending several summer parties in Northwest Ohio (graduation, July 4 the, picnics), several poisonous noxious weeds were observed this year. Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum L.) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.) are invasive non-native weeds often found growing together in Ohio.

Improving Water Infiltration and Permeability

Our summer rains have been quite variable. Some rains have been hard and fast while others have been slow and steady. About 10 days ago, “million-dollar” rain occurred; a slow steady all day 1” total rain. Million-dollar rains are called that because farmers assume that 100% of that precipitation can be utilized to increase crop yields.

Nutrient Deficiencie and Slug Issues

Summer has officially arrived and nutrient deficiencies and pests are now a problem. Healthy plants have less problems with disease and insects, so optimum plant nutrition is important for keeping pests at bay and optimizing crop yields.

Cover Crops Impact Soil Health

Planting cover crops is becoming a common practice, however; producers may not be sure what is the impact of cover crops on soil health. Andy Clark (USDA-SARE, 2015) outlines key ways that cover crops lead to better soil health and potentially better farm profits.

Planting Issues

Every year brings unique pest challenges. Many early planted fields have been replanted or are in the process of being replanted. This year, soybeans seem to be more at risk than corn and the culprit is seed corn maggot.

Fertilizing Crops with Nitrogen

June is a busy month as farmers finish up planting, fertilizing, and spraying crops. For corn nitrogen (N), farmers have several options. Many farmers side-dress anhydrous nitrogen to corn. Anhydrous is a concentrated source of nitrogen, 82% by weight while liquid forms of N can be 28-32% or as high as 46%. Ammonia is usually the most economical, however, since it is stored at low temperatures (-28OF) with internal pressures of 250 psi , its more dangerous to apply.