Roundup: Friend or Foe
Roundup or glyphosate (RR) is the most common agricultural herbicide used to kill broadleaf and grass weeds. In the USA, 280 million pounds of RR annually is used on about 298 million cropland acres. Worldwide, about 19 billion pounds RR (almost 10 million tons) have been applied since 1974.

Beneficial Bacteria Biologicals
Biologicals are simply live microbes that perform many important soil and plant functions. Some microbes are biofertilizers (microbes that improve plant nutrition); biopesticides (microbes that control or kill pathogens, insects, other pests); others produce plant growth hormones or help plants survive environmental stresses (drought, temperature, soil pH, wet soils) etc.

Roots eat Bacteria
Do plant roots really eat bacteria? The answer is Yes (sort of!). In the last 5-10 years, our understanding of how plants acquire nutrients has changed dramatically. With new stronger microscopes; Australian scientist and Dr. James White, Rutgers university have discovered that plant roots are taking in endophytic (translation: “within the plant”) bacteria and acquiring nutrients from these microbes.

Drought Pre-Planning
Farmer’s fear drought which leads to reduced crop yields and profits. Worldwide, drought is affecting a number of countries: China, Argentina, European countries, and the USA. California, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma have experienced severe drought soil conditions this year.

Vomitoxin in Corn
As harvest progresses, farmers are finding vomitoxin in their corn. Gibberella (GIB) ear rot is caused by Fusarium graminearum, a fungus that is also called Gibberella zeae. This pathogen infects corn and wheat causing ear rot, stalk rot, and head scab. Corn symptoms include a reddish or pinkish-white mold on the ear tips.

How No-Till Improves Land Values
No-till Farmer (farming magazine) recently put together a report: How No-till Improves Land Values. This report put an economic value on conservation farming practices that improve the environment, but also preserves our soil.

Tips for Applying Fall Lime
After crops are harvested, fall is a good time to apply lime. While lime can be applied any time, ideally, the soil should be dry to allow good spreading with out rutting up a field. Here are some tips for fall lime spreading.

Tips for Late Wheat Planting
The wet spring weather this year has delayed soybean harvest and stalled wheat and cover crop planting. While late planted wheat may not compete with seedings made in September, late planted October and even early November wheat can often be successful.

Fall Nutrient Management
Crops flourish and grow quickly in the spring. The first cutting of hay may be 50% higher than any other cutting. It’s not just due to more water.

Striving for High Crop Yields
Everyone likes to follow a winner! Top farmers develop a suite of management practices that allows them to achieve higher average yields than their neighbors. High crop yields usually come from doing several things right and usually the weather has to cooperate.

Beneficial Soil Fungus Part 2

Beneficial soil fungus called mycorrhizae fungi (MF) can optimize crop yields. MF use to be abundant be MF must have a live root as a host. Plowing soil, fallow periods, and annual crops caused many beneficial MF to died off. Long fallow periods, 14-16 weeks; greatly reduce (85- 98%) MF population levels while shorter fallow periods, 3-6 weeks; reduce MF populations 30- 70%. Some hardy MF species survive in tilled crop land but using cover crops with a live root, can gradually increase MF populations over time (maybe 5-10 years). Inoculating a crop with MF spores speeds up the process and crops respond quickly.

Beneficial Soil Fungi

Mycorrhizal fungi (MF) are one of the most beneficial organisms on the planet. These fungi colonize plant roots, acting as root extenders to aid roots. MF are more efficient than roots and MF benefits are numerous.

New Soil Health Measurements

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing soil productivity, recently announced results from a 3-year research project on identifying soil health measurements across North America. Over 100 scientist reviewed data from 124 sites in Canada, Mexico, and the United States; comparing conventional tilled farming systems to long- term no-till, cover crops, and perennial cropping systems.

Phosphorus and Lime Fertilization

Farmers are making plans for fall harvest, fertilization for phosphorus (P), and lime. Farmers need to minimize P losses at the edge of the field by following recommendations that maximize productivity while minimizing environmental impacts on water quality. Lime fertilization is less of an environmental issue but following certain guidelines is economical.

More Practice Soil Health Tips

After being on the road teaching (Iowa, Pennsylvania), I am home recovering from COVID. Here are the last 15 tips from my factsheet: “25 Tips to Growing and Managing Cover Crops”.

Practice Soil Health Tips

Since I am on the road teaching, here are some practical tips from my factsheet: “25 Tips to Growing and Managing Cover Crops”. Tip 1: Use cover crop mixtures composed of at least one grass, one legume, and one brassica or other diverse cover crop species to improve diversity. Mix summer annuals with fall and winter annuals to increase crop diversity.

Late Season Corn Fertilizer

Heavy rains have been falling in many areas in the month of July. This has many farmers wondering how much Nitrogen (N) is still available. Soluble N in the form of nitrate can be leached, some can runoff the surface, and other N can be lost by denitrification into the atmosphere.

Post-Wheat Harvest Options

Farmers are working to wrap up wheat harvest and considering what to do next. Some will decide to do nothing, others may consider planting another crop, either soybeans or a cover crop. Double crop soybeans do best when soil is moist and temperatures do not get too hot. Cover crops give a farmer a little more flexibility, especially when planted in mixtures.

Follar Feeding Tips

Corn and soybeans are entering a time of extreme stress due to hot temperatures and moisture stress. Most plant nutrients are absorbed through a plant's roots. However, sometimes nutrients can become locked up in the soil with other elements, making them unavailable to the plant.

What to Plant after Wheat Harvest

Wheat harvest may start early this year due to the hot weather. A long growing season after wheat allows for many options including double cropping soybeans or planting a cover crop. With high soybean prices, many farmers may want to plant soybeans, but hot and/or dry weather may reduce the chances for a profitable soybean crop.

Keeping Crops Healthy

Depending upon when they were planted, crops are either emerging or starting to grow quickly. This time of year, million-dollar rains (rains around 1 inch) encourage crops to grow quickly. Soil microbes live in the water films around roots, using water to travel around and to process nutrients. After a nice rain, crops often have tremendous growth because plant available nutrients are being released.

Soil Compaction and Dinosaurs

Many lessons can be learned from history, even ancient history. Scientist have studied dinosaurs and discovered that their foot print was heavier than modern farm equipment.

Reducing Harmful Algal Blooms

When late spring and early summer weather gets hot and muggy and we get lots of rain, expect things to grow. Unfortunately, that is also a good recipe for increased harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie.

Corn Insect Pests

The 2022 La Nina weather pattern is expected to bring above average precipitation to Ohio and the Great Lakes Region along with stronger and more hurricanes. Since many insect pests are carried by hurricanes northward, farmers can expect higher insect infestations this year. Some insect pests over winter, and they are also around in higher numbers.

Terminating Cover Crops

As planting season is partially delayed in some areas due to wet weather, farmers are wondering when and how to terminate their cover crops. If soils are wet, a growing cover crop helps dry out soil through evapotranspiration.

First Time No-tillers

As the national price of diesel fuel averages around $5.40/gallon, many farmers are considering no-tilling both soybeans and corn for the first time. Also, due to wet weather and a late planting window, getting crop seed in the ground becomes even more important. Here are a few tips that may help improve your first year no-till crop yields.