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.

Biological Nutrient Uptake

Regenerative farming practices emphasize nutrient uptake from soils through natural soil biological cycles. This ecologically?based agricultural approach uses microbes and carbon compounds to produce crops naturally rather than relying entirely on highly soluble “salty” nutrient inputs for plant nutrition.

Planting Date and Crop Yields

As May approaches, farmers are gearing up for planting season. Every year, weather seems to play havoc with farmer’s desire to get crops planted timely. Early planted crops generally have a yield advantage over late planted crops.

Breaking Down Crop Residue

For many farmers, crop residue can either be a plus or a minus. Crop residue has many beneficial plant nutrients when it decomposes, but when the residue is slow to break down, it keeps soils cold and wet, and can be difficult to plant.

Increasing Wheat Yield

High wheat prices are causing farmers to strive to optimize wheat yields. High yields are dependent upon maximizing wheat grain kernels per foot and increasing grain weight. High yields come from achieving the correct leaf and shoot numbers, maintaining a green leaf canopy through grain fill, increasing grain numbers/head and increasing grain size.

New Herbicides

Glyphosate has been the #1 herbicide used in the USA since the 1990’s when glyphosate resistant genes (genetically modified) were inserted into crops. Each year, farmers lose about $33 billion dollars in crop losses due to weeds.

Climate is "Unsettled" Science

There is a lot of doom and gloom in this world. Between COVID-19, Ukraine war, and Climate Change; there is not a lot of optimism, especially in our young people. Maybe some data can alleviate some concerns about climate change.

Soil Health Indicators

As spring arrives, farmers should be evaluating their fields for soil health. Since the soil is too wet to farm yet, March and early April is a great time to assess farm fields. For soil health, evaluate fields is in the spring or fall; when the soil is not too hard, dry, or too hot.

Healthy Soils May Reduce Aging

New Penn State University research shows that tilled soils have reduced levels of an essential amino acid called ergothioneine (ERGO). ERGO is an amino acid or vitamin that promotes longevity or reduced aging.

Corn Planter Adjustments
Crop and fertilizer prices are soaring but getting a good crop starts at planting. Planters never seem to break down in the machine shed, but after sitting all winter, problems occur quickly. Planting delays can be quite expensive.

Energized ROI Water

It’s hard to believe that water which is H2O or two atoms of hydrogen combined with one atom of oxygen can have so many different properties. Water is a universal solvent since many crop nutrients easily dissolve in it.

Understanding Soil Phosphorus

Phosphorus (P) fertilizer improves crop yields, so farmers add P fertilizer either every year or only once to corn in corn-soybean rotation. Unfortunately, only about 5-15% of applied P fertilizer is used by plants the year it is applied.

Keeping Nitrogen and Phosphorus Available

Keeping soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) available and on the land is every farmer’s goal. If a farmer is paying for fertilizer, they want the plant to use it. From an environmental standpoint, N and P that leaches or runs off is bad for water quality.

Future Agricultural Technology

We have come a long way in agriculture, from using horses to steam engines to gas and diesel tractors, and now to the use of ground and aerial robots. As the human population on earth reaches nearly 10 million people by 2050, our food production is going to have to increase by 70%. Efficient use of nutrient and crop inputs, improving crop genetics, and improving soil health will be needed to improve yields while also addressing environmental concerns.

Tips for Reducing Fertilizer Costs

Farmers are re-evaluating their fertilizer application due to high fertilizer prices. Farmers who regularly applied fertilizer may not need as much or any additional fertilizer if their soil tests are optimal; especially for lime, phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Most agricultural clay-based soils have around a ton of P and perhaps 40 tons of soil K.

Building Soil Carbon

Most of our agricultural soils are lacking adequate levels of organic matter and good soil health to obtain optimal yields. The lack of humic substances and healthy soil biology reduces the soil’s water holding capacity and the ability to release nutrients when the plants need them, leading to reduced crop quality and lower yields.

Reduced Roundup (Glyphosate) Availability

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup which is the number one weed killer (herbicide) worldwide. About 90% of major USA crops (corn, soybeans) use glyphosate to kill weeds. China is the biggest manufacturer of glyphosate, but due to supply shortages and higher fuel prices; glyphosate is in short supply and prices are at least 3-4X higher than normal.

Enhancing Crop Growth with Humic Compounds

Humic compounds are organic (carbon) compounds in soil organic matter that enhance plant growth. Humic compounds are composed of fulvic acids and humic acids (highly decomposed SOM) and include many different compounds.

Fulvic Acid: A Miracle Worker

My wife gave me a great Christmas present this year; a book entitled Organic Soil Conditioning by Dr. William Jackson (958 pages), full of facts that are beneficial to agriculture. This information may help farmers cope with higher fertilize prices.