Be In The Game

Soil samplingHigh crop prices have monopolized the news again this winter, but your grower-customers know they can’t just pass “Go!” and collect $200 this season. The stakes are too high. The profit potential intensifies the need to maximize grower input dollars — and that’s where your dealership’s diverse offerings, such as soil testing and scouting, come into play.

Sampling Saves $

Corn and soybean prices may hit some record numbers, but on the cost side of the ledger, fertilizer isn’t exactly cheap. Wasted materials and money are not an option for your growers. Offer soil testing services as the first step toward proper placement.

Typically performed in the fall by staff or outside help for corn and soybean fields, soil sampling is sometimes carried over into spring. Its basic purpose is to outline a field’s fertility and pH levels.

Philosophies on how often to pull soil samples vary. For example, Hovey Tinsman III, president of Davenport, IA-based Twin State, Inc., makes the case for four-year cycles in corn and soybeans. “We frankly don’t even sample bi-annually because the only reason to sample that often is a) we haven’t had a history with you or b) you’re doing some major management change,” he says. “What we’ve found is when we have tested every other year, people basically don’t change what they actually do based upon what we find, so it’s a waste of time.”

Two- to three-, even five- to six-year intervals were mentioned during interviews with several CropLife 100 operations, depending on such variables as conventional vs. precision program sampling, along with the cropping system. On the other end of the spectrum, Mountain View Co-op, Black Eagle, MT, encourages its wheat growers to test every year, says Frank Schumacher, operations manager.

Variety Of Programs

Sampling practices follow a range of styles, divided between traditional and precision programs, and charges run the gamut, from free to per acre to grid size. There are even those growers that choose a mix of conventional and precision programs. “They might have fields that yield really well and are fairly consistent and they just pull a regular sample out to keep everything in check,” while utilizing a precision program for fields they’re trying to build up, explains Brad Murray, precision agriculture specialist for Landmark Services Cooperative, Juda, WI.

Landmark has offered grid soil testing for a dozen years. “If you figure out how much plant food costs now, it’s outrageous — just more than quadrupled in the last two to three years,” Murray says. “When you take a product and put it in a spot where it’s not needed, that is so much wasted money.”

The co-op’s precision program provides analysis of past practices. “Our general consensus between our sales force and our customers is that about 60% of our plant food was applied in the wrong spot, Murray says. “If you’re wasting 60% of something that costs upwards of say $100 an acre to apply, that’s a lot of money wasted.”

Murray attributes a substantial uptick in precision agriculture sign-ups the past three years to the rise in fertilizer prices during that same time frame.

“We use soil testing to determine what their requirements are for the crop based on yield goals and offer our own liquid fertilizer blend to fulfill that requirement,” says Larry Moir, sales representative at Centennial Ag Supply, Kersey, CO.

Appreciable Art

The retailer’s ability to create the final recommendations helps determine where, what type, and how much of a grower’s fertilizer input dollars will be spent. It’s an art, says Twin State’s Tinsman. “Developing recommendations certainly has scientific aspects, such as the lab work,” he says, “but everybody has different interpretations on how they want to use different soil test components.”

Twin State, for example, uses several components to build its recommendations. “The recommendations are based upon what the soil tests call for first; second, based upon the crop; third based upon their intended or expected yield; and then to a lesser degree, previous crop,” says Tinsman.

Success Happens

Soil testing can make a measurable difference in a field’s performance. Just ask Dan Kennedy of Ritter Crop Services, Inc. in Marked Tree, AR.

He cites the changes due to using variable-rate soil testing on a customer’s farm this past fall. “We would normally go in and apply 1 to 2 tons of lime across every field — 7 — on this farm,” Kennedy says. The soil tests “actually cut in half what we thought we were going to need.”

Scouting Makes Its Mark

Scouting is another service that will ensure your growers use the right herbicide, insecticide, or fungicide when needed. Your dealership may offer scouting services, or your growers may walk the fields themselves and call if the situation warrants spray application.

A key weed concern in 2008 glyphosate resistance — especially when combined with resistance to other herbicides. Some waterhemp has shown resistance to glyphosate, ALS, and PPO-inhibiting herbicides.

Glyphosate resistance in weeds should be on your watch list. “A basic recommendation is to spray when the weed is smaller than usual, then check seven to 10 days later for weed escapes,” says Mark Loux, Ohio State University weed specialist. The list of resistant weeds includes marestail, common ragweed, giant ragweed, amaranth, waterhemp, hairy fleabane, Italian ryegrass, and rigid ryegrass. Most of it is in the eastern Corn Belt and the mid-South. Glyphosate-resistant johnsongrass was confirmed in Arkansas and Mississippi in mid-March.

Missouri is the first state where three glyphosate-resistant weeds — tall waterhemp, common ragweed, and horseweed — have been identified. Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri weed specialist, recommends using different modes of action to lessen the impact of resistant weeds. It won’t be an easy sell, because the best systems cost twice the amount of a typical glyphosate application regime. Liberty Link soybeans can be used, and dicamba-resistant soybeans may be available by 2013.

Glyphosate-resistant waterhemp is a major concern for the 2008 season “due to the widespread adoption of weed control in lieu of weed management,” writes Aaron Hager, University of Illinois (UI) weed specialist, in a UI newsletter. The glyphosate application should be preceded by an early soil-residual herbicide. Hager emphasizes that treated fields must be scouted seven days after the initial glyphosate application to determine treatment effectiveness on waterhemp.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Be In The Game

  1. Please advise me, i want to do fertiliser blends e.g 60:20:100 there fore i am based in Swaziland-Southern Africa.Who is your agent in Africa?Please send me their contact details.ASAP

Management Stories
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Farmer on tablet
CropLife 100Southern States Co-op: An Inside Look At Our Aerial Imagery Program
February 8, 2015
Now is as good a time as any to explore the basics of what a retail aerial imagery program looks like today. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Inks Satellite Imagery Agreement
February 3, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Company has reached an agreement with Planet Labs to bring satellite imagery to the AgVerdict software platform. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Commodity Classic Turns 20
February 23, 2015
Two decades in, this annual gathering of all things agriculture has become a must-see event. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: On The Road Edition
February 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent trips to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and the Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Acquires FLM+ Assets
February 19, 2015
FLM+ will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Inc., and the company will retain its employee base after closing of the deal, which is scheduled for the second quarter of the year. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnited Suppliers, Stine Seed Form Marketing Alliance
February 19, 2015
The new alliance will greatly expand sales opportunities for Stine Seed with the United Supplier Seed Link Owners. Read More
Crop InputsVilsack To Deliver Commodity Classic Keynote Address
February 19, 2015
The secretary will deliver a keynote address to several thousand farmers and ag allies during the event's General Session, to be held Friday, February 27, in Phoenix, AZ. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Storage Tips
February 19, 2015
On-farm storage of soybeans requires some special considerations compared to corn. Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance Delivers Promising Field Trial Results
February 19, 2015
In its first full year of field trials, the BioAg Alliance reported that the top 10 microbial strains tested in corn and soybeans showed very promising results. Read More
National Farm Machinery Show overview
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Attendance Up By 16K
February 18, 2015
The 2015 event saw the second highest attendance total of all time as 310,589 attendees that included exhibitors and agribusiness professionals traveled to the Kentucky Exposition Center to participate in the nation’s largest indoor ag trade show. Read More