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
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More