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

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
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More

Trending Articles

EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. 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
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More

Latest News

ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More
HerbicidesNew DuPont Afforia Herbicide Gives Crops A Clean Start
August 18, 2014
DuPont Afforia is a preplant herbicide for soybeans and other field crops that provides excellent burndown and residual control of many challenging weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp. Read More
Equipment21 Products Showcased At MAGIE 2014
August 18, 2014
The annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition is upon us. Here is CropLife IRON's look at some of the products visitors can expect to see at this week's event. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Seeks Nominations For 2014 Operator Of The Year
August 15, 2014
Ag retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to nominate their best applicators. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
ManagementCropLife’s Buyers’ Guide Issue Now Availabl…
August 13, 2014
One of our most read issues of the year — the August Buyers' Guide — is ready to download on the iPad. This popular issue features equipment for "In The Field," "At The Plant" and "In The Office." Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
August 13, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
HerbicidesBASF: Fall Burndown Benefits Go Beyond Weed Control
August 12, 2014
While unpredictable weather may delay application timing of spring herbicides, more growers are adding a burndown application in the fall Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide P…
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipNitrogen Efficiency Supports Environmental Stewardship
August 12, 2014
As growers prepare for another harvest, it’s important to consider how nitrogen stabilization not only supports healthy plant growth but also fosters environmental stewardship. Read More
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Introduces 19 New Corn Hybrids For 2015
August 12, 2014
Many of the new hybrids feature Mycogen's SmartStax Refuge Advanced technology for maximum protection of the genetic potential and planting convenience. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces Enlist Ahead App For Enlist…
August 12, 2014
Designed for use with the Enlist Weed Control System, the app is a precision agriculture tool for maximizing weed control performance, managing weed resistance and making responsible applications of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Announces Senior Leadership Team Changes
August 12, 2014
Current CHS strategic leadership team member Shirley Cunningham will assume a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy. Read More