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2020 weed control strategies for waterhemp and Palmer amaranth

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

From a distance, Palmer amaranth, common waterhemp, and redroot pigweed can easily be mistaken for each other, but proper identification is a key to effective management. Each weed species is a growing problem in Ohio.

Palmer amaranth and waterhemp are relatively easy to separate from redroot pigweed when taking a closer look, because both the Palmer amaranth and waterhemp have smooth stems with no hair on them. Redroot pigweed has fine hairs on the stem.

“It is not critical to separately identify the Palmer amaranth from common waterhemp because the management strategy

Jeff Stachler, OSU Extension

is going to be similar for both,” said Jeff Stachler, Ohio State University Extension educator in Auglaize County. “Palmer amaranth and waterhemp are both dioecious plants, meaning they produce separate male plants and separate female plants. That causes a problem from the standpoint of diversity as every flower on a female plant could hypothetically have a unique male plant that pollinated each of the flowers.

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Macro and micro nutrients

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

A basic understanding of soil fertility is important for high crop production. All crops require seventeen essential nutrients for proper growth and development, the specific amount of each nutrient depends upon the crop. The atmosphere provides hydrogen and oxygen and carbon (most comes from the soil first). The rest must come from the soil and the amount available for a plant depends upon many factors such as the soil type, organic matter, pH, drainage, microbes, temperature, and rainfall. Soil nutrients are absorbed by water being pulled through the plant through transpiration and by roots intercepting the nutrient molecules.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Some nutrients are required in large amounts compared to other nutrients and are called primary or macro nutrients. Primary nutrients include nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), or potassium (K). Nitrogen is used to form amino acids and proteins in the plant and most plants need 3-5.5% of their plant tissue biomass as N.

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Compaction: Where the rubber meets the road

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

It can be said that compaction occurs where the rubber meets the road, or in this case, the rubber meets the soil.

“If you think about how roads are designed and built, they are constructed to handle heavy loads. It comes down to a function of the axle weight,” said Ian McDonald, researcher from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. “Why do we think it is alright to put heavy axle weight on top of a biological ecosystem?”

In research conducted at Bern University by Matthias Stettler, it suggests that the axel load on equipment in a field should ideally be less than 5 tons per axle and tire inflation pressure should ideally be less than 15 pounds per square inch. Common field equipment axle loads are 7.5 tons per axle for a 200 horsepower 4-wheel-drive tractor, 13 tons per axle for a 325 horsepower 4-wheel-drive tractor, 24 tons per axle for a combine with a 12-row head, and 35 to 40 tons per axle for a 1200-bushel grain cart.

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Soil compaction, choices and patience

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Management requires measurement. There are two forms of soil compaction that can be measured and then managed, said John Fulton, associate professor at the Ohio State University in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at the recent Precision University 2020 meeting.

“To effectively manage compaction we need to both understand it and measure it. The first is surface compaction. This is the compaction that occurs at the upper soil layer.  It is considered to be within the tilled layer of soil. The second is subsoil or deep compaction. Subsoil compaction occurs below the tilled layer as a result of surface loading,” Fulton said. “There are four stages when dealing with compaction issues. They include: identifying areas of soil compaction,evaluating those compacted areas to determine both the cause and also severity, making plans to prevent future compaction, and developing plans to manage existing compaction.”

John Fulton, Associate Professor, Biosystems Engineering, The Ohio State University

Soil compaction can be defined as soil particles being compressed together and reducing the pore space.… Continue reading

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The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative and Ohio Agriculture Conservation Council

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Just as the 4Rs of Nutrient Management has become a common phrase in Ohio agriculture, the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OAIC) is likely to become just as familiar in Ohio’s agriculture community in 2020.

“This is an innovative, collaborative effort of the agricultural, conservation, environmental, and research communities in Ohio to improve water quality. They plan to do this by establishing a baseline understanding of current conservation and nutrient management efforts and building a new certification program for farmers,” said Scott Shearer, Chair of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University. “There are a lot of farmers out there doing the right things, we just have not had a good way to measure or quantify those or to be able to communicate that to the general public. When H2Ohio came along, it put more emphasis on water quality and best management practices.

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When weeds talk

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Service

A weed is any plant out of place, but what is the real purpose of weeds?  Weeds, ecologically, are the first plants to inhabit nutrient deficient or disturbed soils. Most weeds grow in soils that are high in nitrates and are bacteria dominated.  By studying the type of weeds that grow on your farm, you can start to figure out what conditions are limiting.  The real purpose of weeds (believe it or not) is to improve the soil. Many weeds act as collectors of deficient soil minerals.  Mother Nature does not like bare soils, so she finds something to grow (weeds) that improve soil so that other plants can grow.

Each plant is an indicator of the conditions that exist in that field and indicates why some agronomic crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, hay) growth may suffer.  Weeds give us a clue to what factors are either limiting or in excess.

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Tillage for the control of weeds, insects and disease

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Ask most farmers why they perform tillage, and the first few responses will most likely be: to eliminate compaction issues, manage crop residue, or level the soil and prepare a seed bed for next year. After that there is a second tier of answers that usually follows. Weed control, as well as managing insects and disease issues are often secondary reasons given for tillage.

Prior to the advent of modern herbicides, and the no-till revolution, tillage was the primary form of weed control for centuries. As both chemical herbicide technology and equipment have evolved, the need for tillage has also changed.

While tillage is an effective method for controlling some species of weeds, there are now chemical options that are equally effective.

“We now have good enough chemistries that we do not typically need to perform tillage to control weeds,” said Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension Weed Specialists.

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Precision University – combating soil compaction

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

There is no shortage of examples of soil compaction across Ohio’s farm fields looking back at the last two years. The fall of 2018 and spring of 2019 created some less than ideal conditions for field work leaving many farmers concerned with field compaction. This concern is justified as compaction can significantly reduce yields. Compaction has been a concern for many years as equipment size grows, increasing axle weight.

Researchers have been conducting on-farm trials comparing farming practices to uncover ways farmers can reduce compaction. Comparisons include tires and tracks, equipment size and tillage practices.

At the 2020 Precision University, OSU Extension has invited in some of the leading experts from across North America on compaction research and management.

Featured Speakers include:
Dr. Scott Shearer -The Ohio State University

Dr. Ian McDonald -Ontario Ministry of Agriculture

Dr. Mark Hanna -Iowa State University

Dr. Jason Warren -Oklahoma State University

The 2020 Precision University will be held January 8 from 8:00 am – 3:30 pm. 

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2019 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The 2019 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Those in attendance will be welcomed and addressed by Director Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Dr. Cathann Kress, Dean of the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Ben Brown, OSU Farm Management Program Manager will have three different sessions dealing with the farm economy. Aaron Wilson, OSU Atmospheric Scientist will lead a breakout session about climate change, and Dr. Scott Shearer, Chair of the Department of Food Agricultural and Biological Engineering, will lead a breakout session about technology. Additional breakout sessions will be conducted throughout the day focusing on: trade, water quality, farm finance, small refinery waivers, H2Ohio, and grain supply/carryover.

In addition to the educational session, the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association and the Ohio Soybean Association will hold their annual meetings during the symposium.

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Why do we still see so much tillage across Ohio?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Pick-up any farm publication and chances are you will find an article about the use of cover crops or no-till farming. Drive across any rural county in Ohio and chances are you will find a field that has recently been tilled. With all the current research evaluating best management practices utilizing no-till and cover crops, why do we still see so much tillage across the state?

Just ask a group of farmers gathered at the local elevator or coffee shop what their top reasons for tillage are, and more than likely there will be a rather consistent list. Those reasons often cited include: breaking-up soil compaction, managing crop residue, controlling weeds and diseases, and improving yields. Most will admit that they have tried and like the concept of no-till farming, especially from the standpoint of making fewer trips across the field. In the same conversation however, they will often talk about the challenges they face on heavier soils with compaction issues and managing crop residue.

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Phytophthora sojae survey by the numbers

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Since 2016, numbers tell the story. Three states, four years, 128 farms, and 1,280 soil samples. Linda Weber, a graduate student researcher in plant pathology at OARDC has been collecting samples and screening over 400 isolates of Phytophthora sojae against the single resistance genes that are currently available in today’s cultivars. “Researchers evaluate 14 single resistance genes, however there are only about 6 genes that are currently available in cultivars,” Weber said. This survey is funded by money from the Ohio Soybean Check-off through the North Central Soybean Research Program. Weber is evaluating the effectiveness of single resistance genes against the Phytophthora sojae pathogen.

Phytophthora sojae is a soil borne pathogen that causes Phytophthora Root Rot and Stem Rot. “This is a major cause of soybean yield losses annually,” Weber said. “Soil types found in Ohio, such as the heavier clay soils, when they are saturated in the spring, are ideal for Phytophthora Root and Stem Rot to develop.”

The project is titled “Phytophthora sojae Pathotype Variability across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

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Ohio State report evaluates options for reducing Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms

Several research teams, led by The Ohio State University, have concluded a three-year study evaluating the ability of agricultural management practices to reduce phosphorus-causing harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

In 2012, the United States and Canada set the goal of reducing phosphorus entering the lake by 40%. Now, researchers have a better understanding of what management practices need to be implemented, and what research still needs to be done to meet these goals by 2025.

The majority of phosphorus entering Lake Erie originates from the Maumee River watershed. More than 85% of the phosphorus entering the lake comes from agricultural sources such as fertilizer runoff. To address this, researchers are evaluating what agricultural management practices have potential to reduce this phosphorus, while supporting farmers to maintain profitability.

Photo courtesy of NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

“There’s a lot of edge-of-field work going on that identifies successful practices in single fields.

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Correcting compaction infractions below the surface

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

It will come as no surprise to farmers that compaction issues will play a role in the future productivity of their fields after the last two growing seasons. Across Ohio, 2018 finished with a wet harvest with many farmers unintentionally committing compaction “infractions.” The equally wet spring of 2019 did not help heal the already injured soil profile, and in some areas, the fall of 2019 was also a challenge. Soil structure was severely damaged by multiple passes of heavy harvest and planting equipment. While many farmers attempt to follow controlled traffic patterns, it is not always practical when the weather only allows for brief windows of opportunity for field work.

This scenario was a text book example for both topsoil and subsoil compaction to occur according to research conducted by Randall Reeder, Ohio State University emeriti and Sjoerd Duiker, Penn State Soil Specialist.

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Planning early is a key to effective on-farm research

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Most Ohio farmers will agree that 2019 will go down in the history books as a year with tremendous variability. For those who conduct on-farm research, variability is one thing they attempt to reduce. One way to help reduce variability is to have a plan before you go to the field. A plan that is designed to have multiple replications of the various components can give you options.

“If you have a plan, you will be more likely to implement it when you go to the field,” said Elizabeth Hawkins, OSU Extension, Agronomic Systems Field Specialist. “If changes need to be made due to changing conditions, you will be more likely to have options available that allow you to maintain the integrity of the research and not compromise the reliability of the results.”

Elizabeth Hawkins, OSU Extension Agronomic Systems Field Specialist

Hawkins feels that learning what works in different years is critical.

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Lackluster soybean yields for 2019

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The 2019 growing season will be remembered for many things, though bin-busting soybean yields will probably not be one of them.

“Soybean yields in Ohio are going to be wide ranging. This is largely due to the soil moisture during the growing season, both excess and drought. Soybean planting date across the Midwest is still the No. 1 factor in soybean yields. With the late planting this year, that is very unfortunate. This year the excessive wet, followed by the dry also had a huge impact,” said Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension soybean specialist. “It started wet, was late planted and then some areas of the state just dried out. Wet soils led to poor root conditions, then dry conditions struck some areas, which just magnified the poor root problem. The lack of moisture during pod fill is probably a bigger issue where water and rainfall is concerned for soybeans.

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Soybean research addresses some of the challenges of 2019

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

There were plenty of challenges for soybeans in 2019 and, fortunately, there are numerous research projects seeking some solutions.

Research has consistently shown the importance of planting date. In some cases in Ohio in 2019, planting date did not hurt final yields as much as would be expected due to a late frost and consistent moisture. This does not diminish the importance of planting dates for soybeans.

“Planting date is still the number one factor that influences soybean yield,” said Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension soybean specialist. “You don’t want to push it too early, because there can be issues on that end.”

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains Specialist

Research has consistently shown a yield reduction from late planting ranging from 0.25 to 1 bushel per acre per day depending on row width, date of planting, and variety. In southern Ohio, soybeans should be planted any time after April 15 when soil conditions are suitable.

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The top weeds for 2020

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader

After a challenging 2019, four specific weeds should be on every farmer’s radar for 2020: waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed, and marestail.

Waterhemp and Palmer amaranth

Palmer Amaranth is an invasive pigweed. Get tips for controlling it from Ohio Field Leader.
                Palmer amaranth seed heads

In terms of waterhemp, there was significant seed production potential in 2019.

“I have seen an increase in waterhemp in 2019, especially with all the prevent plant acres, and that is going to mean big problems for some farmers in 2020,” said Kenny Schilling, retail market manager for FMC Corporation. “If you know you are going to have waterhemp issues in the 2020 soybean crop, a farmer needs to plan on using a dicamba or Liberty soybean in that field.

“It is recommended to use a Group 14 and Group 15 Family herbicide in the pre-emerge application and follow it up with a Group 15 Family herbicide again in the post-emerge application, combined with the chemistry from the herbicide resistant soybean that was planted.

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How much do you value your data?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Ask an expert in the industry about the importance of calibrating yield monitors to collect harvest data and they will most likely tell you, “It’s about how much you value your data.” That was the response from Matt Liskai, owner of Green Field Ag in Gibsonburg, Ohio. Matt has been working with yield monitors and other precision agriculture equipment since they first came on the scene in the early 2000s.

“Everyone has a different philosophy when it comes to calibrating their yield monitor for harvest data,” Liskai said. “Some calibrate their yield monitors once a season, and some will calibrate for every field or variety. It’s about the value you place on the data you are collecting and the decisions you will make with it. You need to ask yourself how important is it that the data you collect is accurate?”

According to John Fulton, OSU Extension Specialist for Precision Ag, and Elizabeth Hawkins, OSU Extension Agronomic Systems Field Specialist, geo-referenced yield data (i.e.

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Building weather resilience for a stronger 2020

Weather has always been one of the most variable factors in farming, but 2019 has been an extreme example. Heavy rains. Flooding. Storms. Tornadoes. While this year’s growing season has been anything but typical, there are valuable lessons to learn in preparation for a successful 2020.

With climate and weather trends continuously evolving, there are actionable strategies and tools to help build resilience against weather extremes next year and into the future.

Resilience-building strategies:

1. Expect extremes.

“This spring was extreme, but it certainly fits the trend,” said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist with The Ohio State University Extension. “Farmers can go into next year thinking about 2019 as an example of the types of conditions we see in all long-term trends moving toward with the understanding that more of these events are expected in the future.”

2. Use long-range weather forecasts.

“Looking at short-range weather doesn’t offer much help when making proactive management decisions,” said Noah Freeman, Digital Ag Technical Lead at AgReliant Genetics.

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What checkoff-funded research means for your bottom line

Local experts in crop and soil health work throughout the year to fine-tune soybean farming strategies to combat your toughest challenges. However, that’s not the only type of research supported by the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and the soybean checkoff. There’s also an innovative team in Ohio focused on finding new uses for soybeans and inventing new soy-based products to build demand and, at the end of the day, improve the profitability of farms.

Todd Hesterman, a soybean farmer from Henry County, is a member of OSC’s farmer-led board and is currently part of the team focused on developing new uses for soybeans. As the Research Committee Chair, Todd knows firsthand the benefit this research provides for Ohio farmers.

“Every new product development means an increase in soybean usage and demand,” Hesterman said. “Every increase in demand helps utilize more soybeans which, in turn, helps the value of soybeans down the road.”

Every new product starts out as an idea.

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