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Managing soil compaction: Part 3

By Sjoerd Duiker, Penn State soil management specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If fields are compacted this fall due to the wet conditions, there are some different strategies that can be taken to correct the problem.

If no ruts are seen, it is probably not necessary to do tillage. Instead, plant a cover crop to use the living root system to alleviate compaction.

Ruts need to be smoothed out to be able to plant the next crop successfully, however. If ruts are uniformly distributed across the whole field, some type of tillage may need to be done on the whole field. In many cases, however, ruts are localized and only need localized repair.

Remember the negative consequences of tillage. It will be necessary to till deeper than the depth of compaction. Shallow “vertical tillage” tools that only do tillage in the top 4 inches will not be sufficient to manage soil compaction.

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Ohio Sheep Day focused on expanding the flock

By Kyle Sharp

The U.S. sheep industry is experiencing a historic time. Lamb prices are at an all-time high, the wool market and wool pelt prices are setting historical records, and the cull ewe market is strong. That reality made for a happy gathering of roughly 130 sheep enthusiasts from across the state and beyond at the 2011 Ohio Sheep Day, held July 16 on a hot, clear day on the rolling hills of Blue Heron Farm in Columbiana County.

Yet despite the current prosperity within the U.S. sheep industry, there is concern that the U.S. sheep flock is not large enough to keep up with the demand for lamb and wool production.

Nationally, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has started a campaign to encourage shepherds to expand their flocks, with information available at www.growourflock.org. And Ohio Sheep Day carried out that trend, with a number of the day’s sessions focusing on ways to increase sheep production, either through new farms or expanded flocks.

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Between the Rows – July 18

“We got four-tenths last Monday and we’re sure not complaining about it, but we could’ve used  2 inches and four-tenths and it wouldn’t have hurt a thing. The clay soil holds the moisture but does crack in the summer. The tile was running after that four-tenths because the rain went right through those cracks and out through the tile. It gave us a little more time, but boy we are really dry.

“The corn that was planted in May is firing and getting really uneven. Luckily we only have 100 acres of that. The corn that was planted in June is waist to chest high and is uniform and is green, but it sure looks tough in the afternoon though. It sounds like we’re going to be in the 90s clear through Sunday. There is always a chance of a pop-up shower when we get conditions like this.

“The beans seem to be holding on pretty well.

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The Country Chaplain

By Tim Reeves

As just about everyone reading this magazine knows, it’s been a tough year to try and grow anything in Ohio. Patience has been more than a desired virtue; it’s been a way of life. Someone once said patience is the ability to throttle your engine when you feel like stripping your gears. We’ve experienced a great deal of “throttling” this year, haven’t we?

My experience with patiently trying to grow something centered around grass, and I’m talking the legal kind of grass, even though over the past year, Logan County has had more than its share of the illegal kind of grass.

We moved to a different parsonage last year when we were appointed to a different church, and the lawn immediately behind the parsonage was a mess. It appeared that when the house was built, the builders simply backfilled around the rear foundation, not paying any attention to the type of soil or what was in it when they leveled the ground.

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Legal Lingo

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

Once upon a time, there was a Grandma and a Grandpa who retired in Ohio. They owned a farm in Indiana, where their Grandson and another Minor Relative went to ride ATVs. Apparently confusing the agricultural terrain with a demolition derby track, Minor Relative drove her ATV straight at Grandson, failed to turn in time and fractured Grandson’s legs, ankle and skull.

So, Grandson and his parents sued Minor Relative and her mother and stepfather (who were at the farm when the accident occurred). Grandson and his parents also sued Grandma and Grandpa. I assume that holiday gatherings were never the same.

The complaint alleged negligent entrustment regarding Minor Relative’s mother and stepfather. Regarding Grandma and Grandpa, the complaint alleged that they knew of Minor Relative’s “reckless and/or negligent tendencies” and that they had the duty and ability to exercise control over Minor Relative, breached that duty, and as a proximate and foreseeable result of their negligence, Grandson was injured.

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Late start for soybeans increases the need for scouting

With the significance of Ohio’s wet spring fresh in farmers’ minds, Ohio State University experts recommend extra vigilance when scouting fields for soybean pests and diseases this summer.

The late start could increase the chances of yield losses from soybean rust, though early conditions in the south were not particularly favorable for the disease.

“The cold winter temperatures and hot dry spring prevented soybean rust from surviving in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In Florida, soybean rust is in a kudzu patch just south of the panhandle. This low level of inoculum and hot dry conditions in the south indicate that it is going to take quite a bit of time to reach Ohio,” said Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist. “The next time we should look at this is in early August. At this time we will take a look at how many counties in the south are red, how much inoculum is there in those locations, and what the growth stage, canopy closure, and general health of the Ohio soybean crop is.

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Between the Rows – July 11

“We took a crop tour around part of the country, and Ohio is almost like the rest of the nation — variable. From southern Indiana to Illinois there was a lot of wet, yellow corn in standing water. There is flooding in St. Louis through Missouri. In Arkansas they hadn’t had rain in 60 days, and the previous two weeks’ temperatures had been 12 degrees above normal, but then they got rain while we were there.

“We’re extremely dry here. We got our last rain three and a half weeks ago. We finished planting on June 8. It rained four-tenths on June 10 and then two-tenths on June 16 and that was the last rain we had. Corn looks good in the mornings until about noon and then it shows the heat and dryness. It is amazing how nice the crops still look, but they are doing it with not much rain.

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The Country Chaplain

By Tim Reeves

In 1835, a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States of America. A historian, philosopher, writer and an early social scientist, de Tocqueville wanted to discover what made America America. For nearly a year, he traveled across the country, interviewing and studying Americans of all races, classes, ethnicities, etc.

After all that work, he wrote a compilation of what he learned, titled “Democracy in America,” which has been described as the most comprehensive analysis of the character and society of America ever written. He painted a true picture of America that went far beneath the red, white and blue of patriotism, the “green” of commerce, the spectacular vistas of natural beauty that grace this land, and the popular images.

Alexis de Tocqueville created a true picture of what embodied the American spirit.

His introduction bears reading. “Upon arrival in the United States of America, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention.

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A feather in agriculture’s cap: A surprising way to fight foreign oil dependence

By Doc Sanders

A new raw material has been discovered for making thermoplastics — and it comes from a source you may not expect. When I tell you what it is, you may say, “Horsefeathers!”

Traditionally, crude oil is the key ingredient of thermoplastics, which can be molded into any shape when heated. You find thermoplastics around home in everything from toothbrush bristles to car bumpers. It can be made tough enough to manufacture armor plating for a military tank — not that you’re likely to find one of those at home.

So, what’s the new raw material for making thermoplastics? Here it is: chicken feathers. Honest!

Chicken feathers have had few practical uses, except to keep chickens warm. And to stuff pillows. And they used to come in handy for chickens when they escaped my mother’s chicken house and evaded my grasp by flying up into a nearby tree. Plus, our old rooster seemed to take great pleasure strutting around and waiting for an opportune time to “flop” me as a little kid with his massive wings.

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Managing corn diseases

By Jerron Schmoll, Agronomy Research Manager, Pioneer

The practice of managing diseases with fungicides in corn has increased significantly in the last few years as commodity prices have made this practice more economically viable. As we approach tasseling, many growers will be considering whether or not to spray their acres. Let’s review what we have learned from previous seasons, and what is different about 2011 that might help guide our decisions.

Before we dig into the data, let’s review the primary diseases that we are managing with fungicides: gray leaf spot (GLS) and northern corn leaf blight (NCLB). GLS causes rectangular shaped lesions that turn gray as the disease progresses, while NCLB causes gray-green elliptical or cigar-shaped lesions. Both diseases are favored by prolonged periods of leaf wetness in the form of prolonged dews and high humidity, and both can produce substantial yield losses, particularly on susceptible hybrids. Increased stalk lodging can occur with both diseases as the plant “cannibalizes” carbohydrates in the stalk to fill the ear instead of relying on green tissue to photosynthesize carbohydrates.

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Are higher commodity prices here to stay?

Higher commodity prices might be the rule rather than the exception in the coming years, a Purdue University agricultural economist says.

While prices regularly rise and fall, they have trended upward in a way that suggests they’ve reached a plateau, said Mike Boehlje. He attributed much of the price movement to bullish export markets, weather-shortened supplies and the effect monetary policies have had on interest rates and investors.

“This higher level may be the new normal,” Boehlje said. “But volatility has increased significantly for agricultural prices, as well as for agricultural inputs. In terms of corn, for example, it’s not unusual in the futures markets to see prices moving 30 cents or more on a daily basis. And although prices may be higher, so are costs to producers. So margins are not likely to stay unusually high.”

Corn and wheat in recent weeks have been trading in the range of $6-$7 per bushel and soybeans above $13 a bushel, about double the prices five years ago.

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EPA grant allows OSU farm to get conservation makeover

By Kyle Sharp

Ohio State University’s Waterman Agriculture and Natural Resources Laboratory, a working farm just west of OSU campus and nestled in the heart of metro Columbus, is being transformed into a learning laboratory of best management practices for water quality protection and whole farm sustainability.

A $194,324 grant from Ohio EPA and local matching dollars totaling $132,456 is enabling the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to demonstrate several progressive projects at Waterman (2433 Carmack Rd.). The grant was announced in April 2010, and projects planned for the first phase of improvements are to be completed by the end of 2011. The projects will serve as application tools for current and future farmers and showcase environmental stewardship for students, faculty and urban residents.

“With this Ohio EPA grant, OSU’s Waterman Agriculture and Natural Resources Laboratory will become the site of comprehensive conservation technologies that will serve as a model for both farmers and students in reducing nonpoint source pollution,” said Reagan Bluel, Waterman farm manager.

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Use care when harvesting wheat with vomitoxin

By Matt Reese

According to a recent Ohio State University Extension survey, 140 fields in 27 counties have been surveyed for head scab, and the incidence in untreated fields has ranged from 0.4% to 45%. A few fields in all parts of the state (southern, central, and northern) had greater than 25% incidence, while other fields had very low incidence. With vomitoxin again an issue in fields around the state and wheat harvest just getting started, it is important that farmers remember the dangers of inhaling the very small particles of the fungus.

“One of the issues of vomitoxin is that you can have contamination that doesn’t show up in obvious ways. Certainly, there may be issue because we’ve had an incredibly wet year, which promotes the growth of fungus,” said Mary Fleming, an Agricultural Health Nurse in the Hospital and Health Care industry with Kilbourne United Methodist Church. “One of the problems with respiratory exposure is that the particle size that causes damage is so small that it is not visible to the naked eye.

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2011 rough on wheat

The significance of Ohio’s extremely wet spring is well documented in terms of corn and soybean production, but wheat fields also suffered considerably from the abundant precipitation.

“This has not been the best season for wheat,” said Pierce Paul, Ohio State Extension specialist and plant pathologist.

Farmers faced everything from flooded wheat fields, to disease issues and prevented spring nitrogen applications due to the severity of conditions, he said. Because of such conditions, yield estimates across the state range from as low as 25 bushels per acre to as high as 90.

Paul attributed the lower-yielding fields to a combination of flooding, missed nitrogen applications and disease pressure.

“The rains created moist, humid conditions,” he said. “Any time we have moist, humid conditions, we’ll have diseases.”

The most common diseases in Ohio fields this year included powdery mildew, Septoria, Stagonospora and a fairly significant appearance of head scab. But, Paul said, while the incidence of head scab is relatively high, it isn’t as bad as last year, based on his field surveys 145 fields.

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Between the Rows-June 27,2011

“We finished planting on June 8 with corn and beans both. We’re off to a very good start. We have near perfect stands in every field. They look beautiful, really, but they should since they were planted in June. The only kicker is that if it was three or four weeks earlier, we’d be sitting on top of the world right now. But for going in late, I guess we can’t complain. We’re close to that 8-inch mark on the corn that is at about the five-leaf stage. We should be close to knee high by the fourth of July.

“Wheat is kind of a sore subject around here. It looks pretty tough as a general rule. There is head scab and other disease in it. In May, we were wet and had a couple of big rains that killed wheat in the low areas. Wheat is not going to be very good around here.

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No easy answers for some tough herbicide questions

By Matt Reese

It was a tough spring for weed control and herbicide experts like Mark Loux, with Ohio State University Extension, continue to get more questions about various issues.

A recent example is a commercially sprayed, long-term no-till Delaware County field (pictured). While some ragweed was killed, nearby plants were slowed, but not stopped, with a treatment of Roundup/Sharpen after 10 days. Monsanto recommended waiting until it greens back up and hitting it again with 44 ounces of Roundup. Was this an herbicide resistance issue or something else?

Here is Loux’s response to the situation and the photo:

One thing to keep in mind that, aside from glyphosate resistance issues, burndown treatments in no-till were applied a month or more later than they typically are, so we were dealing with bigger and older weeds. One consequence of this is certainly that burndown treatments that work well in late April or early May are being stretched to their limits when they are applied in June.

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Custom rates for hay

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

All fall and winter I get questions in the Champaign County office about farm rental rates. Now that we are in the growing season, the calls are about farm custom rates for services that neighbors and farmers hire from each other. I actually use material for both from Barry Ward, the program lead for Production Business Management in the Ag Econ department at Ohio State University. The current calls are about cutting and baling hay, but installing tile and other calls will come in as well.

To compile the data, Barry conducts a survey to ask farmers what they charge their neighbors for this local custom work. He notes, “There is no assurance that the average rates reported in this publication will cover your total costs for performing the custom service or that you will be able to hire a custom operator for the average rate published here.

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What can we learn from the USDA stocks and acreage reports?

A large number of factors have contributed to the higher prices of corn and other commodities over the past year. The beginning of the price increase can be traced to the USDA’s forecast of 2010 corn planted acreage and the estimate of June 1 corn stocks released on June 30, 2010, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“The USDA’s June 2010 forecast of corn planted acreage came in at 87.872 million acres, 926,000 fewer than indicated in the March 2010 Prospective Plantings report. The market was generally expecting acreage to exceed March intentions,” he said.

The final planted acreage estimate for 2010 was 320,000 acres larger than the June forecast. Area harvested for grain was 441,000 acres larger than was forecast in June, but declining yield prospects more than offset the slightly larger acreage estimates, he added.

The USDA’s estimate of June 1, 2010, corn inventories was about 300 million bushels–or 6.5% –smaller than was anticipated by the market and about 245 million bushels smaller than our pre-report calculation, he said.

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10 tips for cutting the cost of rising show feed

As youth go to pick up feed for their fair animals this summer, they’re finding the price tag has increased several dollars over last year.

The increase price of corn is not just effecting livestock producers, but also the show animal industry. Those in the industry tell me the cost of show feed is up anywhere from 10  to 20 percent this year.

Some argue that many youth that show animals are not in it to make money. Heck, it can even be hard to make money showing animals when feed prices are low. This year, though, seems to be an especially  good time to go back to the basics and work on efficiency.

After speaking with several contacts in the show feed industry, here are 10 tips to help cut cost and things to keep in mind when feeding your show animal this summer.

1. Hand Feeding

One of the easiest and simplest ways to cut cost is to make sure you are not wasting feed to begin with.

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Between the Rows-June 13, 2011

“We started planting June 2 and finished everything on June 8. We planted all the corn that we were going to plant. We finished beans and corn on the same day. The corn planter never shut off for four days. We had a half-inch of rain last Thursday. It was perfect. Corn and beans were coming up in four days. Maybe we’ll make up for some lost time. If it were a month earlier, the crops would be great. Now we’re putting on anhydrous and spraying.

“We had 40 acres of beans planted early and we had to spray them because the bean leaf beetles were really working on them. We’ve got a lot of people in the county that use ATVs for spraying and they were able to keep the weeds in check for the most part.

“The water created a lot of replanting in the heavier soils. We guessed 10% prevented planting in Defiance County.

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