AgroExpo Field Day
Farm field days are in full swing as summer winds down. In mid-August, the AgroExpo was held near St Johns, Michigan, on a research farm. With 120 exhibitors and many demonstration plots, AgroExpo brought together 2,000 farm visitors to talk crops, watch tillage machines and silage harvesters, and listen to educational seminars. The five 12-row silage harvesters, shown here, made a few minutes work of a 20-acre corn plot. Follow us on a tour of other AgroExpo highlights.
Zouheir Massri, the Fertility Research Manager of fertilizer supplier AgroLiquid, engaged farmers from a three-foot-deep trench. He was showing them how fertilizer moves in the soil. Some of AgroLiquid’s liquid fertilizers are encapsulated to give slow release over several weeks. The technology allows for more efficient uptake, and lets less fertilizer product go farther, he said.
Too Much Spring Rain in Indiana
Bob Krohn, an independent seed sales representative from Indiana, was at AgroExpo and admiring the 200+ bushel-an-acre corn test plots. In central Indiana, he said, they see little corn that looks so good. The problem: way too much spring rain. Some farmers replanted corn three and even four times after repeated 3- to 4-inch downpours. Even now, late corn is barely waste high and will need a very late first frost to mature.
Missouri Corn Heading to 200 Bushels
Farmer Stephen Derks came from King City, Missouri, for AgroExpo, using the long trip to scout crop conditions across Iowa and Illinois. Things look good on his farm’s corn and soybeans. The best-looking corn was planted in early May and was waste-high when he sidedressed the final 50% of nitrogen to bring the total to 200 pounds an acre. It could hit 200-bushels. Just recently, he put a foliar fertilizer, heavy on potassium, on his soybeans. It gives a five- to six-bushel-an-acre yield bump, he said.
Preferred Fertilizer Plan
Jeff Brown, agronomy specialist for AgroLiquid, was talking with farmers about a fun project his company is doing. They paired an agronomist and a sales person and had each duo formulate a preferred fertilizer plan for a corn plot. All the plots are in the same field, had the same pre-season soil test data, and got the same rainfall (irrigated). Of the eight teams, the fertilizer cost varied from about $140 an acre on the low end to just over $190 on the high. At harvest, they’ll know which team gets bragging rights. Brown’s team is at the high end – $186 an acre – with a good dose of micro-nutrients zinc and manganese.
Alfalfa Yield and Quality Advantage
Dan Peterson is an AgroLiquid field agronomy manager who works with forages. Their work is showing an alfalfa yield and quality advantage to liquid foliar fertilizers compared to dry, he told farmers. The big advantage is 5% more protein and 9.5% better fiber digestibility in the harvest alfalfa. He told alfalfa farmers to stop using crimpers when they cut alfalfa. Rather, use a good disc mower and lay the swath out flat and wide. It will dry faster without crimping, and the quality will be higher.
Stephanie Smith, an agronomy manager for 360 Yield Center, was primarily showing off their Y-Drop Sidedress applicator for applying fertilizer into standing crops. The tubes that she is showing dribble liquid fertilizer right along the stalk base, where even a heavy dew can move it directly into the root zone. The Y-Drops can be put on any machine that you apply fertilizer with, she said. With a high-clearance machine, Y-Drop lets you delay a split fertilizer application until corn is head high or taller, and put the fertilizer right over crop roots.
Corn Silage Choppers
About those corn silage choppers: Nelson Weaver is a dairy farmer from Sandusky, Michigan, who chops silage for his own herd, and also has a fleet of three big Claas machines that he and his family use to custom harvest silage. He was at AgroExpo specifically to see the new Claas machine, as they may trade up from a 2008 machine. What he especially wants in the new model is a feature called row-sense, which keeps the machine running straight down the row; and better lights. With well over $400,000 invested in a new machine, they keep it going around the clock in silage season, which can be as short as three weeks.
Jesse Vollmar, the young founder of data management company FarmLogs, spoke at one of the AgroExpo seminars about getting more from every acre. When he started the company five years ago, he didn’t think the technology tools were as useful as they could be. Now he’s changing that on the 75 million acres that FarmLogs works with. He is very excited about the launch last February of 88 new Planet Labs Dove satellites for remote crop sensing. Now there are over 100 satellites monitoring every inch of your fields every day, Vollmar said of this breakthrough.