We are well into the New Year with meeting season in full swing. I am finally back to the office for a couple weeks to get caught up. It is always fun to travel and visit with old friends and see what is new. A lot of the duty each winter is to just reacquaint one’s self with things we can forget. Commercial Pesticide applicator training is always good. It is easy to get lax on using safety equipment. One of the most striking data was the amount of chemical in urine that is found after application, and how the use of gloves lowers that number quite drastically. lIt appears Palmer Amaranth has not made it to North Dakota just yet. Nothing really new in the weeds battle it appears except Monsanto’s RNAi technology which really sounds interesting. Near as I can tell it is several years away. http://www.farms.com/ag-industry-news/rnai-technology-farmer-s-saviour-or-pipe-dream-079.aspx Also, according to this article really expensive. A few other things, Dr. Dwayne Beck, always a great source of info, talked about his long term no-till not responding to P with test levels as low as 5 ppm Olsen P. He thinks the amount of microryza that has developed is doing a really good job of scavenging P. He still puts on a maintenance amount of fertilizer however. I also was able to listen to Ray Archuleta, a wonderful speaker indeed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uMPuF5oCPA Ray is very enthusiastic and had some of the most creative PowerPoint slides I had ever seen! All in all, a lot of great talks, and tons of information. I hope to implement some of the ideas this summer.
One of the thoughts I have had has to do with building organic matter. Trying to make sense of a broad spectrum of ideas and data is always a little dangerous. First, Gabriel Aher, a grad student of Dr. Larry Cihacek of NDSU, did a lot work on our farm looking at C/n ratios and organic matter. They measured C/N ration on winter wheat residue at nearly 100/1. In the KH and C rotations we are planting winter wheat and then putting bio strip till cover crops. The C rotation is SW-WW-C-S, the KH is WW-C-S. I goofed up and long story short, put on a large amount of Nitrogen in a small strip when planting the cover crop this year. The growth in this strip was phenomenal. Where there was no N, growth was much less. I appears like we captured way more carbon where N was high. With the nitrogen fertilizer we would also be lowering the C/N ration which should help next year’s corn. I have a hunch this would also increase organic matter. It may also cycle nutrients faster which would be good for the following corn, but may not increase OM as fast. Probably depends on weather a lot. Anyway, I am considering the application of a 100lbs N to the bio-strip next year. Oh, I found out our bio-strip also goes by the term “Precision Cover Cropping” also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06N63U-RAl0 . More on this latter!
As you can see by the picture I took today, we have a little snow cover. If forecast holds, it will probably be gone in a few days.
CCSP Farm Manager