Ohio Field Leader

Managing soil fertility in the midst of record high fertilizer prices

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

Record high fall fertilizer prices have everyone’s attention in production agriculture. Fertilizer is one of the key inputs in crop production, and looking ahead to the 2022 crop year, it may be the most expensive input depending on how it is managed. Steven Culman, Associate Professor and State Soil Fertility Specialist at The Ohio State University, said there are some options farmers have looking ahead to 2022 to manage this expense.

Ohio State University Researcher Dr. Steve Culman Soil Scientist, Ohio Field Leader
Dr. Steven Culman, Associate Professor and State Soil Fertility Specialist at The Ohio State University

“We’ve been telling farmers that soils are highly buffered, and they change very slowly, unless they are very sandy,” Culman said. “You can’t correct deficiencies in nutrients overnight. We have long term data that shows that when soils are in the maintenance range, that they are capable of providing crop nutrient needs for several years.”

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Putting a value on manure: Part 2

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Farmers are looking for ways to lower their fertilizer bill as fertilizer prices soar.  While applying manure is more complicated than commercial fertilizer, manure is a valuable source of plant nutrients and improves soil health.  Putting a value on manure is not easy because it depends on many factors including how it is stored, applied, handled, etc. A review of 159 manure research articles found manure fields had an average yield increase of 4.4%. Adding roughly 5% yield increase to a 200 bushel/acre corn crop (10 bushels) adds value. Most of the yield boost did not  compare with the value of the P and K in manure according to Dr. Rick Koelsch from Nebraska.

Manure should always be tested because nutrients values vary. Take a manure sample close to the date of application to get accurate results. Soil testing is also recommended to avoid over application. 

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Rotate SCN-resistant seed varieties for optimal protection

Understanding the difference between soybean cyst nematode-resistant varieties may help soybean growers understand the importance of rotating sources of resistance, which is one of the “active SCN management” strategies advised by The SCN Coalition. For combating SCN during the 2022 growing season, The SCN Coalition encourages growers to work with their advisors to select the appropriate SCN-resistant varieties.  

“Most soybean growers are familiar with PI 88788 and Peking, the two most widely used sources of resistance to soybean cyst nematode,” said Melissa Mitchum, University of Georgia molecular nematologist. “What might be news to growers is these different sources of SCN resistance have different resistance genes — also known as different modes of action.” 

Simply speaking, resistance from the PI 88788 line contains one gene, Rhg1. Resistance from Peking contains two resistance genes, Rhg1and Rhg4

“There are also different flavors — aka alleles — of the Rhg1 genes, which is where the A and B designations come into play,” Mitchum said.… Continue reading

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Maximum soybean yield starts with early planting

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

Maximizing soybean yield starts with an early planting date and timely rainfall. According to research by Dr. Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension State Soybean and Small Grains Specialist, the best yields in the 2021 variety trials have come from early April planted soybeans that caught timely rains in the R3-R5 growth stage.

“According to the USDA NASS data, 7% of soybeans were planted in April this year, which was more than the past several years,” Lindsey said. “We had some trials that we started planting on April 5th, and the soil temperatures and conditions were nearly perfect.”

Dr. Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean Specialist

The growing conditions a soybean plant experiences throughout the season impact the yield. There are key times when rainfall is more critical than others. “The weather was pretty good this summer for soybeans.

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Agricultural microbiological products (Part 1)

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

This of the time of year when farmers are considering options for buying seed, fertilizer, various pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides) and other products for next year’s crop. Now farmers may want to consider buying agricultural microbiology products which require even more specialized knowledge. This article will attempt to give some basic information about agricultural microbiological products and what they do. 

Microbial products have many names including crop probiotics, bio-fertilizers, bio-stimulants, bio-controls, or bio-fungicides. They can be applied to the soil, seed, or as inoculants; with or without carriers like compost, peat, or stickers. Buying microbiological products is like moving to the wild west. While almost all products generally will or can work, they are fickle and may not work every year due to various environmental conditions. Handling, storage, and applying the microbes at the right time, place, and rate to soil, seeds, and plants can be challenging, according to research from Penn State University.… Continue reading

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Collect fall soil samples for SCN

By Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-37

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is a major soybean pathogen that continues to spread throughout Ohio. Yield reduction commonly occurs with no visible above-ground symptoms. To know if this nematode is present in a field, soil samples must be properly collected and handled.

SCN Female

The presence of SCN in a field, but more importantly, the SCN numbers will determine the best management strategy.

When should you sample for SCN? Fall is the best time to sample for SCN. After soybean plants are harvested, a soil test will reveal if SCN is present and at what levels. Knowing your SCN numbers in fall will give enough time to plan for next year and to identify the best management practices([more on SCN management here). Furthermore, if you are planning to collect samples for soil fertility, a subsample can be used for SCN testing.

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Take the test to beat the pest

SCN sampling
Figure 1. Mean SCN counts by county in Ohio.

By Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-37

One of the main reasons soybean cyst nematode (SCN) remains the most economically important pathogen of soybean is that it can cause yield loss between 15 and 30% with absolutely no visible symptoms. Resistance to SCN remains the most effective management strategy when rotating to a non-host crop is not an option. The predominant source of resistance in most commercially available soybean cultivars comes from Plant Introduction (PI) 88788, which confers resistance to SCN Type 0 (formerly race 3). Soybean varieties labeled ‘SCN-resistant’ most likely have resistance from PI 88788. The use of the same source of resistance over the past 20 years has placed selection pressure on

SCN populations resulting in a shift in virulence, leading to adaption to now infect PI 88788-derived resistant soybean cultivars. In other words, nematodes reproduce at higher levels than before on soybeans developed with PI 88788 resistance.

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First Ohio Soybean Performance Trial yield results available

By Laura Lindsey and Allen Geyer, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-37

Three out of six of the 2021 Ohio Soybean Performance Trial locations have been harvested, including Sandusky County, Union County, and Preble County. Results can be found here: https://stepupsoy.osu.edu/sites/hcs-soy/files/2021_OSPT_3%20location%20yield.pdf

We will continue to update this website with additional locations as harvest progresses (hopefully, soon with some dry weather.)

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Cover crops pay dividends

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Service

Farmers had several state and national opportunities to receive payments or premiums from planting cover crops. Some deadlines are past, others have been extended. Farmers may want to review some of these programs and look at the current benefits from planting cover crops yet this fall.

Ohio H20 Program: Due to a late harvest and adverse weather conditions, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) extended the 2021 H2Ohio Program deadline for planting overwintering cover crops to November 1st, 2021. Theses cover crops include small grains and manure incorporation. H2Ohio producers enrolled in any of the 24-county Ohio area will have until November 1, 2021 to plant their overwintering cover crops and complete all manure incorporation requirements. ODA recommends to adjust seeding rates to reduce to the risk of planting failure. According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Appendix A, seeding rates should be increased by 20% when planting cover crops this late in the season.

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Higher fertilizer price equals a higher return to soil sampling

By Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension

Fertilizer prices have been on a steady march higher throughout 2021. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service tracks Illinois fertilizer prices which the state FarmDoc group has summarized and published an article with prices through July 2021. When compared to prices from one year ago, anhydrous ammonia was up 53%, DAP was up 83%, and potash was up 71%. The actual cost per ton of anhydrous ammonia is $746, DAP was $717, and potash was $600. Shown here is Figure 2 from that Illinois FarmDoc article, or find the entire article at https://go.osu.edu/fertprices

What is the best investment when fertilizer prices are high, a recent, reliable soil test! So what is a recent reliable soil test? A recent soil test is no more than four years old. A reliable test is where you believe the number for pH, phosphorous, and potassium on the soil test represents that field you farm.… Continue reading

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Rain delays and storage space, communication and patience

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Harvest delays caused by rain may seem like an inconvenience to many, however it has been a welcome opportunity for many commercial grain facilities to relieve some storage pressure and ship grain out during what began as a busy and bountiful fall harvest.

The 2021 harvest season began with a wide range of early yield reports. Many areas in Ohio are experiencing above average yields in both soybeans and corn. Large yields can lead to long lines and reduced storage capacity at local cooperatives and commercial grain elevators.

Grain facilities with access to rail are at an advantage over those dependent on trucking out all the grain according to Clark Carroll, General Manager of the Gerald Grain Center. Those facilities with rail access can also have difficulty.

“The challenge the facilities with rail access can face is the availability and timeliness of train schedules,” Carroll said.

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Transitioning to improved soil health

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Farmers in a conventional tilled corn-soybean rotation often ask how they can improve soil health.  It is not easy but also not impossible. Improving soil health starts with evaluating your soil and then fixing those problems.  Fall is an excellent time to evaluate your current soil health and to start making management changes for next year.

First, evaluate your soil structure.  Take a shovel and look for hard pans and soil that does not crumble easily.  Dig down at least 12-15 inches. Often at least 2-3 layers of hard dense soil may be visible.  Between 6-8 inches, the old plow layer is almost always found; either visually, by probing the soil with a steel rod, or by breaking soil apart. Tillage tools often smear wet soil and create these dense soil layers which restrict roots, water movement, gas exchange, and mineral nutrition.

Second, evaluate your drainage, both surface and subsurface. 

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Studying the compounded effect of pathogens

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

The environment in a soybean field is ever changing. Crop health is dependent on a number of factors. Often, pathologists refer to the “Disease Triangle” which is composed of having a susceptible host plant, the right environmental conditions, and also the disease or pathogen present. All three of these conditions need to be met in order for a crops health to be impacted.  While simple to understand and control in a laboratory, conditions in the field are often much different.

Disease Triangle, Photo Credit Iowa State University

If a host plant is susceptible, and the environmental conditions are favorable, a number of pathogens may be present and ready to attack the crop. It is the interaction of these diseases that is of interest to Horacio Lopez-Nicora, plant pathologist at The Ohio State University.

Lopez-Nicora was recently hired by Ohio State after Anne Dorrance was promoted and assumed more administrative responsibilities for the University.

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More green stem syndrome in soybeans

By Laura Lindsey, Kelley Tilmon, and Andy Michel, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-34

Green stems on mature soybean plants may be the result of a source/sink problem. If there are a limited number of pods (sink), there are fewer places for the plant’s photosynthates (source) to go.

From previously conducted work by Jim Beuerlein, when soybean pods were removed from a plant node when they first formed and started to expand, the leaf at that node stayed green after the rest of the plant matured. If all the small pods were removed from a branch on a plant, that branch did not mature. Further, if setting of pods were prevented on the main stem of a plant but pods allowed to develop normally on the branches, those branches matured normally while the main stem stayed green and held onto its leaves. Anatomical studies of the flow of carbohydrates within a plant show that each leaf fills the pods at its node only, but if all its carbohydrates are not needed at that node, the extra will move to the next lower node.

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Countryside Land Management – Shane Meyer, Henry and Wood Counties

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off
In a twist of fate, the transition to organics began in 2019 for Shane Meyer of Countryside Land Management in Wood County. It was the year that found over 50% of the acres in Wood County electing for “prevent plant” status.
“We were a traditional corn and soybean operation using strip-till for the corn,” Meyer said. “I had been talking to a neighbor that has been an organic grower for a number of years about what it took to transition from a conventional farm, and the prevent plant year gave us a great opportunity.”

Shane Meyer , Country Side Land Management, Henry & Wood Counties

Shane Meyer grew up on their family farm in Henry County and worked in his father’s trucking business.
“I got more involved in the farming operation when I bought my first farm in 2005,” Meyer said.

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Reading weeds to improve soil health

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Weeds often tell a story about how a farm is managed.  Most weeds grow really well in soils low in calcium with low humus.  Often potassium and/or magnesium levels are high, but not always. Many weeds act as collectors of minerals that are deficient in the soil.  When weeds die, they often improve the mineral nutrition of the soil.  If farmers can understand what the weeds are telling them, they can change their management to

Canada thistle

reduce weed populations.

Two problem weeds are giant foxtail and Canada thistle.  Both these weeds thrive in soils that are highly saturated, poorly drained, have low porosity, and have low humus. These soils have low oxygen levels and contain anaerobic bacteria which are generally harmful to crop health.  Low calcium and phosphorus are common problems in these soils. For Canada thistle, copper is also often low. Thistle roots can grow 20 feet deep and are a perennial plant, so they are trying to add humus and get oxygen deep into the soil. 

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Soybean Research and Information Network

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

The Soybean Research and Information Network (SRIN) is a source for information regarding soybean diseases, pests, diagnostic tools and more. The site contains summaries and highlights of the latest soybean research.

“The SRIN is a new project that is being developed by the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP),” said David Clark, Warren County farmer, and current Ohio Soybean Council member. “We are taking a lot of the research from the NCSRP as well as other collegiate research and bring everything together into a single resource to benefit farmers and researchers. The idea is that it will be a site that researchers can log into and view white papers from previous research to gain useful information to benefit their current and potentially new research efforts.”

A good deal of research related to soybeans has been conducted over the years, but there is no one single location where it is all referenced for easy use.

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Life in a time of glyphosate scarcity

By Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Specialist, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-31 & 32

It’s been a strange couple of years with shortages and supply chain problems. And just when you think anything else couldn’t happen, the supply of glyphosate, which is usually way more abundant than water in the American West, has apparently become short. 

This is forcing decisions about where glyphosate has the most value. We have talked with suppliers who are already saving the glyphosate for spring/summer next year and going with other options for fall burndown for wheat and later fall applications for winter weeds. In the end, we have alternatives, but at increased cost or reduced effectiveness in certain situations. A continued shortage will cause more problems in next year’s crops than it does now though.

Mark Loux OSU Extension Weed Scientist
Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Scientist

Herbicide options for burndown of existing weeds prior to emergence of no-till wheat include glyphosate, Gramoxone, Sharpen, and dicamba.

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Soybean Cyst Nematodes

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off.

“Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) is the most important nematode in soybeans because it causes the most damage. It is the number one yield robbing soybean pathogen in North America,” said Marisol Quintanilla, Michigan State University Extension Nematologist.

Marisol Quintanilla, Nematologist, Photo Credit, MSU

It is important for a farmer to know if they have SCN in their field, and at what level.

“A key in SCN management is to try to avoid getting it in the field. The first step is to sample and determine if it is present or not. Collect soil samples and know your numbers,” Quintanilla said. “Some labs can also determine the type of SCN present.”

If SCN is not present, then the goal is to keep it out. “SCN cannot spread on its own,” said Quintanilla. “SCN needs to be spread by something that moves soil, (such as tillage or planting equipment).”

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All things working together

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

To be successful in agriculture today folks need to work together, according to Darke County Farmer Greg McGlinch. Greg and his family operate Down Home Farms near Versailles.

“It started at a young age working with my Dad and Grandpa and Great Uncle, learning some of the old school methods and lessons. A lot of those still apply today,” McGlinch said. “This farm was purchased by my great grandfather in 1900, and for over 121 years we have been learning and sharing.”

Down Home Farms has diversified their crop production over the years raising corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, cereal rye, red clover, sorghum Sudan, and hops. They also have an orchard and raise pasture poultry. Recently they have expanded in cover crop seed production and seed cleaning.

“We started with cereal rye,” McGlinch said.… Continue reading

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