Ohio Field Leader

Using enterprise budgets to help determine which crop to grow

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

High market prices incentivize farmers to consider raising crops that they may not otherwise grow given lower prices. While the higher prices may make a crop more profitable than it had been; making a fair assessment of the profitability level in comparison to other crops is important. The use of the Ohio Crop Enterprise Budgets is a good starting point to compare all the variables involved.

“An enterprise budget provides an estimate of potential revenue, expenses and profit for a single enterprise,” said Barry Ward, Leader in Production Business Management at The Ohio State University. “The Ohio State University College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) has a long history of developing Enterprise Budgets that can be used as a starting point for producers in their budgeting process. The OSU enterprise budgets represent common, workable combinations of inputs that can achieve a given output.”

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Soybean gall midge: How do you solve a problem you know little about?

By Megan Sever, Adapted from Crop and Soil Magazine, January -February 2021, American Society of Agronomy
A once‐in‐a‐lifetime situation has arisen in the upper Midwest, but it’s not the good one. Instead, it’s that a new species of pest has evolved —scientifically fascinating, but for farmers on the ground trying to combat it and save their fields, it’s terrifying.The soybean gall midge, a tiny bug identified as a new species in 2018, has already affected growers in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. And it’s threatening the $41 billion soybean industry in the U.S.

Scientists studying the soybean gall midge have far more questions than answers. Farmers, to date, have found zero management techniques to spare their crops — except for abandoning soybean crops altogether. But there is hope on the horizon, scientists say. They’re throwing everything they can at the research — more than two dozen open lines of inquiry at last count, from basic life‐cycle analyses to genome sequencing, says Justin McMechan, an entomologist and plant pathologist at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

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Summary of multi-state research on soybean planting

By Laura Lindsey, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-04, Ohio State University Extension

With funding from the United Soybean Board, soybean agronomists across the U.S. came together to summarize soybean row width, planting date, and seeding rate research trials. (Ohio-specific research trials were funded by Ohio Soybean Council.) Here’s what we found:

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains specialist

 

Row width Soybean row width varies across the U.S. In Ohio, most farmers plant soybean in 7.5-, 15-, or 30-inch row widths. Across the U.S., narrow rows (7- to 15-inch) out-yielded wide rows (≥ 30 inches) 69% of the time. Narrow rows tend to out-yield wide rows due to earlier canopy closure which facilitates light interception and drives photosynthesis. For the full report on row spacing: https://soybeanresearchinfo.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/FINAL-2700-002-20-Row-Spacing_Science-for-Success-Dec-22_v1.pdf

Planting date 

The date of planting has more effect on soybean grain yield than any other production practice. In many instances, this means planting soybean as early as field conditions allow, but generally at or after the Risk Management Agency (RMA) replant crop insurance dates begin.… Continue reading

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Manure and cover crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Many livestock farmers who are being compensated by the H2O Ohio program may be looking for guidance on planting cover crops. NRCS Appendix A (Cover Crops) is your best guide for cover crop seeding methods, planting dates, and planting rates. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation office or local NRCS representative for additional questions.

What should your cover crop accomplish if you are applying fall manure? First, a live plant that survives the winter and absorbs nitrogen, phosphorus, and reduces soil erosion. Fibrous fine roots systems are better than tap roots which may allow manure nutrients to leach into tile or surface water. The cover crop should be easy to kill, and it’s a bonus if it can be used for forage (but not allowed under the H2O Ohio program rules).

Generally, grass cover crops with fibrous fine roots absorb manure nutrients the best.

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Cover crops and water quality

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

Cover crops can directly impact water quality. With all the attention being given to improving water quality and reducing nutrient loads going into Ohio’s waterways, farmers are encouraged to consider a multifaceted approach of best management practices (BMP’s) that include the use of cover crops.

In the most recent “Water Quality Wednesday” program, Rachel Cochran, Water Quality Associate with OSU Extension, shared six key points to consider when evaluating the benefits of planting cover crops to improve water quality. “Cover Crops can directly impact water quality,” said Cochran. “Cover crops can prevent soil erosion.

They absorb excess nutrients. Once the cover crops die and decompose, those nutrients are returned to the soil in a usable form for other plants. They can increase soil aggregate stability. The cover crops compete with weeds for sunlight and nutrients.

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Herbicide resistance in Ohio waterhemp populations

By Dr. Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension

Waterhemp populations across the Midwest continue to develop more complex variations of herbicide resistance.  Multiple resistance to an increasing number of herbicide sites of action is the norm in many populations in states west of Ohio.  Waterhemp has on the whole developed resistance to seven sites of action, including the following:

Group 2 – ALS inhibitors – chlorimuron, imazethapyr, etc

Group 4 – Synthetic auxins – 2,4-D, dicamba, etc

Group 5 – Photosystem II inhibitors – atrazine, metribuzin, etc

Group 9 – EPSP synthase inhibitor – glyphosate

Group 14 – PPO inhibitors – fomesafen, flumioxazin, sulfentrazone, etc

Group 15 – long chain fatty acid inhibitors – metolachlor, pyroxasulfone, etc

Group 27 – HPPD inhibitors – mesotrione, isoxaflutole, topramezone, etc

Individual populations with resistance to three or more sites of action are common. Mutations are occurring that confer resistance to several of these sites of action simultaneously, through a resistance mechanism that enhances the metabolism and inactivation of the herbicides by the plant.

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Improving fertilizer availability

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

As fertilizer costs increase, farmers want to either lower their fertilizer costs or find ways to conserve soil nutrients. Cover crops can help do both things.  Legumes and clovers sequester nitrogen (N) and grasses and radishes make phosphorus (P) more available.  Most conventional soil tests measure inorganic soil nutrients but are less reliable accounting for organic or carbon-based plant nutrients. As soil health improves, nutrient availability and nutrient efficiency generally improves due to higher soil microbial activity.

Manure improves soil health and soil organic matter (SOM).  Solid chicken manure is high in N, P, and calcium.  Liquid manures (hog and dairy) can be major sources of nutrients but have a high-water content (dairy, 98% water; hog, 95% water) and with high transportation costs, can be more expensive.  Composting solid manure tends to concentrate available nutrients because as manure decomposes, the volume generally reduces to about a third of the original volume. 

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Technologies for improving sprayer field performance and efficiencies

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

The Ohio State University’s Precision U winter meeting series wrapped up with a look at sprayer application tips and technologies. Joe Luck, Associate Professor and Precision Agriculture Engineer in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln was the featured presenter.

Joe Luck, Associate Professor of Biological Systems Engineering, Precision Agriculture Engineer, photo credit, UNL

When farmers make a chemical application with a sprayer, the goal is ultimately to protect their crop.

“The first step in achieving this crop protection is to make sure the application is on target and accurate,” Luck said. “This involves proper mixing, including any pre-mixing of products, proper agitation, and direct injection.”

Achieving the desired application rate is a part of the accuracy.

“This can involve the use of a rate controller,” Luck said.… Continue reading

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Winter Grain Market and Climate Outlook Meeting (Part 1)

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

The most recent Winter Outlook Meeting, hosted by The Ohio State University, provided data and information to help farmers make informed decisions going into the winter and spring.

Aaron Wilson, Atmospheric Scientist at The Ohio State University, and State Climatologist shared information focused on “Where we’ve been, where we are currently, and where we are going.”

A global assessment of the past year’s weather showed 2020 to be the second warmest since 1880. The warmest average year was 2016, and 2019 ranked third. Looking all the way back to 1880, the ten warmest years have all occurred since 1985.

There was also a significant increase in the number of “Billion Dollar Disasters” in 2020. There was a total of 22 recorded last year. The numbers in general have been increasing. To put it in perspective, looking at the time period of 1908 through 2020, the average is six disasters of that magnitude per year.

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Understanding soil health terms

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Service

Soil health can be hard to understand if you do not know the “lingo” or terminology.  Talking to a doctor, sometimes you need a dictionary to know what they are saying.  Here’s a short primer on soil health terms.  “Soil health” is defined by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Soils contains living organisms that perform functions for humans but these organisms need food, shelter, and certain environmental conditions to thrive.

“Soil ecosystem functions” include processes like nutrient cycling, clean water (filtering, buffering, availability), soil physical stability, and soil habitat ( where organisms live). Ecosystem services are grouped into four categories: provisioning (food production and water), regulating (climate and disease control), supporting (nutrient cycles, crop pollination) and cultural (spiritual and recreational benefits). Many soils are degrading rapidly especially when  compared to their virgin state, before they were cultivated.

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Precision U Meetings focus on reduced working days

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

The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), Digital Ag Team is hosting Precision U virtually this year in a series of four meetings, all with a theme of tackling spring operations with reduced working days.

It is no surprise to Ohio’s farmers that the weather patterns have been changing, and the short- and long-term weather impacts create a need for adaptive management styles.

“Since 1995 we have seen a decrease in the number of suitable working field days in Ohio from April through October,” said Aaron Wilson, Atmospheric Scientist at The Ohio State University and Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center.

Looking back at the 2020 midwest growing season, defined as March through November, the growing season was warmer with both daily high temperatures and overnight lows above the 30-year average.… Continue reading

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Maximizing factors that influence crop yield

By Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Farmers consistently attempt to increase crop yields but may not know which factors are important.  Yield is influenced by climate and temperature, plant and water management, and soil nutrient management factors.  Good genetics plus the ability to manipulate and optimize the plant’s environment generally result in the highest yields.

Climate and temperature factors are critical to achieving high yields.  Warmer temperatures maximize crop growth including cell division, cell growth, and crop metabolism while cold temperatures inhibit plant growth.  Ideally, soybeans grow the best at air temperatures of 770F. A string of temperatures below 600F reduces soybean pod set.  Corn is a warm season plant that germinates best at 60-650F soil temperatures and grows best between 72-850F.  Iowa and Illinois benefit from dark soils, high in soil organic matter (SOM) which absorbs heat and warms soils better than light-colored sandy soils. 

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Bio-stimulants for higher yields and carbon

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Bio-stimulants include both bacterial and fungal inoculants, various types of compost, and organic adjuvants that stimulate plant growth and improve yield.  Farmers have been using bacteria inoculants containing Rhizobia bacteria on legumes and clovers like soybeans, alfalfa, and red clover for many years. Each plant has a specific Rhizobia bacteria inoculant needed to maximize nitrogen production.  Rhizobia take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it to plant available forms of nitrogen in the nodules.  Inoculants for soybeans and alfalfa may last 1-2 years while cover crop inoculants are short lived, lasting only 12-48 hours.  Many farmers buy pre-inoculated seed but exposure to sunlight and temperatures above 500F often make them ineffective.  For best results, always inoculant cover crops legumes (winterpeas, vetches, cowpeas, Sunn Hemp) and clovers (crimson, Balansa, red, sweet) at planting and buy the right inoculant species.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Other inoculants are fungal. 

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Not your grandparent’s soils

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

“You are not farming the same soils your grandparents farmed,” said Hans Kok, Program Director for the Conservation Technology Information Center in Indiana.

Kok spoke during a presentation at the Ohio No-till Council’s Winter Conference and described the origins of the soils we find in this part of the Midwest, going back to the glaciers and continuing to the modern soil challenges we face. Over the past 100 years, farming practices employed in America have led to a deterioration of the soil quality.

“Data from the University of Illinois shows that on plots dating back to 1873, we have lost about 80% of the organic matter in the soils that have been farmed continuously since that time,” Kok said.

Kok believes that producers can reverse this trend by adjusting their farming practices. One change he recommends is to incorporate the use of cover crops.

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Lessons from the past to grow the future

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

Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.  This was the message from Hans Kok to farmers, as he spoke at the 2020 Ohio No-till Council Winter Conference. “Understanding the history of our soils in Ohio and Indiana, and what has been done to them over the last century helps to explain some of the environmental issues we see today, and can lead to possible solutions,” said Hans Kok, Program Director of the Conservation Technology Information Center.

Hans Kok, Program Director of the Conservation Technology Information Center
Photo Credit: CTIC

“The Ice Ages did a major job on Ohio, Indiana, and the surrounding states. The ice came down from Canada. It was up to a mile thick, and it basically bulldozed our entire landscape off. Everything we had was bulldozed to the bottom.

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Using humic substances to improve plant growth

By Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Helath Services, Adapted from Dr. Robert Pettit, Texas A&M

Soil organic matter (SOM) is carbon compounds from living organisms are decomposing or the dead bodies of microbes, small animals, and plants. A fertile soil has between 2% (sandy soil) to 8% (clay soil) SOM which contains essential minerals needed for plant growth. Humic (carbon) substances are vital to soil fertility and plant nutrition. Plants grown on soils with adequate humic substances have less stress, are healthier, produce higher yields; and have higher nutritional density and value.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Humic substances include humic acid, humins, and fulvic acid.  Humus or humic acid is the long-term black dark SOM which makes up 65-75% of the total SOM; very dense and hard to decompose; and is the largest major source of soil minerals and soil fertility.  Fulvic acid  is the short-term active SOM that is water soluble with a high nutrient exchange capacity. 

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December producer meetings

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

December typically marks the start of the fourth season in Ohio for growers. In the spring is planting season, followed by the summer growing season, and the fall harvest season.  Winter is officially “Meeting Season” for many of Ohio’s top producers. December starts the season off early with two statewide meetings within the first week. Due to COVID-19 concerns, both meetings are virtual and can be viewed from the comfort of your own home.

Ohio No-till Council Winter Conference

December 3, 2020   Virtual   9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

The broadcast will begin at 9 a.m. on Facebook
Times are approximate.

9:00     Welcome and Introductions:  Jan Layman, President, Ohio No-Till Council

9:05     Soil Health and Cover Crops: Effect on Environment

Hans Kok, Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative

9:55   Managing Soil for Food and Climate (virtual, live)

Rattan Lal, Soil Science Distinguished Professor, OSU

10:20   Controlling Voles

Jim Hoorman, HoormanSoilHealth.com

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Cover crops and soybeans can be a good combination

By Carol Brown, from NCSRP, Soybean Research and Information Network

On paper, adding a cover crop to a farming production system looks simple enough: plant a small grain such as cereal rye as soon as the cash crop harvest is done; let it grow, then terminate it prior to planting in the spring. But farmers and agronomists know it’s not that simple.

As more producers adopt cover crops, researchers continue to look for answers to arising questions. Entomologist Justin McMechan is one of the experts who receives regular questions from farmers using cover crops.

Justin McMechan, Entomologist, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

“Typically, I get questions like, ‘I found a certain insect in my cover crops. Should it be here and how do I control it?’’’ he said. “In our research, we are finding a lot of beneficial insect activity in cover crop systems, which is great.”

McMechan, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska, is conducting research on how cereal rye and wheat cover crops impact pests and weed pressure.

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Healthy soils suppress pests

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Farmers who improve soil health increase the amount of soil carbon being stored, and recycled. The increased carbon flow increases microbial numbers and efficiency leading to improved plant photosynthesis. The entire soil ecosystem functions at a higher level.  The overall effects are healthy plants that have less disease and insect issues and higher overall yields.

Soils high in soil organic matter (SOM) allow carbon to cycle in many different forms.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The soil microbial community adjusts to these changes in the quantity of recycled carbon and nitrogen and this has an effect on the amount of phosphorus, sulfur, and micro-minerals released in the soil.  Many of these trace minerals like manganese, iron, copper, and zinc are essential micro-nutrients needed to suppress disease.  Plants activate plant proteins into enzymes to fight diseases using these micro-nutrients as co-factors. All soils have pathogens but healthy soils can tolerate these pathogens because healthy plants have the ability to fight them off. 

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Ohio soybean production and research in 2020

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

Each spring, farmers plant roughly 4.8 million acres of soybeans in Ohio.  Looking back at the past planting season, conditions were vastly different between 2019 and 2020.

“For 2020, planting was much better than it was in 2019,” said Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension state soybean and small grains specialist. “Many areas had very good planting dates, and our soybean trials, that are conducted in six counties, were planted very timely for the most part. Some parts of the state did struggle with wet weather during planting. Some areas in southern Ohio had fields that were flooded after planting, and parts of eastern Ohio struggled as well, but compared to 2019, planting conditions were much more favorable.

“There were definitely areas of the state that struggled with dry weather after planting. That continued in some areas through August and September.

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