Ohio Field Leader

Cover Crop Champions & Cover Crop Driving Tour

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

Cover Crop Champions is an educational initiative funded through a grant from the National Wildlife Federation. There are two Cover Crop Champions programs in Ohio.  One is in the northwest corner of the state, and the other is located in west central Ohio.

The program in Northwest Ohio is being overseen by the Conservation Action Project (CAP). CAP was started in 1988 and serves the seven-county corner of Northwest Ohio which includes: Paulding, Defiance, Williams, Henry, Fulton, Wood, and Lucas. The governing board is made up of farmers, ag retailers, and agency personnel with the goal of working to help farmers and ag retailers implement conservation practices in an economically sustainable way.

Abby Wensink is the coordinator of CAP, and is administering the Cover Crop Champions grant. Cover Crop Champions utilizes the knowledge of area farmers who are experienced with cover crops.

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Tips for harvest and planning for 2021

By Dr. Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension Plant Pathology, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2018-33

The 2020 Soybean harvest has started in Ohio.  The following items are things to keep track of as the combines run across the fields to help evaluate the 2020 crop and plan for 2021.

  • Make note of those low yield spots in soybeans to soil sample for soybean cyst nematode levels.
  • Did you leave unsprayed strips?  Harvest each of these first separately.  Yield is not even throughout a field so comparisons to the average of these unsprayed strips are a more accurate measure of what the baseline level of yield is within a field.  This is the number to compare yields for any treatments. Note: the outside borders of the field are usually not comparable since these have additional secondary factors such as shade from trees, compaction, old fence rows etc. which can impact yield.
  • Fields with Sclerotinia should be harvested last. 
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Drought and herbicide carryover

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The 2020 summer was hotter and drier than normal for most farms, so herbicide carryover will be a major issue for planting cover crops.  Herbicides degrade based on soil temperature, rainfall, time of application, organic matter, soil type, soil pH, and sunlight.  Generally, microbially active soils break down herbicides quickly.  Moisture is critical for microbe activity, so drought or dry summers means slower herbicide breakdown.  High soil temperatures can also reduce microbial activity and herbicide breakdown.  High soil microbial activity occurs between 75-850F but once soil temperatures get above 900F, generally microbial activity declines.  On bare soils, the soil temperatures in the top inch may reach 110-1400F on a hot sunny day, greatly reducing microbial activity and herbicide breakdown.

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

Herbicide application timing also determines herbicide degradation.  Herbicides applied in the spring or early summer have a longer time to break down. 

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A shocking solution to weed control

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

The annual task of getting effective weed control is a challenge every farmer is familiar with. Each year millions of dollars are spent in the United States on herbicides to manage weed pressure in fields. As a boy, Seth Stutzman got tired of pulling and hoeing weeds on his family farm. The Stutzman family farms around 350 acres of organic corn, soybean and wheat near Plain City. Those involved in organic crop production realize one of the greatest production challenges they face is getting consistent weed control, largely due to a much smaller number of approved chemical options for certified organic crops.

Two years ago, Stutzman found what he thought was a good solution to his hours of hand labor in the fields. Stutzman purchased The Weed Zapper and began using it to clean up his fields, and those of neighboring farms.

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Preharvest herbicide treatments

By Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension State Weed Specialist. Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2020-28

Information on preharvest herbicide treatments for soybeans can be found in the “Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois”, at the end of these crop sections (pages 72 and 143 of the 2020 edition).

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

Some dicamba products are approved for preharvest use in soybeans, and some 2,4-D products are approved for use in corn, and these are not listed in the guide. The basic information for these follows:
Dicamba – soybeans: Apply 8 – 32 oz/A (4 lb/gal products) as a broadcast or spot treatment after soybean pods have reached mature brown color and at least 75% leaf drop has occurred; soybeans may be harvested 14 days or more after a pre-harvest application; do not use preharvest-treated soybean for seed unless a germination test is performed on the seed with an acceptable result of 95% germination or better; do not feed soybean fodder or hay following a preharvest application of this product.

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Promoting beneficial insects

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

There are numerous beneficial insect species in the USA including 91,000 species of beetles (Order:Coleoptera), and many Hymenoptera  or species of wasp (4,000), bees (4,000), and ants (1,000).  Other beneficials include flies (5,500, Diptera), true bugs (3,800, Hemiptera), spiders (3,000, Arachnids) and earwigs (Dermaptera). Beneficials include immature ground beetles and lightning bugs, which consume soil insects and weed seed. The world insect population has declined 75% since the 1970’s, due to the overuse of insecticides, especially neonicotinoids seed treatments. Beneficial insects also pollinate USA agricultural crops worth an estimated $5 billion dollars per year and are predators to many harmful insects. Soybean fields are home to a surprising number of pollinators.

There are three major ways to fight harmful insects: chemical insecticides, good plant nutrition from soil health, and by promoting insect predators.  Insecticides generally kill everything including the beneficial insects that reduce harmful insect populations.  Neonicotinoids (Cruiser, Poncho, Gaucho) seed treatments are deadly to good predator insects which have much lower reproductive rates than the harmful insects.

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How will they yield?

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

As we enter August, Ohio soybean farmers find themselves in various stages of abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. The Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net 2020 Virtual Crop Tour is asking farmers to evaluate their crops this week, and estimate the yields. Ryan Noggle, a soybean farmer in Paulding County, will be one of the participants on the virtual tour this year.

“I just love growing soybeans,” Noggle said. “It is a crop you can manipulate and it responds to so many different things during the growing season. It is interesting to see the yield difference.”

Noggle, who farms with his father Randy, is part of a multi-generational family farm in southern Paulding County. Noggle Farms, LLC. raises soybeans ranging in maturity from 2.9 up to 3.8.

Ryan Noggle, Noggle Farms, LLC.,
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Field to Lake Field Day in Paulding County

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

There is a saying in agricultural drainage: “Farmers pay for field tile every year. The only difference is if they actually have drainage tile in the field or not.” The idea is that there is either an expense being depreciated for the purchase and installation of field drainage tile, or there is a yield hit due to either late planting from wet soils, or saturated soils and water damage to the crop during the growing season due to not having adequate drainage.

In many of the former lake-bed soils found in Ohio, water management is a key to crop production and achieving maximum yields. In certain times of the year, this means getting rid of excess water. In other times of the year, it means conserving as much soil moisture as possible.

Don Johnson, a farmer in Paulding County, Ohio recently hosted a “Field to Lake” field day focusing on the use of water control structures.

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Waste management really not that different for the city and the farm

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

Ever since the harmful algal bloom (HAB) of 2014 developed in the Maumee Bay of Western Lake Erie and impacted the water intake and treatment plant for the City of Toledo, the question of who is to blame has been center stage. Unfortunately, as multiple sources contributing phosphorus (P) have been identified, the blame game continued.

Agricultural run-off, industrial waste water, municipal waste water, and residential septic systems are the commonly identified sources of phosphorus entering the water. Many farmers feel like they have caught the most scrutiny because they are considered a non-point source compared to the industrial and municipal waste water sources, which are point sources. Municipalities will point to the strict regulations they must follow from the EPA for any application or discharge in comparison to agriculture.

Point sources typically have a single discharge point or multiple points that can be identified and monitored, whereas non-point sources cannot be measured as easily, and are typically a catch-all for what is left.… Continue reading

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Late summer early fall cover crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Late summer and early fall are great opportunities to plant cover crops and improve soil health. Days are shorter,  but with ample sunshine left and a little rain, cover crops grow quickly.  Both summer annuals which die with the first frost and winter annuals can be grown.  Legumes and clover which add soil nitrogen, all types of grasses for carbon, and brassicas to reduce soil compaction and reduce weeds all grow well at this time.

After wheat, either bale or chop the straw and spray the weeds.  Baling straw makes you more money than chopping straw. The high carbon content in wheat straw can reduce cover crop establishment and the by-products upon decomposition may be toxic to germinating cover crop seedlings.  If possible, spray weeds with gramoxone (a dessicant) rather than glyphosate.  Glyphosate reduces soil health and biology for several weeks and causes oxidizing microbes to make manganese unavailable while promoting Fusarium root diseases and weed resistance. 

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What is soil health?

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Soil health is a term that everyone seems to be confused about or have their own opinion. Soil health is about three things: soil organic matter (SOM), soil microbes and organisms, and plants. Good soil and soil health are dependent upon the interaction of these three things. Active short-term organic matter are the root exudates, root carbohydrates (sugars) and microbial bi-products which produces good soil structure and is missing from most of our tilled soils. Soil microbes process nutrients to make them plant available and produce humus which is the long-term SOM. Plants and live roots supply the carbon, nitrogen and energy from sunlight to feed the microbes and to produce SOM. The end result is a rich fully functioning soil producing healthy dense food to feed livestock, humans and wildlife.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

What is the difference between good soil health and degraded soil health?

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Moisture stress and high temperature effects on soybean yields

By Michael Staton, Michigan State University Extension Soybean Educator

Producers want to know how their soybean fields will be affected by the recent heat wave and lack of rain and the warmer and drier than normal conditions that are forecast to prevail for the remainder of July. Soybean yield losses are most likely to occur when moisture stress occurs during germination and reproduction. Inadequate soil moisture during germination causes uneven and spotty emergence. This is the reason why soybean agronomists recommend placing soybean seed into at least 0.5 inches of moist soil at planting. Soybeans that were planted later in June may have germinated under marginal soil moisture conditions.

Michael Staton, MSU Extension Soybean Educator

Soybeans can tolerate moisture stress relatively well during the vegetative stages. Stress at this time reduces shoot growth, but not root growth. These conditions diminish water use by the plants and increase their ability to extract water from deeper in the soil profile.

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Mid-season weed management in soybeans

By Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Specialist, adapted from C.O.R.N. 2020-21

A few weed-related observations while we try to stay cool and hope for a day of rain or at least popup thunderstorms.

One of the frequent questions during extended dry weather is — do I wait for rain before applying POST herbicides, or just go ahead and apply before the weeds get any larger and tougher to control.  Our experience has been that it’s best to go ahead and apply when weeds are still small, even if it’s dry, and herbicides will usually do what they are supposed to.  Letting them get larger without any sure forecast for rain can make for a tough situation that requires higher rates or a more injurious mix.  On the other hand, waiting to apply can be fine if there is a good chance of rain within the next few days.  It’s not always an easy decision.

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Scouting for spider mites

By Andy Michel and Kelley Tillmon, Ohio State University Extension Entomology, C.O.R.N. 2020-22
Hot, dry weather encourages certain pests in field crops, in particular spider mites in soybean and occasionally corn. Spider mites are a sporadic problem that most often occurs in August, but infestations in July are possible with sustained periods of hot, dry weather like some parts of Ohio are experiencing. Crop scouts in areas that have not received rain recently should be on the lookout for this problem; spider mites are easy to miss in early stages and can build quickly.

Look for light-colored stippling damage which is easier to spot than the mites themselves. In areas with heavy stippling you can confirm the presence of mites by tapping vegetation over a black piece of construction paper. (Many sources will say to use white paper; but insider tip: they are actually easier to see against a dark background.)… Continue reading

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Take action: Pesticide resistance management

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

Production threats facing soybean farmers are constantly changing. Weeds, insects, and diseases create stress on crops that can contribute to reduced yields throughout the growing season. Take Action: Pesticide Resistance Management is an initiative of the United Soybean Board to help growers better identify and understand these production challenges and find solutions to protect their crops while reducing the threat of resistance developing in the pest.

Take Action is both a website and an app for smart phones and tablets that gives farmers the tools needed to follow an integrated pest management strategy with the resources to correctly identify pests, determine thresholds, and select treatment options the reduce the chances of developing pesticide resistance.

The Take Action website is divided into a resources section and a management section. Both sections are broken down into three key areas: Herbicide-resistance management, Disease-resistance management, and Insect-resistance management.

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Foliar fertilizer application to soybeans

By Laura Lindsey, Steve Culman, and Emma Matcham, Ohio State University Extension, adapted from C.O.R.N. 2020-21

When soybean prices are low, inputs need to be carefully considered. Obtaining a return on investment (ROI) is necessary?

In 2019, Ohio State participated in a national protocol to evaluate foliar fertilizer in soybean. Trials were conducted in 13 states and totaled 20 different growing environments. In 2019, only 1 environment, located in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, showed a yield benefit associated with foliar fertilizer application.

In Ohio, none of the evaluated foliar fertilizer products resulted in a different yield compared with the non-treated control (no foliar fertilizer application). The 2019 results are consistent with previously conducted trials in Ohio. Historically, yield response to micronutrient foliar fertilizer application is rare.

Although, yield response to micronutrient foliar fertilizer application is rare, there are cases where applications are warranted. In Ohio, manganese is the micronutrient that is most likely to be deficient in soybean.

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Are foliar fungicides plus insecticide tank mixture applications to soybeans profitable?

By Michael Staton, Michigan State University Extension Soybean Educator, with additional comments from Dr. Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension State Soybean Specialist.

Are foliar fungicides plus insecticide tank mixture applications to soybeans profitable? On-farm research results collected from 2017 to 2019 by Michigan State University Extension can help soybean producers decide if they should apply foliar fungicide and insecticide tank mixtures in 2020. Similar research has also been performed in Ohio and across states in the North Central Region.

Michael Staton, MSU Extension Soybean Educator

Soybean producers are interested in increasing soybean yields and income by applying foliar tank mixtures of a fungicide and an insecticide. However, extension entomologists do not recommend insurance tank mixes like this for a variety of reasons, unless insects are over threshold. The Michigan soybean on-farm research program coordinated a total of 15 trials from 2017 to 2019 to evaluate the yield and income performance of foliar fungicide and insecticide tank mixtures.

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Double-crop soybeans

By Dr. Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension State Soybean Specialist, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2020-20

As small grains are harvested across the state, here are some management considerations for double-crop soybean production:

Relative maturity (RM) has little effect on yield when soybeans are planted during the first three weeks of May. However, the effect of RM can be larger for late planting. When planting soybean late, the latest maturing variety that will reach physiological maturity before the first killing frost is recommended. The suitable relative maturity for soybeans planted between July 1-10 is: 3.0 to 3.3 for Northern Ohio, 3.2 to 3.5 for Central Ohio, and 3.4 to 3.7 for Southern Ohio. This is to allow the soybean plants to grow vegetatively as long as possible to produce nodes where pods can form before vegetative growth is slowed due to flowering and pod formation.

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains Specialist

Double-crop soybeans should be produced in narrow rows- 7.5 to 15-inch row spacing.

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H2Ohio update

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

While the state of Ohio has been reeling from challenges brought on by the Coronavirus, H2Ohio was quietly implemented this spring by several farmers in the Maumee River Watershed using conservation practices of variable rate phosphorus application with their planters, and subsurface phosphorus placement. The recommended conservation practices in H2Ohio have not changed, however the original application agreement details have. State budget concerns due to the impact of COVID-19 placed funding for the H2Ohio program in question. On March 23, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered all departments to reduce spending by 20% for the remainder of 2020 and also in 2021. In May, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Dorothy Pelanda, stated that the program would still be available to assist farmers in implementing select practices, however funding would not be available until the 2021 crop year.

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Grower coalition files amicus brief on behalf of soybean farmers

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

Soybean growers risk suffering significant harm if they cannot use existing stocks of dicamba products. This statement was the leading argument in the amicus brief filed by a coalition of agricultural commodity organizations, including the American Soybean Association (ASA), on Tuesday, June 16, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief was filed to inform the court that “granting the petitioners’ motion mid-growing season could have catastrophic consequences for growers and America’s agricultural community, which depend on being able to use the dicamba products for the next several weeks.  The Court should respect EPA’s expertise in managing existing stocks of formerly registered pesticide products and deny petitioners’ emergency motion,” the brief went on to say.

The grower coalition’s brief, makes a case for farmers caught in a highly frustrating and costly situation amid prime planting season and the narrow weed-control window.

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