Ohio Field Leader

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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Farm Science Review opportunities

By Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Amanda Douridas, Mary Griffith, Elizabeth Hawkins, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-31

Farm Science Review will be held September 21st – 23rd with lots of excitement in store for farmers young and old. There will be a lot of new equipment and technology to view as you walk around the show grounds and of course milk shakes and delicious sandwiches from the OSU student organizations. OSU also has some exciting areas for you to stop by and learn more about agricultural practices being studied at OSU and view some of the latest technology in action.

One major yield thief in both corn and soybeans is compaction. We will show how the utilization of tracks and various types of tires can affect your crop, especially in pinch row compaction. Very high flexation tires can decrease field compaction by lowering inflation pressure once in the field. Deflating after road travel will maximize the tire footprint.

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Fall SCN sampling

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

Fall is a great opportunity for soil testing. It is also an excellent opportunity to scout and soil test for soybean cyst nematodes (SCN). Soybean Cyst Nematode soil sample collecting can be done after soybean harvest, or in a non-host crop, or anytime during the season in the soybean crop root zone. Soybean Cyst Nematode is the number one contributor to yield loss in soybean crops nationwide, causing an estimated $1.2 billion dollars in damage annually. This pest has been detected in 71 of the 88 counties in Ohio, with the highest concentrations located in the northwestern part of the state.

There are two ways to scout for SCN. The first is to dig the roots and specifically look for the female nematodes. In the late summer and fall they will appear as a “string of pearls” on the roots, which is the female nematode forming the cyst on the root as her body is filled with eggs.

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Improving photosynthetic potential

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Farmers do not often think about how their management practices can influence the rate of photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis has always been assumed to be constant, but it is not. Photosynthesis does not occur at a constant rate, it varies each second, depending on light, carbon dioxide (CO2), water availability, temperature, leaf chlorophyll content, microbial impact on plant nutrient availability, and genetics. Some factors can be manipulated directly, others indirectly. Farmers can manage many of these factors, but not all, to improve yields.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

In a given year, water may be either limited or in excess supply while temperatures can also be extreme, either too cold or too hot.  These factors often reduce nutrient cycling, resulting in reduced plant growth and yield.  Soil compaction and poor soil structure can have a direct impact on microbial activity plant nutrition, water availability, soil temperature, and CO2 storage. 

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Soybean pests

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Many pests and diseases are rearing their ugly head this year.  Fall armyworm, aphids, soybean cyst nematodes (SCN), sudden death syndrome (SDS), and white mold are common problems. Weather and management play a key role in the severity of these pests.

Fall armyworm blow in from the south, most likely on tropical storms.  Each female moth lays 10-20 eggs up t 100 eggs which hatch in 5-7 days and live 7-21 days.  Eggs have been observed on fence posts, lawns, hayfields, corn, soybeans, and vegetable crops.  The eggs hatch and the hungry larvae or caterpillars tend to move in waves, consuming everything in sight, even sometimes their own kind. There are two natural predator wasps that help control fall armyworm.  Other options include bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which is a natural control, neem oil, and pyrethrin insecticides.

Aphids in soybeans are a problem especially during the reproductive stage (R5-R6) with an aphid threshold of 250 per soybean plant. 

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Fall slug and vole control

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Slugs and voles are becoming major problems on some farms.  One farmer lost 80 acres to slugs, and then another 40 acres.  Slugs and voles prefer moist, wet conditions, slow crop growth, and lush vegetation.  Unfortunately, there is no one management practice that reduces either pest.  It requires a coordinated attack which begins in the fall as grain crops are being harvested.

Both slugs and voles have several weaknesses.  First, their populations are cyclical, peaking and crashing about every 2-5 years.  Extremely cold winter weather with little protection, greatly reduces both pests.  Slugs burrow deep into the soil, but when the soil frost line meets the water table during a deep freeze, many slugs perish.  Voles do not hibernate but need 40% more energy in the winter to survive.  Cold weather without snow or heavy vegetation greatly reduces pest numbers.  Mowing a cover crop down to 8 inches or planting species that 50% winter kill helps reduce pest populations.

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Understanding genes and the environment

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Two new scientific articles help explain how DNA, which makes up our genes, and the environment work together to express those genes.  It was thought that humans had over 3 million genes, but now estimate that it closer to 300,000 genes.  Microbes which live in humans and in plants supply the majority of the genes that control many life functions.  Scientist are finding that the genes humans and plants obtain from their parents or “heredity is nothing more than stored environment” according to Luther Burbank.

Farmers can see this relationship when they plant the same seed in different fields with different soil types, and the crop expresses itself differently. This effect is compounded as multiple generations are grown in different environments. This same process expresses itself in the organisms we call ‘diseases’ or ‘pests.’  Sometimes a disease organism is not really a pest if it is in a healthy soil environment. 

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PFR practices

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

What do you need to change to raise 125 bushel soybeans?

“The definition of insanity is doing what has always been done, and expecting different results,” said Travis Burnett, Field Agronomist for Becks. “The purpose of the high yield plots is to get outside our comfort zone and try different things, then work backwards with the results to see what can practically be applied to our traditional research.”

Becks has been conducting high yield corn and soybean plots for several years, using the latest seed technology combined with overhead irrigation, subsurface drainage and subsurface drip irrigation.

“Our challenge from Sonny Beck is to hit 125 bushels per acre,” Burnett said. “In 2020 we hit 117.”

One area which the team is trying new things to reach the goal is in how nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) are managed in the crop.… Continue reading

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Ohio State welcomes two new soybean pathologists

Adapted from C.O.R.N 2021-28

Dr. Horacio Lopez-Nicora and Dr. Mitch Roth. Dr. Lopez-Nicora and Dr. Roth both started as Assistant Professors in the Department of Plant Pathology this month.

Dr. Horacio Lopez-Nicora and Dr. Mitch Roth. Photo credit The Ohio State University

Horacio has extension and research responsibilities in the areas of soybean plant pathology and nematology. His work is driven by the intertwined goals of ensuring food stability and working with growers to manage diseases that can have a negative impact on agricultural production. His research informs, and is in turn informed by, his extension work and a dedication to meet the real-time needs of growers. Horacio may be a familiar face to some of you…He completed his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in the Department of Plant Pathology, working with Dr. Terry Niblack. After graduating from OSU, Horacio was an Assistant Professor at Universidad San Carlos in Paraguay and Adjust Professor at Universidad de Caldas, Columbia.

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Overwintering cover crops and small grains

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The H2O Ohio program is a state conservation program that pays farmers for conservation practices.  It includes overwintering cover crops and a small grains program to help keep nutrients out of Lake Erie.   Farmers are now signing up for these programs but may not know or remember all the details.  Here is a summary of the key points for each program.

The purpose of these two programs is to encourage the establishment of overwintering cover crops program or a small grain.  The primary goals are to reduce sheet, rill, and wind erosion  and improve water quality by reducing excess nutrient flows to surface water.   Adding overwintering cover crops and small grains also increases crop and soil diversity to improve soil health.

Some key points on the overwintering cover crop program:  The overwintering cover crop must be established no later than October 15th

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Cover crop mixes, the more species the better

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

It is one thing for a young person to begin farming and earn the respect of their neighbors as a “good farmer.” It is another thing to farm, implementing practices very different from the norms in the area, and still earn respect.  For Matt Burkholder of Allen County being a young farmer and exploring a production system that was not well understood in the area, (cover crops), was just that.

Matt Burkholder, Farmer Advocate for Conservation, Allen County

“I started farming in 2006 using full tillage. In 2009 I planted my first cover crop,” said Burkholder. “I planted a field to annual king rye, which is not a VNS variety, so that next spring was very interesting. Multiple farmers stopped to lend advice, even though they had never planted a cover crop. I reached out to the two coops that I had purchased the seed from, and they were not able to provide much guidance either.

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