Ohio Field Leader

Starting right to finish well

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

Is there a place for using a starter fertilizer when planting soybeans? Farmers often think of using starter fertilizers when planting corn for various reasons. These can include: giving roots early access to plant nutrients, to stimulate early plant growth, to improve stand uniformity, to add micronutrients, and hopefully to increase yield.

Kurt Steinke, associate professor, Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Specialist for Michigan State University Extension has looked at research conducted when using starter fertilizer applied as a 2×2 when planting soybeans in 30 inch rows.

“The first thing to consider when thinking about using a starter fertilizer on soybeans, it what are your soil test concentrations,” Steinke said. “What are the P and K levels? If the K levels are not deficient, then a farmer can probably go without K in the starter.”

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Is there a fit for in-season liquid manure application for soybeans?

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

Glen Arnold, Field Specialist for Manure Nutrient Management Photo Credit The Ohio State University

The use of livestock manure as a source of nutrients for crop production has been in place for decades. Manure is typically applied in the summer after wheat harvest, or in the spring prior to planting corn and soybeans, or in the fall after harvest.

“The vast majority of liquid livestock manure in the Western Lake Erie watershed is surface applied in the fall without a growing crop. This results in most of the nitrogen being lost, and a portion of the phosphorus,” said Glen Arnold, Field Specialist for Manure Nutrient Management with The Ohio State University.

Over time, as the livestock industry has evolved, more livestock production systems are managing liquid manure versus solid manure.

“Basically, we have built up a lot of liquid manure storage and application capacity and a lot of expensive equipment is used to move a lot of manure.

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Maximizing crop yield at planting

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

High grain prices for grain crops make any planting mistakes extremely costly.  Most corn yield is determined within the first several weeks.  Soybeans are a little more forgiving but any type of environmental (weather) or biological (weeds, disease, insects) stress can impact yields.  Healthy plants tolerate stress better than plants that are nutrient deficient.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

For corn, the best time to plant traditionally has been May 1-through May 10 according to Ohio State University Research.  Weather delays often make it hard to get all acres planted at this time.  Current varieties have a tremendous ability to compensate and still get good yields, but getting that plant off to a good start is critical.

Regarding soil health, soil microbes process the majority of the nutrients a plant absorbs.  Cold or wet conditions slow microbial growth and hurt plant growth. 

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Science for success: Answering soybean questions

With funding from United Soybean Board, soybean agronomists across the U.S. are hosting a ‘Notes from the Field’ webinar series the first Friday of each month beginning May 7. Join research and extension specialists from Land Grant institutions for monthly informal discussion on production topics of timely relevance. Bring your questions!

When-  May 7, June 4, July 9, and August 6 at 9:00 a.m. eastern time

Want to plug in- Register to attend (via Zoom) for each monthly session and you will receive Zoom login information. Register at: https://ncsu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEkdeiqrTIqHNMYI3FuXRVPgsC87mavL6hs

If you have any questions, please contact Laura Lindsey (lindsey.233@osu.edu or 614-292-9080).

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GMO versus non-GMO crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Ohio is one of the leading states planting Non-GMO crops.  GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.  About 92% of the US corn and 94% of soybeans in 2018 were genetically modified for weeds, insects, or drought tolerance.  Japan and many European countries are demanding crops that are Non-GMO, so farmers can pick up premiums by growing these crops.  Premiums vary by company, crop variety, and purity but premiums may be around $0.25 per corn bushel and $1-$2 per bushel on soybeans.

In a GMO crop, scientist identify a gene in a organism, then copy and insert that gene into a crop like corn, soybeans, potatoes, etc.  GMO crops are typically resistant to herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup with CP4 gene) or Glufosinate (Liberty Link, PAT gene).  GMO corn insecticides resistance is obtained by using up to seven genes from the Bacterium thuringiensis that produces proteins that are toxic to certain insect pests like corn rootworm, corn stalk borer, corn earworms, fall army worm and several other insect pests. 

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Avoid spreading SCN

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

Greg Tylka, Nematologist. Photo Credit: Iowa State University

As spring planting season rolls into full force, one of the last things on a farmer’s mind is the risk of spreading Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) during planting. “Anything that spreads soil spreads nematodes,” said Greg Tylka, Iowa State University Nematologist. This includes not just tillage equipment and planters, but even tractor and implement tires. If the tires are in a field with SCN and have soil that sticks to the tires, then that soil containing SCN can be spread to another field when if falls off.

The SCN Coalition campaign, “What’s your number? Take the test. Beat the Pest.”, encourages farmers to regularly test their fields for SCN. One of the only ways to reduce the likelihood of spreading it is to be aware of what fields have it present and at what levels.

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Controlling corn and soybean pests

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Controlling pests of corn and soybeans can be difficult.  Most farmers rely on seed treatments and broad-spectrum insecticides which terminate the pests but also takes out the beneficial natural predators.  The most common Ohio pests in corn and soybeans fields with cover crops are wireworm, seed corn maggot, black cutworm, true armyworm, slugs, and grubs.

Wireworms have a five-year life cycle with adults (called click beetles) laying 100-200 eggs in the spring and early summer.  Larva live in the soil until they mature into adults. Wireworms are a copper color, long, and slender. Wireworms damage corn and soybean seeds and cause seedling roots damage.

Wireworms have many natural predators including centipedes, soldier beetles, wasp which infect their eggs, and parasitic nematodes.  Metarhizium fungi are a great wireworm predator; infecting the eggs, larva, and pupae and may give up to 95% control.  Metarhizium fungi infect up to 200 insect species in 50 families including root weevils, flies, gnats, thrips, locust, grasshoppers, grubs, borers, even mosquitoes.

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Weather issues and spring planting

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The warm weather this past week primed many farmers for spring planting.  Government weather forecasting had gotten better but the results are still variable.  According to the NOAA, the year 2020 was a year of extremes, with record temperatures, dry overall conditions, and forest fires in the West.  Northwest Ohio was dry last year with some rain coming later in the summer and fall.  This year, NOAA predicts slightly cooler temperatures as the weather moves away from a La Nina (80% probability) to a more neutral weather pattern.  The El Nino Southern Oscillation or ENSO measures how warm the Pacific tropical ocean water temperatures are with El Nino’s being warmer and La Nina’s being cooler.

NOAA predictions for the last half of April call for cooler than normal temperatures and possibly wetter than normal, depending on how quick the shift is from La Nina to neutral conditions. 

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Control of dandelion with spring/summer herbicide treatments

By Dr. Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension Weed Specialist, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-08

Dandelion seems to be on the increase in some fields, as we noted in a video last summer and  CORN article last fall.  Fall is the optimum time of year to reduce dandelion populations with herbicides, so we expect them to become more of a problem in fields that are not treated in the fall at least occasionally.  If history is any indicator, other causes can include oversimplification of herbicide programs in soybeans, omission of residual herbicides, and delaying burndown herbicides until later in spring.  All of these occurred during the first few years of RoundupReady soybeans, and we had some dense stands of dandelions that developed in late 1990’s.  We again have some very effective weed management platforms for soybeans, and the possibility of the same happening.  In addition, while POST applications of glufosinate have broad-spectrum activity on annual weeds, they are not that effective on dandelion and other perennials, which can allow some of these weeds to get more of a foothold.

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Spring planting decisions

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Last year, spring planting occurred during a cold dry spring, while this year conditions are warm and dry. Farmers have several planting options, depending on whether they are conventional tillage farmers or planting no-till with cover crops. What options farmers choose and their success may depend upon soil and moisture planting conditions.

First, the wheat crop is really green and uniform this year in Northwest Ohio. February snows protected the wheat from cold temperatures and most wheat did not drown out. Microbial levels are generally low after winter and start building as temperatures rise. The soil is a grave yard of dead microbial bodies which have abundant nutrients. During excessive snow melt and heavy spring rains, many soluble nutrients wash away. The dry spring kept soil nutrients around and plants are absorbing these abundant nutrients, promoting lush green plants.

Conventional tillage farmers may be tempted to do more spring tillage, but each tillage pass reduces soil moisture by 0.5-1.0 inch.

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Crop insurance and early planting dates

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

With near record warm temperatures for early April and ideal ground conditions, it is very enticing for farmers to start the 2021 planting season earlier than normal. Current research from Dr. Laura Lindsey, soybean and small grains specialist at The Ohio State University shows that planting date has the greatest impact on determining final soybean yields. But many farmers look at the calendar and also consider the crop insurance implications to getting this earlier than normal start to the season.

Jason Williamson, of Williamson Crop Insurance says that farmers are covered if they plant early, but the replant portion of their policy may not be.

“The most common question I have gotten this week is what is the earliest date I can plant with my crop insurance,” Williamson said. “There are actually two answers to that question.

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Cover crop benefits and the soybean microbiome (Part 2)

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

Most discussions involving soybean yield and health typically center on the plant health. The DNA of the soybean microbiome is rarely a discussion point among farmers. That could be changing in the future as more emphasis is placed on raising cover crops and the potential benefit to soybean yields. Research funded by the Ohio Soybean check-off is being conducted to evaluate the impact from cover crops on the soil life. One such project focuses on the understanding of winter cover crops in a corn-soybean rotation, with emphasis on the soil microbiome and the resulting benefits to soybean health and yield.

A research study, identifying specific fungi associated with the soil microbiome is ongoing to measuring changes at numerous points during the specific crop rotations.

“The DNA of the fungi in the soil is analyzed,” said Soledad Benitez Ponce, Assistant professor, Phytobacteriology at The Ohio State University.

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Cover crop benefits and the soybean microbiome

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

As farmers consider different production practices, they evaluate the impact each may have on a specific crop. Many of those practices also impact the soil life. Research funded by the Ohio Soybean check-off is being conducted to evaluate impacts from those practices on the soil life. One such project focuses on the understanding of winter cover crops in a corn-soybean rotation, with emphasis on the soil microbiome and the resulting benefits to soybean health and yield.

“We are studying the effects of cover crop termination on bacterial and fungal communities in the soil microbiome,” said Soledad Benitez Ponce, Assistant professor, Phytobacteriology at The Ohio State University.

Soledad Benitez Ponce, Assistant professor, Phytobacteriology

The soil microbiome can be defined as a community of living organisms in the soil which includes the combination of bacterial and fungal life.

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Healthy plants create healthy soils

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Spring is a time for new growth by plants, animals, and microbes.  As temperatures warm, microbial populations double with every 10 degrees Fahrenheit increase in soil temperature.  As days get longer, the sun’s energy is captured by plants and that energy feeds microbes and almost all living organisms on earth.  Keeping ourselves well fed depends not only on the sun’s energy but also having healthy microbes, healthy plants, and healthy soils recycling soil nutrients.

When plants are healthy, they transmit more energy into the soil in the form of root exudates and sugars to feed the microbes.  Unhealthy plants do the opposite which means soils become unhealthy. In a typical unhealthy soil, plants are operating at about 15% to 20% of optimum photosynthesis efficiency so they are putting less energy in the form of sugars into the soil, the microbial population is lower and less diverse, which results in inefficient mineral uptake. 

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Planting green: The effects on weed control and soybean yield

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

Weed control is one of the major challenges that soybean farmers face every year. Crop yields can be reduced by as much as 80% when weeds are left uncontrolled. In the Midwest, weed pressure can account for up to 39% yield loss in soybeans. On average, weed pressure impacts soybean yield more than pressure from insects, animals, and diseases combined.

Alyssa Essman is a Weed Science Research Associate at The Ohio State University, and has conducted research looking at the interaction between cover crops and weed control. She studied the impact of “planting green,” or terminating cover crops after planting soybeans, and the effect on weed control and soybean yield.

Alyssa Essman , The Ohio State University, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. Photo Credit The Ohio State University

When evaluating weed control programs in Ohio, producers often think about the “Big 5” weeds that are most troublesome.

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Practices that promote birds, bees, and butterflies

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The birds are chirping while bees and butterflies will soon be flying as spring starts to blossom.  Pollinators are an important food source for over 4,000 species of wild native bees and 725 species of butterflies in North America.  The monarch butterfly population has declined dramatically and may soon be an  endangered species.  Many wild bees, flies, and butterflies pollinate many crops humans consume. Providing healthy pollinator habitat is a way to preserve these beneficial species.

The annual value of insect pollinated crops is $29 billion per year and about 80% of flowering plants need pollinators to survive according to a Cornell study. Domestic honey bees hive loss is estimated to be 30% annually but only a 15% loss is acceptable. USA honey sales are about $5 billion per year with Ohio pollinator services valued at 216 million. Most of the decline in pollinators is the result of a loss of pollinator habitat and pesticides which either kill or weaken certain species and makes them susceptible to diseases and mites.

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Investing below the surface

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

Just because a farmer has raised cover crops for a few years, it does not mean they have all the answers. Sometimes the experience leads to more questions. The more experience they gain, the more questions they have, but also the more new things they will try.

Dr. Hans Kok, Program Director of the Conservation Technology Information Center in Indiana, and Eric Neimeyer, a farmer from Delaware County, led a discussion tackling the FAQ’s about cover crop management during a “Dirt on Soil Health” program this winter.

Some of the common questions Dr. Kok encounters include: When is the best time to plant cover crops? When is the best time to terminate the cover crop? What are the best cover crops to plant?

Dr. Hans Kok

What about using wheat or cereal rye as a cover crop?

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What is a drought?

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

When the National Drought Mitigation Center constructed the latest U.S. Drought Monitor on March 16, much of the northern half of Ohio was considered D0 “Abnormally Dry”, with a portion of extreme Northwest Ohio being classified as a D1 “Moderate Drought.” The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Drought Monitor summary map identifies general areas of drought and labels them by intensity. D1 is the least intense level and D4 the most intense. Drought is defined as a moisture deficit bad enough to have social, environmental or economic effects. D0 areas are not in drought, but are experiencing abnormally dry conditions that could turn into drought or are recovering from drought but are not yet back to normal.

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Growing a crop for a specialty market

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

When farmers look for new markets, and ways to receive a premium for their crop production, one option is growing an identity preserved (I.P.) crop. 

“If you are growing a non-patented seed, you are actually raising an I.P. product that you could be paid a premium for,” said Fred Pond, of Pond Seeds in Van Wert County. “Seed production for larger companies is typically in the ‘I’ states (Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana) and already established, however smaller companies may be interested in contracting with local growers.”

If starting a contractual agreement for an I.P. crop, it is important for farmers to understand the expectations. 

“When farmers consider business agreements to contract the production of I.P. crops, it is important to understand why the buyer is paying a premium for the product they are raising,” Pond said.… Continue reading

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SCN management: Seed treatments and sampling

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

Soybean Cyst Nematodes are one of the leading yield robbers for Ohio soybean producers every year.

“Real damage is being caused by Soybean Cyst Nematodes (SCN),” said Kaitlyn Bissonnette, researcher from the University of Missouri.

Ongoing research is being conducted by the SCN Coalition, which is a multi-state public-private partnership between universities and industry partners.

Kaitlyn Bissionnette, University of Missouri

The lifecycle of SCN begins with the adult female cyst nematode in the soil. One female SCN can produce up to 250 eggs per generation. There can be 5 to 6 generations of SCN per year depending on the location.

There are multiple stages in the SCN life cycle. The adult female nematode produces eggs. Once the eggs are in the soil, the eggs transition from an unhatched juvenile in the egg, to a hatching juvenile, to a penetrating juvenile (penetrating into the soybean root).

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