Ohio Field Leader

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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Plant nutrient availability

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Plant  nutrient availability is dependent on several factors including soil moisture, temperature, microbes, pH, chemical nutrient form, and plant root proximity.  Plant roots require moist soil, adequate soil temperatures, and teaming microbes.  The microbes generally make most nutrients available in a reduced form.  Soils that are slightly anaerobic (lack oxygen) and slightly saturated result in reducing conditions for making nutrients plant available.

Farmers want to avoid the extremes to maximize plant growth and yield.  For example, highly oxidized and dry soils (nutrients tied up) are just as bad as highly saturated compacted soils where nutrients may be available, but tend to leach or be lost with flowing water.  Ideally, an inch rain is better than no rain or 3 to 5-inch rains. Roots cannot grow into saturated conditions so they need oscillating wet and dry cycles to absorb most nutrients efficiently.

Some soil nutrients are highly mobile while others are relatively immobile. 

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Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative deadline fast approaching

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

Acronyms and Initialisms are abundant in agriculture today. Almost every discussion at the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office, or County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office involve them. Two of the latest initialisms that some producers may not be familiar with include: OACC and OACI.

“The OACI is a product of the OACC,” said Kris Swartz, farmer from Wood County, Ohio, and Chairman of OACI. “The OACC is the Ohio Agricultural Conservation Council, which is a group of agricultural and environmental organizations, and educational entities that have the goal of improving water quality in Ohio.”

The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) is an innovative collaboration of agricultural, conservation, environmental and research communities. OACI was formed in early 2019 to strategically address Ohio’s water quality issues. “The main goal of OACI is to help in decision making on the farm.

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Improving weed control and fighting resistance in soybeans

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

Since the 1970s the number of herbicide resistant weed species — and the sites of action that they have achieved resistance to — has increased dramatically.

“This is concerning to farmers considering that no new herbicide chemistries have been approved since Liberty (glufosinate) in the early 1990’s, said Mike Hannewald, field agronomist for Beck’s. “The amount of money and time it takes to develop a herbicide and then get the proper approval means there will not be anything new introduced in the near future. Farmers need to wisely manage weeds with the tools already available.”

Mike Hannewald, Field Agronomist for Beck’s

The best way to beat weed pressure is to stop the weeds before they start.

“Starting clean is the first step,” Hannewald said. “Burndowns can control weeds such as giant ragweed and marestail that emerge early in the season.

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Managing nutrients for maximum soybean yields

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

Soybean farmers in both the United States and Canada, strive to constantly achieve higher yields. Horst Bohner has been the soybean specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture for 20 years. In that time, he has studied factors impacting soybean yield in a number of growing environments and field conditions.

“Yield potential is not held back as much by heat units and day length and water as I used to think,” Bohner said. “We used to say that yield was made in August, that if you got a lot of rain then you would get a big crop. But over the years, I have seen that if you have the right year, with the right additives, and the right management, we can get some incredible yields.”

Bohner has pondered the question, “What is the fundamental difference between a part of a field that yields 50 bushels per acre (bu/ac) and a part of a field that yields 100 bu/ac?”

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Meeting soybean fertility needs

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

One goal of the Ohio Soybean Council is to make Ohio’s soybean farmers more profitable. With the task of increasing soybean yields and increasing the return on investment (ROI), a number of production practices are often considered. One of those practices, often promoted by ag retailers, is the application of foliar fertilizer.

In a multi-state trial conducted in 2019 and 2020 by Emma Matcham, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, prophylactic foliar fertilizer was applied and evaluated.

“A prophylactic application means that in the trial we were applying fertilizer before there was noticeable nutrient deficiency expressed in the crop,” Matcham said. “For this research, 46 trials were conducted in 16 states across the eastern half of the U.S. Some of the products included macronutrients such as nitrogen (N), potassium (K), and sulfur (S), some micronutrients, and some products included a combination.… Continue reading

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Building soil carbon

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

There is renewed interest in paying farmers to sequester soil carbon by building soil organic matter (SOM) levels.  Building soil carbon is dependent upon temperature, moisture, vegetation, tillage, soil texture, crop rotation,  and microbial activity.  Soil is a major storehouse for carbon and carbon dioxide.  Ohio soils originally had 5-6% soil organic matter (50-60 tons decomposed SOM) in the top furrow slice (6.7 inches) of soil. Most Ohio soils today only have about 2-3% SOM, so an additional 2-4% SOM could be added.

Temperature, moisture, and vegetation controlled most carbon and SOM storage historically. Tropical areas have lower SOM while colder soils store more carbon in SOM. Tropical carbon is stored above ground while colder climates store carbon in the soil due to limited temperature and moisture.  Every 100F temperature increase will double microbial activity and releases carbon as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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Virtual Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference 2021

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

The annual Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference (CTC) will be virtual this year. Instead of the usual 2-day conference at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, CTC 2021 will be held on FOUR days, March 9-12 (Tuesday-Friday). There will be 5 hours of content each day. Tuesday will feature Crop Management information; Wednesday will focus on Nutrient Management; Thursday will highlight Pest Management; and Friday will cover Soil & Water Management. Each day will start at 8:00 a.m., and with breaks, finish about 2:00 p.m.

Panel discussions are a great format to get good information from varying perspectives. The Monday “Crop Talk at CTC” programs feature 5 panel discussion groups throughout the day.

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains specialist

The morning begins at 8:00 a.m. with a discussion titled “Maximizing Soybean Yield,” featuring Dr Laura Lindsey from Ohio State, Horst Bohner from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, and Shawn Conley from the University of Wisconsin.

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Improving drainage with cover crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

As the weather warms and snow melts, many fields are saturated with standing water.  While cover crops may improve drainage, they are not a cure all.  A farmer with no tile or subsurface drainage once asked why the cover crop’s he planted did not improve his drainage. Fields need an outlet for water to drain away whether that be surface drainage or subsurface (tile) drainage. Most plant roots do not grow in water, and when the water table is high, root growth is severely limited due to a lack of oxygen. Even cover crops needs some internal drainage to maximize root growth.

Cover crops improve soil structure, add soil organic matter (SOM), and create root channels to move water into existing tile lines.  Cover crops may make your existing drainage system work more efficiently.  Many farmers today are splitting 40 to 50-foot tile lines that was installed years ago to improve drainage. 

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