Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

Farmer Stories: Solid Relationships Build Solid Businesses

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Over the past 20 years we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with farmers, retailers and agriculture enthusiasts at local Answer Plot® events. We know that strong relationships are an important component of every farm business, so we’re always excited when farmers come together at Answer Plot events to share ideas and solve on-farm challenges.
 
Establishing more than healthy crops
Answer Plot events are an opportunity for local farmers to gather and learn from our agronomists, but also from each other. Dave Armstrong, a corn and soybean farmer near Newcastle, Nebraska, finds value in learning from other local farmers at Answer Plot events.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0002_-It-s-a-great-event-for-information-and-for-networking-with-Win-1.jpgExpanding networks and fostering new relationships can add tremendous value for farmers looking to solve business challenges and attending an Answer Plot event allows them the opportunity to do that.
 
Educating farmers (and their daughters)
The Answer Plot program began as a way to educate farmers and share information about the latest research in crop production. Each year we develop new insights to help farmers increase their bottom lines. For example, we may test 240 hybrids just to measure their response to various production practices. We use the Answer Plot events as a forum to share what we’re learning from all of those trials.
 
Ron Heerten farms with his brother near Springview, Nebraska, and has been at it for over 30 years. He attends Answer Plot events because he values the educational aspect of the program.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0003_-Answer-Plot-events-have-been-a-really-valuable-educational-too.jpg
On occasion Ron would also bring his kids with him to an Answer Plot event, which helped spark his daughter Moriah’s interest in agronomy. Moriah says attending Answer Plot events encouraged and reinforced her decision to pursue an agronomy degree at the University of Nebraska.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0004_-Going-to-Answer-Plots-with-my-dad-helped-me-see-the-importance-1.jpgThese are just a couple of examples of how Answer Plot events bring together people and great ideas to improve productivity. Make plans to attend an event near you.
 
We’ll continue to spotlight farmer stories as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Answer Plot program. Check back as the season progresses to learn how other farmers have found value in local Answer Plot events.

The Economics of Delaying Alfalfa Harvest

Joel Johanningmeier
Ag Technology Manager
Alfalfa producers know that typically the first cut of the season is the highest-yielding and the last cut is the lowest. But by how much? We used the mapping capabilities in the R7® Tool along with the John Deere HarvestLab™ sensor to visualize and calculate the yield and quality coming out of the field. What we discovered could help you make more informed decisions about when and how often to harvest your alfalfa crop and whether a low-lignin variety might be right for you.
 
What we did 
We partnered with John Deere to use data from the HarvestLab, as well as in-season imagery from the R7 Tool, to average yields from eight alfalfa fields. The HarvestLab measures forage moisture, protein, starch, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and sugar.
 
On average, these fields generated 39 percent of total yield during the first cutting, 25.8 percent at the second cutting, 17.7 percent at the third cutting and 17.6 percent at the fourth cutting. (Tests were conducted in 2017 by WinField United in fields in southeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.)
 
 

 
Understanding when your crop has the highest yield potential and knowing the variability of your fields can help you make better decisions — from when to make pest control and nutrient applications to determining harvest order. It can help you hone your alfalfa management, discover opportunities for improvement and manage your crop to a higher level.
 
Spreading out costs
To more economically harvest the same amount of yield with fewer resources, you could delay harvest intervals seven to 10 days and possibly go from a 4-cut to a 3-cut system (or a 5-cut to a 4-cut system in some areas), assuming the same harvest costs per acre. This would more equally distribute the total harvested yield and cost per harvested ton across all cuttings.
 
With conventional alfalfa varieties, you may end up getting more yield by delaying harvest, but sacrificing quality. The choice between attaining high yield or high forage quality is a decision many farmers struggle with. With low-lignin HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology, however, you have the potential to get both.
 
More opportune timing
With HarvXtra Alfalfa technology, forage quality potential is significantly higher than that of conventional alfalfa harvested at the same maturity. In fact, a seven- to 10-day delay in harvest can provide forage quality similar to conventional alfalfa harvested earlier, so you could get dairy-quality hay potential on a delayed harvest/high-yield system.
 
The recommended approach when moving to a 1-cut-less system is to harvest the first cut as usual, or with more flexibility, depending on spring weather. Subsequent cuttings can be harvested seven to 10 days later than normal to reach the yield or quality goals desired. This allows you to optimize the growing season and redistribute harvestable tonnage across all cuttings. You and your agronomist can also use the R7 Field Monitoring Tool to track vigor status and determine a cutting schedule for the season by optimizing the yield and quality of the first cut.
 

 
Talk with your trusted advisor about appropriate management practices for your alfalfa or to find out more about the benefits of planting CROPLAN HarvXtra Alfalfa.
 
© 2018 WinField United. R7® is a trademark of WinField United. HarvXtra® is a trademark of Forage Genetics International. HarvestLab™ is a trademark of Deere & Company.

4 Ways to Leverage Tissue Sampling Insights in the Off-Season

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
The majority of farmers who choose to take tissue samples are looking for in-season insights to help them fine-tune their fertilization programs. But tissue nutrient analysis can also tell you a lot about your production practices and identify changes that can be made to improve productivity. Here are four ways you can use tissue sampling results in the off-season to make changes to your management practices.

1. Soil and tissue analysis comparison can reveal potential problems. When used together, soil and tissue testing can help you identify potential issues in your field. For example, if soil analysis reveals you have ample nutrients present but tissue testing shows that they aren’t being taken up by the plant, that’s an indication that there may be issues with root growth caused by compaction, environmental conditions or shallow planting.

2. Tissue sampling helps calibrate the Field Forecasting Tool. The R7® Field Forecasting Tool (FFT) delivers more accurate results as new information is added to the model. The tissue sampling results from the NutriSolutions® app can be automatically fed into the FFT and can help estimate yield potential in-season. The model can also be used in the off-season to help establish management practices for the future that can reduce the gap between the forecasted yield and the actual yield.

3. Evaluating nitrogen trends can help with seed selection. If you find your plant nitrogen levels are often trending low, you might choose to be more aggressive with your nitrogen applications. But if you’re looking to maintain input costs, an alternative would be to place a hybrid that has a low response-to-nitrogen score on those acres in the future, knowing that nitrogen could be limiting.

In 2017, we tested 210 hybrids at our Answer Plot® locations and found 36 percent were highly responsive to nitrogen, 45 percent were moderately responsive and 19 percent were less responsive to nitrogen. Across the tested hybrids, there was a 39.5- to 97.2-bushel-per-acre yield response gradient, illustrating the vast differences genetics can have on nitrogen utilization in plants.

4. Choose the right seed if zinc comes up short. If tissue sampling trends reveal an early-season zinc shortage, consider using CROPLAN® corn hybrids on your acres. All CROPLAN hybrids are treated with Advanced Coating® Zn seed treatment. By coating seeds with zinc, Advanced Coating Zn promotes quick emergence, even in cool, wet conditions, and it helps establish strong, healthy stands. In nearly 180 Answer Plot program test plots over three years, corn treated with Advanced Coating Zn seed treatment averaged an extra 2 bushels per acre.
Don’t put your tissue sampling results on the shelf once you’ve used them to make in-season decisions. Evaluating nutrient data in the off-season can help you develop a more comprehensive crop management plan that includes mapping out management zones and choosing the right hybrids and seed treatments based on what nutrient trends are showing. Work with your WinField United retailer to put your tissue sampling results to work in the off-season.
 
Advanced Coating®, Answer Plot®, CROPLAN®, NutriSolutions®, R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinFIeld United.

Farmer Stories: Bringing It Back to the Farm

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Successful farmers today rely on top-performing products, innovative ideas, strong partnerships and smart decision-making to meet their business goals. As we reflect on the past 20 years of the Answer Plot® program, we are spotlighting some of the ways that the program has impacted farmers and helped increase their productivity.  
 
Finding the right product for the job
Generally, if an agricultural product makes it to market, there’s data to support that it fits somewhere. That somewhere just might not be your farm. The Answer Plot program began as a way to evaluate hybrid performance to help farmers understand what products would work best on their farms. While that’s still one aspect of the program, it has evolved into a comprehensive management tool that helps farmers get the most from each unique acre.
 
Dave Armstrong, a corn and soybean farmer near Newcastle, Nebraska, looks to the Answer Plot program to help him select and manage his hybrids throughout the growing season. He’s been farming for 41 years and attending Answer Plot events for 15 years. Even with his wealth of farming experience, Dave finds value in staying current with what’s going on in the industry by attending Answer Plot events.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0000_-The-hundreds-of-replications-that-they-do-in-soil-types-like-m-copy.jpgBoosting confidence in technology
Farming is risky business, and adopting new technology and agronomic practices can be intimidating. Over the years, Answer Plot events have helped farmers like Mike Thompson increase their confidence in adopting new technology by delivering reliable, consistent data and providing hands-on demonstrations of the latest ag technologies.
 
Mike farms near Rochester, Minnesota, with his two sons, Cody and Brett. He’s attended Answer Plot events for the past five years to learn more about the newest innovations in agriculture. Mike says he adopted better spray practices after learning about them at Answer Plot events. He and his sons now use InterLock® and Class Act® in their tank mixes and change up their nozzles to get the most effective spray coverage.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0001_-Rochester-is-one-of-the-windiest-cities-in-the-country-We-wen.jpgWe’ll continue to spotlight farmer stories as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Answer Plot program. Check back as the season progresses to learn how other farmers have found value in local Answer Plot events.

Gear Up for Fall Burndown Now

Andrew Schmidt
Regional Agronomist
Clean fields in the spring. On-time planting. Fewer pest havens. These are just a few of the benefits of an effective fall burndown. It’s not too early to think about your burndown strategy and consult your local trusted advisor about how to limit next season’s weed pressures. Here are a few tips to get you started.
 
1. Take a look back.
Did you do a fall burndown last year? If so, what worked well? What didn’t? If you didn’t do a fall burndown, were there any consequences? What weeds were most prevalent in your fields in 2018? Answering these questions will help you and your agronomist devise a plan and sort through what herbicides would work best on your acres.
 
2. Take annuals down.
Winter annuals germinate in autumn, so fall burndown is the perfect opportunity to nip these pests, which include fall-emerging marestail, chickweed and henbit, in the bud. A fall burndown can also provide some residual protection against summer annuals, but…
 
3. Don’t rely solely on residual protection.
Even if you do a highly effective fall burndown to control fall weeds, you’ll still need to apply a preemergence herbicide in the spring to control waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, and other weeds and grasses. Your fields will look clean in the spring, but don’t be deceived. Put on the preemergence herbicide for protection.
 
4. No-till? No question.
If you are a no-till farmer, you should absolutely consider a fall burndown. Overwintered marestail, for example, is extremely difficult to control in the spring, and you’ll find yourself in a lot of trouble trying to plant in fields when it is actively growing. It’s imperative to control chickweeds and henbit in the fall too. Clean fields in the spring mean better seedbed preparation and timely planting.
 
5. Don’t forget the adjuvant.
The goal of any herbicide application any time of year is to get as much product as possible to the target weed or soil, so choosing the right adjuvant for the burndown system you use is key. Consider adjuvants such as high-surfactant oil concentrates (HSOCs) or methylated seed oils (MSOs) that work well in challenging environmental conditions. Choose a product that works effectively with a wide range of herbicides to improve spray deposition, enhance canopy penetration and manage drift. Your agronomist can recommend the most appropriate adjuvant for your situation.
 
6. Minimize pest havens.
A fall burndown gives insects fewer places to hide and thrive. If, for some reason, you are unable to do a fall burndown, you can spray an insecticide in the spring; however, you can also rely on seed traits to help control pests. For example, you can plant corn seed with a trait that offers cutworm, corn borer or earworm control.
 
7. Time applications right. (Drier is better.)
To avoid heavy dew, don’t spray early in the morning. Wait until the sun burns it off. Mid-morning to evening is the best time to apply a fall burndown herbicide. Another reason to spray in the fall is that soils are usually drier. This helps minimize compaction compared to waiting until spring when soils are potentially wetter.
 
Large weeds result in limited options and higher costs for you. It pays to be proactive and consistent to achieve season-long weed control, so be sure to get an early start by doing an effective fall burndown. You’ll be thankful you did come spring. Talk with your local trusted advisor now to begin.

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