Growing Knowledge

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

A Better Way to Manage Nitrogen

Brad Roetman
Lab Director
Nitrogen is one of the most expensive inputs for crop productivity. Yet, it’s critical for healthy crops. That’s why finding better ways to manage it is crucial for farmers. At Solum, Inc., we’re working to develop new technology to characterize soil with the ultimate goal of helping farmers build more prescriptive nutrient management programs. We’re owned by WinField United, which gives us access to the latest technology and expert resources to make that goal a reality.
 
Keep track of your nitrogen
During corn’s rapid growth from about V10 to V18, plants can absorb up to 10 pounds per acre of nitrogen per day. If that nitrogen isn’t available in the root zone, it’s likely plants won’t reach their maximum yield potential. Spoon-feeding crops throughout the season helps ensure that mobile nutrients like nitrogen are available when plants need them most.
 
But how do you know how much nitrogen your crops need in-season? I recommend doing a soil test prior to side-dressing in order to understand baseline nitrogen levels in soil. Because nitrogen availability changes so quickly in soil, it’s necessary to get sampling results as close to that critical uptake period as possible. Armed with accurate soil nitrogen information, you’re better able to make in-season side-dress application decisions with confidence.
 
Timely soil sample results can also help save on nitrogen costs. If you know exactly how much nitrogen is available in soil, you can tailor a side-dress application to match your crop’s need. You won’t under- or overapply because real-time testing tells you exactly where you stand. That’s good news for your pocketbook and for the environment.
 
Solum offers a fast, easy soil nitrate test that generates lab-quality data at your local retail location. Our No-Wait Nitrate soil testing uses water and optical sensors to measure soil nitrate levels in just 3 to 5 minutes. The real-time results help you make a quick decision at a key time in the crop’s development.
 
Good nitrogen management helps realize a crop’s yield potential. For more information on how No-Wait Nitrate testing can help you plan your nitrogen applications, contact your local WinField United retailer.

Farmer Stories: Answer Plots Help Farmers Take Advantage of Tech

WinField United
Agronomy Team
As we reflect on the past 20 years, one thing that amazes us is how far agriculture technology has come. From traited seed to remote sensing, it’s clear that staying on top of the latest advances in agriculture can be a daunting task for most farmers. When we design Answer Plot® events, one goal is to ensure farmers are aware of the latest technology and resources available to help them grow their businesses. A visit to an Answer Plot event may help you navigate ever-changing ag technology tools.
 
Capture opportunities
Michael Corderman, a corn and soybean grower in Armstrong, Iowa, says staying on top of technology makes him a better farmer. He’s attended Answer Plot events for several years for the progressive insights that are shared.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0005_-Times-are-changing-so-fast-in-today-s-world-that-you-ve-got-to.jpgOne of technology opportunities Michael discovered at an Answer Plot event could help him get more grain to market.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0006_-The-R7-Field-Forecasting-Tool-is-a-great,-great-product-I-m.jpgTechnology like this helps farmers allocate their resources to make their dollars work harder.
 
Finding Answers at Answer Plots
But, using the technology is just one part of the equation. Knowing how to process the information that the technology supplies and apply it in practical ways is another hurdle farmers face. That’s where Answer Plot events can help. We demonstrate new technology, but we also help digest the data to reveal what impact it will have on your farm.
 
John Preussner of Dundee, Iowa, recalls the first Answer Plot event he attended 14 years ago.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0007_-I-remember-at-that-meeting-I-actually-stood-up-and-said,-‘Am-I.jpgLike Michael, John has also found opportunities on his farm by using technology tools, namely the Characterization Charts (CHT) tool within R7.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0008_-This-tool-just-has-so-much-data,-and-it-s-broken-down-by-soil.jpg
He uses the information to place different hybrids on his farm as a way to help manage risk. John is confident in the data because it’s replicated over many environments and under different production practices.    
 
Take advantage of new opportunities that are waiting to be found on your farm. Talk with your local WinField United retailer about visiting an Answer Plot location before harvest gets underway.

Nurture Success. Not Weeds.

Holly Thrasher
Technical Seed Manager
Now’s the time to make your soybean trait and herbicide system choices for 2019. Getting a head start on these weed-control decisions will help improve your chances of getting the products you want. Here are some factors to keep in mind when considering your 2019 weed-control strategy.
 
1. Review this year’s weed control outcomes.
Did you get acceptable weed control with the trait package you chose for 2018? Did that trait package protect your soybeans from off-target herbicide movement? These are important considerations for next year’s choices.
 
2. Evaluate herbicide performance.
While it’s important to evaluate how your herbicide performed this year in soybean fields, you also need to determine how well that herbicide system worked in the fields you are planning to rotate to soybeans next year. For example, if you have corn in those fields now, was weed control successful and what weeds were a problem? Knowing what you’ll have to contend with will help enable earlier control.
 
3. Determine the economics of a field.
Your trusted advisor can help you determine if a field has adequate potential for soybeans next year compared to how aggressive you’ll need to be with a herbicide program to manage current weed pressure. They can help you align yield potential with managing for the best ROI on next year’s soybean crop by choosing the most appropriate trait package.
 
4. Start clean in spring.
A fall burndown is especially important in areas where winter annuals such as marestail are an issue. Depending on your geography, a late winter or early spring burndown with a residual herbicide for areas that are prone to summer annuals like kochia will also be important. Remember, choosing the right trait isn’t always going to be the answer. Successful weed management also requires changing up chemistries and using overlapping residuals.
 
5. Practice good stewardship.
Driving down central Kansas roads this summer, I’ve noticed that most farmers have transitioned to using not only LibertyLink® trait technology but also Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® trait technology. I believe this has helped enable more effective weed control. That said, we have to be good stewards of these traits and make sure we do everything we can to avoid herbicide resistance.
 
Your WinField United advisor can also share Answer Plot® information and data regarding different trait packages and herbicide programs based on our in-field testing to help you make the best decision for your farm. Be sure to talk with him or her soon.
 
© 2018 WinField United. Answer Plot® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.
LibertyLink® is a trademark of BASF Corporation.
Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® is a trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC.

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.

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