Dairy Channel: Tough spring for crops, research

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It seems that every farmer I have talked with in the last three weeks has a complaint about the weather and the negative effects of too much rain and cold temperatures in May.

The complaints are certainly warranted when you consider the number of acres of soybeans replanted due to slug damage and the problems with corn emergence due to heavy soil crusting, cold weather and excess moisture.

I guess it could be worse. I heard that many acres of wheat in south-central Ohio will not produce grain because of heavy frost during bloom.

The other day my brother-in-law said he had noticed a new kind of corn being produced in west-central Ohio: lake corn. It’s really not funny.

Research projects. It looks like the weather has affected our manure nitrogen research project at the Myron Wehr farm in New Waterford, Ohio, too.

We set up a project to see how much nitrogen we could get from liquid dairy manure (manure provided by Scott Lindsay, New Waterford) on no-till corn.

We made fall and spring manure applications equivalent to about 11,800 gallons of liquid manure per acre (enough to supply adequate nitrogen to support a 140 bushels per acre corn crop).

We applied some of the manure with a nitrogen stabilizer and some without. We incorporated some of the manure and some we spread on the surface. The project is a randomized block design replicated four times.

The whole thing covered about 18 acres on two farms and required almost 30 semi-loads of manure.

We planted these plots May 6 along with comparisons to Myron’s regular nitrogen program that he applies with the planter.

Myron dropped about 34,000 seeds per acre May 6. I checked plant populations on all plots May 31, averaged them by treatment, and made notes about weeds, insects, slugs and seedling emergence problems.

When I checked plant emergence, I found that severe soil crusting had delayed emergence and that slugs and flea beetles were present in large numbers.

The corn will recover from the slug damage but we need to look out for Stewart’s Bacterial Wilt (transmitted by flea beetles) that may reduce yields. The worst thing, however, is that there appears to be a manure-related problem with emergence.

I could not find much evidence of insect damage to the seedlings or seeds that could explain poor emergence. The evidence points to seed rot, caused by a combination of cool, wet weather and a large amount of organic acids in the seed germination zone.

What would have happened with more “normal” spring weather? Maybe we’ll find out next year.

More information. Other data we are evaluating with this research include:

* earthworm activity as influenced by manure application.

* compaction resulting from manure application equipment.

* surface crop residue as influenced by manure application and incorporation.

* preside dress soil nitrate nitrogen (soils sampled on a GPS grid, compliments of Agland Co-op).

* plant tissue nutrient levels at initial silking.

* stalk nitrate nitrogen levels in early September.

* corn yield.

Field day. Please plan to attend our field day and research plot tour Aug. 21, 1-3 p.m. at the Myron Wehr Farm, state Route 46, New Waterford, Ohio.

Included on the program will be a review of the research design, treatments and results of plant tissue analysis.

Dr. Randal Reeder will present a talk on compaction relative to tillage systems, and participants will have an opportunity to tour the plots. Dairy managers will hear the results of this research to learn more about recycling liquid manure nutrients on no-till corn.

(The author is an agricultural extension agent in Columbiana County. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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