Along the Fencerow

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRADLEY GOERING
It has always been a pleasure to be among farmers at agricultural field-day events. For one, you get a better appreciation for what each producer does to feed and clothe each of us. Second, the education provided at these programs may offer a missing link to an opportunity that enables a farmer to improve his operation.

We learned about wheat varieties and the differences in chemical control possibilities for cheat, rye, downy brome, and goatgrass at the recent Hesston Experiment Field. What caught my interest was the discussion after the tour about the new research in fertility-program recommendations.

We have come a long way in the past few years with government programs that bring new questions about fertility to our doorstep. One obvious change in this part of the state is that more producers are taking a hard look at no-till farming.

A second change is building and maintaining nutrients that are required by a particular crop.

With no-till crop production, the applied nutrients can be tied up in the old crop residue. As a result, a percentage will not be used during the growing cycle of the crop. So adjustments may be needed on the amount of organic matter left in the field when applying the fertilizer.

Another speculation on my part will be the way fertilizer is applied. Broadcasting would require a higher nitrogen application versus banding the nitrogen beside the seed row.

Once the adjustments have been made by applying heavier rates the first few years, the farmer goes into a “maintenance” program-only apply what the crop will use while maintaining the current levels. This may be especially true for pasture and forage crops such as alfalfa, brome or silage.

The pH of the soil would be applicable in this situation, too. By correcting the pH in the top eight to 10 inches of soil, and then maintaining it with topdressing in no-till situations, the pH should be stabilized.

Lime doesn’t move very much. Therefore, it is important to stay on top of it. With more no-till, we usually see varying amounts of nutrients at 2-inch increments. So farmers need to monitor this more closely.

Bradley Goering can be reached by e-mail at bgoering@thecsb.com, and by phone at 620-327-4941.

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