By Crystal Howerton
Among each of the three tours, soil fertility was targeted in several presentations during the 30th Field Day at UM Greenley Memorial Research Center on Thursday morning, August 2, 2007. Specialists warmed to their topics as the temperatures rose outdoors, in spite of the earlier start from previous years.
Tours were conducted in beef, pest management and crops, in addition to the MU Drainage and Subirrigation (MUDS) tour held at the nearby MU Ross Jones Farm in the afternoon.
First stop on the Crops tour was MU Research Agronomist Dr. Kelly Nelson presenting findings on a study concerning nitrogen management using reduced rates of polymer-coated urea in corn. Objectives for this study included 1) evaluating yield response of no-till corn with reduced rates of polymer coated urea compared with non-coated urea at different application timings, 2) determining the interaction between application timing and N source on ammonium-N and nitrate N in the soil profile, and 3) assessing the impact of application timing and placement on polymer-coated urea degradation.
"In conclusion, reduced rates of polymer-coated urea may be justified at pre-emergence and side-dress application timings. Tillage system and fertilizer placement affects the release of polymer-coated urea. This may be related to the moisture content in the soil of these systems. Variable crop response from polymer-coated urea during dry years may be related to slower fertilizer release especially when polymer-coated urea was applied in no-till conditions. Polymer-coated urea fertilizer reached 70-90% by black layer while in the absence of direct contact with moist soil, fertilizer release was 50-60%. In general, yields with polymer-coated urea were greater than or equal to non-coated urea in 2006."
Dr. Nelson also discussed the utility of dried distilled grains (DDG’s) as a fertilizer source and for weed suppression. According to Nelson, the increase in production of ethanol may create a surplus of DDG’s. "Research was initiated to evaluate corn response to DDG application rates as a nitrogen fertilizer source in an organic corn production system, however," added Nelson, "there may be a threshold price that allows this fertilizer source to be economically feasible in other production systems as conventional fertilizer prices continue to rise."
During the Beef tour, Extension Livestock Specialist Chris Zumbrunnen addressed calculating the fertilizer value to supplemental feed for cattle on the pasture. Zumbrunnen suggests that while the main purpose for supplementing cattle is to meet their nutritional requirements, the mechanics of how the supplement is fed can have a dramatic effect on the fertilizer value that can be recovered from the manure that results from cattle consuming the supplemental feed.
Using feeding hay as an example, Zumbrunnen noted, "Depending on the quality of the hay and the cost of fertilizer, a ton of hay can contain $18.00 to $20.00 worth of fertilizer. If the method of hay feeding is managed to distribute the manure more uniformly across the pasture, a much higher level of these nutrients can be recovered by growing forage the following year than can be recovered if they hay is fed in one isolated area all winter."
Results analyzed, Zumbrunnen states, "The results of this research can be compared to fertilizing a pasture with a manure spreader. You don’t spread manure in one corner and consider the whole pasture fertilized. By moving feeding locations you force cows to deposit manure over a much larger area, thus capturing a higher level of fertilizer value than you do by feeding in one location all the time."
On the Pest Tour, Research Specialist Clint Meinhardt discussed the use of pre-plant or foliar-applied potassium chloride with fungicides to improve soybean response and disease resistance. According to Meinhardt, interest has stimulated in new management practices that may improve K nutrition and lower incidence of disease as a result of an increased occurrence of K deficiency in soybeans and the potential widespread onset of Asian rust (SBR) in soybeans. Meinhardt reported on a study with the following objectives in mind: determine soybean yield response, disease incidence and K and Cl tissue concentrations from application of KCl alone or in combination with several fungicides; examine the effects of application timing of KCl or the fungicides on crop response and disease incidence; and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of applying KCl with fungicides for soybean production.
Research was conducted at Greenley and also at Delta Center in Portageville, south Missouri. "This research indicated that KCl fertility reduced the incidence of Septoria brown spot and frogeye lead spot at Novelty, but no differences were observed at Portageville. Preplant KCl increased yield when compared to the non-treateed control and foliar applied KCl at Novelty and Portageville, which could be related to the combined effects of disease tolerance and fertility. Fungicide treatments applied at the R4 state of development increased grain yield in Novelty, but had no effect on grain yields at Portageville in 2006. The cost-effectiveness of the treatments will be determined following research in 2007."
A presentation by UM Commercial Agriculture Crops Economist Dr. Ray Massey on nitrogen fertilizer economics compared natural gas to anhydrous ammonia prices. On a graph, Dr. Massey demonstrated the high degree of correlation between the price of natural gas and the price of anhydrous. "As natural gas prices rise (fall), so do anhydrous prices." He also stated that anhydrous prices tend to fall behind natural gas prices by 1 to 3 months.
"Also, upon close inspection of the lines, it can be seen that natural gas prices are more variable than anhydrous prices. Natural gas has more peaks and valleys than anhydrous. In other words, the variability of natural gas makes it difficult to use its price to predict anhydrous prices. What you think might be the beginning of a price rise affecting anhydrous may just be a temporary situation. In summary, it would be difficult to forward price anhydrous ammonia using natural gas prices.
According to Dr. Massey, transportation costs also influence the price of anhydrous ammonia. "N fertilizers are likely to increase as we increase imports and add more transportation cost to each ton of material." He also suggests that you keep track of N prices throughout the year, not just in winter and spring, and the possible opportunity to purchase before the customary December forward pricing period.
Agriculture Business Specialist Karisha Devlin explained Annie’s Project as an educational program
See GREENLEY, Page 12
that was created specifically for farm women. The program was created by Ruth Hambleton, University of Illinois Extension, Farm Business Management and Marketing Educator, who was inspired by her mother’s challenges and successes in agriculture. Annie’s Project is a program that takes her experiences and shares it with farm women living and working in a complex business.
"Since the initial startup in Illinois, Annie’s Project has spread to ten states," said Devlin. "Annie’s project provides farm women with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make informed risk management decisions regarding their farm business operation. This will enable farm women to become better managers, and in turn, increase the viability of their farming operation. It also gives farm women an opportunity to network and interact with other women involved in agriculture. Farm women find answers, strength, and friendship, in Annie’s project."
Prior to lunch speaker, Katie Smith, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Greg Branum of USDA Rural Development presented Greenley Research Center with a $92,000 in grant monies to purchase a research plot combine.
All told, approximately 300 people braved the oppressive heat to attend the 30th field day at Greenley in 31 years, 1988’s having been cancelled due to drought.
By Crystal Howerton