News & Articles

Let’s Talk About Fertilizer Placement in Reference to Early Season Growth

Continuing with sound information and data for those of you working to make the Strip-Till system you have the best and most productive or what you anticipate for the future.  I have loaded up another Spring  Fact Sheet to offer you more information on placement of fertility for the early to mid-season crop growth.  This fact sheet is the second in a line up of six we want to offer in 2019.

Fall strip till with Orthman 1tRIPr

Courtesy C&B Operations / Rock County Implement, MN

Please click on the link we have provided you to download or just read while you are here at PrecisionTillage.com.

2019_Spring Fact Sheet_NutrPlacement

Nutrient placement continues to be a subject that has brought a lot of discussion in circles of the fertilizer industry as well as blogs from naming a couple; No-Tillers, Poor Dirt Farmers.  These groups are wanting to interact with you the grower and also provide information.  Please read this from us that we add to the conversation with first hand experience, field testing and interaction with some good people in the Fertilizer Industry.

Our view is to give you what we know to work in pre-plant nutrient placement as well as in-crop fertility.  Hang in there with us at Orthman as we offer more of these Fact Sheets into the days and weeks ahead.

Don’t forget we are on FaceBook too.

WE have developed some Agronomy Fact Sheets – Take A Look!

Mike Petersen here to offer a bit of something different to read, print or save in your files. 

I have developed a series of agronomic Fact Sheets to pass on to you, offering some basic tenets of what Orthman Manufacturing and Precision Tillage.com sees as aids to your today’s soil management program.     Use your mouse to left click on the link (just below), then for some it will need to be opened in a new window.  Then if so desired you can print it or read as you see fit.    It is a PDF so you can print easy.

 

OrthmanSTDifferences_root-dim_study_for-PrecTillage  

Jodi DeJong-Hughes and Dr. Biegler (both of Univ.Minn) tell of Strip-Till Benefits

I have worked with Jodi DeJong-Hughes for sometime now (>10years) and I respect her and she carries a lot of weight in the Minnesota Extension Service with her educational prowess and passion to promote Conservation Tillage.  Jodi believes it, speaks on the subject very well, advocates all the tenets of Strip-Till and will ask you face to face “why don’t you do it?”  Please read the article that is attached by a hyperlink right here on Precision Tillage.com regarding some information she shared here a couple years back. Yes it is very pertinent today folks.  I have spoken at her Winter Conservation Tillage Workshop several times now and we at Orthman Mfg call her a good friend in the business.  The conference I refer to is every winter in cold, cold Minnesota.  Enjoy by clicking on the link below.

http://www.mncorn.org/2016/10/13/farmers-foster-soil-health-to-fight-wind-erosion/

Jodi thoroughly likes to get down into the soil pit and describes what she sees and does it with flair.  Someone like the ole soils guy Mike Petersen who writes here and has been in over 1650 soil-root pits.  Two gophers for sure.

What Multiple Years (>17 yrs) of Continued Strip Till Activity Does

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Orthman 1tRIPr maintains residues and tills between the rows each year, moving 15 inches each year.

I have waited for some time to get this out to you all.  In loam textured soils (22% clay, 47% silt, 31% sand) where a continuous strip till program has been going for over 17 years as of 2019 with continuous corn for 14 of those years, please take a look at the diagram below of what the soil density is when moist in the late spring of 2018.  This grower in Eastern Colorado strip tills each spring prior to planting anywhere from 1 week to 5 weeks prior to placing seed in the ground.  We then checked with a constant reading penetrometer what the soil resistance was in 5 locations at depths of 0 to 12 inches across a 30 inch row system. 
This way we could see what were the remnant effects of 2017 tillage compared to 2018 strip till pass which was completed 2.5 weeks prior to planting in 2018.  The penetrometer measured soil resistance to a steady downward force of approximately 1 inch per second.  Not to kid you any either, when you push like that at 145lbs drippin’ wet and the resistance is 300 psi – hey that takes effort folks!  That methodology is the standard method, so giving a penetrometer a big shove does not represent what kind of force of resistance is truly looking the root square in the eye.

So in 2018 the strip till rig was pulled at 10 inches deep.  As you see in the above diagram right in the row where the corn is depicted to be growing at the V3-V4 stage at 12 inches the soil penetration resistance jumped to 265 pounds per square inch.  Then as you look to the right, where the probe is, last years effects are a little higher than where it is compared to site #1 off 30 inches to the left.

I do not have a comparison of what a soil penetration profile looks like where no strip tillage tool has run.  This diagram offers a below the surface look at what is occurring within a continuous strip tilled field.  When we used this tool the soil moisture was within 5-10% of the field capacity.

Takeaways:
1)  Soil density below 10 inches shows some sign of higher density that could limit to a degree root extension when the soils dry out
2)  In the upper 6 inches the density (by penetrometer) indicates the roots will extend out and down with little to no resistance – a good thing!
3)  Above 100 psi the early root system of corn may exhibit slowed growth, as the crop matures the roots have more “push power” and can extend root tip growth up to 400 psi.
4)  The maximum root depth as of this date in early June (6/10/18) was 19 inches deep – which is excellent.  The plants were at the V-4 stage.

We will be doing more of this kind of field effort, looking into more soil textures and soil conditions this year 2019 to describe more of what the Orthman Strip Tillage system is doing to provide not only an excellent seedbed but the Optimal Root Zone conditions.

 

1st Report from Orthman Cooperative Ohio State University Strip-Till Research

First year of a Long Term Research Program with The Ohio State University
field work done by Trey Colley

Mike Petersen here, we at Orthman have joined hands and feet as well as a 1tRIPr strip-tillage implement to the Agricultural-Bioengineering Department at Ohio State University to investigate how strip-tillage can be effective in the corn-soybean rotation of the Eastern Corn Belt region.  Specifically Ohio, Eastern Indiana are the states being considered. The program is to gain solid data on the intensity (low to high) of soil compaction in No-Till situations as well as Strip-Tillage, these are two tillage systems that are being promoted for conservation, fuel reduction, improvements in Soil Health, economics, reducing labor, improvements in placement of nutrients and crop health.  Dr. John Fulton and his very capable research assistant Trey Colley III have released some good data through the publication “2017 eFields Report” that I want to share as we await on the 2018 results which I will be reporting as soon as we have it in our hands.

Within this tillage study at the Western Ag Research Station near South Charleston, Ohio; the field scientists strip tilled, gaged all against Direct Seeding (No-Till) with varying downforce at planting time.  Soybeans, a Pioneer variety was planted at 130K seeds per acre.  The planter used was a CNH 2150 16 row planter with Precision ‘DeltaForce’ downforce controls.  The measurements were taken early to see what would happen with emergence and then to yield.  Also the scientists studied running the shank strip-till tool at 4 inches and then at 8-9 inches to determine if yield would be impacted.  August and September 2017 remained drier than seasonal norms which influenced yield retreats.

Fig. 1   Depiction of the 2017 study with Soybeans to determine the effects of No-Till versus Strip-Tilled to 8 inches with fertility/nutrients surface applied in the Direct Seeding (shown on the left) and positive placement below the seed with the 1tRIPr tool (shown on the right).  Nutrient source (dry fertilizer) was broadcast in the No-Till and precision placed at 4.5 inches behind the 1tRIPr shank.  You are seeing rootzone as the seed would be placed.

Fig. 2  Depiction of the Strip-Tilled zone after the planter pass at the heaviest downforce applied versus the 100lbs of force.  The soil compression was minimal to the rootzone.  Image to your left.

 

 

 

 

 

The soils in this field of the study are Kokomo silty clay and Strawn-Crosby complex, about a 40-60% proportion of the field.  Mr. Colley was then tasked to look at what the differences may be with emergence in where No-Till as the control is compared to Strip-Till with the same varying downforce applied.  The following chart describes the results for emergence and then yield.

Table 1.  Data depicts that at the higher amount of downforce in these silty clay soils the emergence was down from the 88% with No-Till but then at harvest the yields were same.

Treatments Tillage System Applied Downforce (lbs) Emergence (%) Yield (bu/ac) 
Control No-Till 100 87.9 61
Optimal Strip-Till 100 82.1 59
Heavy Strip-Till 195 79.6 61
Light Strip-Till 50 76.9 61
   Note:  soil texture of topsoil is silty clay
planted on June 1st 2017

Remarks from Orthman:  As we see this after the facts are in, the No-Till system and the Strip-Till system are very similar in results.  The seed-to-soil contact was slightly different in the very beginning yet it is our observation that the rootzone allowed the root system to expand and obtain nutrients and water equal to if not slightly better during the dry period that western Ohio experienced from July 16 to October 1st.   During that 45 day period 3.05 inches fell in several small showers of 0.1 to 0.3”  with dry warm days in the low 80’s.

Drawing some Conclusions:

  • No statistically significant yield benefits to utilizing different downforce control systems on the planter, however the OSU scientists felt there was emergence differences.
  • The highest downforce level achieved di not over compact the soil
  • Optimal (100psi) downforce provided the best emergence of the strip-till treatment with equal yield as the No-Till
  • Strip-Till very effectively reduced the compaction in the soil which from the field observations and early plant stage root digs showed improved root proliferation of the soybean plants.

 

We will be offering further results from this study in a follow up report from Mr. Colley’s research efforts.  Do stay tuned!

Texas Agri-Life Offers a Look at Cover Crops

From Texas Agri-Life Announced in November 2018—Some ideas about Cover Crops

An overwhelming amount of news and buzz across the country has to do with Cover Crops and what they can do for Soil Health.  I get it where the moisture is adequate to bountiful.  Consider those folks in the more arid zones; regions of the country with less than 18 inches of moisture falls throughout the year and maybe only 7 of those during the actual growing season – they face a different dilemma.

The good folks in Kansas, Oklahoma, and now Texas where in the past years have grown >5M acres of cotton, are expressing an urge of caution and cognitive thinking about Cover Crops being the answer to the plight of farmers in regards to Soil Health.

May I point you to a recent article well expressed from Texas.  Published in Southwest Farm Press, Shelley Huguley offers some information that has points to consider.
Just press control-click on the link below…

https://www.southwestfarmpress.com/cover-crops/cover-cropping-may-not-be-everyone

Why do we see Phosphorus a limited nutrient?

by:  Michael Petersen, Orthman Agronomist

 

We are well aware for the most of us in the Farming world that phosphorus (P) is a limiting nutrient for top yields, stalk health, reproductive health right around flowering, early vigorous growth in corn especially and in western United States calcareous soils gets tied up.

On this site I will be looking into articulating what those limitations are.  Sure we see Universities talk at great lengths about N and some about P and its importance – but with the phosphorus mines across this nation being mined heavily, rapidly diminishing rock phosphate sources hold concerns about what the future brings.

Microbiologically the number of species that work directly on organic sources and the P fertilizers we apply are not that high in number.  They are predominantly aerobic (requiring oxygen to respire/live) creatures. Penicillium, Psuedomonas, and  I want to focus on Bacillus subtilis, member of the Firmicutes phylum.  This strain of bacteria are one of the most common that work on phosphate we fertilize with.

Bacillus subtilis is known to have a symbiotic relationship with the Azotobacter (a nitrogen-fixer affiliated bacteria) only six species of this cyst forming aerobic bacteria exist. These two work together on insoluble phosphorus within soil normally that is material like rock phosphate in dry fertilizers. The phosphorus gets trapped with the clay particles and begins to freeze ionic speaking, because the phosphate ion tightly bonds to the positive cations (calcium, iron, magnesium, silicon, and aluminum) found in the soil. B. subtilis coordinates with Azotobacter vinelandia by helping to release the phosphate bonds and release the phosphate (PO4) throughout the upper 6 to 10 inches of the soil profile. Without the addition of B. subtilis, the phosphorus can’t do its job effectively and further hinders agriculture. The phosphorus can’t move around to the plants and help maintain prosperous growth. Soil microbiologists consider B. subtilis and arbuscular mycorrhizae are  both a good alternative to insoluble phosphate fertilizers.

Scientists out of the microbiology world have discovered that B. subtilis and Azotobacter can be an aid to seed germination which is a big deal in certain seed crops like sorghum, canola, and small seeded vegetables. B. subtilis is able to take up DNA from its environment and creat antibiotics for itself and the host plant root it lives on to protect it from pathogens.  Quite the organism to aid a plant due to the net it makes to help its host.  See the figure below – electron micrograph image of the Bacillus subtillis colony and the net it produces around the colony. The strands you see are actually millions of these microbes swarming and releasing a slime layer which is what you see to the outside of the image, making the colony mobile to move about on root surfaces or on the soil liquid interface.  Probably more than you wanted to know, but think about the lack of mobility of P in the soil; here the microbes distribute what they use and secrete away.

B_subtilis_colony
Color electron micrograph of a colony of Bacillus subtilis on a media plate

Because B. subtilis is mobile with flagella (short string-like tails act as whips to scuttle the bacteria cells around on the root surface and in the soil solution) this bacteria can redistribute PO4 in the upper portions of the soil profile (0-9 inches) and feed roots in that section.

Another biological phenomena in the soil surface horizons is the arbuscular mycorrhizae that can infect roots to live inside the cortex of the roots symbiotically and bring N, P, S and Zn back to its host.  These ultra thin strands or hyphae that extend out of the infected root cells grows outward to access soil organics, humic acids, peptides, polysaccharides (complex sugars), a host of cellulosic materials – all to feed its host which requires simple sugars from the plant.  The plant gets the much better side of this relationship.

Microbes are extremely important to the breakdown of P in soils, can dislodge the tightly bound PO4 ions and make them able to interact with the roots.  Cyanobacteria, specific species of Glomus sp. mycorrhizae are included in the list of phosphorus solubilizing microbes which has Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp., Trichoderma sp., and Actinomycetes a very robust group of bacteria in cropland soils.  Scientists have determined that the Actinomycetes are able to withstand dramatic temperature fluctuations from hot to cold and remain viable and energetic to solubilize phosphorus in the organic fraction and added phosphate fertilizers.  For those who are small grain farmers in with their row crops; the dryland farmers who have wheat and corn in rotation – you have an added advantage that wheat residues and old wheat roots are occupied by several genus of bacteria that remain to be phosphate solubilizers for the next crop.  For those of you that consider cover crops or companion crops, wheat has this relationship to continue a so-called home for these bacteria.

All great bits of information to provide you with tools and knowledge that the soils can be managed to aid with releasing P naturally and not use so much added phosphate.

 

Sources for this post:
Schaechter, Ingraham, and Neidhardt in Microbe. ASM Press 2006
Todar, K. “Todars OnLine Textbook of Bacteriology
Morikawa, M. Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, 2006 Vol 101, #1, 1-8
Sharma et.al., Phosphate solubilizing microbes sustainable approach for managing phosphorus deficiency in agricultural soils. Springer Plus 2013, 2:587

 

Moisture Collection vs Moisture Lost

by Mike Petersen, Lead Agronomist

Fall Strip-Tilled into Barley Stubble

Storms are advancing from the Southwest into the Central Corn Belt with blizzard-like conditions at times but are we getting enough moisture to provide replenishment? Further west in Western NE, KS, SD and into Colorado and Wyoming, we have much less snowfall – oh my pitifully dry.
One of the wonderful details about maintaining all last year’s stalks, leaves, shucks in the field is trapping all these snowfall events. Over across the road where the neighbor fall tilled or used his “vertical” tillage or disk tool the residue was sized, chopped and free to blow from here to the Gulf. Also simply put, the taller stalks left in corn to cause movement of lateral snow to drop and stay on the ground compared to the flattened soil surfaces. Many times snow blowing around can accumulate in the standing stalks and give you another 3 to 8 inches of snow, which means harvesting water.
Even if a grower strip-tills in the fall the surface profile of the soil/field is left very rough and allows for catchment areas to have snow stop and store-up in the field. Why all this? Every inch of these snows is priceless. We know that very few of us want to plant into dry soils, irrigate up if irrigation is possible, or just hope for the next rain to be plentiful to start the planted crop.
For the conventional tillage farmer each spring tillage operation has the potential for loss of moisture, and that could be up to 0.75 inch per tillage operation. As dry as it has been that is 8-10 inches of snowfall loss in one pass. Wow, consider that and we have had so little snow since December 1, 2012, I worry about the condition of the soil profile moisture even for the Strip-Tillers. So what growers may want to consider in the Western Corn Belt is waiting until the very last week to strip-till and then follow close behind with the planter. The Orthman 1tRIPr was designed way back in the late, late ‘90’s to be a connected set up of strip-till and planter attached. This year, 2013 there is a great deal of merit to give that a long look.

2012 – 1st Season of Strip-Till Results in South Africa

Strip tillage results with fertilizer placement in South Africa

This is the report from South Africa with two short but direct accounts of growers using strip-till to grow corn. Click HERE to download the strip till row crop report from agronomist Mike Petersen.

2012 Fall Report – Carbon Boost-S Adds to Corn Yields

Putting Carbon Boost to the Test Pays Off

Late Fall 2012 Interview:

Lead Agronomist, Mike Petersen just wrapped up their third year of testing FBSciences’ Carbon Boost-S™ at the Orthman Mfg. Research Farm in Nebraska and the results are impressive. The 2012 results show up to a 25 bushel per acre yield increase, netting $157.40, when Carbon Boost was applied with pre-plant strip-till. (The net profit of $157.40 per acre is based on the 25-bushel-per acre yield response, $7-bushel corn and a single 16-ounce application of Carbon Boost at $1.10 per ounce for a total cost of $17.60 per acre.)

“While the 25-bushel-per-acre increase is not as dramatic as the response of up to 53.7 bushels per acre in 2011, it was still significant,” says Mike Petersen, lead agronomist, Orthman Mfg., which is based in Lexington, Neb. “But the 2012 results with Carbon Boost in our pre-plant strip-tillage stands out because of the tough growing conditions.

“The pollination period was so dry, hot and critical in 2012,” Petersen says. “We had several days of 108° F at the research farm in western Nebraska. Around 94° F, corn goes into ‘maintain-life’ mode and slows down to a near standstill. During pollination, the corn in our area struggled significantly.”

“But the corn with Carbon Boost was healthier during the summer heat and drought,” Petersen says. “I believe the yield advantage comes from the Carbon Boost. It strengthens root production and enhances uptake of nutrients and water. All of these benefits lead to a corn plant that’s more able to withstand stresses.”

The 2012 growing season marked the third consecutive year Othman tested Carbon Boost at its research farm.

In 2011, the increase of 53.7 bushels with one particular corn hybrid from using Carbon Boost generated almost $322.2 of gross revenue, based on $6 corn. And in 2010, corn yields increased 26 and 30 bushels per acre, when Carbon Boost was applied pre-plant, Petersen says. “In 2010 we applied 8 ounces per acre, pre-plant when we strip-tilled, and then we applied 6 ounces per acre, in-furrow, with the planter and corn yields rose by 15 and 24 bushels per acre.” Three consecutive years of yield increases during varying weather conditions definitely proves that Carbon Boost works well on high pH soils in the western Corn Belt, Petersen says. Petersen went on to say; “ Integrating Carbon Boost with the pre-plant, liquid fertilizer program was easy. We mixed it in with the liquid fertilizer as we banded with our Orthman 1tRIPr strip-till machine directly under the row.”

In the pre-plant strip-tillage, 40% of the liquid fertilizer was banded at 4 inches and 60% was banded 9 inches down in the tilled strip. Dual placement is a popular choice with strip-tillers using Orthman’s 1tRIPr, Petersen says.

“Fully 75% of the farmers strip-tilling with our 1tRIPr in the western Corn Belt dual-place fertilizer,” he says. “Approximately 45%-50% of the 1tRIPrs strip-tilling in the central and eastern Corn Belt use dual placement.”

Dual placement of fertilizer at 4 and 9 inches potentially has great provision to supply corn the energy it needs at two critical periods, Petersen says.

The fertilizer at 4 inches helps corn in the first 15 days, while the corn accesses the fertilizer placed at 9 inches from 16-60 days after emergence, he says. During the latter part of the 16-60 day period, the corn determines yield by setting the numbers of rows around on the cob — the girth — and the number of kernels running along the length of the ear.

Here at Orthman Research Farm, we will continue to use Carbon Boost in 2013. In addition to the pre-plant application with strip-tillage, Mike and Mark Griffith, farm manager will carry out foliar applications with a high-clearance sprayer in mid-to-late June in time for another critical growth period for corn when the row length is determined. It is their intention to continue demonstrating that Orthman sees value in putting together a smarter agronomic system in raising the corn potential where Strip-Till is the foundation.