Photo Blog

From Nampo – Biggest Farm Show in Southern Hemisphere

Greetings from Nampo-2019
After a long flight we are here to work with the guys chatting with growers from all over South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and even China. Maize, sunflower, soya, sugar cane, both forage and grain sorghum are the crops that center our conversations. The big topic that the growers are concerned with is diesel fuel savings when they realize the what the Orthman 1tRIPr system is able to provide. A grower told us today that his savings was 55% compared to his conventional 4 pass system had been. That kind of savings is huge. Then the man said “Wait, my fertilizer has dropped by 45% and the 55% is the minimum savings, other farms it is a savings in diesel consumption by 75%.”
I ask what kind of savings when diesel fuel prices are high for your farm? Fewer passes, less wear’n tear, maintenance all are important. Stories similar are all week here at the show.

Orthman brings savings in many facets of what you do out on the farm. Time, labor, overhead, and soil erosion all are savings of great value. Come visit your Orthman to find out how the premium advanced conservation system works for you.

Improving Soil Health – What Might it Mean to You!

Soil scientist investigating soil structure components in a native grass pasture.

by:  Mike Petersen, Lead Agronomist

As I continue to read, investigate, learn and dig more into soil profiles across this nation I am all flushed with material I want today’s farmers to realize.  The interaction of bacterial, fungus, fungal hyphae, simple photosynthetic bacteria, algae, protozoa, and other microscopic creatures all are important to what your crops can benefit from.  The splatter and news some of you may read about cover crops, more living roots in the soil all have an umbrella approach to this subject of “soil health”.  To get our noses right into the subject – it is what happens biochemically in the soil along with the physical side of soil aggregates making a stable home for all of the microscopic creatures to live, respire and offer to the roots to absorb and thrive from.

As fungal biomass improves in the macroaggregates of the soil profile (I am speaking of the upper 10-14    inches), organic materials become broken down into smaller and smaller particles along with fats/lipids/oils/steroids and some proteins that are sticky to hold silt and clay particles together.  As the individual silt particles and clay particles bond together both by physical forces and electro-chemical bonds, with gravity playing it’s part — soil structural units form.  These structural units of micro-sized blocks and prisms then in time adhere together to form larger blocks, prisms and granules.  As they do our soils allow water to pass in a downward fashion vertically and as that all occurs so will the roots which will exude, slough both dead and living cells, leave smears of organic sugars, peptides, and proteins and strands of a mucous like substance from the root tips to makes soil structural units even stronger and larger.  In a nutshell – soil health and quality improves.

All of this takes some time.  I have observed in continuous strip tillage we can facilitate all of these details of soils regenerating after the change from full width tillage systems.  A caveat, removing from a corn field and baling up for animal bedding is not helping.  To accelerate the soil rebuilding having a mix of crop residues (some left-over residues that are higher in sugars such as sorghums), green living roots, legumes in rotation, where possible and or feasible – cover crops, all will aid in this rebuilding.  As we annually crop fields with too much tillage [full width tilling], multiple passes, removing of all crop matter such in silage harvesting; we set the soils back to something like a war-zone battlefield and unexploded ordinance remains.  A proverbial mess of the soil health.  Yes that is a fairly strong statement, I know.

We at Orthman Manufacturing so believe that conservation tillage by the strip till system works to put soils in a better condition to grow crops and enrich the soil health capacity.  As farmers urge their soils to produce more with precise placement of fertilizers, provide timely irrigation for those areas where irrigation is accomplished, maintaining residues on the soil surface as long as one can we are seeing soil resources produce many, many fold the grain, forage, lint or produce.  Along with this, soils can not only be sustainable, healthy, and very productive for years to come.

2019 Commodity Classic – Ever the wide open experience with the Best Growers

2019 Commodity Classic Serious discussions with Doug Peterson and Pat McNaught, both Territorial Reps.

The 2019 version of the Commodity Classic held in Orlando, Florida brought some very interesting topics of discussion to the Orthman Manufacturing booth this year.  A small group of farmers from North Carolina visited us and see that their soil conditions merit using the strip till system in their soils that can irreversibly harden.  Two farmers from Kentucky in the area  bordering the Karst region of the state and wanting to visit about their soils with ‘fragipans’ and how No-Till has been unsatisfactory.  Their conversation was much to do about water movement in the soil profile as well as root development being retarded from getting deep.  Some folks from Ontario, Canada stopped and visited regarding their strip-till successes and some of their challenges.  Several of the National Corn Grower contest winners stopped who placed either #1 or #2 in the Irrigated No-Till/Strip-Till category and asked for some further suggestions and advice.  That was very thought provoking and allowed us time to congratulate their success since three of them were 1tRIPr owners.  Some folks from the Wasatch Front area of Utah came by and asked about the 1tRIPr and their concerns of pulling so hard, once we found out what their soil conditions were like – oh now we can help.  Had some New York growers stop in and ask would strip till work in their environment.   Spoke with cotton and corn growers from Texas, Georgia, Alabama and 1 from Arkansas.  There were two men who stopped from Australia.  Many men and families stopped from Nebraska, the home of Orthman Manufacturing and were glad to see us in the booth and representing the best strip-till machine on the market, their words not ours but we fully agree with their assessment.  The couple of people I spoke with from central Michigan first were so happy to be where there were temperatures 85 degrees warmer than back up north.  Then we discussed strip-till in the state of Michigan, sugar beets, potatoes, corn and soybeans.  The Illinois growers that stopped by and visited had many questions regarding fertility, prices of fertilizer and fertility effectiveness with the Orthman 1tRIPr.

As you can see we had a smattering of people from all across the United States and then neighbors in Canada as well as Aussies.  One of the major seed corn companies presented in their booth a well thought out and descriptive analysis of root types in corn and how they right now are the only ones I know of that rate their corn hybrid selections on root types.  You all might be surprised who that company is – AgriGold.  Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont-Pioneer, LG; the rest of you growers are asking for the same.  My suggestion to you folks, keep after them to rate root structures as has AgriGold and find out how tillage interacts with better tillage systems and fertility placement.

The 2019 Commodity Classic was great this year.  Not only friends were met with, some acquaintances rekindled and new connections we made.  Stay tuned for Orthman is stepping out to lead the way in Precision Tillage, Precision fertilizer placement,  Root Zone management and as well soil resources management (water and erosion).  Keep in touch as we are not a “me too” company, we are leading.

by:  Michael Petersen, Lead Agronomist-Orthman Manufacturing, Inc.

Aiding and Abetting Organic Carbon Storage with Strip-Till

Early February 2019

Frequently you are hearing and reading about Soil Health and Cover Cropping Systems are the big part of how farmers will improve sustainability, yield and crop production.  Now folks, the two of those titles are not synonymous – that is they are not equal to one another.  They are different yet the two can work together.  Where am I going?  Strip tillage has been found to aid in better macroaggregate development. As macroaggregates function within the soils it is been studied that is the environment where Nitrogen (N) has the greatest amount of turnover and availability to the plant root system (Long-term effects of nitrogen fertilization on aggregation and localization of carbon, nitrogen and microbial activities in soil; YidongWang et al., Science of the Total Environment 624 (2018) 1131–1139,  Elsevier Publications).

What did I just say? As with what we at Orthman Manufacturing like to promote – strip till, when farmers employ, we can aid the process of organic carbon substances accumulate and develop durable macroaggregates (those particles of soil >2mm in size).  These aggregates can withstand rainfall impact better with these organic compounds coating, lying on the surfaces of the macroaggregates.  Fungi interlacing on the aggregates and between other aggregates, glue-like polysaccharides, proteins, fatty acids that come from mycorrhizal growth, certain bacteria dying and releasing substrates that can aid adhering and bonding of soil particles together.  The roots grow along, around and through the macroaggregates accessing accessible nutrients in a readily available form to feed the growing plants.  Image result for mycorrhizal fungi examples

Image #1:  In this image one can see the webbing around an alive root. Looks like cotton in a fashion.  This is a web of mycorrhizae hyphae surrounding the root of an oat plant.

Both the root and the fungal hyphae leak substances similar to what we could call “organic glues” onto the face of the soil ped and macroaggregates. Loaded with carbonaceous materials there is also other ions attached such as N, P, K, S, Mn, Zn, Fe, B etc not held tightly by the electrical bonds within the carbon products – thusly available to the roots.  These glues not only release good nutrients but they hold soils together which can also hold onto water, allow it to pass through easier and allow soils be oxygenated.  All of that promotes healthy soils, hold and release water, maintain soils from any severe mechanical breakdown of soil structure and allow soils to be more healthy.

With strip till we are one time and done prior to planting.  Greatly minimizing soil turnover, sliding, slipping, crushing, tearing and exploding soils with the strip till approach; we allow the process of soil biology work. With conventional full-width tillage there can be 3 to 7 operations in the upper segment of the soil profile before a seed is placed or nutrients are placed before the proceeding crop grows.  Each harsh tillage operation or trip to crush the soil down to the smallest size deteriorates the soil aggregates.  Yes microaggregates are part of the soil medium, they can accumulate nutrients yet they are released very slowly.

Scientists in my profession, soil science, are understanding better with electron microscopes how larger soil aggregates are big-time contributors to the ‘health’ of the soil.  Much of the discussion of soil health

Image #2:  Tight web of fungal hyphae holding soil particles and spores. Dark specks are soil aggregates, yellowish round spheres are fungal spores. Transluscent left-to-right strand is a root. Courtesy: Cornell Univ., T.E. Pawlowska

has only to do with biological factors, those being how do we get more living roots to grow for longer periods of time in the 365 day season.  Yes this is important.  I wanted you to see the value of the soil physical realm and what these microscopic filaments do to enhance soil aggregates and their ability to remain stable.

With Strip-Till we gain larger, more robust root systems in the till zone which contributes to more prolific mycorrhizal growth and associations.  It all ties together for the improvement of your soils to produce and remain viable long into the future.

by:  Michael Petersen, Orthman Soil Scientist

 

 

 

Mike Petersen’s Considering of Pre-Plant Fertilizing

This gallery contains 2 photos.

 

Here it is waiting between storms of the 2019 Winter (January) in many parts of the country and some of you may have the itch to do something with the look out the window saying, “No way man”.  Would like to cover a few thoughts of what we at Orthman consider as wise steps in nutrient management with the Orthman 1tRIPr once the weather changes to springtime.

Thought #1
Many of the spring row crops we plant do not use much nitrogen in the first 40 days of growth after emergence so why do we think applying a slug of nitrogen either in the fall or the spring and expect it to be there come June and July?

Thought #2
Even with nitrogen inhibitors we can see fair amounts [10 to 35%] of N moving or lost when applied in the fall.  Does that come into your accounting page for N management in your area?

Applying liquid N-P-K package in early spring

Thought #3
Those of you who farm in the more arid western States, even with dry fertilizers being lower in initial outlay of cash do you really understand the loss potentials in nitrogen and sulfur when they are in your dry blends?

Now I am not trying to gig you in the ribs with this blog, but to give you some time to think on these three questions and then I will respond with our responses in a couple of days.  In the time between when you see this on Precision Tillage.com and a follow up blog with ideas/answers/comments on my part – write me with your thoughts.

mpetersen@orthman.com

Orthman Sponsored Field Research Gives Valuable Pointers

Recently some news came out of Ohio and the cooperative work that Orthman Manufacturing is directly involved with Ohio State University researchers.  The three foundational pillars that we at Orthman deem as vital to success with a Strip-Tillage Systems approach are being met with the on-going research efforts Dr. Fulton at Ohio State University and his assistants and staff have been doing.

I am including an article from the Ohio Country Journal published the last few days of December 2018, click on the link and scroll down below the picture of the awards picture to see what Mr. Trey Colley III shared at a conference with the OSU findings and ideas for Eastern Corn Belt growers.  Now many of you may not be in that part of the United States, the principles stay even for any of the rest of you and Trey’s words ring true.   https://www.ocj.com/2018/12/ohio-no-till-conference-highlights-equipment-innovation/

It is our hope that as growers move towards less tillage to help with the hypoxia issues of the Mighty Miss and the algal blooms of Lake Erie which are being found to be happening quite profoundly due to agricultural inputs along with other inputs.  Placing P&K in the soil and not on the soil surface is being found to be extremely effective to reduce phosphorus sediments moving and also nitrogen detachment into water courses.  We who strip-till across this nation are accomplishing best management practices to greatly reduce the runoff and soluble P from going into streams, rivers and lakes.

Take about 4 minutes to read what Trey Colley had to say.  It may be right what fits your management program where you live and farm.

Mike Petersen, Lead Agronomist for Orthman

Winter officially arrived. What is the condition of your fields?

Mike Petersen here post our Christmas celebration to send you a bit deeper onto the Precision Tillage website to read an article I wrote about alleviation of soil compaction.  Maybe I was a little too much on the Christmas grasshopper cream pie yesterday but please take a look at the article “…from the soilsview…”  to offer you all some words to consider how your fields shape up for the spring season.

The compaction issue has driven me to look more and more into what limits production, crop health, soils health and water.  Many of you are well aware of what compaction does and I will not start that conversation here.  Please take a look the above mentioned article and read and consider my diagram I made some weeks back when we at Orthman were discussing the next iteration of the 1tRIPr tool.  Yes we are thinking through what is good with the 1tRIPr, what is it you growers consider makes the 1tRIPr standout or needs to be better at.

I have been at this endeavor of looking at Strip-Till since 1986 and back with Orthman now to more fully understand all the capabilities of this machine for you – the farmer.  I am going into my 9th year with Orthman Manufacturing, Inc and I do realize this tool can make you the grower of Ag commodities better at farming.  We know some believe “tilling” the soil in any fashion beyond the planter is overdoing it.  In today’s world of bigger machinery, harvesting on the go to get the harvest done before the Image:Exposing the soil profile on a 1tRIPr

weather closes in and delays everything or stops it all – we induce a compacted zone anywhere from 0.2cm to 1 inches thick in one pass.  This past harvest season many growers east of the Missouri River in the United States it turned wet and ohhh boy!

 Third session with 18 growers associated with local Pioneer Seed Corn folks in East Central Nebraska

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mike here to give you a quick lowdown on what Orthman is doing to be “in the lead” to offer training, suggestions, time to learn in regards to Precision Tillage and placing fertilizers for the crop season of 2019.  During the week of December 11-13th, in three different locations in east Central Nebraska, we stood up and discussed and answered questions on numerous subjects regarding Strip-Till System Thinking. Those were; where is the premium place to put P&K? Why there? What other products are smart moves to put in the ground with the Strip-Till approach prior to planting?  Is it okay to place a good portion of the Nitrogen up front? Why not?  How about micros?  The ideas of later applied N, S, K late in the season and what those products can and do accomplish later in the season.  And so on…

We at Orthman Manufacturing are not satisfied with lets do “farming” like we did in the 80’s and 90’s, we are striving to be better for you and with you in this adventure of growing row crops.

I would hope you are thinking more about nutrient management more and more these days.  If these kinds of sessions that you and neighbors are asking about and would like something proactive beyond its all about N; give me a call or you regional sales managers for Orthman as noted on our CONTACT tab on this website.

Cooperative Research with Ohio State University

Take a look in the Articles section of this webpage to read a first report that we have obtained from Ohio State University under the direction of Dr. John Fulton.  It is the first of a multi-part series we at Orthman are pleased to bring to you for reading and updates of how Strip-Till functions in the Eastern Corn Belt.

by:  Mike Petersen, Lead Agronomist, Orthman Manufacturing, Inc.

A Final Report on Colorado State Univ. Cooperative Strip-Till Study

Image result for strip till with Colorado State University
Study at CSU ARDEC Farm and also at the Fruita, Colorado site used the Orthman 1tRIPr

Mike Petersen Making You Aware of a Published Report                               December 2018

Throughout a three year study in furrow irrigated crop study at the ARDEC Facility north of Fort Collins, Colorado that was determined by farmer input to see how Strip-Till worked in the furrow irrigation environment; we at Orthman played a role in what transpired.  The scientists at CSU published a report that many of you have not seen or read.  I was part of what Troy, Calvin, and Eric completed and I add kudos to the excellent study and then this Technical Release Bulletin.  Please as to your reading pleasure read what was accomplished and the economics.  You may even want to download and print it off.  Click on the link URL below:

http://www.conservationtillage.colostate.edu/TR15-10_Conservation-Tillage-Furrow-Irrigation_Web.pdf

From my standpoint email me or call and I can offer thoughts, comments of the 3 year study.  The men in the field determined that the Orthman 1tRIPr was a good tool to facilitate the top notch Strip-Till System approach.