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Wood Chip Bioreactor Controls Tile Line Nitrate Load

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The Dudley Smith research farm in Illinois is tiled and wired. Todd Gleason has more on how the University of Illinois is doing nitrogen loss research near Pana. Farmers gathered this week for a peek at the nitrogen loss control methods installed in Christian County. It’s a farm that rolls just a bit, but is pretty typical for the area other than the pastures on a portion of it. They came to hear from Laura Christianson. She’s a University of Illinois Crop Scientist, “At the Dudley Smith farm we have a wood chip bioreactor installed. A wood chip bioreactor is a little mini water treatment plant to clean nitrate out of tile drainage. The thing that makes the Dudley Smith bioreactor different is that is has baffles inside it. So, rather than the water just running straight through the wood chips, like most bioreactors, this bioreactor has baffles in it to make the water move in more of an S shape to improve how much nitrate is taken out of the drainage water”. Early indications are the …

What Makes a Top Third Farm

There are just two items that make the difference between a top third farm and an average farm. This University of Illinois study was on a small set in McLean County. This was done to limit the influences of weather and a few other factors. Gary Schnitkey says he wanted to know why some farms made more than others. Turns out, the answer is pretty simple say the ag economist, “What we found were distinct cost differences between the two groups. This was a $45 per acre difference between the average group and the high return group. The $45 came primarily in two items; machinery depreciation and interest cost.”The more profitable farms tended to have lower machinery and non-land interest cost. The two are related. If you buy more machinery, you have more depreciation and likely more interest costs. Other differences included storage costs, with high profit farms storing less at elevators and their cost of hired labor was lower, too. Over all, these farms usually had lower costs, but thes…

Feeding Wheat Co-Products to Pigs

Research from the University of Illinois is helping to determine the quality of protein in wheat middlings and red dog. Both are co-products of the wheat milling process. Each can be fed to pigs and other livestock.There is information about the digestibility of crude protein in some wheat co-products produced in Canada and China, says University of Illinois Animal Scientist Hans Stein, but only very limited information about the nutritional value of wheat middlings and red dog produced in the United States.Stein and U of I researcher Gloria Casas fed wheat middlings from 8 different states and red dog from Iowa to growing pigs. Despite the variety in the wheat middlings sources the concentration of crude protein were generally consistent. However, they did find some variation in the digestibility of the amino acids.The red dog contained slightly less crude protein than wheat middlings. Stein says the results of this study provide guidance to producers who hope to incorporate wheat co…

Check Dicamba Soybeans After Spraying

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Farmers are turning to an old technology this year to control weeds in their fields. Here’s what they can expect from a new, old-product.Dicamba has been around for about half-a-century. It is a corn herbicide, but soybeans have been modified to tolerate it. This was done because so many weeds have modified themselves to resist being killed by glyphosate, commonly known as Round-Up. The primary problem, says University of Illinois Extension Weed Scientist Aaron Hager, is waterhemp, “it, has never been excellent on any of the pigweed species. It can be good. It can be very good, but it is not excellent. It is not as consistent.” This inconsistency makes the timing of dicamba applications extremely important. Without a doubt, says Hager, most post applied herbicides are going to do a better job of controlling a full suite of weeds in a field when the weeds are less than three to four inches in size, “Certainly, with something like dicamba and waterhemp, our recommendation to farmers is …

Crop Progress Reports & End of Season Yields

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read blog postLast week USDA released its first national corn condition rating of the season. The crop, as you’ll hear, wasn’t in great shape. While it doesn’t mean much at this time of year, there is a relationship between the first crop condition rating and the end of the season yield. The weekly Crop Progress report is mostly the work of Extension and FSA employees, at the least the data collection part. They report local crop conditions to state USDA offices, mostly on Monday morning, who in-turn tally those numbers and pass them along to Washington, D.C. for compilation and release on Monday afternoon. Work at the University of Illinois shows a strong relationship between the end-of-season crop condition ratings and crop yield, however, agricultural economist Scott Irwin says that doesn’t hold so well for the rest of the season, “but, of course, what you really want to know is how soon do they become really predictive of final yields. Our analysis says they become pretty useful a…

Another Rough Income Year for Grain Farmers

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It looks like 2017 will be another rough year for grain farmers in the United States. Even in Illinois, where the trend line yield for corn is 200 bushels to the acre and 61 for soybeans, the average income on a 1500 acre grain for this year is just $25,000. That’s not good says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey, “That $25,000 isn’t enough to cover all the family living withdrawals and capital purchase expenses needed for a family farm of this size. Seventy to eighty-thousand dollars is needed to be sustainable in the long run. So, we are looking, again, at some financial deterioration if these projections hold”.
That $25,000 isn’t enough to cover all the family living withdrawals and capital purchase expenses needed for a family farm of this size. Seventy to eighty-thousand dollars is needed to be sustainable in the long run. It is a projection that wasn’t quite so low earlier in the year. Then, like today, Schnitkey was using an average cash sales price …

May 30 | USDA Weekly Crop Progress & Conditions Report

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Post-Emergence Herbicides in Corn

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read blog postIt is time for farmers to control weeds in their corn fields. However, the cool, wet start to the growing season makes it doubly important to read and follow herbicide labels.The post-emergence herbicide labels they’ll be following usually allow applications to be made at various growth stages says University of Illinois Extension Weed Scientist Aaron Hager. He says it is really important to read the label, making sure to get the height, or the stage, maybe both, of the crop correct.This is because most all of the products for corn have a growth stage listed on the label beyond which applications, at least broadcast applications, should not be made. It is usually either plant height - measured at the highest arch of the uppermost leaf at least 50% out of the whorl - or a leaf number. Hager says if both are listed, then it is important to use the more restrictive of the two, For example, because of some of the weather conditions we’ve had across a large part of the state …

The Last Post & Red Poppies