Crop Tech

January 31, 2009 01:47 PM

The Scoop on Poop

Getting the most from manure means getting it analyzed to determine the value, says Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension ag engineer.

Brown is the new green. Higher fertilizer prices have created a renewed interest in using manure as a source of crop nutrients.
"Manure is a fertility package, not a uniform product,” says Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension ag engineer. "You need to establish a dollar value to the manure to see if it really works in your operation.”

He suggests you consider the following steps:

  • Test, don't guess. Soil should be tested every three years. Monitoring for phosphorus and potassium is critical.
  • Apply manure at a rate that the crop can use and not more than what is necessary.
  • Apply to the field with the greatest nutrient need.
  • Determine the value. Finding the nutrient content of manure starts with having a representative sample analyzed by a laboratory. Manure analysis will vary by animal species, age and stage of production and form of manure. At a minimum, the analysis should include dry matter or moisture content and total nitrogen, ammonium-nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content.
  • Calibrate the manure spreader. You need to know the rate and uniformity of the manure being applied.
  • Inject or incorporate manure to reduce loss and odor.


Big-Time Bushels

Kip Cullers rarely holds still. Flit-ting from one part of the field to another, he coddles his soybean test plots like children.

Triple-digit yields across large acreage is consistency at its best. Kip Cullers, Purdy, Mo., uses intensive management to turn out top yields.

The special treatment though is paying off in whopper soybean yields. Cullers, of K&K Farms, located near Purdy, Mo., has become something of an agricultural icon during the past two years, when he set soybean production records with yields of 139 bu. per acre in 2006 and 154 bu. per acre in 2007.

Although his 2008 yields didn't top those marks, Cullers is even more excited about surpassing 100-bu. yields consistently across large fields, not merely small contest plots.

"I had an 85-acre irrigated field yield 103 bu. per acre, and another 160-acre field made 106 bu. per acre,” Cullers says. "We're managing noncontest fields a lot like our contest beans, which has boosted yields.

"The weather this year didn't coop-erate for a world-record breaker—too many cool and wet days,” Cullers says. "However, we are very pleased with the yields we achieved.”
The 100-plus-bushel, noncontest soybean fields, which were planted to Pioneer soybean variety 94B73 for seed production, were irrigated, and the yield averages include the nonirrigated corners. Test plots on Cullers' farm for Pioneer Y Series soybeans also yielded more than 100 bu. per acre.

"While world records are gratifying, averaging 100 bu. or better on the larger soybean production acreage is even more exciting,” Cullers explains. "It's important to put the right genetics on the right field. Incorporating management practices across the board has helped us reach and maintain higher yields.”

A grower's attention to detail and proactive management style is the key to high yields, Cullers says. He monitors his fields closely to check for production challenges, such as disease and insects. Cullers says a good fungicide program is critical to growing quality crops, as are good genetics.

K&K Farms, which Cullers co-owns and operates, is a diversified operation located southeast of Joplin, Mo. Cullers manages more than 5,000 acres of corn, soybeans, green beans and greens (spinach, collard, kale, mustard and turnip). The farming operation is located in Missouri's fertile Newtonia red soil. K&K Farms also includes beef, hay and poultry operations.


These New Oils Are Cooking

Trans fat may be your worst dietary nightmare, but it's turning out to be a dream come true for soybean growers connecting with processors that want these hot new oils.

The drive to find more "functional” soybean oils took low-linolenic (low-lin) soybean acreage to more than 3 million acres nationally in 2008. For the coming year, seed companies are rolling out new varieties that stack the low-lin oil profile with high-yield platforms aimed at addressing yield lag concerns.

Another long-awaited high-oleic soybean trait is headed for the field, too. John Muenzenberger, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. senior business manager of soybean output traits, says high-oleic soybean oil is eagerly anticipated by the food industry because it offers a trans-fat solution in heavy-duty frying applications.

"High-oleic answers the industrial side of the trans-fat issue by delivering oil that can be used at high temperatures and has a high flash point,” Muenzenberger explains. He also notes that high-oleic oil has performed well as a base stock in many industrial fluid formulations of lubricants and adhesive applications.

Pioneer, DuPont's seed business, is on track for limited introduction of a high-oleic soybean variety in 2009, pending regulatory approval. The variety will contain more than 75% oleic acid content, linolenic acid content of 3% or less and a 20% to 25% reduction in saturated fat. Commodity soybean oil contains 23% oleic, 50% linoleic, 7% linolenic and 15% total saturated fat.

So far, contract opportunities for soybeans with better oil profiles are mostly coming from the Midwest. You can visit to find a processor and elevator in your area.

Asoyia, a farmer-owned seed company and processor based in Iowa, has a mid-oleic ultra low-lin variety called Asoyia-MO that is a minimum of 50% oleic and a maximum of 1% linolenic acid. Monsanto Company's high-oleic acid variety will be called Vistive III and is in Phase 3 of development (one to two years expected until commercialization). It will be stacked with Roundup Ready 2 Yield, the company says.

LibertyLink soybeans get the go-ahead for 2009 planting.

More Tolerance This Year

You've got more options. LibertyLink herbicide-tolerance technology for soybeans will be available in 2009. Farmers can expect to see some limited availability with about 1 million acres planted. The number of varieties and maturity ranges available will quickly expand to accommodate demand during the 2010 planting season, says Andy Hurst, Bayer CropScience product manager for Ignite and herbicide-tolerant traits.

Ignite 280 SL herbicide, with the active ingredient glufosinate-ammonium, meshes with the LibertyLink technology. The nonselective alternative to glyphosate controls more than 120 broadleaf weeds and grasses, including acetolactate synthase and glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Beyond LibertyLink soybeans, Ignite is registered for use on all LibertyLink crops—FiberMax cotton, InVigor canola and LibertyLink corn, as well as Herculex and Agrisure CB/LL hybrids.

"Ignite provides growers a way to rotate non-selective herbicides and effectively manage weed resistance while preserving the utility of herbicide-tolerant technologies,” Hurst says. Ignite also represents a different mode of action, which is important in the fight against resistance. Globally, there's no documented weed resistance to Ignite.

For best management of weeds, a pre-emergence herbicide and timely applications of Ignite, when weeds are no more than 4" tall, are recommended. To further combat resistance, Ignite can be tank-mixed with most other crop protection products, including complementary residual herbicides.



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