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Soybean Nodules Adversely Affected by Low Soil pH

Soybean Harvest

Soybean nodules supply plant available nitrogen

Nodules on soybean roots are formed by a specific genus of soil-borne bacteria, Rhizobium, which form a symbiotic relationship with the plant. The nodules fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and transform it into plant available nitrogen, while the plant supplies necessary nutrients and energy for the bacteria to multiply and thrive.

Typically, nitrogen fixation via nodules supplies most of the nitrogen that a soybean crop needs during a given year and additional nitrogen applications are not advised as that can have a detrimental effect on nodules. If there is nitrogen available from applied fertilizer, the relationship between the nodules and the plants suffer, ultimately hindering the ability of the nodules to fix nitrogen. It’s a costly move for both growers and the plant-bacteria interaction.

Nodules hindered by low soil pH

Nodule formation and performance is hindered by soil pH below 5.7. Many fields in the Midwest have areas of the field, or wide expanses with values at or below this level. The acidification from nitrogen sources applied during corn rotations continue to drive pH values lower.

When ammonium sulfate (AMS) is used to supply sulfur for soybean crops, a two-headed monster is working against achieving maximum yield. First, nitrogen is being applied, which can hinder nodule formation and performance. Second, AMS is the most acidifying fertilizer used in agriculture today, and that acidity can further degrade nodules.

SO4 – a pH neutral sulfur source

SO4, which is pelletized gypsum, is a pH neutral sulfur source. Its natural solubility meets plant needs for sulfur throughout the growing season. An added benefit is the addition of calcium to replace that lost in the previous season’s harvest.

Increased soybean acres projected for 2017

Due to various agricultural economic metrics, 2017 appears to be on track for the largest soybean crop ever planted in the United States. The USDA predicts 85.5 million acres planted this year, 1.8 million more than last year.

Soybean and nodule health will be more important than ever with the predicted increase in acres planted. Ensure you are making the best decisions for crop health, including nodules, to maximize yields.

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More sulfur updates...

While reading the 2012 Annual Farm Progress Reports from Iowa State University’s Northern Research Farm in Kanawha, IA, we discovered another trial investigating sulfur fertilization via gypsum on corn. The impetus for the study was the same as the Iowa Soybean Association’s; sulfur deficiencies are becoming widespread in both corn and alfalfa in Iowa and many other midwestern states. The experiment was performed by Dr. John Sawyer and David Rueber of Iowa State University.

Four rates of sulfur (5, 10, 20, 40 lbs/A) were applied to two different soils—one with low organic matter and a slope, and one with higher OM and less slope—as was a non-treated control (no sulfur) to compare differences throughout 2011 and 2012. These rates were applied to corn in 2011 and soybeans in 2012. The 2011 plots were planted to corn after soybean in 2011 and planted to corn again in 2012 to test residual effects of sulfur application. In 2012, additional plots were planted to soybean from corn the previous year.  

In June 2011, corn leaf greenness was visibly different among plots that had sulfur applied vs. those that did not, as well as having taller plants. By late June, there was still a height difference but the color differences were diminished. Despite visual differences, there was no difference in yield between the treated and non-treated pltos.

This is where it gets interesting… 

In 2012, the plots that had received sulfur in 2011 showed no visible differences from those that did not, unlike the differences in 2011. However, when harvest time came, there was an increase in corn yield for sulfur treated plots as a whole when averaged and compared against the non-treated control plots. So, there’s something happening with the sulfur in the soil from year to year that isn’t being accounted for that has increased corn yield as a residual effect. This is similar to what we saw with the Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network trials over the last few years; residual activity from sulfur application making a yield difference a year after we thought it would.

Soybeans did not show any statistically different response to the sulfur application in 2012.

This study will continue in 2013 and we are excited to see the results.

 

Yield Starts Here is a blog for farmers, focusing on increasing yield and profitability by focusing on the soil. It is managed by Craig Dick, a Blogronomist and Sales and Marketing Manager at Calcium Products. Find other articles by Cr

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Iowa Soybean Association Spotlights Limestone

The Iowa Soybean association in its weekly On-Farm Advance newsletter discussed limestone last week. Overall we thought the article was good, the more information the better. Also Dr. Blackmer did an excellent job in his presentation at the annual conference, which we encourage you to look at.  There were a couple of items in the newsletter we wanted to address. See our comments below italicized.
 
Lime is an added cost that farmers incur on a routine schedule. If you are using N, then you should be applying the equivalent offsetting amount of lime each year to maintain proper balance. Saying lime is an added cost is like saying N or seed is an added costs. It should be a necessary and important first step in any fertility plan. Why put on more P on a 5.0 pH soil? 50% of all soil P is unavailable at that pH.
 
Different liming products affect soil pH differently. Because they go into solution at different rates.
 
When buying liming products, be sure you know the composition relative to calcium carbonate (the Calcium Carbonate Equivalent). CCE is based on a laboratory standard (AOAC 955.01) this test has no relation to how a lime material will react in the soil. This is calculated by the fineness of the material as well as its chemical makeup. ECCE is the test which is calculated using a fineness factor and the CCE which is the chemical makeup. However it does not give adequate credit for a finely ground lime material. In Iowa the test stops at 60 mesh, though testing shows solubility of a 60 mesh is very low versus 100 mesh lime and thus the 100 mesh is much more effective at changing pH.  
 
Also remember that surface applied lime will work more slowly to neutralize H ions in the soil than lime that is mixed into the soil profile by tillage. While you do get some soil to lime particle contact and could increase the speed a lime will react, the main component of how fast a lime will go to work is rate of dissolution. This is governed by the geological structure of the lime and the particle size of the lime.
 
For us at Calcium Products, Inc, is very important that the correct terms are used in liming (ECC vrs ECCE, etc.). There is much confusion in the market place and I believe it is partly due to people not being specific in what they are talking about and partly because lime as always been an after-thought.  Our aim is to correct this, lime should be a foundation crop nutrition product and since we think about lime at least 50% of the time (gypsum the other 50% of our time, of course!) we can focus on it and make sure it gets explained properly.
 
Thanks again to the ISA’s On-Farm Network Staff for the great information and getting people to think about lime!
 
Yield Starts Here is a blog for farmers, focusing on increasing yield and profitability by focusing on the soil. It is managed by Craig Dick, a blogronomist and sales and marketing manager at Calcium Products. Find other articles by Craig and guest writers at http://blog.calciumproducts.com.
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More on Silicon

Why would a Calcium Manufacturer care about silicon? 

We are in the business of growing more and better crops. Anything that can help do that and improve calcium uptake deserves our (and your) attention.

Check out this great article by NTS out of Australia on Silicon. It's a little long by our standards but worth the effort.

A major mineral is missing in many soils and most soil tests do not even monitor its presence. This mineral can increase stress resistance....click for more...

 

Additional Related Articles from Calcium Products:

Proper Nutrients are Key for Disease Resistance

Silicon The Forgotten Nutrient - Pick up by AgProfessional.com

Boron

Can Calcium Help Defend Soybeans from White Mold?

20 Mineral Elements for Plant Growth

 

Yield Starts Here is a blog for farmers, focusing on increasing yield and profitability by focusing on the soil. It is managed by Craig Dick, a Blogronomist and Sales and Marketing Manager at Calcium Products. Find other articles by Craig and guest writers at http://blog.calciumproducts.com/ .

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Pennycress: Do Farmers Want to Plant Weeds?

When I (Glen) decided to start farming in 1993, a neighbor took me aside and gave me some words of advice.  “It’s ok to not have the biggest yields, but it’s not ok to have the weediest fields.”  His words came from a lifelong battle with weeds, without the benefit of transgenic crops that we almost take for granted today.  However, a potential oil seed crop, pennycress, is typically labeled as a weed in today’s agriculture.

Pennycress is receiving attention in Illinois & other areas because of its high oil content.  Its seeds contain more than 35% oil, while soybeans typically have 16-18% oil.  This means that an acre of pennycress could produce 115 gallons of biodiesel per acre, according to www.growpennycress.com.  Another significant potential benefit is that pennycress is a winter annual, meaning that it completes its life cycle in the spring.  That may lead to the opportunity to produce two crops on the same area of land in one year, also known as double cropping.  If it happens, double cropping offers farmers the opportunity to diversify, helps in reducing crop sensitivity to weather, and spreads out the overall risk.

Pennycress.  Does it offer promise for the future?  Maybe, but there will be a number of associated challenges.  Agronomic, economic, and perhaps most importantly, social considerations will all have a significant impact on the ultimate outcome.

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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Are Soybean Aphids Affected by Soil Bacteria?

When I was an agronomist in retail sales, one of my biggest challenges was soybean aphid control and management.

It seemed like the season started earlier every year, and it did not end until the end of the growing season. One of my observations was that some fields seemed to be a magnet for infestation, while nearby fields remained nearly free of aphids. I was unable to figure out why. Now, researchers at Penn State have identified that the choice of bacteria used to inoculate soybeans , may provide protection against aphids.

Read more about what they have found here: http://cornandsoybeandigest.com/natural-nitrogen-fixing-bacteria-protect-soybeans-aphids 

I found this article quite interesting. This is an example of how little we understand about the complex relationships found between plants, bacteria, and the soil. It also illustrates the importance of soil quality and management.

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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Liming Doesn't Cost, It Pays!!!

Last year a did a blog on A Pictorial of High Quality Soil. I talked with the farmer soon after that and set up a trial.

We added 400 lbs of SuperCal 98G in one strip. The farmer has a yield monitor and we weighed the strip. It was 20 bushels better than the field average. This was on soybeans.

When looking at the soil analysis it is not hard to predict such a response.

When half of the cationic nutrients are hydrogen, which isn't used for growth, it's no surprise that you would have a dramatic yield increase.

When  I spoke to the farmer recently asking if he was liming this the rest of the field he astutly said "Yes, liming doesn't cost, it pays!"

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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Return of White Mold

The cooler than normal weather, all the rain and higher humidity could mean the return of white mold.

White mold, also known as sclerotinia stem rot, is caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. It appears as fluffy white mycelial growth, most prominently on the stems. White mold is heavily influenced by weather and microclimatic conditions. Progress of the disease is favored by below-average air temperatures, high relative humidity, and soil moisture. When these conditions occur during the two weeks prior to peak flower on the lower stems, the disease incidence can be especially severe.

With higher commodity prices growers have been managing for higher yield levels. Many of the practices associated with these trends— shorter rotations, narrower rows, earlier planting—create a less healthy environment that favors white mold development. At the Iowa State ICMC conference it was suggested to avoid white mold don’t try and grow high yielding soybeans. Thanks for the help!

You could try a variety that is resistant to white mold, but those varieties are usually lower yielding than the susceptible genetics.

If you want high yielding white mold free soybeans, start with the soil. I showed Craig Grau, Professor of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin- Madison our research on stopping white mold. He told me that yes gypsum applied before planting is a great preventative to white mold.

 
See our research on white mold. Don't give up on high yielding soybeans, start with Super Cal SO4, pelletized gypsum

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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Flooding Continues

From Dave Varner
UNL Extension Educator

The rain continues to fall and questions related to replant decisions are common these days. The following are a few Iowa State University resources that will be of interest to many of you.

1. Effect of Flooding on Emerged Soybeans (6/1/2008)

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2008/0531PallePedersen2.htm

2. Soybean Replant Decisions from Hail Damage and Flooded Fields (6/1/2008)

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2008/0531PallePedersen.htm

3. Replanting Corn – How Do You Get Rid of the Existing Stand? (6/1/2008)

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2008/0531MikeOwen.htm

4. Replant Options in Corn Fields (6/1/2008)

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2008/0531MikeOwen2.htm

5. Flooded Corn and Saturated Soils (5/30/2008)

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2008/0530RogerElmoreLori+Abendroth.htm

6. Now Grow! (No, Not You, Weeds) (5/27/2008)

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2008/0527pope.htm

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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Update from Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network on Sulfur

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending the Iowa Soybean Association’s On-Farm Network (OFN) conference in Ames. One of the highlights of the conference for me was the presentation by Dr. Tracy Blackmer about sulfur.

Sulfur application over the past 30 years was generally considered non-essential due to the high levels found in our atmosphere from power plant emissions high in sulfur, thereby satisfying plant needs. Times and emission standards have changed and, as a result, sulfur levels are much lower in atmosphere and soil than they were in 80s and 90s. Dr. Blackmer observed sulfur deficient corn in recent years and even dug out some old photos during his time at the University of Nebraska that showed sulfur deficiencies—at the time unnoticed, which was very surprising to him. Perhaps we have negated the benefits of sulfur application for far too long!

Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is a great source of sulfur and our gypsum product (SuperCal SO4) has been included in strip trials—on both corn and beans—within the OFN for the past few years. Some observations from aerial photography have shown strips that received gypsum are much darker green than those that didn’t. Looking further into the data, these same farms showed a corn yield increase from 0.5 to 8.8 bushel from sulfur application, as well as tissue testing that confirmed sulfur deficiency in the untreated strips. There is some thought that the sulfur being present in requisite amounts helps the plant use nitrogen more efficiently.

We look forward to further investigation of the benefits of sulfur application on corn in the upcoming season and beyond! Our thanks to all the cooperators within the OFN.

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