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Farmers gain insight and education at regional meeting

Article cover photo
NRCS soil scientist Julie McMichael discusses how a soil color guide book can be used to assess soil health at a recent ISA farmer meeting in Atlantic. Western Iowa farmers learned of strip trial results and new trials available this year. (Photo: Carol Brown/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Carol Brown, ISA environmental communications specialist

Western Iowa farmers last week learned ways to better manage their operations and maintain soil health at Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) On-Farm Network® meeting in Atlantic.

Nearly 30 farmers and landowners discussed the results from last year’s strip trials. The On-Farm Network team also invited attendees to participate with 2019 trials.

For Scot Bailey, who farms near Anita in Cass County, meetings like this help him understand the latest research and results on farms in his area.

“I was interested in finding out the latest information from the researchers,” Bailey said. “The presenters are right here, so you can ask questions or have them clarify points. You can’t get that from reading an article.”

Scott Nelson, On-Farm Network director, hosted the event and presented information on nitrogen placement and timing. He said that ISA does nitrogen in corn studies because many Iowa soybean farmers also grow corn.

The ISA strip trials showed that using UAN injected into the soil was more profitable than surface application. “It will be best to find any way you can to get nitrogen in the soil rather than on the soil,” Nelson said.

Studies indicate that corn needs nitrogen earlier than many think, Nelson said. Trials resulted in better growth and higher yields when nitrogen was applied at the V4 stage. Additionally, UAN applied in-furrow with a coulter brought the highest yields in their trials. 

“I was surprised to see the amount of volatilization from UAN in a no-till environment,” said Matt Brummett, who farms near Neola. “I was also surprised on how many of the trials had a 2 bushel per acre advantage. With the other variables and costs associated, 2 bushels could begin to add up.”

ISA has also conducted 476 fungicide trials over the last 14 years, said Drew Clemmensen, ISA southwest region field agronomist.

 “We’ve developed a good reputation with our fungicide tests,” Clemmensen said. He also discussed weed management, soybean variable rate seeding and seed treatment studies that ISA has conducted.

Soybean variable rate seeding trial results were interesting to Bailey, who has been working with corn variable rate planting and planting populations on his farm.

“I’m thinking about going ahead with variable rate seeding of soybeans,” said Bailey. “The On-Farm Network trials actually show in-field results that you don’t need a standard rate across the field. The variable rate areas yielded just as good as the high-seeding rates.”

Though scientific studies can point to seed technology success, a simpler tool can help farmers learn about soil health, said Julie McMichael, a soil scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) in southwest Iowa.

“You can learn a lot about your soil by just taking a shovel to it,” McMichael said. “How difficult is it to insert the shovel? Does the soil break apart easily? What does it smell like? These are all simple tests you can do to find out the health of your soil.”

She brought along other tools of the soil health trade including soil probes and a soil “color book” containing swatches of various shades of brown that indicate soil content. The color guide and other tools are available from local NRCS offices.

There are many on-farm strip trials to participate in this growing season, said Rich Stessman, On-Farm Network operations manager. One trial will focus on soybean gall midge insecticide treatments. The On-Farm Network is partnering with Iowa State University in the study of this new pest, which was identified in several western Iowa counties last year.

To see results from past on-farm strip trials, visit the ISA database. For information on current strip trials, see the protocols section on the website.

Interested in conducting a strip trial on your farm? Send an email to: research@iasoybeans.com.

Carol Brown can be reached at cbrown@iasoybeans.com.

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For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at aputze@iasoybeans.com

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at aputze@iasoybeans.com. Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

©2018 Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network®. All rights reserved. On-Farm Network® is a registered trademark of the Iowa Soybean Association, Ankeny, IA.Portions of some On-Farm Network trials are paid for in total or in part by the soybean checkoff.