Archive for the ‘farming’ Category

What is Left in the Soil After the 2009 Season

September 15, 2009

By Garth Donald, CCA, Western Canadian Manager of Agronomy, DynagraVRT

With this being a very trying year with a lot of challenges along the way, a large question emerges. What is left in my soil for nutrients? This is a very good question because some areas were very dry and produced below average yields. Others were very wet and produced an above average yield. But definitely the worst cases are the hailed fields. The reason the hailed fields are so tough to figure out is because the crops were at 70 to 75% moisture in the kernel or early dough stage. This means that a good portion of our fertilizer that was placed in the ground at seeding time was already used. Then we started to see some intense regrowth from the hailed crop which started to pull large amounts of nutrient again. So one of the best tools you can you to determine what is left in the soil is a soil test.

There are a few things you need to make sure when you are ordering your soil test. The first thing you need to make sure is that your agronomist is GPS referencing your soil points. With the lack of GPS referencing this is the biggest factor why in western Canada only 30% of our agricultural land gets soil tested and the growers feel this step is a waste of time. With GPS points you take away the large peaks and valleys that you will see on your tests and will see a consistency with your nutrients. Without referencing your points you are basically wasting your time and money doing any soil testing.

Second, do a complete analysis in your topsoil depths. You are trying to make a decision based on the information you have in front of you. The more information the better and easier your decision will become. There are a lot of relationships in your soil test results. For example, phosphate-calcium, potassium-magnesium and sodium-sulphur. With a basic N-P-K-S test it is like wearing a blindfold and having two pin holes to look out. Yes you may be able to see out but you can’t see the whole picture of what is around you and things are not very clear. If your agronomist is only doing an N-P-K-S test then ask him why he doesn’t want to give you a complete picture to look at.

The third thing would be to do at least a double depth test. A single depth test of a 0-12” will give you your nitrogen and sulphur levels but will not give you a clear indication of your phosphorus, potassium and micro nutrients. At a minimum look at doing a 0-6” complete analysis then a 6-12” sub soil test for your nitrogen and sulphur. I find a 0-6” complete and a 6-24” sub soil give a very good window of what is happening in your field.

Lastly, your nutrient recommendation should be made by your agronomist. That is their job not the labs. The labs recommendation is a computer generated recommendation based on averages. Your agronomist should be able to make sound agronomic recommendations based on your yield goals and knowledge of the soil.

Don’t be afraid to ask your agronomist questions about their soil testing protocol and if you don’t like the answer you are given don’t be afraid to look elsewhere for those answers. It is a big decision going into the next growing season so line yourself with people who can help you with those decisions.

Those are my thoughts,

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Is Winter Wheat a Silage Option?

September 8, 2009

Ross McKenzie discusses if winter wheat is a good silage option. More and more farmers are curious if winter wheat will be good for silage. From a time management stand point, Ross thinks definitely.

TIME Article Proves People Are Not Interested in Facts

September 2, 2009

I had a subscription to TIME magazine and I will be cancelling it based on the unfounded rhetoric the magazine has recently published. Writer Brian Walsh penned the cover story entitled, “The Real Cost of Cheap Food.” To say that this one sided article has raised the ire of the agricultural industry would be an understatement. The story is the same old tired rhetoric that corporate America is the one to blame for the number of farms decreasing and that agriculture is responsible for obesity. And guess what, the article also mentions that organic is here to save the day.

In the following interview with the Mr. Walsh on Agritalk, his backstroke is quite evident and bounces all over the place trying to cover his lack of journalistic integrity. In the interview Mr. Walsh admits that he did not get the other side of the story and that TIME chose to run this one-sided story. In the interview (linked above), Mr. Walsh claims in the story that organic production could feed the world if given a chance. Mr. Walsh also claims in the interview organic production is better for you, tastes better and is easier on the land in his opinion”. when the Agritalk host asks him about animal antibiotics, he states his opinion and those of others but dismisses, the opinions of veterinarians in the business. TIME is supposed to be a news magazine not PEOPLE. The story lacks fact and does cause one to draw the conclusion that fact has taken a second seat to sensationalism in all media.
I encourage you to write TIME magazine and express your displeasure with this absolute attack on our industry. It is important that you speak up and not let people outside of agriculture speak for you and about you. Let your voice be heard!!!!

Please read Raoul Baxter’s post on MeatingPlace, discussing the inaccuracies of the TIME piece just in case you think I’m the crazy one.

Affects of Modern Farming on the Soil

August 28, 2009

Dr. Ross McKenzie, from the Lethbridge Research Station provides comments on the affect that modern farming has had on the soil. Some groups maintain that modern farming is destroying our top soil levels and creating adverse compaction, and decreasing organic matter. Others would say that things like organic matte are rising based on modern farming methods. I asked Ross to comment on this topic so that we could get a a professional scientific opinion to base some discussion on.

Canola School: Do I Need To Spray Fungicide

July 31, 2009

When the canola canopy is thick and moisture is abundant applying fungicide is necessary.  Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada helps you go through the process of why or why not in terms of applying fungicide this season.  

See more of the Canola School

Canola School: What’s in the Net

July 28, 2009

Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada takes a close look at what bugs we find in the bug sweep net.  Cabbage seed pod weevils and lygus bugs can cause real havoc on the canola crop and Matt helps you identify them.  

Canola School: Proper Sweeping Techniques

July 25, 2009

Finding out what pests are in your canola field starts with sweeping for bugs.  It is essential that you do it correctly if you want to monitor the threshold levels.  Matt Stanford demonstrates the proper technique in the following video.  

ILC 2009: Earl Geddes – VP at CWB – Wheat Breeding and the Future of Biotech Wheat

July 22, 2009

In case you have not been following the story very closely, the debate over biotech wheat is about to restart again. Cereal breeding in North America has been on the downtrend. The past three months have brought wheat breeding investments by Dow Agro, Monsanto and Bayer. These strategic moves are quite obviously being executed so that beneficial proprietary traits can be inserted into wheat genetics. As mentioned before on this site, many possibilities open up to the consumer and not just the farmer if biotech wheat is introduced. At the International Livestock Congress at the Calgary Stampede, Earl Geddes and I discussed the future direction of wheat breeding and how biotech wheat may lead us there.


Check out more International Livestock Congress content


ILC 2009: Earl Geddes – VP at CWB – Developing Innovative Services and Markets For the Western Canadian Farmers

July 17, 2009

I had the the opportunity to sit down with Earl Geddes, Vice President of Farmer Services, Canadian Wheat Board at the International Livestock Congress. Earl and I discussed some of the new markets and services being developed by the board for farmers. I also asked Earl about how different demographics are using the boards programs and what they are doing as a company to address that.

check out more ILC 2009 content



Serfas Farms Seeding Video

July 10, 2009

I just love the idea of farmers filming videos during the growing season.  It is a great way to showcase the pride that farmers take in their operation.  This is a great video from a great friend and one my top customers, Serfas Farms.  They are based in Turin, Alberta and grow grow wheat, barley, canola and silage corn.  Serfas Farms also has a feedyard.  The farm is managed by Herb Serfas and his two  sons Kevin and Mark.  You can follow Kevin Serfas on Twitter at @serfman76

Great video guys keep them coming.