pine trees protect soil and crops from weather extremesHow to get answers to successful crop production

I hope everything is going well for each of you and hope you are getting plenty of rain. I have been listening to some of Dr. Reams' old cassette tapes on soils. The one I enjoyed most was his comments on the importance of Jesus in our daily lives and crop growing program. He was reminding me as I listened to the tape that man is not nearly as smart as he thinks.

First of all, man cannot make a seed, let alone get it to sprout without God. Man cannot bring the wind which helps the sap flow nor the rain. He only thinks he can sometimes.

Every once in a while I meet a person or persons who are blaming everyone but themselves for the problems they are having. I have found this person, or persons, to be out of tune with Jesus. It would be a good idea to get back on Jesus' team, for He holds the answers to successful crop production.

Whenever you make a decision, seek His advice first before seeking advice from any other source. I have been planning many soil programs lately for alfalfa, oats, corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, melons, snap beans and pasture grasses. I find this planning process a real challenge because it's so difficult to get all the details necessary to properly plan a program.

First and foremost in the planning process is the relationship of Jesus in one's life to an over-all plan. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that there is no long term sense of direction without Him. For many, the goal is how to milk the last nickel out of each acre without consideration about the future of that acre.

I recently had the privilege of visiting a family in Nebraska who, I think, were doing the right thing. Their grandfather had planted two rows of pine trees around a number of fields on their farm. Within the perimeter of the trees were nice, and quite peaceful, fields. The air was warmer in the spring and fall and cooler in mid-summer. The trees protected the soil and crops from weather extremes. It reminded me of an oasis in the middle of a barren desert.

Just think what would happen to this country if every farmer across America would do this on his farm. I think we would have a great change in attitude and a much nicer place to live. I challenge each of you to start something similar. Let's quit tearing out fence rows and trees to farm fence row to fence row - going like we are consumed with hopeless greed.

I wonder how many of us - if we really looked at what we are doing - could truthfully say that we are honoring Jesus rather than ourselves. I know many people become uneasy with comments like the above but I think it's needed to bring about true change and concern when we consider the current path many are on.

Dry fertilizer plans

I have often written about liquid programs for crops. This time we will look at some dry fertilizer plans for a couple of different crops.

Alfalfa

The following soil analysis is from an alfalfa field on a dairy farm that is currently getting 19,000 pounds of milk per cow. I am currently doing both the dairy and crop work on this farm.

Nitrate Nitrogen   15#/acre
Ammonial Nitrogen   0#/acre
Phosphate   50#/acre
Potash   180#/acre
Calcium   4485#/acre
Magnesium   335#/acre
pH Reading   6.9#/acre

alfalfaFirst let's look at a couple of problems with this analysis. Based on the analysis procedure used, I would like to see the phosphate reading higher than the potash reading. The reason I want this is to get a higher brix reading on the alfalfa, which translates into more milk and less pounds of feed.

Second, I would like to see the nitrate nitrogen reading at 40#/acre. I mapped out the folloiwng program to be applied as early as possible in the spring after the snow is gone.

Ammonium Sulfate 150#/acre
Sul-Po-Mag 1 OO#/acre
Mono Ammonium Phosphate 50#/acre
(11-52-0)

The ammonium sulfate and mono ammonium phosphate are both high energy fertilizers and will work well against the calcium in this soil. The sul-po-mag is used to help make copper available in this particular situation.

Since this newsletter is late I have recently checked on this field and find the alfalfa crop is doing excellent. Nearly 2/3 of the stems are solid and the owner is fairly sure he is getting more milk per pound of feed. I wish I could get this documented because I have heard this many times but haven't yet had documented proof.

It's very important when you use such a blend to have the calcium reading checked during the growing season to be sure it's holding. If it's not, apply 100#/acre of high quality ag lime after each cutting.

Barley

I have recently run across a barley program that impressed me quite a bit. It consisted of urea, mono ammonium phosphate and calcium sulfate. The area this was used on was in a heavy clay soil that is tight and has very poor drainage in some areas. They applied the following:

Urea dry 110#/acre
Mono Ammonium Phosphate 70#/acre
Calcium Sulfate 120#/acre

You can do very good with this kind of blend on a soil with most potash readings over 200#/acre. The calcium sulfate has a tendency to mellow a soil and reduce compaction. This allows the bacteria to go to work and make phosphate available to the growing plants.

Melons and potatoes

For those of you growing melons and potatoes it's time to get some chilean nitrate of potash on hand. This is an excellent product for potatoes and should be broad cast spread when the little potatoes are the size of marbles. Make plans to apply 200 - 300 pounds per acre. If there is adequate water this could increase yields 20 - 50%. This is also good for melon crops once the melons are set on the vine. It's always helpful if it's dry to water the chilean nitrate of potash in for maximum results.

D.L. Skow D.V.M.

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