Tomatoes: Farm and Garden

tomatoesGrowing a quality tomato without the use - or with limited use - of herbicides and insecticides is a very challenging and difficult task

I recently visited with a tomato grower who had potato beetles in his tomatoes. The set plants came already infested with the beetle eggs. Once we got-enough energy in the soil and the brix reading high enough in the plants, the potato beetles marched right out of the field.

This approach to pest management is completely different from the spray insecticide approach. One of the main things that I emphasize in the winter seminars is monitoring the soil energy to keep the plants strong enough to resist pests and diseases. The test used to measure soil energy is called the Ergs test. This test involves taking equal measures of soil and deionized water, mixing them together and then taking a reading with the probe of a conductivity meter which determines the micromhos per centimeter.

Two Fields Compared

Problem being addressed

field comparisonA new client came to my office recently bringing two soil samples from two different fields. Each field consisted of 65 acres and has been in corn soybean rotation for ten plus years. The fields have been ridge-tilled since 1980.

Soil samples on these fields have been tested every year for over 20 years. The test results come back nearly the same each year with fertilizer recommendations also the same for each field. This had the owner a little concerned.

Every time the soils have been tested he has told the fertilizer people that field #1 always has 30-40 bushels less corn than field #2, yet both fields get the same fertilizer recommendations.

When he asked me to run a test I quizzed him about drainage conditions. He feels the fields are equal. The slope and soil types are identical. He also said this problem has existed for 30 years and no one has been able to tell him why.

Understanding Your Soil

understanding your soilWhy change my current farming fertility practices?

Every once in a while I am asked why should I bother to change my current farming fertility practices. I used to get pretty excited about a question such as this and would really light into a person. Then I realized they simply did not understand the consequences of their fertility practices. Now I like to take the time to explain the long term consequences of their actions. I also encourage them to start with small changes.

The need for reconsideration of fertility practices is best explained by the following case history. A friend of mine recently visited with a German farmer. He was spreading a lot of manure on his land which the American could not understand. The American asked how he could afford to do this. The German replied we cannot afford not to.

Yield Data

Yield DataInside This Issue

  • Varieties To Note
  • Plot Data East Chain
  • Plot Data Winnebago
  • WayAhead 7X





zwitterionWhat does this word have to do with agriculture?

For an old farmer like me, this sounds like a foreign language. Being an old farmer isn’t always bad. I have taken many things apart just to see how it works. That is what compelled me to sneak up on this word and do some investigation.

A zwitterion is a hybrid

That’s a word we farmers understand. Now we know it can’t be all bad. If it is a hybrid it must be a mixture of something and that is true. A zwitterion is an ion that carries both a positive and negative charge. Make a mental note of the last statement because this is the most unusual thing about a zwitterion.

We at International Ag Labs have always stressed the importance of putting a mixture of different products together in our nitrogen solutions to stabilize them. This has been very successful for our producers that do not farm organically. We have been able to lower our nitrogen requirements for corn from 1.2 lbs per bushel to .6 to .7 lbs per bushel. The products in this nitrogen mixture have always been dictated to us by the results of a soil test. It also determines the ratios of products in the mixture. Our goal in making this mixture was always to end up with a simple amino acid solution.

Wendell Owens

of International Ag Labs

Wendell Owen

Newsletter Signup

Sign up here to receive the International Ag Labs newsletter and updates: