Cornell Field Crops News

Timely Field Crops information for the New York Agricultural Community

May 9, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Resources for dealing with Spring Weather Delays

Resources for dealing with Spring Weather Delays

Cornell Cooperative Extension and PRO-DAIRY

The following article was written in 2011. With the wet weather much of New York State has been seeing this spring, we thought it would be helpful to re-visit the article again this year.

 

 

 

While the forecast still seems unsettled we are all hopeful that we are past the worst of the rain and can begin catch up on spring’s work.  Here we have attempted to summarize a variety of relevant topics as you consider how to best tackle all the work that needs to take place is a condensed time-frame.  As always contact your local Extension office for more information on any of these topics.

Safety First!

Harvest is a busy time for most farm operations. Time means money when it comes to yields, production schedules, and operating costs. However, time also ensures safety at harvest. The extra time it takes to perform a task properly can determine whether the job is completed at all. Harvest season comes with many stresses. Exposure to dangerous situations can increase the mental pressure, and your risk of injury. Follow safe practices around harvest equipment to make the most of your work time.  The most important goal this spring is to send all family members and employees home to their families SAFE … EVERYDAY!!

Planning and Team Work

With your condensed time window for key field activities this spring, the solution to accomplishing everything on time might come from a different way of thinking.  Consider the 5,000-foot view of the land that you and your neighbors work and think of the inventory of people and equipment potentially available to apply manure, fit fields, plant, harvest, haul, pack bunk, etc. for the collective land base.  Are there opportunities to share equipment and time even where you haven’t done so before?  Can you bring in equipment or a custom operator to take care of one activity while you focus on another? Does it make sense to use the 4-row planter when a 6-row is sitting idle a mile away?  Can you bring in extra help for milking?  Do you have any retired neighbors who could lend a hand with field work?

Consider gathering with your neighbors to strategize and to make sure that the most efficient equipment is fully utilized this year.  Remember: you and your neighbors are in the same boat, so you might as well paddle together!

Tillage and Impact on Wet Soil

While driving on and tilling wet soil may be somewhat unavoidable this spring, there is still an opportunity to reduce the amount of damage that is done.  Here is a summary of pointers from Tom Kilcer, Advanced Ag Systems, Kinderhook, NY:

  • Keep tillage shallow, in friable top soil not wet soil underneath.
  • Utilize vertical tillage, avoid equipment such as disks that simply smear and ruin the structure of wet soils.
  • Minimize weight whenever possible (fertilizer hoppers, etc.).
  • Make sure wheels on planter tractor are offset and not compacting the corn rows.
  • Check the seed furrow when planting: if planter is smearing sidewalls, it is too wet to plant.
  • Pay extra attention to seed placement and row cover by planter.

Park the Corn Planter when 1st Cutting is Ready!

The window of opportunity for high quality hay forage is 1-3 days. Window of opportunity to plant corn is April 25 to June 1 = 36 days.  The harvest opportunity for corn is corn silage or snaplage or HMSC or dry shell or ear corn.

First cut is 40% of yield in 3 cut system. Delaying cutting alfalfa past optimum first-crop harvest timing reduces the quality. Subsequent crops are then also delayed, making timely harvest of the last crop before fall more difficult. It is important to get that first cut off somehow. If forage inventory is good, consider alternative storage options to feed to heifers or just chop poor quality forage back onto the field. Do you really need all of it? Re-growth is critical for a 3 cut system.

To go from ideal alfalfa of 20% CP, 30% ADF, and 40% NDF, to 17 – 34 – 45, takes only 5 or 6 days! Obviously, poor quality forage does not have the same milk producing potential.

What nutrient changes can you expect in alfalfa due to advancing maturity?

  • Decreased intake – due to higher NDF, which increases about 0.9% per day.
  • Decreased digestibility and energy value – due to higher ADF, which increases about 0.7% per day and a larger amount of lignin, which is indigestible.
  • Decreased protein – decreases about 0.5% per day.

How much does it cost me to delay harvest? A lot! For each unit of NDF increase past 40% NDF for will:

  • Need: increased energy and protein supplements.
  • Have: lost production from the effect of lower NDF digestibility on dry matter intake.

Filling rates by total tractor weights chartTips for haylage harvest:

  • DO NOT ensile haylage wetter than 30% (target 32-40% DM). You all will be in a hurry to get haylage in the silos. Haylage wetter than 30% will have a greater chance of clostridia fermentation and butyric acid production.
  • Do NOT chop alfalfa WET!
  • Do INOCULATE at the forage harvester!
  • DO ADD another PACK tractor or weight to existing tractors.
  • Consider harvest strategies such as HAY IN A DAY to lower weather risk and improve forage quality. Hay in a Day YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSsQvVga6tw
  • Keep windrows up off the ground to minimize soil contamination at harvest.

Alfalfa height at optimum mixed stand NDF graphIssues with wet haylage:

  • Reduced intake
  • Potential health problems -ketosis
  • And for problems to get worse with time
  • Dispose of silage with very high (>2%) butyric acid content
  • Bad silage can be good fertilizer.

Don’t fill your storage with poor first cutting.  You’ll feel duty-bound to feed out even as it depresses production, cash flow and you.

1st Cutting is just around the Corner

Despite the wet start to the season, we have had more heat than many think.  So even though other aspects of springs work are behind the hay is not, with reports from around NYS showing that it is on track for this time of May.  So take the time to check those hayfields starting now!

Inoculants to Minimize Risk with Haylage Made Under Adverse Conditions?

The probability you may be forced into putting up at least some of 1st crop wetter than you would like has gone up with near-normal relative maturity for the date (5/5/11) and saturated soils. Having an effective forage inoculant on hand with a track record of pushing fermentation towards “normal” and away from “clostridial” is good risk management.

Manufacturers and suppliers of inoculants practice supply and demand risk management. They cannot afford to be hung out to dry with pallets full of unsold/unused product. There is only so much product available beyond the pre-orders taken during the winter. If you act fast you may have a shot at some supply.

Effective inoculant? Not much controlled research is done testing inoculants under these known (wet) adverse conditions. Yet we seem to face them more often than we’d like. Check the literature that was dropped off by the representative. Look for actual forage analyses of wet haylage put up under actual farm conditions within the past 5 years with their inoculant.           Make sure it was truly “wet”, in the 28 – 34% dry matter range (or worse).  A slow, cold clostridial fermentation consumes energy, creates intake-depressing butyric acid and breaks down the nitrogen in protein to ammonia.  If use of the inoculant was a financial “win” for the farm, these key measures will serve as gauges.  pH < 4.5, Lactic Acid > 2 (alfalfa) – 3 (grass), Acetic Acid < 2 (alfalfa) – 3 (grass), Butyric Acid < 0.1 and Ammonia as % of N < 15.

Is It Too Late for Spring Forage Seedings?

Wet soil conditions and delayed field work have prompted questions on how late alfalfa or clover/grass seedings can be made.  The typical spring planting window is April through early May for NNY.  Early June is not an ideal time to establish new seedings.  The warm soil temperatures and hot weather will bring on large flushes of annual weeds, putting the new forage seedlings at a disadvantage. Consider shifting seedings to early August.  In the meantime if you need tonnage you can put in an annual crop after hay is harvested.

If oats are used as a companion crop, their rate of seeding should be reduced to half of normal (or even eliminated) with May seedings.

When is it Time to Stop Planting Corn Altogether?

Effect on yeild of delayed planting of corn by hybrid maturityHere is a graph showing the effect on yield of delayed planting according to hybrid maturity.  Unfortunately I don’t think there is enough seed available for many farms to be able to switch out their longer season hybrids for short ones at this point.  While it is important to keep hybrid maturity in mind, there are a number of other factors you need to consider for your farm.  Here are a few of the considerations that may apply:

  • Hybrid Maturity you ordered/have on hand
  • Forage Inventories
  • Ability to store and segregate different forages
  • Capacity/ability of your landbase

Excerpt from: 2011 Cornell Guide For Integrated Field Crop Management
To achieve the full yield potential of an early planting date, full-season hybrids (hybrids that match the growing degree days in a region) are necessary. After the first or second week of May, however, the yield potential of full-season hybrids decreases appreciably. Furthermore, full-season hybrids may not mature in the fall if planted after the second week of May. Therefore, for grain production, full-season hybrids should be planted only in late April or the first 10 days of May. For silage production, full-season hybrids can be planted until mid-May. The majority of corn acreage should be planted to medium-season hybrids (200 growing degree days less than the growing degree days in a region). If planting must be delayed until late May or early June, early-season hybrids are recommended.

Corn planted after late June will be sloppy wet and hard to deal with at harvest and feedout.

Warm Season Annual Forage Crops

Warm season annual forage crops provide additional forage when perennial forages are in short supply.  While some farmers include them as part of their regular cropping system, many plant them for emergency forage crops.  Delayed spring planting and following winterkilled alfalfa are situations where these crops fit on the farm.

Most warm season annual forage crops can be planted anytime between early June and mid July.  There are many warm season annual forage crops that can be successfully grown in Northern New York.  Teff and brown midrib (BMR) sorghum sudangrass are two warm season annual grasses that are well suited to our region.

Teff is a warm season annual grass that can be grown for hay, silage or pasture.  Despite the fact that there has been very little teff grown in NNY, local research has demonstrated that it has the potential to produce high quality forage under proper management.  See Agronomy Factsheets “Teff as an Emergency Forage” http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu/guidelines/factsheets.html

In a one cut system, 1.5 to 2 tons DM per acre are expected, while in a 2 to 3 cut system, dry matter yields range from 3.3 to 4.9 tons per acre.  When harvested at the proper time and sufficient nitrogen applied, crude protein will generally be between 15 and 16% of dry matter.

Brown Midrib Sorghum Sudangrass (BMR SxS) is a low lignin, highly digestible, warm-season, annual grass.  It can be high yielding but harvest management can be an issue given its high moisture content. See Agronomy Factsheet “Brown Midrib Sorghum Sudangrass, Part 1” http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu/guidelines/factsheets.html

Dry matter yields of 3 to 5.5 tons per acre are expected and when harvested at the proper time with sufficient nitrogen applied, crude protein will generally be between 15 and 16% of dry matter.

Warm season annual forages can provide needed forage at key times during the year and have been used successfully by producers for many years.  In addition to Teff and BMR SxS, other options include Spring Grains, Buckwheat and Japanese Millet. Several factors should be considered before planting any crop.  If you have any questions about growing summer annuals contact your local Extension office.

 

Contributors:

John Conway and Janice Degni, South Central NY Dairy & Field Crops Team

Mike Hunter and Ron Kuck, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County

Frans Vokey and Joe Lawrence, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County

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October 16, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNYADP Research Advancing Dairies’ Whole Farm Nutrient Efficiency

NNYADP Research Advancing Dairies’ Whole Farm Nutrient Efficiency

Northern NY farm scene; photo: Michele LeDoux

Northern New York dairy farmers are using a whole-farm nutrient mass balance software tool to identify opportunities to improve their farmwide use of nitrogen phosphorus, and potassium. The ultimate goal is enhancing watershed and agricultural stewardship while simultaneously increasing on-farm efficiency, milk production and crop yield.

Farms participating in an assessment of the use of the software statewide have adjusted management practices over the last decade, resulting in an estimated 25 to 30 percent decrease in the import of nitrogen and phosphorus, without a decrease in milk production.

With funding support from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, director of the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., leads the research and extension project that is using the whole-farm management approach to help farmers evaluate opportunities to reach optimal balance.

“We are working with farmers and farm advisors on whole farm nutrient mass balance assessments to help identify opportunities for better nutrient use and to document improvements over time. The ultimate goal is to be both economically viable and environmentally sustainable,” said Ketterings.

The whole-farm nutrient mass balance software tool allows farmers to compare the nutrient imports in feed, fertilizer, animals, and bedding brought onto the farm with the nutrients exported off the farm as milk, crops, animals, and manure. The difference is called the farm balance that can be presented as a plus or minus balance per acre of cropland or per hundredweight of milk produced.

Practices that help increase nutrient use efficiency include increasing on-farm forage production of higher quality forages; better distribution of manure on the farm’s land base; improving feedbunk management; adjusting feed rations to meet varying nutritional needs of calves, heifers, and milking cows; and other changes that result in better use of nutrients across the farm.

“A number of farms have shown tremendous progress in nutrient use efficiency over time by adjusting management practices that reduce imports such as feed and/or fertilizer, by better aligning crop and animal nutrient needs, and supplying nutrients only as needed to eliminate excesses and losses,” Ketterings said.

With grants from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and other funders, Ketterings and her team have developed feasible mass balance ranges for New York dairy operations, using actual balances from commercial dairy farms in New York. Farms operating outside the optimal operational zone most likely have opportunities to improve their nutrient use efficiency.

Farmers interested in learning more about whole-farm nutrient mass balance assessment will find information on the Nutrient Management Spear Program website at http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu/NYOnFarmResearchPartnership/MassBalances.html.  Farmers can download an input sheet to submit to Ketterings and her team for confidential review.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.

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September 25, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on 2018 Corn Data Feeds Yield Mapping Efficiency for Northern NY, Northeast Farms

2018 Corn Data Feeds Yield Mapping Efficiency for Northern NY, Northeast Farms

NNY corn field; photo: Quirine Ketterings

Data from the 2018 corn harvest on Northern New York farms will contribute to yield-based zone management for corn growers and evaluation of yield potentials for New York soil types statewide.

Zone-based management and yield mapping present the opportunity to better allocate resources to save on expense, time, and labor, and to reduce environmental loss of nutrients not taken up by the crop or soil.

Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, Director of the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., leads crop production enhancement research funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. Using data from four farms in NNY and eight other farms statewide, Ketterings and her team of collaborators are evaluating nitrogen management for farm specific, field-specific stability zones.

Farmer participation is essential to identifying yield limitations and developing strategies that make best use of resources like manure and fertilizer. Our goal is to find ways to improve yield and nutrient use and reduce the risk of nutrient loss to the environment at the same time,” Ketterings said.

A minimum of three years of data from yield monitors on harvesting equipment is needed since stability zones are farm-specific and field-specific and are based on farm average and variability over a period of three or more years. Yield data from all fields in the same year are used to determine farm yield averages and variability in yield over the three-or-more-year timeframe.

Yield stability zone mapping is evaluated to identify in which zones farm resources can be best allocated for the biggest return on investment. Zone-based allocation applies to the use of manure and fertilizer, seed density, crop variety, and other factors.

With yield data of three or more years for a field, a map can be created with four zones. This mapping allows us to evaluate where to invest limited resources,” said Ketterings.

She notes the current focus of the zone mapping is on nitrogen management, but this zone-management approach can be expanded to other nutrients, manure application method and tillage decisions, variety selection, population densities, foliar applications, and other production considerations.

The goal is to identify when and where we could expect a yield response, and to identify what we can do to elevate yields in the areas not yielding as much or very variable in yield over time,” Ketterings added.

Ketterings’ work on the use of yield monitor data included the development of a protocol for obtaining and cleaning corn harvest data collected by the yield monitor systems that are increasingly used on regional farms. The data cleaning process is as important as field calibration of the yield monitors.

This regional research funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is part of a statewide effort.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.

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December 6, 2017
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Adapt-N Technology Acquired by Global Company

Adapt-N Technology Acquired by Global Company

It was announced on November 6, 2017 that Yara International ASA completed the acquisition of Agronomic Technology Corporation (ATC) which operates Adapt-N, a Cornell-developed technology that helps farmers optimize N fertilizer use. Yara is a Norway-based leader in the fertilizer industry and the largest global manufacturer of synthetic nitrogen with a retail presence in 160 countries. The acquisition of ATC is in line with Yara’s strategy to accelerate its investments in digital farming and sustainability.

History of Adapt-N at Cornell University

Adapt-N is Cloud-based technology platform that provides field-specific nitrogen recommendations for corn by simulating the nitrogen cycle utilizing soil, weather, crop, and field management data. It was developed at Cornell University and first launched in 2008.  Lead inventor Harold van Es and colleagues Jeff Melkonian and Art DeGaetano worked with teams of  researchers, farmer collaborators, extension staff, crop consultants and graduate students to test the tool in over 200 on-farm trials in several states with the support of federal, state, and foundation funding. With this, the economic and environmental benefits of Adapt-N were documented, showing that it can improve profits while reducing environmental losses.

In 2013 Cornell University licensed the Adapt-N technology to ATC, a New York and California based startup company, which greatly expanded its reach through significant software improvements and professional marketing. In the past years Adapt-N operated as a “public-private partnership” where Cornell advanced the research agenda and ATC focused on the commercial aspects and making it broadly available.  The tool is being expanded to other crops and geographies, which will now be significantly accelerated with Yara’s global footprint and knowledge. Yara has a strong commitment to sustainability (yara.com/sustainability/) and plans to continue collaboration with Cornell University.  This will further advance digital agriculture along with opportunities to scale the tool globally, innovate across a wider product portfolio and crop base, and maintain focus on the success and sustainability of farmers and those who support them.  To learn more about the acquisition, please visit globenewswire.com

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October 23, 2017
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Northern NY Research Tests Corn-Rye Double Cropping Yield, Conservation Opportunities

Northern NY Research Tests Corn-Rye Double Cropping Yield, Conservation Opportunities

Could this cornfield support a winter crop? Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded research is testing corn-rye combination yield, conservation opportunities.

Harvested cornfields may look barren, but in some a winter-hardy crop is already growing. The results of field trial research funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program evaluating the opportunity to grow winter rye planted in Northern NY cornfields are posted at www.nnyagdev.org.

W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, N.Y. Is leading the double cropping research. A second of trials assessed the yield and quality of the two crops grown on the same acreage and the opportunity for conservation benefits.

‘Our field work in both years suggests that the presence of the rye cover crop reduced losses of nitrogen and phosphorus in field surface runoff,’ said project leader and Miner Institute Agronomist Eric O. Young.

‘Double cropping with rye and corn silage may be a good fit for farms in Northern New York looking to increase hay forage production while reducing nutrient losses,’ Young added.

Overwintering forage crops such as winter rye, also known as cereal rye, germinate at cooler temperatures and are hardy against Northern New York cold and snow.

‘Establishing a winter forage crop such as rye or triticale after corn silage harvest can reduce soil erosion and improve soil health, and can potentially supply a hay forage crop for spring harvest, but attention to management and the right growing conditions are needed,’ said Young.

The research team has developed insight into practices that could improve the opportunity for yield from both the corn silage crop and the winter rye crop.

The 2016 trials showed that planting corn for silage following a winter rye crop can decrease the corn yield significantly. The corn silage yields were approximately four tons per acre lower in the winter rye plots that year,’ Young said.

He suspects that rye actively growing when the corn was planted in the 2016 trial and no-till planting to establish the corn crop likely exacerbated a yield penalty associated with the rye.

In the 2017 trials, rye and control plots were disked prior to planting corn and there was no significant difference in corn yield.

Young suggests that the rye should be terminated two weeks prior to planting corn in combination with some level of tillage to increase the rye biomass decomposition and allow for easier planting and more consistent planting depth for the corn.

This project is taking advantage of small field plots equipped with tile and surface monitoring capability funded earlier by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. Those plots were used to evaluate the impact of tile drains on phosphorus loss and will assist the double cropping project by indicating how the winter rye impacts the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus in field runoff.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides research and technical assistance to farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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June 30, 2017
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Oneida County Scouting Report – June 30, 2017

Oneida County Scouting Report – June 30, 2017

This week’s crop report (PDF).

The main issue is potato leaf hopper numbers over threshold in heavy alfalfa fields.
 
The second major issue is the potential for DON in wheat this year. Setting combines to blow out infected kernels and sampling for DON analysis.

Many soybean fields will need herbicide application soon

Many corn fields will need to be side dressed with N soon.

Jeffrey J. Miller
Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County
Ag Program Leader
Agronomist
315-269-5599
jjm14@cornell.edu
121 Second St., Oriskany, NY 13424

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August 26, 2016
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on First Micro-Nutrient Database for NNY Soybean Growers Established by Farmer-Driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Project

First Micro-Nutrient Database for NNY Soybean Growers Established by Farmer-Driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Project

Field day participants scout a Northern New York soybean field for pests with J. Keith Waldron of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. Photo: Northern New York Agricultural Development Program/Kara Lynn Dunn

Field day participants scout a Northern New York soybean field for pests with J. Keith Waldron of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. Photo: Northern New York Agricultural Development Program/Kara Lynn Dunn

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has funded the first systematic assessment of the micro-nutrient status of soybeans in northern New York State.

To support optimal production of soybeans, an increasingly popular crop in the northern New York, the two-year project has begun establishing a database of critical crop nutrients for the six-county region that includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

In 2015, plant samples collected from 39 soybean fields located across 29 farms on the west side of the region were analyzed by the Analytical Laboratory and Maine Soil Testing Service in Orono, ME, for boron, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc levels.

The project team was most interested in learning manganese levels as application of common herbicide can decrease availability of the nutrient to plants causing growers to sometimes over-apply manganese.

The complete first-year results of the project are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

In 2016 the project includes collecting soil samples and field histories with plant samples, and evaluating soybean response to various levels of manganese application. The additional data will begin to identify the impact that such factors as soil type, planting date, soybean variety, soil pH, or manure or fertilizer applications may have on soybean nutrient levels.

More than 100 farmers help guide research project selection for small grant funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. NNY economic impact reports, project results and resources are online at www.nnyagdev.org.

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March 14, 2016
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on ‘Measure’ is Message from Cornell Crop Nutrient Researcher at NNYADP Meetings

‘Measure’ is Message from Cornell Crop Nutrient Researcher at NNYADP Meetings

Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, director of the Cornell University Nutrient Management Spear Program, Ithaca, NY, and Dr. Eric Young, research agronomist, W. H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, NY, presented information on their current Northern New York Agricultural Development Program projects at the annual NNYADP meetings in February. Ketterings is conducting a corn yield potential study, evaluating crop sensor and yield monitoring technology, considering winter cereal crop production to boost emergency forage supply, and beginning a study of forage sorghum in rotation with winter cereals. Youngs’ NNYADP project work is focused on the crop production and environmental benefits of tile drainage. Photo: NNYADP

Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, director of the Cornell University Nutrient Management Spear Program, Ithaca, NY, and Dr. Eric Young, research agronomist, W. H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, NY, presented information on their current Northern New York Agricultural Development Program projects at the annual NNYADP meetings in February. Ketterings is conducting a corn yield potential study, evaluating crop sensor and yield monitoring technology, considering winter cereal crop production to boost emergency forage supply, and beginning a study of forage sorghum in rotation with winter cereals. Youngs’ NNYADP project work is focused on the crop production and environmental benefits of tile drainage. Photo: NNYADP

‘Measure yield’ is the number one thing growers can do to help themselves improve crop production that Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings told farmers attending the 2016 Northern New York Agricultural Development Program annual meetings.

‘To improve management of crops, we have to do a better job with measuring yield and crop response. Field-to-field and year-to-year management records are needed for an analysis of what management alternatives can enhance versus limit crop production,’ said Ketterings, director of the Cornell University Nutrient Management Spear Program.

‘Northern New York has seen an upward trend in corn silage and grain production since World War II due to advances in plant breeding in production efficiencies. Yet, challenging weather and field-to-field variability of soil, drainage, and management practices all continue to limit production,’ Ketterings noted.

She encouraged farmers to measure yields and participate in NNYADP field trials to help build a database that can be used to determine what influences production and which practices can be effective in overcoming limitations, given the unique growing conditions, soils and climate of the northern NY region.

‘We get the most relevant data when we gather it on your farms. The farmers that have participated in our whole farm nutrient mass balance assessments over the years have shown there is both an opportunity and feasibility to improve production while reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture,’ Ketterings concluded.

Ketterings has conducted vital crop production, nutrient management, and agricultural environmental stewardship research in Northern New York for many years. She presented the scope of her current work in the region at meetings in Chazy and Watertown. Her projects include a corn yield potential study, evaluation of Greenseeker and yield monitoring technology, winter cereal crop production to boost emergency forage supply, and, in 2016, a new study of forage sorghum in rotation with winter cereals.

Corn Project Initiated in NNY Now Statewide
The corn yield potential project initiated in Northern New York is now statewide.

‘The corn yield potential study is one example of a project where Northern New York took the initiative and leads the rest of the state with its focus on research,’ Ketterings commented.

For the corn yield study, the three-year average yield across all fields in the study to date equaled the yields documented in the Cornell yield potential database. Yet, about 25 percent of the fields averaged corn yields that were 10 percent or more above the yield potentials listed in the Cornell database.

‘Our followup work is to understand under what conditions we obtain such higher yields and when yields are below potential, and to understand if higher yielding fields need to managed differently, specifically for nutrient management,’ Ketterings explained.

More information on the NNYADP corn yield research project is posted at www.nnyagdev.org.

Crop Sensors, Winter Cereals, Forage Sorghum Under Evaluation
Northern New York farms are participating in Ketterings’ work evaluating the use of crop sensors to determine optimal nitrogen application during the growing season. Early field results that included multiple scans throughout the season indicate the best window for crop sensing is the V7 stage of plant growth.

A general conclusion from her analysis of return on investment with winter cereals is that double cropping properly managed can pay off on the right fields. The Winter Forage Small Grains to Boost Feed Supply: Not Just a Cover Crop Anymore report is posted at www.nnyagdev.org.

A new NNYADP-funded project in 2016 will evaluate the use of brachytic dwarf BMR forage sorghum as a shorter growing season option versus corn silage under Northern NY growing conditions. Questions include whether sorghum can compete with corn silage when late planted and harvested early. Data from three NNY sites in 2016 will be added to field trial results from eight sites in central and eastern NY.

‘Based on results to date, we think forage sorghum can compete with corn silage for yield and quantity in dairy production systems in Northern NY and in the Northeastern U.S.,’ Ketterings said. ‘The trials in 2016 will tell us what is feasible.’

More Crop Production Tips
Ketterings also suggested managing fields for soil conservation, organic matter, optimal fertility and pH; not basing decisions on just one year of data; and conducting a whole farm nutrient balance. The latter is a simple assessment of the difference between nutrients imported through feed, fertilizer, bedding and animals versus the nutrient exported through milk, animals, crops and manure. Knowing the difference, i.e., the balance, has resulted in improvements in nutrient use efficiency over time. As such the whole farm nutrient mass balance is another tool that illustrates the power of measuring for improvement management.

More than 100 farmers provide input to the NNYADP on dairy, crops, fruit, greenhouse, livestock, maple and vegetable production.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. NNYADP economic impact reports, project reports, resource links, and NNY events are posted on nnyagdev.org.

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June 16, 2015
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNYADP Farm Research Evaluating Why Some Corn Fields Exceed Yield Expectations

NNYADP Farm Research Evaluating Why Some Corn Fields Exceed Yield Expectations

Ketterings2014cornfield3003

Photo Credit: Quirine M. Ketterings

With research in the past 10 years showing notable exceptions in how well predictions of corn yield potential matched actual yields on North Country farms, the farmers of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program wanted to learn more about the factors influencing the beyond-expectations success.

For science based, real time, on farm data, the NNYADP provided grant funding to Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, director of the Cornell University Nutrient Management Spear Program in 2013-2015.

Ketterings and the Nutrient Management Spear Program are known for applied research that helps New York farmers more efficiently use the nutrients available in manure, crop rotations, and purchased fertilizer to support crop production and agricultural environmental stewardship.

Newer varieties of corn are higher yielding, as seen in the increase in average corn silage and grain yields in New York State over the past decades. Higher-yielding cornfields, however, do not necessarily require more nitrogen to obtain higher yields. Variations in management, soils, and many other factors impact actual nitrogen need.

‘The farmers were asking if higher yielding varieties require more nitrogen and that generated the idea to evaluate actual corn yields on Northern New York fields and to combine that with an assessment of nitrogen management,’ Ketterings explains.

In 2013 and 2014, Ketterings worked with farmers and farm advisors in Northern New York to compare actual corn yields with yield expectations based on the Cornell Soils Database that is itself the basis for Cornell’s nitrogen application guidelines.

The average yield across 36 cornfields in NNY for 2013 and 2014 combined was 113 bushels per acre, four bushels less than the average yield potential for all sites in the project. However, 25 percent of the 36 cornfields evaluated yielded more than 110 percent of the Cornell yield potential.

With a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program grant for 2015 work, Ketterings will evaluate yield potential using new field technology to gather data on three levels: per farm, per field, and within a field. The results are expected to contribute to the updating of the Cornell corn yield database.

‘The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program research is helping us develop an adaptive N management approach that allows for changes over time to build more precise management guidelines,’ Ketterings says.

The technology Ketterings is using in 2015 includes an optical sensor that evaluates corn plant vigor throughout the growing season based on changing field conditions.

‘It is too early to make changes to the Cornell Soils Database. With participation in this project by a large number of Northern New York farms, we can generate the database needed to support changes,’ Ketterings adds.

Ketterings suggests more farmers get involved in the project, invest in equipment that allows them to actually measure field yields, and share their yield data with the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program project leader.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a farmer-driven research and technical assistance program serving Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by New York State Senate leadership and is administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. For more information on crop production in Northern New York, visit www.nnyagdev.org.

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March 18, 2015
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Crop Alert: Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team – 3/18/2015

The first Crop Alert from the Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Team for the 2015 season has been posted.  Topics include:

  • Evaluating Winter Small Grain and Alfalfa Winter Damage
  • Early Nitrogen On Winter Small Grains
  • Frost Seeding Legumes & Grasses

Download it here.

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