Tall Waterhemp and Herbicide Resistant Marestail found in Northern NY

Mike Hunter, North Country Regional Ag Team, Cornell University Cooperative Extension

We knew that it was only going to be a matter of time before we found herbicide resistant tall waterhemp and marestail in NNY.  In July, we confirmed two fields on two different Jefferson County farms that have herbicide resistant marestail and three fields on one farm that has tall waterhemp seedlings.

Tall waterhempUpon further investigation and doing some additional field testing we have strong evidence to believe that the two marestail populations are resistant to both Group 9 (glyphosate, i.e. Roundup) and Group 2 (ALS herbicides, i.e. Classic, FirstRate) herbicide Sites of Action.  This finding is not surprising due to the fact that the seeds of marestail are windblown and can be easily moved 50 to 100 miles.

The tall waterhemp (see photo) was found in three adjacent fields on a farm in Jefferson County.  Prior to this finding there were nine counties in NYS with confirmed populations of herbicide resistant tall waterhemp. While we cannot be sure that the tall waterhemp found in Jefferson County is resistant to any particular herbicide.  We can certainly assume that it will be resistant to Group 9 herbicides based on the fact that all current populations of tall waterhemp in NY is known to be resistant to this herbicide family.  We are currently working closely with this grower and will be doing additional testing to confirm its resistance to different herbicide families.

For additional information about marestail and tall waterhemp, I would encourage you to read an article on pages four and five of the CCE NCRAT North Country Ag Advisor May 2019 newsletter https://nydairyadmin.cce.cornell.edu/pdf/newsletter/pdf216_pdf.pdf

If you suspect you have one of these weeds on your farm or have a weed that is surviving applications of glyphosate please contact your local CCE Field Crop Specialist if you’re outside NNY or one of the CCE North Country Regional Field Crop Specialists Mike Hunter (315)788-8450 or Kitty O’Neil (315)854-1218.  Don’t be afraid to bring this to our attention because we will keep farm name and field locations confidential.

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Immature and Variable Maturity Corn Silage for 2019

Kitty O’Neil, Ph.D, Field Crops & Soils Specialist and Team Leader – North Country Regional Ag Team, Cornell University Cooperative Extension

This has been a challenging year to grow corn in the North Country.  Extremely wet weather delayed or prevented field fitting and corn planting, and saturated soil conditions limited plant development in June and early July.  Despite this poor start, some corn fields look remarkably good, almost normal.  But most fields are weeks behind and may be sporting some version of the ‘rollercoaster’ look – with bare spots, replanted areas and plants of variable height and maturity.  Some fields, or parts of fields, will probably not reach full maturity while the best parts may.  Some corn plants will have normal ears; some plants may have unusually small ears or poor grain fill, or even no ears at all, at harvest time. Dr. Bill Cox at Cornell determined that corn requires 750 to 800 GDD86/50 from silking, to reach 32% moisture, nearly harvesting stage.  This variable maturity will present some problems when chopping silage in a few weeks.  Dr. Larry Chase from Cornell University has outlined some key points to keep in mind during corn silage harvest in this sort of year.  He makes 4 main points.

Late planted and thin corn field in St. Lawrence County, July 1, 2019.
Late planted and thin corn field in St. Lawrence County, July 1, 2019. Photo by K. O’Neil.

Yield will be highly variable and difficult to estimate. Dr. Greg Roth at Penn State suggests that silage yield for corn without ears or with poorly pollinated ears may be 1 ton of wet silage yield (30% DM) per foot of plant height. An older study at Cornell by Dr. Bill Cox indicates that silage yields at the dough stage are 65 to 70% of yields at the milk line stage.  In the same study, yields at the silk stage were 40 to 45% of those obtained at the milk line stage.

Some growers like to estimate yield and quality of standing corn so that it may be sold for silage before harvest.  Estimating yield of highly variable fields is risky.  It’s possible to weigh DM from sampled row lengths and calculate yield of the whole field, but the number of samples required for an accurate estimate in these variable fields is prohibitively high.  Instead, as fields are chopped, silage wagons or trucks should be counted and a representative sample of them should be weighed to calculate a more accurate yield and price.

Harvest management requires some additional planning and checking.  When the most mature plants in a corn field are at the proper dry matter (DM) content for harvest (32-24% DM), the less mature plants will be much wetter (less than 30%).  For fields with variable maturity, wait until the average whole plant DM for the field is 32-34% DM.  Harvesting wetter forage will increase runoff losses from the silage and make it difficult to get a good fermentation.  If possible, store immature corn silage separately from proper maturity silage.

Check chopper settings and particle size of the material coming out of the chopper. If using the Penn State box, target 10-20% on the top screen and < 40% in the pan. This may require increasing length of cut.  Since ear and kernel development on under-developed corn is poor, kernel processing may not be needed.  Follow normal silage management practices of filling fast, packing and covering the top with plastic or with oxygen limiting barriers.  Immature corn silage is generally high in readily available carbohydrates to support good fermentation, however, it may be low in the natural bacterial population entering the silo on the corn plant. The addition of a lactic acid-based inoculant may be beneficial to stimulate fermentation in this case.  Lastly, give the silo 3-4 months of fermentation before feeding out.

Estimating value for corn silage when it is so variable – is tough.  The sale price of variable maturity or immature corn silage will depend on yield, dry matter content and nutrient composition. Dr. Bill Weiss at Ohio State indicates that immature corn silage is worth about 85% of the economic value of normal corn silage – if it is the same dry matter content.  Dr. Larry Chase provides examples of price calculations that consider the Ohio State conversion and variable DM content.

If the value of “normal’ corn silage = $70/ton (assuming 35% DM), then the value of immature corn silage = $70 * 0.85 = $59.50 (still assumes 35% DM). If the actual dry matter of the immature corn silage is only 27%, then the adjusted price = 27/35 *$59.50 = $45.90/ton.  To ballpark the value of the standing crop, use 70% of the adjusted price. This would be $41.65 for this example of immature corn silage at 27% DM standing in the field.

Penn State researchers have developed a more detailed spreadsheet for pricing standing corn for corn silage based on the value of grain corn.

When using any of these methods for valuing corn for corn silage in 2019, consider that estimating yield of the standing crop may be the most uncertain component in your calculations.  Therefore it may be best to count and weigh trucks or wagons rather than estimate yield.

Nutritional value of this immature and variable crop will present another challenge. In addition to variable moisture content, nutrient composition of the corn silage will also vary with maturity, so periodically collect samples of the chopped forage during harvest to provide information on the nutrient content of the silage for use in ration balancing.  Less mature corn is likely to be higher in crude protein, higher in fiber, higher in sugar and lower in starch than normal corn silage.  Because the fiber in immature corn is more digestible, the energy value of immature silage may be 85-95% of normal, despite the significantly lower starch content.  A wet chemistry analysis may be more accurate than NIR analysis since NIR calibrations for normal corn silage may not accurately predict immature silage composition.

Work with your nutritionist to determine the best use for your variable maturity or immature corn silage.  You may decide to feed immature corn silage only to specific groups of cows or young stock depending on its nutrient composition. Immature corn silage can have higher acetic acid content after fermentation which can decrease dry matter intake if not neutralized. The addition of sodium bicarbonate added to the ration at 0.75% of total ration dry matter may help.

Additional resources:

    1. Working with Immature Corn Silage. August 2013. L. E. Chase, Cornell University.  http://www.ccenny.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Considerations-for-Working-with-Immature-Corn-Silage-2013.pdf.
    2. Pricing Standing Corn Spreadsheet. Beck et al.  Penn State Cooperative Extension.  http://www.ccenny.com/index.php/2013/08/22/pricing-standing-corn-for-silage-spreadsheet/

For more information about field crop and soil management, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or your CCE Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialists, Mike Hunter and Kitty O’Neil.

Kitty O’Neil Mike Hunter
CCE Canton Office CCE Watertown
(315) 854-1218 (315) 788-8450
kitty.oneil@cornell.edu meh27@cornell.edu

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Zinc Deficiency in Corn

Kitty O’Neil, Field Crops & Soils Specialist and Team Leader – North Country Regional Ag Team, Cornell University Cooperative Extension

Corn can exhibit interveinal chlorosis (striped leaves) as a result of several factors – nutrient deficiencies or other causes.  Many times, these stripes appear during a cold, wet spring and later disappear.

Nutrient deficiencies that can cause striped leaves include sulfur, manganese, magnesium and zinc.

  • Sulfur deficiency can occur on low organic matter, coarse soils receiving little or no manure or other organic inputs.
  • Manganese deficiency can occur when soils are dry for extended periods or in high pH soils.
  • Magnesium deficiency can occur in low pH, coarse soils or when soil K is especially high.
  • Zinc deficiency can occur in high pH, coarse, low OM soils – especially in a cold, wet spring.
  • Lastly, herbicide or nematode damage can cause striped leaves sometimes too.

On a typical NYS dairy farm where fields are have a reasonable pH and plenty of manure applied, early season striping in corn is usually caused by Zn deficiency caused by the cool, wet spring.  Striping often goes away as the season warms up and plants grow.  Tissue testing can help to diagnose a nutrient deficiency if the symptoms persist or are severe.

For a deeper dive into zinc deficiency, see the Nutrient Management Spear Program’s Fact Sheet #32.

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NNYADP-Funded Field Crop Survey Provides Real-Time Alert, Data Trend Tracking

 Growers hear from Cornell faculty and Extension educators at this NNY corn and soybean field day in Henderson, N.Y.
Growers hear from Cornell faculty and Extension educators at this NNY corn and soybean field day in Henderson, N.Y. Photo: NNYADP

To help Northern New York farmers be alert to newly emerging field crop diseases and trends, the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program funds an annual field crop diagnosis and assessment project. The data produced by the survey is critical to farmers locally and statewide.

The annual evaluations, revived in 2013, provide farmers with real-time alerts in the current growing season, and add to multi-year data tracking that identifies trends and indicates emerging and re-emerging challenges.

“Northern New York farmers are increasingly faced with important management decisions that require real-time knowledge of plant diseases. The regional survey provides data to help them select crop varieties with disease-resistance and plan management practices to most cost-effectively and efficiently respond to the current-day threats and year-to-year variability,” says project leader Michael E. Hunter, a Cornell University Cooperative Extension Regional Field Crops Specialist.

Hunter and Cornell University Cooperative Extension Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialist Kitty O’Neil collaborate with Cornell University Plant Pathologist Gary Bergstrom, Ph.D. to respectively detect potential issues and collect crop samples in the fields, and analyze them at the Bergstrom Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Thirty-two farms located across the six-county Northern New York region that includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties participated in the most recently-completed survey.

The NNYADP-funded survey also includes 19 sentinel cornfields and 18 sentinel fields of soybean, chosen to maximize the diversity of environments and cropping practices that can impact disease potential. In 2018, across the NNY survey area, seven corn diseases and six soybean diseases in total were identified and diagnosed.

“We are seeing an increasing number of growers using an integrated approach to managing field crop diseases on their farms. There are growers that are now paying closer attention to disease-resistant crop varieties, crop rotations, tillage practices, soil fertility management and fungicide selection based on the crop diseases identified in this regional survey,” Hunter notes.

The results of the 2019 field crops disease diagnosis and assessment survey will be posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org and disseminated to growers, crop consultants, agribusiness and extension field crops educators at crop meetings and field days locally and statewide.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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NNY Research Helps Farmers Select Corn for Local Conditions

People checking corn crop
Checking a past corn crop at Reedhaven Farm in Northern New York. Photo: NNYADP

The latest data from field research trials evaluating the opportunity to grow high-quality, high-yield corn under localized growing conditions are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

About 65 percent of the approximately 144,000 acres of corn grown each year across the six northernmost counties of New York State is harvested as silage with 35 percent harvested as grain, largely to feed the dairy industry. Ethanol production also contributes to the demand for the regionally-grown corn.

“The importance of corn silage as a high yielding, high quality feed for dairy cattle continues to increase as farmers look to optimize feed value from their available acreage,” said project co-leader Thomas R. Overton, a professor of Animal Science  and director of the Cornell University CALS PRO-DAIRY Program, Ithaca, N.Y.

The 2018 trials’ data analysis includes standard measures of performance, including yield, moisture level, and standability as well as innovative techniques for forage quality evaluation for digestibility and milk production. The forage quality data for the 2018 report were collected and analyzed by the field and laboratory research team that included Cornell University faculty, field technicians, and Extension staff working in cooperation with three farm sites in Northern New York.

“As the seed industry introduces new corn hybrids to the market, field evaluation under regional growing conditions is critical to assist growers in selecting the hybrids best-suited to their farm,” noted project co-leader Joseph Lawrence, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY Extension Associate, Lowville, N.Y.

The researchers emphasize the need for growers to make hybrid selections based on how the hybrids have performed over multiple years, multiple locations and soils, and under varying weather conditions, and based on the mix of corn traits that best fit their individual farm business needs.

“Corn grain is a valuable commodity in its own right and a major contributor to any hybrid’s silage quality and yield. Grain evaluation trials are typically the first step in determining a hybrid’s value to a regional market,” said project co-leader Margaret E. Smith, professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Corn hybrid testing results for 2018 and recent past years are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  Participating seed companies submitted hybrids for evaluation, helping to defray a portion of the cost of the hybrid evaluations.

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Expansion of Western Bean Cutworm Trapping Network Helps Protect NNY Crops

A Western bean cutworm moth nearly hidden in a leaf in a NNY corn crop in the summer of 2018. Photo: Michael E. Hunter

Northern New York is a hotspot for Western bean cutworm (WBC) primarily a pest in field corn, but one that can also impact legume and dry bean crops. With a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program grant, the Cornell Cooperative Extension North Country Region Ag Team expanded the WBC Trapping Network farther into the Northern New York region. Traps were added at locations in Clinton and Essex counties in 2018.

Northern New York trapping sites reported 22 of the highest 25 WBC moth trap catches for the state in 2018.

A report on the expansion of the WBC Trapping Network in Northern New York is posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

Data from the traps alerts growers to begin scouting their fields for the risk of WBC and corn ear damage by WBC larvae. Monitoring this pest facilitates early treatment intervention at lower levels of WBC and can help limit crop damage.

The WBC Trapping Network is a program of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. Pheremone traps are deployed to capture WBC moths in July and August. The trap catches are identified and counted to help indicate peak flight and fields at risk for WBC damage.

“Because trap counts can vary greatly over just a few miles’ distance, it was determined that placing more traps in Clinton and Essex counties was warranted,” says project leader Kitty O’Neil, Ph.D., a Cornell Cooperative Extension field crops and soils specialist.

“We saw differences from 470 moths in one trap to nearly 2,500, the highest for anywhere in the state, in another trap just 11 miles away one year. Western bean cutworm populations continue to increase in Northern New York, requiring close monitoring and future management of this insect pest to prevent yield and quality losses,” adds Michael E. Hunter, a Cornell Cooperative Extension field crops specialist.

Traps were deployed in 2018 in areas of dense corn production across Northern New York near Beekmantown, Champlain, Chazy, Ellenburg, Ellisburg, Moira, Mooers, North Lawrence, Peru, West Bangor, Westport, and Willsboro.

The traps will be deployed again in 2019. Growers can receive weekly e-bulletins from Extension and the NYSIPM 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.

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Corn and Alfalfa Growers: Plan to Apply NNY Nematode Biocontrol Now

A young farmer applies biocontrol nematodes to his alfalfa field using a farm-made applicator unit in Lewis County. Photo: Joe Lawrence

Northern N.Y., March 20, 2019.  New York corn growers can now reap the benefits of the long-term commitment made by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) to the research needed for managing the most destructive alfalfa crop pest. Not only does the science-built biocontrol nematode protocol significantly reduce alfalfa snout beetle populations, it also has shown management capacity for dealing with corn rootworm, wireworm, and white grubs.

“We are confident that dairy farmers who inoculate their fields with these biocontrol nematodes for management of alfalfa snout beetle or corn rootworm are also benefitting from reduced populations of wireworms and white grub insects,” Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields, Ph.D., Ithaca, N.Y., said.

The successful biocontrol nematode protocol developed by Shields and research technical Antonio Testa is now being applied to multiple crops in New York State and in multiple states.

More than 500,000 acres in New York State are known to have alfalfa snout beetle infestation. Shields’ research team estimates the total cost of alfalfa snout beetle left untreated on a farm  ranges from $300 to $600 per cow. The one-time cost of applying the biocontrol nematodes is approximately $30 per acre, plus any application costs.

Farmers interested in applying the biocontrol nematodes through the Shields Lab rearing program at Cornell have only a three-year window to do so. It requires three to five years to totally inoculate a farm to significantly reduce the alfalfa snout beetle populations. The Shields Lab will stop rearing the nematodes as part of its research program in 2021.

For more information on purchasing the biocontrol nematodes and information on proper application methods, growers should contact the Shields Lab at least 45 days prior to a planned application. Contact Tony Testa at 607-591-1493 or at28@cornell.edu. Farmers can also work through Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crops Specialists Kitty O’Neil and Mike Hunter, and Doug Zehr with the Lowville Farmers Co-Op.

Farmers interested in applying the biocontrol nematodes for corn rootworm management may be eligible to participate in a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grant for the next three years to receive reduced biocontrol nematode pricing on a limited basis. For more information, contact Mike Hunter at 315-788-8450 or Tony Testa at 607-591-1493 for details.

Research has shown that a single application of the biocontrol nematodes can persist for 10 years across an alfalfa-corn rotation and that the nematode population was higher after four years of corn than in alfalfa before the corn planting.

Since 2010, more than 20,000 acres of alfalfa in Northern New York have received a biocontrol nematode application.  At least one new nematode-rearing business enterprise was started as a result of the NNYADP-funded research and technical training on the biocontrol nematodes. Custom applicators in the region have also provided nematode application services.

The Shields Lab is available to work with anyone who would like to develop a business enterprise to supply nematodes to custom applicators or to farmers who wish to apply them on their own.

The NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org includes Shields’ research reports on development of the alfalfa snout beetle biocontrol solution, the results of NNYADP-funded field and laboratory trials developing alfalfa snout beetle-resistant alfalfa varieties, and more recent studies of the impact of the biocontrol nematodes on corn rootworm and on applying the biocontrol nematodes in liquid manure.

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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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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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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Reduced Tillage Handbook Now Available Free

A handbook for improving soil health in both organic and conventional vegetable, row crop, and small grain systems is now available at no charge from Cornell Cooperative Extension and partners that made possible a popular field day event that served as the basis for the handbook.

The Reduced Tillage Field Day Handbook is available free in the Horticulture: Vegetables section of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

“The field day was such a hit with the 70 people who attended and received the handbook that we are making the information available on a broader basis to encourage interest in soil health practices that reduce tillage intensity and mechanical soil disturbance. Over time, this helps maintain or increase crop yields, while reducing production costs due to reduced labor, equipment wear, and fuel use,” said field day organizer Amy Ivy, a vegetable specialist with the CCE Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program.

Highlights and excerpts from the 107-page handbook include:

  • 2018-2019 New York Soil Health Priorities and Plans
  • More than 60 percent of farmers who used reduced tillage or cover crops and responded to a New York Soil Health survey reported that flooding prevention, drought resilience and less erosion resulted from those practices.
  • Stacking tillage tools can save time for field preparation and reduce labor and fuel needs.
  • Cultivation is typically most effective for improving weed management with small weeds in dry, loose soil.
  • A project in Virginia is evaluating the potential for farmers to increase their use of cover crop rolling, which has been used successfully by individual farmers from Alabama to Pennsylvania but has yet to see widespread use in the U.S.
  • High-residue conservation tillage systems involve using large amounts of cover crop residue to suppress weeds, reduce soil erosion, and conserve soil moisture.

Although the event, held at the Willsboro Research Farm in Willsboro, N.Y., was targeted to meet organic grower expressed interest, the practices discussed in the handbook will also benefit conventional growers.

Materials are included from the field day presenters, including Bryan Brown of the New York State Integrated Pest Management program on managing weeds in small-seeded crops; Ryan Maher of the Cornell Small Farms Program on zone tillage systems; and John Wallace, Cornell University Specialty Crops Systems, on weed seedbank management.

The resource materials in the handbook consider crimpers, rollers, the biology of soil compaction, understanding microbes and nutrient recycling, caring for soil as a living system, and the use of reduced tillage and cover crops for organic and conventional vegetable production. Other sections look at how to avoid roller crimper problems, winter-hardy cover cropping, using cover crops to convert to no-till and no-till management for organic systems.

The handbook includes information from a variety of sources including Iowa State University, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio State University, Penn State Extension, the Rodale Institute, Rutgers University, the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Program, and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, New York Soil Health, and Lake Champlain Basin Program sponsored the Reduced Tillage summer field day event. The Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program, CCE Essex County, and the Cornell University Willsboro Research Farm coordinated the field day programming.

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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