Posts Tagged With: Cover Crops

Next Year starts NOW!

I’m sure many of you are reading this in the combine. And that’s okay! What you do this fall “sets the table” for success in 2017, and we can help you set the table with both products and discounts!

15% Cash Discount* on all Dramm Fish products
10% Cash Discount* on all other AgriEnergy products**

With years and years of experience, we can help you figure out several timely issues on your farm:

  • Residue Management
  • Fall Seeding
  • Fertility for Fall Crops
  • Cover Crops
  • Preparing Forages and other Perennials for dormancy
  • Soil Testing

And, be sure to ask us specifically about the benefits of our biologicals in the fall:

  • Residuce®
  • SP-1™
  • Myco Seed Treat®

There’s still time to set the table for 2017! 

*Cash Discount applies to product delivered by November 1, and paid for within 10 days of invoice receipt
**Discount does NOT apply to commodities or pesticides

Categories: AER Events, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Plant16 has started

Twitter and Facebook reports are indicating 2016 corn planting has started in western Illinois in Pike County.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 3.36.26 PM

While many of us are still waiting on temperatures to warm up, here are a few important tips to remember for early corn plantings :

  • Wait until soil temperature reaches 50° F. Keep your eye on the 7-day forecast and fight the urge to jump the gun!
  • If that forecast includes moisture, be wary. Planting within 24 hours of a cold rain will likely lead to imbibitional chilling, a condition that will harm germination when the seed absorbs cool water.
  • For optimum yields, remember to plant your corn at the correct depth for proper root development and consider a dry seed treatment (Myco Seed Treat®) containing beneficial fungi and bacteria.
  • If you’re tilling under corn stalks, cover crops, or alfalfa, use Residuce to turn yield-robbing residue into a yield-enhancing asset with accelerated nutrient cycling.
  • If some of your fields are marginal in calcium, or the calcium isn’t very soluble, consider a quick broadcast trip with Practi-Cal and SP-1™.

Last but not least, consider putting biology in your planter – Myco Seed Treat®, SP-1™, or Bio Aid WS. These products at planting can help get your crops off to the right start by cycling essential nutrients around the seed as it germinates, sprouts, and develops a root system.

We’d love to help you get all of your crops off to the right start. Give us a call today! 

Categories: Fun in the Field | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AgriEnergy Resources Conference Giveaway

ACRES U.S.A. Conference is right around the corner and this year we are giving away 2 passes to ACRES to one lucky farmer, which will also guarantee a travel voucher for 2 (travel & lodging) to AgriEnergy’s annual winter seminar in January.

ACRES U.S.A. is North America’s oldest publisher on production-scale organic and sustainable farming. For more than four decades their mission has been help farmers, ranchers, and market gardeners grow food organically, sustainably, without harmful, toxic chemistry.

A glimpse into what this year's trade show could look like...Last year's birds eye view.

A glimpse into what this year’s trade show could look like…Last year’s birds eye view.

If you’ve ever attended before, you know what a world-class educational and networking event it is. If you’ve never been, trust us, you’ll walk away with so many ideas to maximize profits for the 2016 season. Jam packed with seminars and workshops, you will get the opportunity to “pick the brains” of the most innovative farmers, consultants, soil & crop advisors, authors, nutritionists, holistic veterinarians, researchers, beekeepers, geologists, soil microbiologists, and more.

The conference will be held December 9-11 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and our seminar will be held the last week of January in Illinois. To qualify for your chance to win the jackpot, tell us the first thing you’d do when you get to ACRES (if you win) on Facebook and/or Twitter using the hashtag #AERatACRES and fill out this short questionnaire.

Good luck!

Categories: AER Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No-till cover-cropping

At the Doudlah Organic Field Day last week, we had the opportunity to hear all about Dr. Erin Silva’s research in no-till cover-cropping. She leads the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Needless to say, she brought up many good points. Catch the highlights in the video below (if you’re reading from your inbox, click on the picture and it’ll direct you to the video).

If no-till cover-cropping interests you, Erin will be hosting an organic field day from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 2 at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, N695 Hopkins Road, Arlington, Wisconsin 53911. Topics of discussion include long-term yield trends and soil quality in organic production, pasture productivity on organic dairy farms, organic pasture grass variety trials, and organic no-till production of row crops. RSVP’s are requested, but not required, by contacting Erin at 608-890-1503 or

Categories: Fun in the Field | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What do you know about field peas?

I’ll be the first to admit, this was a first for me – videotaping in a 110-acre pea field. But let me tell you, it was one of the cleanest fields I have ever seen. Farmers are using field peas as a cover crop because of their nitrogen-fixing abilities and their large biomass. The large biomass contributes to improved soil conditions and weed control.

These Manitoba 4010 field peas will be harvested for seed to be used as cover crops this fall. Get a chance to see this field up close during the Doudlah Farms/Dramm Corporation/AgriEnergy Resources Organic Field Day Tuesday, August 11 from 10am-3pm at the Cooksville Community Center, 11204 N. Church Street, Evansville, Wisconsin.

Reserve your spot today by calling AgriEnergy Resources 815-872-1190. Click here for a full itinerary.

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Cover crops to be discussed at upcoming field days

If you’ve worked with us for any amount of time, then you know we are strong believers in cover crops and all the good they can do. If you’ve just stumbled across this page while searching for something else, you’re in for a treat.

Cover crops can help reduce risk on any operation in a variety of ways. One of our customers, Mark Doudlah, who we are co-hosting a field day with, has seen first hand how cover crops such as cereal rye and vetch can help with weed control in his organic corn acres.

Cover crops will be discussed at both the Doudlah Farms/Dramm Corporation/AER Organic Field Day August 11 and the Matt & James Beran/Souhrada Custom Spraying & Ag Products/Dramm Corporation/AER Organic Field Day August 4.

Want to learn more about cover crops? Come to either one of the previously mentioned field days. Please RSVP by July 27 by calling AgriEnergy Resources at 815-872-1190.

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What do you do when it rains?

As I sit down to write this morning, it’s not raining. The fields are slowly starting to dry out, and it breaks my heart to see the devastation Mother Nature has left in many of our fields. In Illinois, June was the wettest on record with an average of 9.3 inches across the state, 5.3 inches above average, as reported by FarmWeek. May also was much above average in most of the corn belt. The NOAA gathers statewide precipitation ranks monthly. Check out your state’s precipitation levels in June.

June 2015 Precipitation

Despite how much rain you’ve seen in your area, biologically alive soil can help protect against extreme weather stresses such as drought and moisture. For over 20 years we’ve talked about “weather-proofing” your soils with biological activity. Soil tilth, that crumbly coffee ground structure that we all desire, is only formed one way – microbially. Microbes exude substances that create the “balling up”, or the aggregation, of tiny soil particles into larger water stable soil aggregates. This tilth provides weather proofing. During wet periods, water stable soil aggregates resist crusting. Crusting reduces water infiltration causing more run-off and erosion. During dry periods, soil aggregates provide an insulation over the soil. This insulation-like layer reduces evaporation and enhances capillary action (the movement of sub-surface moisture upwards into the root zone).

Cover crops may also help save soil in flooded fields. For years, we’ve viewed cover crops as our ticket to healthy, biologically alive soil. So rather than focusing on the loss of “prevented planting” acres, cover crops could help prevent further soil degradation and increase soil productivity for next year. Having something green and growing the remainder of the year is a key concept for improving soil health, decreasing nitrate leaching to drainage waters, and improving water quality. Purdue University put out an excellent article along this topic. If this is something that interests you, check out our Ground Work on a useful cover crop chart. It provides a helpful guide when choosing which cover crops to plant.

Hopefully we’re nearing the end of this wet streak…

Categories: Soil Wednesday | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Exploring Janie’s Farm

On Friday, a few of us had the opportunity to attend a field day at Janie’s Farm Organics, hosted by the Harold and Sandy Wilken family of Danforth, Illinois. Together, with a few employees, they run a large-scale organic operation that includes corn, soybeans, wheat with cover crops, pumpkins, black dry beans, alfalfa hay, popcorn, and seed corn. They also happen to be on the cutting edge of the latest technology, including RTK guidance, yield mapping, and grain bin monitoring.

On a personal note, I was so excited to put my video skills to good use and wouldn’t ya know it, it rained the entire day!! Needless to say we couldn’t take any of the equipment out so we had to settle with a few pics instead.

Ross and Harold Wilken - the father-son duo explain what it takes to transition to organics.

Ross and Harold Wilken, the father-son duo, explain the challenges and rewards associated with organic farming.

The Wilkens have 1,940 certified organic acres, 380 in second-year transition, 80 in first-year transition, and 80 acres to transition in 2016. Both Harold and Ross said peer pressure was one of the biggest deterring factors when looking to transition, but after much thought they are so happy they did. They aren’t the only ones who have considered going 100% organic. They had nearly double the people at their field day than expected!

There was well over 100 people in attendance. This pic doesn't quite do it justice.

There were well over 100 people in attendance. This pic doesn’t quite do it justice.

So if you’re thinking about transitioning, here are a few basic rules that the Wilken family has learned along the way (as told by Harold & Ross):

Learning: Go online or find a certifier and get a copy of the National Organic Program, read the rules. Have a copy on your night stand or in the bathroom. Find an existing farmer and sign up for a mentoring program. Go to conferences. Look to the people that sponsored this meeting (Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service, Illinois Organic Growers Association, The Land Connection, University of Illinois Extension, Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network). There is a lot of help out there.

Transition: Transition period is 36 months from the last application of herbicide or commercial fertilizer. Use organic seed during transition. If none is available, use non-GMO. Naturally mined inputs can be used – lime, gypsum from mine, not a by-product of industry. All inputs must be pre-approved by your certifier. Manure is recommended – raw, composted, or pelletized. At some point you have to feed the soil. There are also naturally derived fertilizers available. Pick a certifier and communicate with them. They will help you make sure a product is approved. Do not take the word of a good old boy. He will not help you re-transition.

Rotation: Start with a 3- or 4-year rotation. Four-year is the best if finances allow it. Remember you are trying to build soil. Our standard when starting transition is to start with soybeans in year one. In year two, seed with wheat or oats oversown with red clover or alfalfa. You can mix it up with another clover; white or crimson. We are too far north (Danforth, Illinois) for hairy vetch. We have tried seeding cover crops after wheat, but have had sporadic results. In an ideal world, we would add orchard grass or timothy but if you don’t leave it a year, it is probably not worth the cost. Under NOOO circumstance do you use Annual Ryegrass. Cereal Rye, yes.

If you have livestock or a hay market, this is a no brainer. Seed down first year with small grain, alfalfa/grass mix. Make horses happy for 2 years. Caution, do not seed all your acres to hay. I suggest in this case 1/3 of your acreage per year.

DO NOT FOLLOW CONVENTIONAL SOYBEANS WITH TRANSITIONAL CORN. Root worms will not throw you a dinner party at the end of the year for feeding them.

Machinery: Use what you have. Add only what you need in transition. Custom-hire at first. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. Wash out planter boxes, vacuum out the combine, and purge it. Wash anything you are going to use for organic production. At least make sure you have no GMO contamination. If you are going to sell organic hay, plan on large square bales. Round bales do not work well on a semi.

If you look real close, you can see the GPS inside the cab mounted on the right. They said this comes in especially helpful when working on hilly ground.

If you look real close, you can see the GPS inside the cab mounted on the right. They said this comes in especially helpful when working on hilly ground.

Storage: You will need it! Plan on grain bins or nail the cracks shut on the overhead bins in the crib. Good News: Hot rods do not want to fill bins. Rent them. Have a building for hay.

Marketing: Find a buyer. MOFC, Clarkson Grain, Schoular Grain, Sun Opta, All Star Trading. Most of these people will help you market your transition as well as organic grain in Iroquois County.

Our big takeaway from the day was that organics is continuously growing and we are so excited to help guide you through the transitioning process with all your fertility needs!

Categories: Fun in the Field | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Useful Cover Crop Chart

The USDA Agricultural Research Service has recently released a cover crop chart that we found to be pretty impressive. The information has been assembled by USDA ARS at Mandan, ND to assist producers with decisions on the use of cover crops in crop and forage production systems.

The chart, patterned after the periodic table of elements, includes information on 58 crop species and breaks out grasses from broadleaves, and groups legumes. It also separates cool and warm season crops. The chart has icons designating growth cycles (annual, biennial, perennial), relative water use (low, medium, high), and plant architecture (upright, upright-spreading, prostrate).

Cover Crop Chart

There’s even a page that explains what crop NOT to plant behind another due to antagonism. There are pictures of crops at different stages of growth with various descriptions including alternative names and salt tolerance. The information is assembled based on crop sequencing.

Click here to view the complete cover crop chart.

Overall, we found this chart to be an useful assemblage of information and we hope you will to.

Categories: Fun in the Field | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Lots of Interest with Organic Grain Transition

There’s no denying it. Organic production is on the rise.

The sale of organic products in the United States jumped from $31.5 billion in 2012 to $35.1 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Organic Industry Survey 2014. The fruit and vegetable category continues to lead the sector with $11.6 billion in sales, up 15% from previous years.

So, what’s the deal? Why are so many producers and consumers going organic? For producers, it may be the higher premium. For consumers, it may be the need for a clean diet. Whatever the reasons are, there is no denying the fact that organics is on the rise.

As some of you may know, we presented at The Land Connection’s seminar “Organic Grain Transition” last week. Two of our sales agronomists talked about organic inputs and fertilizers along with some other experts. One thing they noticed was that organics is indeed on the rise and that more and more growers are looking to transition.

Here are their thoughts on the day:

Ken Musselman“It was a great event with a really good turnout. There was a lot of practical information given out that people could take home and use on their organic/transition farms. One reccurring theme to me, that is consistent with what I have seen elsewhere, is that organic growers are very upbeat about their prospects for the coming year. They have good reason to be optimistic with current prices and profit opportunities. Several of the more established growers commented that landlords are contacting them, asking them to farm their ground organically. This is in sharp contrast to most conventional farmers that have to fight for more land to farm by offering higher and higher cash rents. One thing that surprised me was the stigma that some people felt when they made the switch to organic. Some felt derided by their neighbors, which seemed to be more true of the early adopters. I’m not sure it happens as much today, but one thing in the back of people’s minds considering making the transition is “what will the neighbors think?” People need to get past that and do what they think is right for their own lives.” 
– Ken Musselman, Sales Agronomist, AgriEnergy Resources

Eric Johnston“It was a great event, really well put together. It was a seminar where anyone who has interest in organic farming could get all the information they need to get started. The seminar had experienced organic growers and other experts talking about weeds, tillage, certification, bank loan information, fertilizer recommendations, organic seed, and market demand. At most meetings and seminars people can pick up bits and pieces of how to go organic, but at this seminar they got the whole package. The demand for organic food and feed is really growing. And there is increased interest from farmers to meet that demand, especially with younger producers looking to take over the operation. In fact, one of the speakers, Dave Bishop, of Atlanta, Illinois, claimed that with current prices, a conventional farmer would have to grow 720 bushels/acre to be as profitable as an organic farmer growing 180 bushels/acre.” 
– Eric Johnston, Sales Agronomist, AgriEnergy Resources

Jeff Hake“I was incredibly happy with how the event went. The interest was so strong with this seminar. We lead off with Dave Bishop, owner of Prairie Farms, who set the tone that organics is a whole different way of growing. All the speakers were so excited about being mentors for other growers. They emphasized to folks this is not just a few tweaks to get a healthy organic growing system. Farmers have to change the way they think about the land and change how they plan. One of the most common concerns is social pressure that a lot of growers face – neighbors passing by the farm and seeing weeds, seeing you hoeing at different times, not hooking up a sprayer. Organic production is not only possible, it is profitable. There are other people out there doing it and they’re on your side. The challenge is mostly in the transition years.” 
– Jeff Hake, Farmer Training Program Manager, The Land Connection

Organic production has so many positives, yet Ken, Eric, and Jeff all noticed the concern growers showed in taking the first step towards transitioning. It can be a scary time (as any change), especially with today’s economic pressures. Will I still be able to support my family before I start getting the organic premium? What kind of equipment will I use? Is this even a good idea? But by the end of the day, growers started to build up their network of experts from bankers, to agronomists, to experienced farmers to guide them through the transition.

Did you go to the seminar? If so, leave your thoughts in the comments below. Didn’t make it? The Land Connection is in the process of planning a similar event in northern Illinois so be sure to check back for details.

Categories: AER Events | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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