“I believe you need to seed soybeans at a little bit of an angle into corn stalks. We use a 15-inch planter, a 40-foot planter with splitters, and we plant at a little bit of an angle to the corn stalks. That way those row units are continually changing how they approach the residue from the standing corn stalks.”
— Alan Berry, No-Till Innovator, Nauvoo, Ill.
In this rapid-fire panel discussion from the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference, 3 No-Till Innovators share their top profit-building no-till soybean ideas.
In this episode of the No-Till Farmer podcast, brought to you by Yetter Farm Equipment, Alan Berry, Ross Bishop and Stan Miller discuss soybean row spacing, planting green, cover crops and more to help you implement money-making changes to your operation.
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No-Till Farmer's podcast series is brought to you by Yetter Farm Equipment.
Yetter Farm Equipment has been providing farmers with residue management, fertilizer placement, and seedbed preparation solutions since 1930. Today, Yetter equipment is your answer for success in the face of ever-changing production agriculture challenges. Yetter offers a full lineup of planter attachments designed to perform in varying planting conditions, multiple options for precision fertilizer placement, strip-till units, and stalk rollers for your combine. Yetter products maximize your inputs, save you time, and deliver return on your investment. Visit them at yetterco.com.
Full TranscriptMichaela Paukner:
Welcome to the No-Till Farmer Podcast, brought to you by Yetter Farm Equipment. I'm Michaela Paukner, managing editor at No-Till Farmer. In today's episode, we're sharing a rapid-fire panel discussion from the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference where three No-Till innovators give you their top profit building, no-till soybean ideas. You're going to hear No-Till legend Randall Reeder who moderated this panel first, followed by No-Till innovator Allen Berry from west Central Illinois.Randall Reeder:
That reminds me, why don't we introduce yourselves by telling a little bit about where you are so we get an idea?Alan Berry:
I'm in west Central Illinois, basically west of Peoria, Illinois, which is in the middle of the state over to the Mississippi River. I'm right where the Iowa-Missouri border hits Illinois, which is 150 mile north of here and about 30 or 40 mile west of here. One of the first things you need to do is make sure you select the right planting equipment and I believe that needs to be a planter, not a drill, so that you can get your seed quantity adjusted more accurately and everything you put in the ground can get up.Ross Bishop:
I'm Ross Bishop, I'm in Wisconsin. We're just north of Milwaukee. I'm 18 miles off the lake and we have rolling fields with bedrock and I have cattle and I farm 650 acres, corn, soybean, wheat and I also plant some rye for planting that also.Stan Miller:
I'm Stan Miller. I have right next to Ross here, we're neighbors actually. Wisconsin and we compete a little bit but about 500 acres, no-till for 23 years. Corn soybean rotation with some winter wheat in between once in a while and cover crops whenever I can get them in. Being in Wisconsin it gets a little tricky once in a while but we try. All right, so since you're talking while I go ahead and give your tip, No-Tilling into corn stalk soybeans, my biggest thing was have a good row cleaner, keep that trash clean away so you can get your seed put at the proper depth in uniform.Randall Reeder:
All right.Ross Bishop:
I'm going to build off of him. He said you got to use a planter. So I use a corn planter and I have row cleaners planting the corn and then also I find that we've been able to lower our population to 120 to 130. That seems to be a sweet spot for us in Wisconsin. I've done it less and you can start to see some weeds come in, so that's why I'm at 125, let's just say.Randall Reeder:
All right, Alan.Alan Berry:
Along with what he's saying, they're seeding into the corn stalks. I believe you need to seed at a little bit of an angle. We use a 15-inch planter, a 40-foot planter with splitters and we plant at a little bit of an angle to the corn stalks that way those row units are continually changing how they approach the residue from the standing corn stalks. We are No-Tilling our soybeans in the stalks. I didn't say so, but we got about 3000 acres, my son and I and about half corn, half beans. So we're continually in a corn bean rotation and I believe that you plant at a little bit of an angle to those stalks works best.Stan Miller:
So when we plant our soybeans, I go down the row and I have a young lady, the blonde that you see walking around. She usually runs that and there was times where she would get off the row real easy so we put a GPS on there so she could follow the screen and that way I didn't have these [inaudible 00:03:58] and coming across each rows so she did a much better job so we used GPS to keep it on the row.Randall Reeder:
All right. Stan?Stan Miller:
I guess too of populations years back I was in 106, I'm planting 30-inch rows so I was in the 160 range with seed population but now I'm down to think it's 135 depending on weather, stuff like that. But I am seeing yields go up with less seed, so.Randall Reeder:
Oh all right, go ahead.Stan Miller:
So started No-Tilling in '97, a hundred percent then we started putting in '08 cover crops. Now we plant green and we're putting rye in right after the corn is harvested and I just finished here in December. We frost seeded the rye in. I would go out early in the morning or at night when the ground was allowed me to not be muddying up the air drill. We're putting about 80 to 90 pounds of rye and we'll see that come up the next year and depending on the spring it can be four inches, it can be almost hip high depending on what kind of spring you have in Wisconsin and we'll plant into that green and also with the drill going through it, we're chopping up those corn stalks so we're seeing a benefit of that mixing of the soil and the residue by having that drill go through putting the rye and we'll see an eight bushel increase with the rye.Randall Reeder:
As most of you probably know, I work with Marin Calmer and I've done a lot of work with the BT Chopper corn stalk rolls and I run a Calmer head with those rolls on it so therefore my residue is pretty well chopped up if you've seen us at the farm shows where we've demonstrated it. Many of you're running those roles anyway. I think residue management is important and by chopping those stalks with the head, our operations actually beginning in the fall, we're laying the groundwork for next spring by chopping that residue and making it so it is not a problem on our no-till planters, we do not use any row coulter out ahead. We used to have them and we took them off and they're piled in the corner of the shed. We do run a case IH planter which has the double disc opener setting at a seven or so degree angle instead of the 11 degree angle like the other one planters have.
So it doesn't make a very wide open seed slice when it goes through. Also, it has that leading edge coulter and the secondary coulter than on the other side is a little smaller diameter and trails so you don't really need a No-Till coulter out front if you're running that case IH system and we've had very good luck with it. I guess one of the downsides to that system is we have to put new leading edge coulters on the planter every year because that coulter, that leading edge one is doing all the cutting and so you do have, it will wear down and it'll wear out two or three of the right, the one on the other side and they are offset one half the planters one way, one half the other way. So the planter pulls straight all the time, but we think that's a very good plant system to plant no-till into about any kind of ground cover crops or whatever.Stan Miller:
I also have a case corn planter 1200, I have 1620 so I'm in 20 inch rows going to Marion Calmer's farm three times to see his 15-inch rows and at that time he was buying tires like crazy because he was trying to get 15-inch tires down there and so I found 20 inch row was a sweet spot and so we plant corn 20 inch and the beans a 20 inch and with the red planter I bought that at oh four actually had a gentleman here tell me when I was buying it that year, he won't need to put the coulter in and I need to share that I had a John Deere before that I needed a coulter in front to kind of get that true V into the ground. The no-till ground was a little hard and so you needed a little help to get that John Deere in the ground with the Red Planter with that lead disc.
It seems to cut real well. I think I had it only four years on the Red Planter, that front coulter I took it off and I don't need that anymore. That Coulter and the red planter and we also now after 29 years of no-till and cover crops for over 12 years, the ground's so mellow. We took the coulter off the John Deere planter too, so as the ground gets healthier, it gets mellower, things get to go in the ground easier. My tip is when we have low fertility in our soils, we need the pot ash and we need sulfur because we're not getting it free anymore. So I was broadcasting between 200 and 400 pounds of pot ash in the fall with sulfur, elemental sulfur and I found out that the elemental sulfur releases over four years so it's always feeding the crop and when I started doing that I started seeing lots of the soybean yields go up. Now with the prices being a thousand dollars for potash the last two years I only put on a hundred to 150 pounds of potash in the fall. So we'll see where this is going with that. With the cover crops I'm noticing we don't need as much fertilizer for the corn. It seems to do really well with the organic matter going from 1% when I started in 82 to 4%, so we're getting a nice sponge starting there with the organic matter.Randall Reeder:
I think you've got two or three tips in there. Anybody counting? We're up close to dozen so go ahead.Ross Bishop:
I guess my tip or the next thing I had is the cover crops is what made my next thing everything is a little better. Neighbor comes over and he is talking about his tillage equipment and I'm like, well my tillage equipment is a 15-foot wide drill that goes an inch and a half deep. So that was just the cover crop's been improving everything for weeded control to everything, getting the biology moving stuff going through the soil getting better, everything's working out a little better, so.Randall Reeder:
Go ahead Alan.Alan Berry:
We have a 24 row, 20 inch case planter that we plant our corn with and then we've got our 31 row, 15 inch case planter that we plant beans with. So I can't split the rows like some guys do because we're running 20 inch corn, 15 inch beans and that's another reason I run on the angle. But in studying university results, I think if you look, you'll almost always find that the narrower roads, the beans are the higher the yield. Over in Illinois at Monmouth, Illinois they have, I don't know if they're continuing it now, but for 10 or 15 years they did studies comparing the yields of different roll widths and the old drills always was the highest yielding because they were generally seven and a half or 10 inch they seemed to think and the wider the rose got at 15 you give up a little bit at 20, maybe a hair more especially at 30 inch.
And now we have in Illinois quite a few people wanting to buy these great big planters, 60 foot and bigger planters and they're moving away from the 15-inch beans just planting them in thirties. And I think if they look at the research results when you do that, you're definitely going to give up yield, you better go buy you an old Kinsey planter that you can buy a reasonable load of sale and keep those beans in a 15 inch because that yield loss when you move to those wider rows. Now the drills, I'm not advocating at all you go do drills because generally back then those university results they were planting 200, 210, 220,000 seeds per acre, double the seed costs. Now when we're spending 60, $70 or more a unit for seed, you've got to start looking at seed costs. I think that makes the drill a little less likely to be desired.Randall Reeder:
Question for you, Phil Needham talked about five inch spacing on wheat, any thoughts on how that might work with soybeans?Alan Berry:
Well Phil, like he just said, the wheat definitely needs to be there. Even narrower row, so that seems to be the trend with the soybeans, but like I said, in the case of the soybeans, 15 inches about as narrow as you're going to get a planter and I think you need that planter to get it so you can have that seed placed at the right depth. You want to put that seed down into moisture without bearing it real deep, but you want it there and you don't want that unit hopping along. And when you've got, most of our planters have got air or hydraulic down pressures so you can keep that seed depth pretty uniform even if you're crossing some of the old stalk rows and so forth.Randall Reeder:
So 15 inch soybeans with a planter might be better or at least equal to seven and a half inch or five inch with the drill.Stan Miller:
That's what we're hearing from the seed dealer. I bought a air drill this last summer 30 footer and I was thinking that I would go to back the seven and a half spacing and he tells me two seed dealers that no, we are breeding the soybeans to be bushy so you're going to want to stay at 15 or twenties because the beans are being bred to be bushy. And then you got the white mold and stuff and the reason I was going back, I want to go to a drill is we're seeing weeds resistant, your water hemp, your mare's tail and I wanted to get something that would cover the ground a little. I was thinking covering the ground better, shading it, but we're going to go 15 and 20 inch rows. They'll shade somewhere in that 4th of July, so 15 should shade a little quicker I would think.Alan Berry:
And you got to drive down these fields, I mean you got to spray them and stuff. So 20 inch was pretty decent for spraying.Randall Reeder:
All right, I don't think I've heard a tip yet related to early planting and we've heard this week about planting that's coming. Is that coming? All right, go right ahead with it.Stan Miller:
All right, so we've in the last almost 15 years, I've planted on the 1st of April, I've literally frost seeded it. The beans we did last year, I went to church on the 29th of April, came back home, ate and went out and planted beans that afternoon and it was mud, it was pretty, conditions weren't the best. I got five acres in the ground and those beans were hurt. There were some beans that didn't come up. It still, it's a 23 acre field. Those five acres still yielded as good if not better through the yield monitor than what I planted on the 10th of May because that was the next time we could get back in the fields we were wet. So early beans will definitely yield better.
I've seen where the root is out four or five inches and it'll come out, the bean will come out of ground the same time as when you planted, let's say the fifth or the 10th, they all come out together, but that bean has got a root started already and if I'm planting early, I make sure I use treated beans. Once I get past, let's say the 10th or the 15th of May, it's warming up then I do not have treated beans. I save that money and I've been able to get away with saving money that way.Randall Reeder:
I think the reason you got good yields from planting in the mud on Sunday was you went to church first.Stan Miller:
I'm sure the good lord was looking over me.Randall Reeder:
I guess I'd like to plant earlier but I can't quite get to that point yet because I have some seed corn wireworm issues with planting early like that and it's always because the soil's cold, the soil's a little on the wet side and I struggle with that it seems like, and I don't want to put an insecticide down because I don't want to hurt my biology. But I see what you get and everyone is pushing it always earlier because of the light and that's what was mentioned here, getting the means in early. But that's one thing I guess I struggle with. So if anyone's got any inputs of how to get beyond that point because to give you an idea yield wise, so I was planning a 2.5 maturity bean and when you ran the combine through the field, you were seeing 80 to 85 bushel average, or I should say in spots it averaged 65 where I'd planted May 10th. That was averaging just two bushel less.
So what we saw this year is a 63 average across the full farm. I had some 1.9 beans and of course along the trees you got hardly anything but in the middle of field that was hitting 90 92 bushel and that was planted in cover crop, that was wheat planted into a 10 way mix of cover crops and then planted to beans into that and we're talking probably knee-high rye at the time, I always make sure rye is coming into the spring and so we're seeing a huge benefit planting into a mix. You've got to have a cocktail to bring that biology alive so no-till and cover crops, you'll see your ground explode in yields.
Corn wise, I've seen 10 years of no-till, no cover crops average about 135 bushel. We bring in the cover crops and three years later we're seeing 200 plus. It really changes the biology and it makes the ground really produce well and my nitrogen for corn is still at one 40. I have not increased it and I'm starting to lower that now to experiment. Where can I go with that? Is it lower? So I know this was for beans, but just to give you an idea of the biology of the soil with corn and beans.Randall Reeder:
Was that planting green?Stan Miller:
Planting green.Randall Reeder:
Planting green in the cover crop? That's hard to say, but how many of you're planting soybeans or corn green? Wow, that's a pretty good number.Alan Berry:
Pretty good.Randall Reeder:
That's a pretty good number.Alan Berry:
Talking about early planting. Several years ago I have done a lot of research work on one of my farms in particular and we went out in the middle of January, the ground happened to be in pretty good condition. I went out and planted about a quarter of an acre of beans just to see what would happen. Those beans of course laid there in the cold soil, didn't germinate 1st of April. They came up and then I got a little nervous, are they going to freeze off or not? That particular year we didn't have any real cold weather, but what did happen to me about the 20th or so of April when the beans were just up maybe a couple inches high bean leaf beetles just flooded the place because bean leaf beetles are an insect problem we can have and that particular year we had them and they always go to soybeans, they're never much of a problem because everybody around all of our beans are coming up, but when you've got a quarter of an acre in a county or the state probably we had all the bean leaf and they just stripped them.
So I thought, well we've lost those. Of course going to have to replant, didn't do anything with them. They did come on leaf back out and now that was just a little plot. We never took it to harvest, but they did come back and make beans. So we did plant beans in January one year and did have harvestable bees, but don't recommend that at all. Wisconsin, the planter wouldn't even go in frozen yet. Most of the years we're froze out too, but that particular year.Stan Miller:
I'm usually here so I wouldn't be planting.Alan Berry:
I'd like to take a moment to thank our sponsor, Yetter farm equipment, Yetter is your answer for success in the face of ever-changing production agriculture challenges. Yetter offers a full lineup of planter attachments designed to perform in varying planting conditions. Yetter products maximize your inputs, save you time and deliver return on your investment. Visit them at yetterco.com, that's Y-E-T-T-E-R-C O.com. Now let's get back to the conversation.Alan Berry:
Anyway, early planting I think is important in our area. One of the things we look at in variety selection is full season. We've used a lot of earlier season beans, different times, but they just never seem to yield. We grow a 3.8 to 4.0, they're usually ready to harvest the 1st of October in our system. We like to start harvesting corn soon after Labor Day, as soon as it gets down to 26 or below and go at it, have half of our corn out before we ever start the beans and our three eight maturity to fours come in, they're ready to harvest usually the first 10 days or so of October, and so that's where we like to harvest them. Then we'll go back and finish the corn and we do do a lot of jumping back and forth depending on how the weather goes.
We do certainly experience that 5, 6, 8 bushel yield loss in that corn when we're harvesting corn in September, quit for a week or so, 10 days come back, same fields, invariably there'll be a five or six bushel yield loss that moistures drop by then 20, 21, 22 down to 17 or 18 and there's a hidden loss there, so you need to be timely with everything you do. The soybeans, we love to harvest soybeans when they're about 14, 15%, but a lot of times that's hard to do. You don't want 9% beans and we get that sometimes, but you can't help it, but you need to be geared up when those beans are ready to go harvest them and like I say, we get the best yields with the longest seasoned beans we can reasonably grow in our area. I don't know how, I know you guys are playing with much shorter maturities, but do you use longer season or really short season for where you're at?Stan Miller:
I would say commonly people are in that 1.7 to 2 and they're trying to combine, we usually are in the field the last week of September or 1st of October doing the beans and we don't look at corn until probably the end of October, November, combine corn. So yeah, it's amazing how you guys can get going so quick.Alan Berry:
Well we use dryer systems of course, and we're running it through the dryers and putting it in bins with big fans and...Ross Bishop:
Normally by us too, I'll push it to a 2.6 at the most, but not a lot. Just my high ground stuff I get in early, but come harvest, we will put them in the bins, dry them if we have to just to get them off. We don't want, we've had a two where you had 12% beans, nine, so then it's too dry. Then you get the shatter when you hit the wind.Stan Miller:
Yep. When they're hitting the windshield.Ross Bishop:
Then you know they're too dry.Stan Miller:
Yeah, I usually plant a 1.7, 1.9 and a 2.5 and for whatever reason last year the one point eights, one point nines did extremely well. I was telling you they were hitting 80, 90 bushel, it averaged 73 in that field. I want to come back to planting green so every spring is different. Sometimes that rye can be four inches tall. We're planting and I'll let that grow until it gets to be about knee-high with experience Now I'm not afraid to let it get to be knee-high and that can be somewhere around the 15th or 20th of May. We'll kill that rye off and I'll put chemical down. There's been some years where it was knee-high when we're planting I think 2019 we had a really wet year. 2021 was a good year. It was very warm spring and that rye was getting up there, so somewhere in that knee-high it gets to be hip high. I'm killing it because the beans seem to work through it, but Knee-high seems to be a sweet spot. Don't let it get past Knee-high. Plant green with rye and then we'll come back somewhere around the fourth with a second spray.Alan Berry:
One thing I think if you're planting earlier seasoned beans for your area earlier, maturing ones, you always want to plant those first and earlier, at least in our area, sometimes we'll have people or even ourselves, maybe we've got a field, we want a tile or something, so we want to get them out early. We'll go ahead and maybe plant a 2 8, 2 9, 3 oh, but you want to plant that dude in April so he gets up, gets some growth. Otherwise, he really suffers the later in the year, the season gets the longer season bean you want to be putting in the ground. Of course we're in a double crop area where we plant beans after wheat, double cropping and so forth and we always use a three eight or so maturity in that area. You don't plant a short season bean late because they won't get any vegetative growth at all and they start flour and they just don't do much.Randall Reeder:
All right, was that the first mention of double crop soybeans? Either of you doing that too?Stan Miller:
Well, we've never been able to get the weed off the ground or off the field. It's usually about that. Third week in July, the latest I've ever planted beans was two years ago. We got a frost on Memorial weekend and it killed some of the beans and I didn't go out and replant those spots until the 10th of July, so I'm coming in to harvest that field where the beans were alive, they were ready to be harvested where I planted them on July 10th, they were greener than green. There was no way you were going to combine them. I came back late, the last field of combine, they still yielded 33 bushel. I was amazed how they could do that. I'm go back to spraying when I spray my second post in 4th of July or boy four, I use cobra at a half rate and so I'm dinging the beans and I will see a boost in yield because of that. The beans suddenly say you hurt me and I've got to put on beans and pods. It shortens them up, so I also do that in my second spray.Randall Reeder:
A question just came to my mind, I heard quite a bit about high oleic soybeans being more profitable. Now are you getting into high oil soybeans or is that an issue yet?Alan Berry:
In our area, we don't really have a market that I'm aware of much for the high oil beans. We do have a good market for a non GMO and they're paying as much as two and a half, $3 a bushel premium for non GMO because of the resistance to the glyphosate. A lot of farmers figure, well, I'm going to have a few weeds in my beans anyway and some of the better managing farmers in the area do grow non GMO beans. Now a lot of times over on the back 40 so nobody can see it, but you'll plant some non GMO beans to get that premium and they're going back using a lot of the old herbicides like we used in the old days, the old Bassa Grand days or whatever, flex stars and so forth, and if they've got reasonably clean fields to work with, maybe they've used some cover crops to keep things cleaner and they're planting some non GMO beams, so that seems to be the premium that they are going for in our area.
We do the same with corn. We're a hundred percent non GMO corn because we've got a market in our area. I plant most of my 20-inch corn on the good soils at 40, 42,000. Our lighter soils 36 and so we're using a unit of seed only gets a couple acres. We buy our non GMO corn seed, good seed for a couple hundred bucks a unit whereas we'd be paying 300, so we're saving 50 bucks an acre on seed costs with the corn and then if we can get a premium of next year, it's 25 cents, couple hundred bushel, you got a $50 premium, you got a hundred dollars there to play with five $6 corn, you could take a 1520 bushel yield hit. We don't think we're taking any yield hit as of yet. We're going to have to watch it because of some of the insect problems and so forth, but in a corn bean rotation, that's system's working and now this year for the first time I planted 300 acres of wheat in the corn stalks.
We're in a corn bean rotation. I planted the wheat and we did plant it at the basically about 250,000 seeds per acre the 1st of October planted to take it to yield, but it's an earlier variety of wheat for our area. I plan to harvest it around the 20th to the 25th of June, put it in some corn bins. I've got good fans and variation floors and get my double crop beans planted and my goal is 75, 80 bushel of wheat and come back at that point in time in our area, we can expect to raise 50 55 bushel beans maybe, and then we're still in our corn bean rotation and then we can do whatever we want with the cover crop.
This wheat, I can call it a cover crop if I don't like the looks of it, come next March 30th and I'll spray it or whatever and treat it as a cover crop instead of using cereal rye, which has no value to may come next spring other than maybe it's a better cover crop than a wheat choice, but I'm still keeping that green bridge going. I've grown a little wheat over the years and double crop, but usually it's only been 40, 50 acres, but this year we did put in 300 acres with the intention that now we've got wheats that mature earlier so we can harvest earlier and we'll come back with our beans. So it keeps our corn bean rotation going. We're getting three crop trying to get three crops in two seasons off of it and have that green bridge that we talk about going all the time. Something growing green out there.Randall Reeder:
And that's a good point about harvesting the wheat early. Phil Needham mentioned that earlier and the yield advantage of planting soybeans the earlier, what was it, one bushel per day. So if you can get it in a week earlier, and I'm from Ohio State University and I remember a faculty member when I started there in 1979, had a fact sheet on harvesting wheat early and drying it just for this same reason to get it out of the ground so you could double crop soybeans quicker. So it's been around a while, Phil, and it's a good idea that it sounded like despite the cost of drying, right? As long as LP or natural gas isn't too high, go ahead.Stan Miller:
We find that when we combine the wheat in July the third week, it'll be 17, 18% moisture. It's a little harder to combine because we're taking at least a half the plant, but that is usually the best test weight. It's always 60, 61, 62 test weight when it starts to get some rain on it dries down, it gets wet again, you start losing test weight as the time goes on, so that was always your best test weight.Alan Berry:
Never harvested wheat that wet before, but I'm planning to this year.Stan Miller:
Yep, it's not easy to get it in, keep it in the combine. It likes to go out the ass end. So I want to go back to soybeans where we, I put inoculant, a GraphX SA on all my beans. I've done multiple tests where it was a bean field. I planted beans back into it again and I will see a three to four bushel increase because I put that on there. There's something about that inoculate, that SA that will boost your yields and then going all the way to combining, Marian says a lot of good things on YouTube about how to set up your combine for combining soybeans. The first, I have a 2388 red combine and the first concave, I put those strips in so that the beans are shelling themselves through that first foot and it will make the combine work hard or harder, but you will get all your beans out unless the bean pods are not mature, but it does a phenomenal job of getting those beans out of the pods and so then the rest is all the sieves work to get them separated.Randall Reeder:
Feel like I need to ask the audience, anybody have a question or a topic that we haven't covered yet that needs to be covered?Speaker 3:
It was stated that when the spacing on the planters was different from what was previously used that you planted it at an angle. So do you always use the same angle or is that dependent or a function of the spacing of the two different planters?Speaker 8:
How do you determine the angle or approximate angle you're going to use based on the different row spacings of your crops?Alan Berry:
Well, our corn rows are planted back and forth the most efficient way to plant the field. When we come in with the beans, we just take a small angle. Usually with our 40-foot planter, we're probably going to be about two to three planter widths off in a quarter mile run to give you an idea. So it's not a real sharp angle at all. Then the other important thing we think when we're no-till we come back and combine the beams, we combine them at the other angle from the way they were planted and that spread helps to spread that bean residue a little bit of an angle behind the combine so that when we come back No-Till plant corn again, that corn planter then is continually changing the approach, the way it hits the residue. So corn roads straight, plant the beans, a little bit of an angle here, harvest a little bit of an angle there. It tends to keep your field a little leveler I think. So you don't get so much of this from tracking and stuff, and that's kind of the way we go about doing it.Speaker 9:
I've been no-tilling for almost 40 years and looking at it under a microscope, grid sampling inch by inch, I feel that over those 40 years I've kind of sucked the fuel out of the soil where the roots are at and it's kind of gone empty and then I've been putting fertilizer on the surface, so now I think I've got all the fuels at the top and 40 years of no-till I've sucked the goody out of the soil. I guess it would be interested in your thoughts. You guys are long-term, no tellers as well for those that are the younger, what's your thoughts on stratification or how do you apply fertilizer or are we just worrying about something that's really not a problem?Stan Miller:
Well, you and I had a talk the other night about this and you had said you hadn't done any cover crops yet. And when I walk out in the fields that have got cover crops, I've even got video earthworms. They're just loaded and I've got pictures where they're grabbing the trash like you saw pulling them down. So you've got all these conduits going down into the ground. You've got your roots that are going three to five feet. Let's say we're finding out that grasses are excellent for breaking up compaction. It isn't just the radishes that do it. It's the fine hairs that your annual rye grass, your winter rye, those grasses will penetrate feet down. And I believe that we're seeing that move with all that nutrition, with the roots, with the armyworm and I mean the worms that are the red worms. And so I'm spreading, I'm broadcasting my fertilizer over the top.
I'm banding when I plant my corn, my fertilizer, I took all my applications. I don't put it in the ground, I just dribble it off the back. And we're seeing, there's times where you'll see two 50 to 300 bushel corn in places where we have decent soil, we have a lot of bedrock. There's places where I only got six inches topsoil and it's bedrock. You go about four days without a rain and it's dry already. You'll see that corn shrink in half in less than a week. So we don't have ideal eight foot soil like Illinois and stuff does. So I feel that that cover crop helps mix that nutrition. If I say it that way. In the worms,Alan Berry:
Many years ago, back in the 1970s, 80s eighties era, we started root zone banding our local crop production. People started pulling toolbars behind their three wheel big a interrogators and were knifing in the anhydrous. And on that machine, of course they had the tank, so they carried suspension liquid fertilizers, and so they would knife in our NP and K. And they did that for years. It became a fairly difficult thing for them to do because one of those machines in the fall after harvest could only get a couple thousand acres done. And if you had two or three machines like the company had, maybe they get six, eight, 10,000 acres in a fall. And this is a company that wants to fertilize 50,000 acres. So it just became impractical for them to do it. So they stopped doing it. However, that meant that all of our NP and K was banded in and we thought we was getting good results with it.
We had check plots and stuff where we got yield increases. I think the yield increase came because the fertilizer was in a band and not broadcast. I think fertilizer is somewhat like when you're feeding hogs and Marion can relate to this and some of the other older faces out here. In the old days, the old sows run around out here in the pasture and you took a five gallon bucket of corn and you kind of give it a sling around over the field, the feedlot and the old sow, go get a kernel here and a kernel there and one over here. The fat hogs, you didn't feed that way. You fed the fat hogs at the trough and the fat hogs all sat right there and ate and got fat fairly quick. And I think our plant roots are the same way. If you've got that fertilizer in a band, and I haven't talked to Marian about this because he's talking about wanting to fan out under the ground and spread as nutrients, but I'm not so sure if you're going to put it in a band and you can keep it into 30 inches or less, you're never going to have your plant roots very far away, whether it be beans or whether it be corn.
They're going to fan out 10, 12 inches and I think the roots are going to grow and find that band and they're going to sit there and feed in that concentrated band as opposed to spreading all out and trying to go get a little pea over here and a little dab of K there and another root goes here. And the roots, what we've seen, they only reach what like 5% of the actual soil that the roots actually get it anyway. So if you've got that concentrated band, I think a lot of our gain is coming from banding. And I agree with you. I think our plants are taking that stuff up, putting it down. I mean I've farmed for 70 years and we're...Stan Miller:
Every root, weed or radish when that root breaks down, that's nutrition.Alan Berry:
That's nutrition.Stan Miller:
That's a hole that air can get into. We're at a point where last year we had a five-inch rain in the end of June. It got soaked in it, hardly any ran off then we didn't get a rain until the 27th of July. It was a 4.2 inch rain that did not run off. It's soaked in healthy soils. We have biology in the soil, it's a sponge. We have this sponge that sucks up that water, that four inch rain and that's all nutrients in there to feed the plant.Randall Reeder:
Yeah, emphasize that. Injecting the fertilizer. Get it down six to eight inches deep is ideal. That solves Marion stratification problem. Of course cover crops pretty well solved his stratification problem also.Stan Miller:
But Marion, my suggestion to you would be is to do a cover crop and give it a cocktail mix, get some diversity, get something with some roots so you get that cycle going.Randall Reeder:
Okay. We got a question or a comment from the audience.Speaker 11:
Are any of you using any sugar type products or other foliar things?Ross Bishop:
I'm not.Stan Miller:
I play with sugar.
So when it comes to putting nitrogen down for the corn, when I side dress, I drop two with the sprayer. I'm putting three pounds of powdered just regular sugar in. With the 28, I'm putting five gallons of ammonium style sulfate and I'm putting three pounds of boron and I'm putting this down at about 80 to 90 units of N. So around 35 to 40 gallons altogether. And I'm putting this down when the corn's probably in that chest high and then I'll come right back and put fungicide down. We have tar spot, but the sugar will stabilize the end in the 28 and the ammonium style sulfate will stabilize it. So I don't need to put any [inaudible 00:45:47] or anything with it. And the sugar, it kind of fools the biology in the soil. This is really good. We like sugar. It's like candy bar for us. So these are all things that are good for the environment. It's not organic, but it's good for the plants or the animals, the creatures that are in the soil.Alan Berry:
I use a little sugar and I think it's feeding them microbes and you got to keep that microbial activity going and I think like you're doing works.Randall Reeder:
Anybody had an issue with slugs?Stan Miller:
I've had some slugs, but I want to go back to molasses when I plant in the spring and if it's really cool or cold in the spring, let's say May 1st I'm planting corn, I'll put a gallon of molass in with my starter, which is going on top of the seed and I'm putting zinc and I use a 9 18 9 or a 6 24 6, which is 60% or so, it's less salt. And I find that this works really well to get the corn going. It comes out of the ground quicker. You may not see a yield increase, but check the test weight and the moisture of the corn, it'll be a point or more less. And the test weight will be at least a point or two more because that corn came out of the ground quicker and the molasses I found over all the years will come out of the ground 12 hours sooner because the sugars are warming up. All the biology in the soil after the 15th or the 20th, it's warming up already in the spring. I'll take the molasses out. I don't need to use it because it doesn't seem to help.Randall Reeder:
All right, by my math, we've had 47 tips, so we got three more here. So guess you go down the line. You're tip number 48.Alan Berry:
One simple one I think that everybody needs to be aware of is handle your soybean seed like it is a living organism because it is. And I know a lot of people, especially for handling the old 50 pound bags, you tend to toss them and whatever. They tell me that that is not a good idea. That handle the seed gently be careful if you're running augers, you need to be using belts to move it on and you don't want to get it to split, but.Stan Miller:
You'll get split.Alan Berry:
That's a live organism in there and handling gently. And don't fool with him in subzero temperatures or when it's real cold because you're going to damage him more, so.Randall Reeder:
Handle your seed like a baby I guess. All right, number 49.Stan Miller:
So when I spray my second spray of we spray in around the 1st of July, I will put three gallons of a 9 18 9, some type of starter with the Cobra. I used to try a little bit of boron and Russell was getting 117 bushel beans if I saw that right. And I asked him, I says, what do you feel would be the top three things to do? And he said, put boron at the beginning of the season and then when I spray the second time, put some more boron so I'm going to practice. Or I should say try some boron foilar in the second spray but that was something I never put, is the boron in.Alan Berry:
Good idea.Randall Reeder:
All right, wrap us up.Ross Bishop:
I guess my thing would be is watch your seed germination. Last year, I know a lot of companies, the seed germination wasn't quite where it was supposed to be. There was some lower germination and if you're uncertain, even if it says it's under 90 some percent or whatever, check it. I mean there's nothing, I mean, go by my wife and grab a cookie sheet and throw a couple soybeans out there and cover them up with some paper towel and you'll see if they germ. That's simple. Easy test, how to do it. But yeah, watch that germ, especially people planting lower populations.Randall Reeder:
All right, since I'm up here, I got to close with a Will Rogers quote, and I think this applies to all of you. A farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer.Alan Berry:
We agree.Stan Miller:
Amen on that.Michaela Paukner:
Thanks to Alan, Ross, Stan and Randall for today's conversation. A video and transcript for this episode are available at no-tillfarmer.com/podcasts. And if you'd like to pose your own questions to a panel of No-Till innovators, I invite you to join me at the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference in January. Go to No-Till conference.com to register and use code podcast when checking out to save $50 on your registration. Many thanks to Yetter Farm Equipment for helping to make this No-Till podcast series possible. From all of us here at No-Till Farmer, I'm Michaela Paukner. Thanks for listening.