Friday, March 24, 2017

What does it take for seed not to be naked? - Syngenta Seedcare Institute Stanton, MN

Syngenta has a very strong seed treatment history. Actually, the concept of investing in seedcare facilities began in 1979, more than 35 years ago. They strongly believe their customers’ success begins with innovation, which is why they have invested more than $1.3 billion in global research and development in the last year alone.  Syngenta also believes their seedcare customers need to know how to treat, service, and calibrate equipment, and apply the right dose on seed to produce a high quality finished product. 

At each of Syngenta’s Seedcare Institute locations around the world, their expert teams focus on defining the following global standards with application support: recipe development, quality assessment/application technology/engineering, stewardship, training, seed safety/biology, and product marketing support.  An investment of around $20 million dollars was made to their North American Seedcare Institute in Stanton, Minnesota.  Recently, Burrus and others were invited to tour this state-of-art facility, which offers enriched seed treatment education, better collaboration opportunities, advanced training, and personal application support. 

We learned many different seed treatment concepts that many don’t even think about.  There are multiple factors that matter, such as seed size and shape, rates, dose, slurry, seed nature and chemistry when it comes to the importance of even treatment distribution on each seed.  Also, we can’t forget about the various active ingredients with special formulations that could be liquid or solid, and the possibility of additional formulation technology to reduce dust off, wetting and setting surfactants, emulsify agents for oil or water, lignin/UV protection, antifreeze properties, antifoam, viscosity/thickening agents, biocides to suppress bacterial growth, or colorants within a seed treatment.

What can go wrong when it comes to treating a seed?  There can be challenges when you try to mix and match a recipe of different seed treatment components.  It might be easier if you had the convenience of a premixed seed treatment, especially when making room for additional components on a seed.  Remember, a seed has only so much room for seed treatment components.  When you start adding rhizobium or micronutrients, you could complicate the situation.  The polymer selection becomes important when it comes to the final combinations and formulation of your seed treatment.  Lastly, the amount of water added and environmental conditions at the time of application can make all the difference when it comes to your final product!  Will that high speed planter place the seed correctly, after it is treated? Don’t worry, they test that too!

The most fascinating realization was that it can take up to four years for a seed treatment to come to market.  It takes about 10 months to evaluate active ingredients, their target(s), crops, seed treatment package, application, handling, storage conditions, efficacy, adjuvants, compatibility, ease of use, solid or liquid, solubility, and solvents.  During this time, the quality assessment of visual appearance, uniform coating, seed sticking to a bag, seed flow (no chunks), ease of planting, or reduction of dust off can make or break the potential of a new seed treatment product.  The next six to eight months usually is spent on seed treatment formulation design and shelf life testing.  The last 12 to 24 months is dedicated to the EPA for their approval.  Burrus appreciates the opportunity to visit the Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN and looks forward to learning more in the future.

Burrus Seed Treatment Packs a Punch with Biologicals

One of the most talked about inputs within the agriculture sector, and appears to be exploding onto the scene, is biologicals.  Major dollars are being spent on research and development to provide biological agricultural products to improve farming, conserve natural resources while protecting our environment, and provide crop protection to improve plant health or productivity – all in the name of food sustainability.  The pressure is on to feed our future population by producing more agricultural outputs with less inputs.  

Biological products can have many names, but often are referred to as microbials.  These products are made from natural solutions such as microbes (bacteria or fungi), plant extracts, beneficial insects, or organic matter.  There are several categories of microbials including biostimulants, biopesticides (biocontrol), biofertility, and bioyield enhancers.  All of these can either improve nutrient uptake, promote growth and yield, or provide insect control and disease protection in the form of topical solutions or seed treatments.

Enhanced effect on roots and plants from Burrus biological components.

Burrus’ not so talked about secret is that we too have a biological in both our corn and soybean PowerShield® seed treatments.  The Burrus biologicals can be classified as bioyield enhancers deemed compatible with the already existing fungicides and insecticide.  Two biological components enhance plant performance and yield potential by improving root vigor and nutrient uptake by stimulating rhizobia to help maximize nitrogen fixation and increase nutrient uptake, which improves overall plant performance.  There are not only biological components, but also a special polymer with a unique colorant to improve seed treatment retention. This polymer also reduces dust off, provides uniform seed treatment coverage, delivers a high-quality appearance, and improves seed flow for uniform stands. 

The biggest challenge has been finding biological products that provide a rate of return. The Burrus biologicals within our PowerShield soybean seed treatment has proved that it can provide larger root systems, increase leaf nutrient concentrations, and overall, increase yield potential by enhanced nutrient uptake after many greenhouse, plot, and on-farm trials across the Midwest.  Combined trial results show, on average, a 2.4 bu/a advantage with PowerShield over untreated soybeans.  If soybeans are worth $9.50, that could equate a return of $22.80 on each acre with a $13 investment to purchase PowerShield.  So remember, we have fungicides, insecticides, and the Burrus biologicals included in our PowerShield soybean seed treatment, making it a super, premium choice!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Soybean Inoculants: How to Get the Most Bang For Your Buck

Today’s soybean inoculants are not the same as years past. The advancement and introduction of new products, low relative prices and changes to soybean production have led to additional research on the use of inoculants in our corn-soybean rotation. If purchasing a soybean inoculant (B. japonicum) or “rhizobia,” where might you get the most bang for your buck?

10. In the past, some research has shown that “long-term” drought, extending beyond 8 weeks, may warrant inoculant use. But, a recent study showed that soybeans won’t require an inoculant in a year following a drought.
9. If fields have been flooded for more than a week, rhizobia are deprived of oxygen, thus reducing their populations. But they can pop back again. And research indicates that a yield response isn’t guaranteed if you do inoculate.
8. The need for an inoculant may be greater in a sandy soil versus a medium to heavy texture soil. This is because lower populations exist in coarser texture soils.
7. What type of rhizobia strain is in your inoculant or does it consist of multiple strains? Newer inoculants have more effective nitrogen-fixing strains. If an indigenous rhizobia population already exists in the soil and has learned how to survive, it is difficult to replace it with a “better strain.”
6. Know the product. Newer inoculants are concentrated and provide 500,000 to over 1 million rhizobia cells per seed and can be tagged with a fungicide/insecticide seed treatment. As an extra bonus, some inoculants come with carriers that enhance survival and have supplemental food sources, patented technologies for delivery and protection, and extenders.
5. Rhizobia must be present at high numbers at planting to ensure soybean nodulation. Inoculants are living organisms and shelf life can vary, so follow manufacturer recommendations. The application methods of inoculants have improved and the use of stickers in dry product has greatly increased the amount of product remaining at planting. New inoculants have a higher survival rate (5 to 120 days), so they remain viable at planting.
4. Make sure soil conditions are conducive to inoculant survival and that the inoculant is compatible with other products used at planting. Rhizobia can be killed by desiccation, direct sunlight, heat, talc and contact with starter fertilizers. Check soil pH and EC (measure of salinity) before you even think about the addition of inoculant. Soil pH and salinity should be corrected and if it is too dry or wet at planting, effectiveness will be reduced.
3. In addition to your inoculant, are you getting “extra goodies” such as biostimulants, biofertilizer or biopesticide properties that would increase yield? Know what you are buying, if you need it and if it will give you a return on your investment.
2. Diagnose nitrogen deficiency within soybeans. Very light green soybeans can be a sign of nitrogen deficiency; however, many other environmental factors such as dry weather, soil pH (near roads/lanes), root compaction, root diseases, SCN or other factors limiting root growth can cause similar symptoms. Inspect soybean roots to see if there are healthy nodules (8 to 14 nodules per plant) and if the nodules are pinkish in color when cut open.

1. In the past, the largest yield increases from the use of soybean inoculants have been in environments with low rhizobia populations (less than 10 cells per gram of soil). The general recommendation is to use inoculants when no soybeans have been produced for over five years. Sometimes there is no response seen with inoculants, even in the absence of long-term soybean production.
New soybean inoculants are now being tested across the Midwest, and the results vary. In some instances, research has shown a 1 to 2 bushel per acre yield response when new inoculant products are used within a soybean-corn rotation. On farm research, such as replicated, side-by-side strip trials on a small amount of acreage, over multiple years are suggested. If you begin to see a yield response, you may want to incorporate new inoculant technology into your farming operation.
This article was originally published April 27, 2016 on the IL Soybean Advisor website. Stephanie Porter served as an IL Soy Envoy CCA in 2016 and is again in 2017.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kent Kleinschmidt: He shows up

2017 Master Farmer Kent Kleinschmidt has carved out a life and farm business with his wife, Sara, in Logan County. Here's a look at how he wound up as president of multiple organizations and how he gives back.

by Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer
This article is published with permission by Prairie Farmer; it first appeared online and on p. 8 of the March 2017 issue.

Photo credit: Holly Spangler

You can count on Kent Kleinschmidt. On the farm, in the statehouse, at a meeting, as a leader, in his community. Kent is reliable. Kent shows up.
Over and over, those were the words of the people who know him best, and qualities that helped earn him the 2017 Prairie Farmer Master Farmer award.
You can count on Kent Kleinschmidt. On the farm, in the statehouse, at a meeting, as a leader, in his community. Kent is reliable. Kent shows up.
Over and over, those were the words of the people who know him best, and qualities that helped earn him the 2017 Prairie Farmer Master Farmer award.
“Kent always shows up anytime he is called, and he understands the value of showing up,” says Rod Weinzierl, IL Corn. “He’s an incredible leader who can always be counted on, and he’s a farmer-leader that you can put into almost any situation, and he will handle it intelligently and effectively.”
Back home, his neighbors concur.
“I know I speak for the local farmers in our area when I say that Kent is well respected and the kind of guy that gets stuff done,” says Tazewell County farmer Keith Walker.
No farming question
Kent graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1974 and soon married his high school sweetheart, Sara, herself a farm girl. To come home to Logan County and farm with his father was never a question for them.
“I grew up on a farm. It’s all I’ve ever known and all I’ve ever wanted to do,” Kent says. “There was no question to do something else.”
So he and Sara built a life and a farm near Emden, which has grown from 175 acres to nearly 1,300 acres, spread out 20 miles east to west and 6 miles north to south. Geographic distance and soil type variety spread risk and help Kent manage his least favorite part of farming: uncertainty. “Weather and markets — things I don’t have control over,” he says. “In 2015, when we had way too much rain, our best corn was on lighter dirt where the water could roll off.”
Kent sells seed for Burrus Hybrids, and he custom plants and harvests for neighbors to spread equipment costs over additional acres. He raises seed beans and some non-GMO beans. He and his father were early soil conservationists, testing out ridge till and ultimately settling into a combination of strip till for corn and no-till for soybeans. Some of his farms haven’t seen a tillage tool since the 1980s.
“Some guys are afraid to try this conservation practice, but I have been using it in my operation for over 25 years, and I’m confident other farmers can use it, too,” Kent says.
Long term, Kent says his biggest challenge is nutrient management. “Rates, timing, products, trips over the field — and balancing each of these with a good financial plan,” he adds. To that end, he soil tests and applies fertilizer based on crop removal, and he’s built waterway structures, filter strips and three different types of terraces. He’s also begun testing cover crops.
Backyard, back pasture
Just out Kent and Sara’s back door, across the yard and down near the barn, begins the pasture, where they graze a small Angus and Red Angus-cross cow-calf herd. Kent can approach and call, and they’ll come running. He enjoys his cows and Sara does, too, having grown up with cattle herself. Their home sits on a high spot in Logan County, where pastures and creeks roll off in the distance, and wind turbines turn nearby.
Kent and Sara have two sons; Craig is a corn breeder for AgReliant, and Chad works for a local ag preventative maintenance company and helps on the farm part time. Retired today, Sara spent her career teaching high school math, including advanced calculus and other high-level classes. Today, Kent and Sara enjoy their four grandchildren, too.
The Kleinschmidts like to travel throughout the U.S. and internationally. The walls in their home are visual testament to the places they’ve been: Notre Dame, London Bridge, windmills in Holland, the Jefferson Memorial and even the home farm of Kent’s ancestors in Germany. An avid runner and marathoner, Sara often accompanies Kent on trips with farm organizations, biking throughout the city while he’s in meetings. She has a bucket-list trip planned, too: bicycling through the tulips in Holland.
Back home, the couple serves in their church, Zion Lutheran Church in Lincoln. Kent traveled to Louisiana several times to help with post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, and they’ve donated more than 10,000 pounds of sweet corn to the Peoria Area Food Bank. They’ve also hosted key legislative leaders on their farm, including Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, the previous Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee chairman. Kent has worked closely over the years with legislators, including former congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, former senator Carol Mosely Braun and former congressman Aaron Schock. The couple even hosted Rep. Darin LaHood’s first fundraiser, right on their farm.
Kent is credited with starting the Tazewell County Corn Growers Association 27 years ago. Since then, he’s served as president of both the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, and he was chairman of the first Commodity Classic, held 21 years ago. He’s also been named to several committees within the National Corn Growers Association, and is currently president of Tazewell County Farm Bureau.
Has it all paid off? Wapella farmer Vic Riddle has worked with Kent for 25 years and says yes. “In any discussion, Kent is asked for his opinion because it is always valued. There is no doubt that Illinois agriculture is a lot better today because of Kent’s longtime service and commitment.”
Photo credit: Holly Spangler

Familiarity: Kent’s cattle graze in a pasture behind the house, where creeks and hills meander off in the distance. He is concerned about regulations that, while designed to prevent nutrient loss, could keep his cattle from drinking from creeks.
What's he learned?
As Kent Kleinschmidt has traveled the world for state and national commodity organizations, he’s learned a thing or two along the way. Like when IL Corn hosted a public speaker training session and taught him to use props or visuals when speaking.
“A couple of years later, I was in a meeting with then-Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, talking about proposed trucking regulations,” Kent recalls. “I had taken pictures of my 1962 JD 3010 tractor hooked to a 200-bushel wagon — the total weight would have triggered the regulations similar to an 80,000-pound semi.”
He passed the pictures around the table and LaHood asked to keep them. In the end? The regulations were scrapped.
“I thought, ‘Aha, they worked!’ Maybe my pictures made a difference in current-day regulations,” he says.

MASTER AT A GLANCE: Kent Kleinschmidt

Wife: Sara

Children: Craig Kleinschmidt, Chad Kleinschmidt

County: Logan

Operation1,300 acres of corn and soybeans, 20 head of beef cows

Leadership: Illinois Corn Growers Association president, Illinois Corn Marketing Board chairman, National Corn Growers Association board, Commodity Classic co-chairman, Logan County Soil and Water Conservation District board, Tazewell County Farm Bureau president, trade mission host for Taiwan and Malaysia, international trade mission participant, Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation, A LOT, Zion Lutheran Church in Lincoln

Nominator: IL Corn

This article is published with permission by Prairie Farmer; it first appeared online and on p. 8 of the March 2017 issue.