2016 Wisconsin Crop Management Conference (January 12-14)

On January 12 – 14, 2016 the agribusiness industries of Wisconsin will come together at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison for the Wisconsin Crop Management Conference and Agri-Industry Showcase. With over 40 educational sessions, 100,000 square feet of agricultural equipment and services exhibits, and approximately 1200 agricultural industry employees in attendance, the WCMC is the largest agri-industry conference of its kind in the State of Wisconsin.

Craig Culver, co-founder and chairman of the board of Culver’s Restaurants, and Mark Tauscher, former Wisconsin Badger and Green Bay Packer football player, will kick off the event with keynote speeches on day one. According to Shawn Conley, UW soybean extension specialist and WCMC faculty co-director, “We know Mark plans to stick around and sign autographs for a while on Tuesday so bring your footballs.”

Days two and three feature educational sessions on a range of topics including weed, plant disease, nitrogen and nutrients, and soil and water management; seeds and traits, forages and cover crops, manure, and pollinators. Dr. Chad Hart, Iowa State University, will be the final speaker presenting on the Useful to Useable tools (aka U2U). “Make sure to stick around to the end on Thursday,” said Dr. Matt Ruark, UW soils extension specialist and WCMC faculty co-director. “The climate tools that U2U offers have the potential to be quite valuable for farmers and crop consultants.” The U2U program is a USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture-funded research and extension project designed to improve the resilience and profitability of farms in the Corn Belt amid a variable and changing climate.

Feed, grain, and agribusiness sessions will highlight GMO’s, staff recruiting and retention, and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Also available will be both basic and advanced SnapPlus training sessions. The conference is co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, UW College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and UW Extension. To register, go to http://go.wisc.edu/w51b57.

Jim Stute wows them at Crop & Pest Management Field Day

Stute 2013

Jim Stute (Department Head & Crop/Soils Educator, Rock County¬†Extension) and Megan Chawner helped out an under-the-weather Matt Ruark at the Diagnostic Training Center’s Crop and Pest Management Field Day. As a team, we gave four hour-long workshop sessions, where we addressed current issues with cover crops and prevented planting and viewed cover crop performance in our demonstration trial. Attendance was about 65 people, which included crop consultants, fertilizer dealers, and government agency employees.

Two handouts were provided: (1) NRCS Technical Note and (2) white paper on evaluating the economic trade-offs between prevent planting payments and harvesting a planned cover crop for forage.

Four big questions asked during this workshop were: 

1) Are there any drawbacks to a rye cover crop in no-till? Preliminary research at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station shows little to no drawback to no-till corn silage yields (data here). However, there is tremendous benefit to soil by having this soil cover after a corn silage harvest. The key to good management in this scenario is to make sure the cover crop is terminated as early as possible to avoid additional competition for nitrogen and water.

2) Will annual ryegrass (aka Italian ryegrass) winterkill in Wisconsin? Annual ryegrass has been known to survive Wisconsin winters and it is important to have a plan for spring termination. Ryegrass has also been known to develop herbicide resistance. However, ryegrass remains a popular cover crop option when flying seed onto standing corn or soybean because of the relatively low seeding rate (22-33 lb/ac of pure live seed) compared to winter rye (60 to 185 lb/ac) or oats (33 to 110 lb/ac).

3) Which legumes are beneficial following winter wheat? Frost seeding red clover (early spring) or berseem/oat mixture post harvest. Crimson clover will also work post harvest, but berseem has been observed to be more consistent in stand establishment.

4) What are the known benefits of radish? Preliminary data can be found here and current research exists in Rock, Sheboygan, and Washington Counties. Preliminary results indicate that radish will increase nitrate concentrations in early season soil nitrate tests, but not enough data has been collected to quantify a nitrogen credit.

Organic Vegetable Twilight Field Tour

A great evening north of Pardeeville, WI for the Organic Vegetable Twilight Field Tour at Norman Miller’s Farm. It is clear that the drought conditions during the 2012 field season have caused issues for even the irrigated crops. Much of the evening focused on insect issues (covered by Russ Groves), disease issues (covered by Amanda Gevens) and physiological issues pertaining to fruit set and fruit quality.

Several growers brought along peppers with blossom end rot (Fig. 1). Blossom end rot can be related to calcium (Ca) deficiency. However, most Wisconsin soils are not deficient in Ca. Other factors such as excess N or K application or lack of root development were ruled out as well. The main cause of blossom end rot appears to be water stress. Even with drip irrigation supplying water to the crops, it has been difficult to provide enough water. Water stressed plants are not able to translocated Ca from leaf tissue to fruit, causing the physiological disorder.

Another issue observed that growers field was split melons (Fig. 2). It is unclear the actual cause, our best guess as a group (after considerable questioning of the farmer) was that it was caused by uneven irrigation and heat and water stress during non-irrigated periods. There were also specific questions about odd shaped fruit for cucumber and tomato. The root cause of these physiological symptoms are all likely the same. It has been difficult to supply enough water consistently throughout the day to keep plants from experiencing stress. Growers who only irrigated every other day have seen the most fruit quality issues.

Blossom end rot in pepper

Figure 1. Blossom end rot in pepper

Split melon caused by heat (?)/water (?)/irrigation managment (?)

Figure 2. Split melon caused by heat (?)/water (?)/irrigation managment (?)

Cover crops discussed at 2010 Agronomy/Soils Field Day

ruark-agronomy-soils-field-day-2010v2At the 2010 Agronomy/Soils Field Day at Arlington, WI, I conducted a field talk on the value of different cover crop species. Specifically, cereal rye, berseem clover and tillage radish. Cereal rye establishes quickly and provides ground cover, but does not function as a green manure (i.e. supplies nitrogen to the subsequent crop). Berseem clover takes longer to establish, but will provide a nitrogen credit if well established. The benefits of tillage radish are less known. The tillage radish performs a type of “bio-tillage” and may scavenge excess available nitrogen from the soils system. The field slides can be viewed here.

Long winter days

January is Extension Month for the Ruark Lab!

This January was especially busy with presentations give at the following events.

  1. Wisconsin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Growers
  2. IPM Scout School
  3. UW-Extension Webinar Series
  4. Wisconsin Crop Management Conference
  5. Wisconsin Cranberry School
  6. Heathly Grown Potato Conference
  7. Biomass Opportunities for Southern Wisconsin
  8. Nutrient Management Workshop – Green County

Follow the links to check out the events. Also check out the link to the Wisconsin Crop Management to see all of the topics covered at the 2010 event.

2009 Area Soil, Water & Nutrient Management Meetings

The 2009 Area Soil, Water & Nutrient Management Meetings are underway! This year’s topics include:

  • Soil mapping in Karst topography
  • Wisconsin nutrient management update (DATCP)
  • What you need to know about gypsum
  • Nitrogen and soybean: application to and credit from
  • The “Big Laboski” Hour – research updates from Dr. Laboski’s research program

For more info on the Area Meetings click here