Raymond C. Ward, Ph.D.
Jolene F. Ward, B.S.
Ward Laboratories Inc. Assists In Cereal Forage Study
Ward Laboratories, Inc. analyzes hundreds of samples annually for scientists from North Dakota to Texas and from Missouri to Utah. A recent article in the Agronomy Journal recognized Ward Laboratories as the analytical laboratory.
One example of Ward's work involved New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari. Their research studied cereal forage monocultures and intercropping with legumes. The crops were provided two irrigation treatments during two growing seasons in a Canez fine sandy loam soil to evaluate the effect of irrigation treatments on forage yield and quality.
Ward Laboratories, Inc. of Kearney, Nebraska, a National Forage Testing Association certified laboratory and a member of the NIR consortium, helped with the study by performing NIR analysis for crude protein, neutral detergent fiber and net energy for lactation on the forage plot samples.
Forage dry matter yield of cereals and cereal-legume intercrops increased with the additional irrigation, but there was a negative effect on forage quality. In years of adequate, well distributed precipitation, reduced irrigation improved forage quality without reducing yield.
Cereal forages irrigated once in a growing season yielded equally to those watered twice during years with average precipitation (2000-2001, 16 inches), but not in a dry growing season (2002-2003, 9.65 inches).
Winter pea did not begin it's period of rapid growth early enough to improve yield or nutritive value of rye-pea forage. However, the nutritive value of wheat-pea and triticale-pea forages was greater than the respective cereal monocultures with added irrigation.
Ward Laboratories takes pride in providing accurate analytical data for researchers and enjoys reading about their work in scientific publications such as the aforementioned New Mexico State study.
Where we will be...
See Ward Laboratories professionals at the following agricultural events in Nebraska.
May 27 - Sandhills Cattle Association Convention at the Cherry County Fairgrounds in Valentine, Nebraska
June 16-17 - Ranch Expo at the Fairgrounds in Bassett, Nebraska
August 25 - UNL Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Annual Open House in Whitman, Nebraska
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Timing Is Important
Study Compares Slow Growth In June With Actual Crop Yields In October
Have you ever wondered how slow growth in June reduces yields in October?
A recent South Dakota State University report may begin to uncover some of those answers according to Dr. Ray Ward, certified soil scientist. The SDSU study compared conventional tillage plots with strip-till and no-till plots at the Southeast Farm near Beresford, South Dakota.
At the V6 corn growth stage, conventional tilled corn growth was near 100%, meaning the corn was the tallest of those analyzed at the six-leaf stage. Conversely, the no-till crop was the shortest at the same stage 0 growth or 68% as tall as the conventional till corn. The study was conducted in soybean and wheat stubble.
However, the slower growth of no-till corn in June did not translate in dramatic yield differences according to the SDSU study. In fact, corn grain grown in soybean stubble with no-till practices yielded 141 bu/A compared with 135 bu/A from the conventional till field. The study further showed that the no-till plot in wheat stubble produced 158 bu/A with the conventional plot yielding 168 bu/A.
When averaged, the no-till plots produced 1 ba/A less than the conventional or strip-till operations even though the corn in early June (at the six-leaf stage) looked 68% as tall in the no-till plots.
Even though the corn was not growing very fast in June (at the V6 stage), moisture and temperature were adequate later in the season to produce top yields. Please read the next article where late season moisture was inadequate to produce top yields.
Timing Critical To Analyzing Yield Response
For a few years now, Dr. Ray Ward, President of Ward Laboratories Inc., and a certified soil scientist has been making his case for no-till farming practices in this newsletter, in his many presentations across the Great Plains and in casual conversation with producers.
And, while Dr. Ward remains a staunch supporter of no till practices, he readily admits that many factors combine to determine crop yields ... one of those factors is weather and specifically the timing and amount of rain.
Dr. Ward cites a recent Kansas State University study reported in the Fluid Fertilizer Journal involving a strip-till plot and an adjacent plot that featured no-till.
On the Agronomy station at Manhattan, Kansas, corn grown in a strip tilled plot in a field that had been no-tilled for 15 years yielded 205 bushels per acre. The adjacent plot featuring no-till practices, produced 174 bushels per acre. Residue on the no-till plot was solid across the field from the past crop of grain sorghum. The strip-till operation was completed about November 1 of the previous fall.
Dr. Ray Lamond from KSU said all the corn was planted on April 2, 2003. The corn yield was so great because rainfall was plentiful through June with the last measurable rainfall of 1.4 inches coming on July 8. The strip-till corn was 7-9 days ahead of the no-till crop at the time of the last rainfall. The difference in maturity date made the difference in yields, Dr. Lamond speculated. He reasoned that the later no-till corn ran out of moisture before the yield was determined. Grain sorghum planted in the same field where the corn plots were planted made a yield of 35 bushels per acre because the grain sorghum received no additional rainfall.
So like every year a crop is planted, timing is one factor critical to analyzing yield response.
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The Paper Shuffle On The Farm
When you gather two or more farmers together these days, it is likely that the first subject of conversation will be the weather followed by the price of gas and then the conversation turns quickly to all the paperwork today's producers must complete.
In the "good ole days" the only paperwork that was needed involved information for the local banker and the IRS. Today, it's alphabet soup - DEQ, EPA. FSA, NRD, NRCS, Water Quality Commission, and Air Quality Commission - in regards to agencies that expect farmers to do paperwork.
And, while it seems that the paper chase gets burdensome at times in reality the information contained in all those reports can be helpful to your farming operation. Not only is the paperwork important protection for the environment, it can supply helpful management information for you as well.
Your abundance of paperwork can be a learning process that may make you a better manager.
For example, fertilizer application records can prove helpful in developing next year's cropping plans and evaluating your fertilizer's performance all while protecting water and soil from excess nutrients. Accurate fertilizer records, when reviewed carefully, can impact your bottom line as well by reducing fertilizer inputs in some cases. Similarly, manure is becoming an increasingly popular source of nutrients for crops and carbons for soils. However, excess amounts are not necessary, so accurate records are needed to guard against overuse.
Pesticide records are needed for many of the same reasons listed above. But the need to know what can be expected in terms of possible carryover and pest problems from the previous cropping year makes accurate record keeping a must.
Further, water application rates are becoming more critical as water management tools. The shortage of water supplies and the cost to pump water puts more economic value on proper water use making irrigation records important for any operation.
A new record keeping requirement facing producers is the need for seed corn receipts to prove that you purchased non Bt corn to plant as a refuge for both European corn borer and rootworm. Producers need to be aware that there are at least four different types of transgenic corn hybrids, making it critical to record what type of Bt was planted.
The new regulations state that Bt corn used as refuge acres for corn borer must be within one half mile of non Bt corn (not your neighbor's field). On the other hand, non Bt corn for rootworm refuge must be adjacent to a Bt rootworm variety field.
Even in the midst of all the other farming activity, keeping timely and accurate records is a modem necessity. So get out your notepad, calendar, or PDA and record what you are doing during this growing season.
Consider Timing Of Weed Control
In June, 2003 as I was driving across the country. I saw field after field that were so green with weeds, it was difficult to see the soybean plants so said Dr. Ray Ward, President of Ward Laboratories, Inc.
And, even though later herbicide treatments eliminated the weeds, it's possible that a loss of yield had already occurred according to some studies documented by Steve Knezevic in the 2004 Guide For Weed Management In Nebraska from UN-L INAR. Knezevic is the extension integrated weed management specialist for the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory.
His studies of crop-weed competition show that yield loss is very sensitive to small differences in the period between crop and weed emergence. A well designed weed management plan will use the concepts of critical period of weed control and economic thresholds. Critical period of weed control (CPWC) is a period in the crop growth cycle when weeds must be controlled to prevent yield losses. Weeds that emerge before this period or after this period may not represent a threat to crop yields.
Delaying weed control beyond the start of the identified period for weed free environment will cost a producer an average of 2 percent of yield loss for every delay in leaf stage development for both corn and soybean. The length of the critical period of weed control is influenced by cultural practices (eg. Nitrogen level in corn and row spacing in soybean).
Reducing the N-fertilizer level in corn resulted in a longer critical period free of weeds. The critical period of weed free environment ranged from the first to tenth leaf stage for unfertilized corn, third to ninth leaf stage for corn with 50 pounds of N fertilizer, fourth to ninth leaf stage corn when 110 pounds of N was applied and the sixth to ninth leaf of corn fertilized with 210 lb/A of nitrogen.
Reducing the row spacing in soybean delayed the onset of the critical period for weed control and increased the crop tolerance to weed presence early in the season. In wide row soybeans (30 inch rows), the beginning of the critical period of weed control was at the first trifoliate stage, suggesting that, in wide-row soybeans, control measures should start early in the season (at the first trifoliate stage).
With l5-inch rows, the beginning of the critical period of weed controls was delayed and corresponded approximately to the second trifoliate stage. With 7.5 inch row soybeans the control period was at the third trifoliate stage.
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Ray Ward Presented Alumni Service Award
Saying he isn't surprised often, Dr. Ray Ward, President of Ward Laboratories, Inc., admitted he was genuinely surprised by an award he received from the University of Nebraska College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) Alumni Association.
Somehow, Ray's wife Jolene and 15 other members of Ray's immediate family, were able to keep Ray "in the dark" about the 2004 Alumni Association Service Award he was to receive.
Thinking he was attending an awards banquet to watch other deserving alumni receive awards, Ray and Jolene went to the banquet. When Ray's children and grandchildren were spotted in the corner of the room, the secret was out.
Ray was presented the award for outstanding service to agriculture by the Dean of CASNR at UN-L Steven S. Waller and Roger Bissell, CASNR Alumni Association President. Bissell works for Ward Laboratories, Inc. in Kearney.
Did You Know...
The University of Nebraska College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources has formed a new alumni association. Charter members are being solicited for the new association now. For more information see the college's website at http://casnr.unl.edu/alumni or call 402-472-2201.