Ag PhD Show #1142 (Air Date 2-23-20)

D: Hello and welcome to Ag
PhD, I’m Darren Hefty. B: And I’m Brian Hefty, thanks
for joining us today. Over the last few years we have
seen strip tillage become much more popular, but a lot
of people want to do it in the spring instead of the
fall. We’re going to talk today about the top tips for
you if you want to do strip-till in the spring. D:
Well I’m going to turn to something other than row
crop production – I’m going to talk about pasture and
rangeland and talk about weed control. As we get into
spring here and things start to warm up, we see a lot of
those weeds that are perennials and biennials
that we need to get under control now. We’ll talk
about what you can do on your farm. B: Alright we
have a great Weed of the Week that we are going to
show you how to control later in the show. We also
have an Iron Talk as well, but first, here’s this
week’s Farm Basics. During our Farm Basics time
today we’re going to talk a little about roads, and the
reason why we’re talking about roads today is because
farmers get a lot of the blame for bad roads around
the country and we want to talk today about why most of
that is absolutely not true. D: When you look at roads
and bridges around the country, you’ll a lot of
times see load limits. They’ll be weight limits
that you can have per axle or for total vehicle weight
as you travel down those roads. Now you may notice
those signs often come up and go down and you’re like,
“Wait a second – I didn’t see that sign here last
month but it’s there now.” Well, in many parts of the
country there are spring load limits. So, in the
spring, as the ground is thawing out, the county or
the township – or even the state – may put some load
limits on certain roads. B: Ok, so the first enemy of
roads is water, we talk about that all the time. The
second enemy of roads is frost, and that’s where
Darren was going with ‘the frost coming out of the
ground’ and I can only imagine you already know how
bad this frost can be if you’re in the northern part
of the United States – that is an enormous enemy of
roads. So again, we’re talking about this today
because farmers get the blame all the time for bad
roads, but let’s face it – if there was no frost out
there, the roads would be a lot better. D: Well they
certainly would, and you think about it this time of
year – you’ll see a lot of seed delivery trucks, for
example, running right now before these load limits
come on in certain areas because they know, “Hey I’ve
got a heavy truck, I have seed that has to get to the
farm,” and yeah, in many cases it may be a couple of
months away or more before they are going to be
planting that seed, but in the meantime, load limits
come on and that limits some of the side roads that these
trucks may want to come on to deliver product. B:
Alright, so frost is a big problem for roads, but what
I always tell people is the number one enemy of roads is
water. Water – when it’s left to go wherever it wants
to go – will cause tremendous issues with
roads. And I just think about all the roads I drive
every year – almost any time there’s a spot in a road
that’s bad, it’s because of water in that area. So, if –
just for example – you take a look at a new interstate
highway being built today – what they’ll typically do is
they’ll run tile lines on both sides of the road to
catch that water, keep the water table down, and take
the water where they want it to go – drop the water into
a creek or river or something like that so it
isn’t just randomly seeping below the road. And I bring
this up all the time to townships, to counties, even
to state highway departments to say, “Look, you need to
promote tiling with your farmers especially when the
farmer wants to tile anywhere near your road,
because when the farmer tiles near your road it
lowers the water table there, it forces the water
to go where you and the farmer both want it to go,
and now your road’s going to be in a lot better shape. D:
You know, Brian, I think it’s a hole in our
educational system in the United States that we don’t
really talk about water movement below the ground,
we just look at rivers and streams and lakes and oceans
and this kind of thing, but water is there underneath
the ground and it is moving, and that’s something that we
do need to be aware of especially when it comes to
roads. B: Well once again, I realize farmers a lot of the
times with their big trucks – just like we run on our
farm – get the blame for bad roads, but absolutely that
is not the number one cause of bad roads in the country. Number one is water, number
two is frost. D: Well our Weed of the Week certainly
isn’t going to hurt your road, but you may not want
it growing out in your crop field. We’ll show you what
this weed is later in the show. B: With spring coming up,
it’s great to see green grass, especially out in
your pastures, but here’s the problem – you’re going
to have weeds. How will you control those weeds? That’s
what we want to talk about today. D: First of all,
Brian, we need to group these weeds up a little bit. We can talk about annual
weeds in one category, lump perennial and biennial weeds
in another category, and then lump woody species or
even trees or brush in a different category here,
because there’s going to be control methods that you use
for each. With the annual weeds, for example, many
farmers or ranchers will just use a dicamba
application or maybe a 2,4-D application. It’s pretty
inexpensive, you’re going to get control, it’s not going
to leave you with a whole lot of residual out in the
pasture, which really isn’t a big deal – if you wipe out
the weeds once then you get good grass growth – you
should be in pretty good shape. B: Alright, rather
than just using 2,4-D or dicamba – personally, I’d
rather see a person use Distinct. Distinct has a
little bit of dicamba in there, but the main weed
killer is diflufenzopyr – it’s a different active
ingredient that we don’t commonly use in agriculture
– so you’ve got two active ingredients. It’s going to
be superior to 2,4-D and to dicamba in terms of weed
control, and it’s really not very expensive. D: Unless
the pasture has been newly seeded or it was overgrazed
in recent years, we don’t have a lot of annual weed
pressure; we have more biennial and perennial weed
pressure. We see a lot of different types of thistles,
for example, out in pastures that really need to get
under control. If you can get them in the first year
of their life cycle – like with biennials – if you
catch them in the rosette stage, like with a bull or
musk thistle, for example, you can do a really nice job
controlling them before they become a big problem,
because once we get into year two, they go into the
bolt stage and they’re trying to put on a seed head
and reproduce, and that can be a tough time to get them
under control. So be after these things early this
spring. B: Here’s what I would use – if I have a
major thistle problem, I’m going Milestone. If I have
leafy spurge, I’m probably going Tordon. In terms of
other perennials, it just depends on what you have –
you can look on the label – there are a lot of products
out there. Some have tremendous residual, as do
both Milestone and Tordon. So, you got to be really
careful if it’s something you’re going to rotate to
another crop maybe 2 or 3 or even 4 years down the line –
you still need to be thinking about ‘what are
your choices today?’ We talked earlier about
dicamba, 2,4-D, Distinct – those can burn down a lot of
the perennials; they probably aren’t going to
completely control them, but they don’t have so much
residual so if you say, “Well hey next year already
I want to raise some legume crop out there,” don’t be
using Milestone or Tordon, but if it’s going to be
long-term pasture, those are excellent choices. D:
Alright let’s move onto that third category – the woody
species – a lot of brush and even some small volunteer
trees will get out into pasture or rangeland and we
want to wipe that out, and here’s why – because I do
get questions from people, “Why do you have to kill
those?” Because they use a lot of moisture and they use
a lot of nutrients, and we have less grass growth
around them. So, we want to get them out. If you want to
have them off to the side of a pasture, no problem, but
if they’re out in the middle they can create some issues
for you. So, we’ll look at different products here
depending on what you’re going to do with that
pasture down the road. B: Chaparral is usually our
number one brush product we’re talking about – that’s
a combination of Ally and Milestone – has very very
long residual. So again, we’ve got to be really
careful about what we’re rotating to. If you are
going to rotate to some other crop next year, I
would strongly consider Remedy Ultra. That does not
have all the residual that the Chaparral does. D: Well
there’s certainly a lot more products than what Brian and
I just discussed here, so if your agronomist is
recommending something else besides these products, it
might work fine too. You know the challenges here in
pasture though are how to get this stuff applied and
what time of year to do it because you got so many
other things going on. I like the early spring – we
don’t have a lot of crops up around the pasture, so if
there is a just a small amount of drift or you’re
going to use a product like dicamba or 2,4-D, you don’t
have as much worry about hurting something else in an
off-target type application, but the other thing here is
– you’ve got some time in the early spring to get
things done, so get out there, whether it’s with
your sprayer or with an aerial application, and use
as much water and as much pressure as you can with
most of these products to get good coverage, because
again, we’re talking about weeds that are growing out
in a pasture so there’s grass growth. So, getting
good coverage is not easy, and the better the coverage
the better the weed control. B: We also get a lot of
questions from people saying, “Well, instead of
spraying in the spring should I just wait and spray
my pastures in the fall?” Look – any time you have
weeds – go get them under control! We don’t want to
wait. The other thing is some people that say, “Oh
I’m going to spray in the fall,” they don’t get around
to it, then the freeze hits, then they spray after the
frost – well that doesn’t work super well either. You
always want to spray before your first frost of the
fall. Just get your weeds sprayed this spring – that’s
our number one piece of advice today. D: The other
thing, Brian, is we talk to a lot of people that say,
“Well I don’t want to spend much money out in my
pasture.” Depending on where you’re at, pasture rent is
pretty expensive and hay is REALLY expensive. So if
you’re lucky enough to have some pasture ground, you
need the best grass growth you can, so getting weeds
under control is certainly going to greatly improve
your grass growth out in the pasture, and the other thing
is some of the premium products – like we talked
about Milestone and Tordon, for example – they’re going
to give you season long residual on most of these
weeds, where an application of a 2,4-D or dicamba
product is going to be a very short-term weed control
option. B: If you want to buy a pre-mix like let’s say
Grazon or GrazonNext- we don’t really love those
products, you can use them, certainly, but if you’re
just after perennials or you really want to get your
perennials under control, use a strong rate of
something that will actually kill the perennial, because
you know that dicamba and 2,4-D will not. And many
times what happens is the 2,4-D or dicamba shuts the
plant down before that good perennial herbicide can
actually get all the way through the extensive root
system of that weed, and you don’t get the control that
you were looking for. So certainly, in your worst
perennial areas, use straight Milestone or use
straight Tordon. D: Well there’s a lot of choices for
you with pasture weed control and one of the weeds
that you just might be after is our Weed of the Week. We’ll show you how to stop
this tough weed later in the show. B: There are many
reasons we like strip-tillage – you can
place fertilizer deep, the row warms up a little more
quickly, you have left plenty of residue in-between
the rows – strip-till is awesome. But the thing is,
for a lot of people they can’t get this work done in
the fall. So, should you do spring strip-till and if so,
how do you make that work? I’ll just tell you right now
– yes you can certainly do spring strip-till, but we
want to talk about how it varies – how it’s different
from fall – and our top tips for success. D: No suspense
there Brian? “Can you do this? Well yes you can.” You
just gave away the answer right away! Of course, you
can do spring strip-till, but – it is different than
in the fall. In the fall a lot of times we’ll see
growers using a shank, and we’ll use a shank in the
fall on our farm, too, or the deep cog wheel that you
can do with the Soil Warrior machine. In the spring, most
people are just using coulters, they don’t want to
get deep and bring up wet soil. B: Yeah that’s really
the whole thing – in the fall, you a lot of times
have the opportunity to go deep and it’s not super wet
or cold down there, but in the spring you say,
“Alright, by the time it is dry “ – (let’s call it six,
eight, ten inches deep) – “you know what? I should
have been planting a week or two earlier.” It just simply
doesn’t work. So, in the spring, we’re usually
talking about strip-till going two to four inches
deep and that’s about it. D: Now here’s a question, too,
that we get, “If you’re using coulters, should I be
putting fertilizer in one place or should I mix it
throughout that zone?” My thoughts on this have
changed over the years and it’s been due to a lot of
digging that I’ve done out in fields. I love spreading
out the fertility in that strip-till zone now and the
reason why is because of what I’m seeing with root
growth. When you look at the root system in a two-by-two
placement situation, for example, you see a lot of
roots right around that two-by-two band, or if a
grower was doing two-by-two fertilizer or four-by-four,
or whatever on each side of the row, you see a lot of
growth there, but you don’t see as much growth in the
middle. When we saw that strip-till zone on our farm
and on many other farms that I’ve been on digging, we
just see a pretty good root development all the way
around. Now I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to
amount to lots more yield or just significantly better
standability, but it sure looks impressive, the plants
looked healthy, and the growers are pretty happy
that we’re doing it, so it is something that I like is
spreading that fertility out in the strip-till zone. B:
So, our number one piece of advice here is do not delay
your planting. If you say, “Well the ground is fit to
plant, but it’s not fit to strip-till,” that’s not
going to work. So you have to think about ‘how can I
get that strip tillage done’ and that’s why we say –
you’re going to want to shallow it up in the spring
– two to four inches deep is about all the deeper you’re
going to run, ok? So, if you’re at two to four inches
deep – to Darren’s point – you can’t have super
concentrated fertilizer right at two inches and then
put the seed right at two inches in that same spot. So, you have to be really
careful about what you’re doing here. Also, you have
to look at the type of berm that you are now building. In the fall, there’s more
time for things to happen between then and spring, but
in the spring, you’re going to plant maybe even later
that same day or the very next day. So you don’t want
a whole bunch of air pockets – you just want to have a
nice firm berm that you are building right in the middle
there, get it stirred up just a little bit, try to
break that residue down, clean that row off, make it
a good seed bed for what you’re going to plant into,
because it’s probably going to happen fairly soon. D:
Alright here’s the other thing that goes along with
that – doing it in the spring versus in the fall –
now it’s even MORE critical that you hit that zone with
your planter just perfectly – you don’t want to miss the
zone and get off into where you haven’t done the
tillage. I would say that with the fall applications
too, that it is important, but with the spring app,
it’s going to be soft versus firm really quickly and
that’s going to change everything with your planter
if you get off that zone, so make sure that you’re really
fussy – whoever’s running that strip-till rig better
do a great job so you can follow with your planter. B:
Well once again, we do like strip-till a lot, it can be
used very effectively in the fall and in the spring. Just
– if you’re doing it in the spring – you’ve got to
think a little bit differently than if you do
in the fall – probably shallow things up, spread
the fertilizer out, and it should work fine. D: Well in
reduced-till situations, one thing that can be more of a
problem is our Weed of the Week. We’ll show you how to
stop it coming up next. B: Our Weed of the Week is
common milkweed. D: Alright, first of all, whenever we
talk about common milkweed, we get some of our viewers
who are a little bit nervous about this one, now maybe
that’s you and you’re saying, “Oh no. Why do they
have to kill the milkweed? I hear that monarch
butterflies like milkweeds.” – and they do, and that’s
fine – we’re not talking about killing every milkweed
around the country. B: Well wait a second here, hold up,
here’s the whole deal – this is a free country, and when
I’m going to raise corn or I’m going to raise soybeans
or I’m going to raise wheat – it’s not my job to raise
milkweeds. So, there are millions and millions and
millions of Americans who all could plant common
milkweed. D: And there are many that do. B: Right, and
our suggestion is – if you are on board with, “Hey we
want more butterflies,” then just talk to more people
about growing milkweeds. It can certainly be raised in
anybody’s yard, but its not going to work out in our
crop fields, otherwise we’re not going to be able to
produce as much food as we could for our growing, and
in some cases starving world. D: And here’s why –
milkweed is a perennial weed that has rhizomes. So, we
see a lot of weeds – like Canada thistle, for example,
is a great comparison. We see those rhizomes running
below ground, new plants popping up – it’s the same
thing with common milkweed, it’s a big issue. B:
Alright, so here’s how you control it – high rates of
Roundup – and don’t be thinking you need lots of
water. In fact, you want to run less water and higher
rates of Roundup so you have more concentrated droplets,
because milkweed has a very waxy leaf, so it does not
absorb – it doesn’t hold a lot of herbicide when you go
spray it. D: And Roundup is really important, because
Brian and I grew up trying to hand pull milkweeds and
here’s the problem with that – you can hand pull them,
but again, they’re just going to shoot more
milkweeds up and you’ve got a whole bunch more just a
couple of weeks later. B: Right which is why tillage
doesn’t work very well, and most herbicides do not work
very well. So, the only thing we know of that will
actually kill this weed – in most cases – is Roundup. You
can certainly burn it down with 2,4-D with dicamba,
with a number of other herbicides out there, but
you’re not going to kill it like you will with Roundup. D: That’s all the time we
have for this week’s Weed of the Week, but Iron Talk is
coming up next. D: For farmers in
the northern US, the optimum time to add drain
tile to fields may just be while the crop is growing. I’ll explain in today’s Iron
Talk. Owning your own tile plow is pretty handy
sometimes, especially when you have some problem areas
in your fields that need fixing. If you’ve got iron
deficiency chlorosis spots or alkali areas, these are
great examples. When you have an area where water
sits on the soil surface for just a few extra days after
a rain, you could be setting yourself up for a buildup of
salts, carbonates and bicarbonates, and nitrates,
as well as a high and rising soil pH. In most cases,
improving the drainage will solve that problem for the
long-term. However, when are you going to get the work
done? Post-harvest is the optimum time, but some years
that window is pretty short before soils freeze up and
the snow starts to fly. For those reasons and more,
we’ve actually put a majority of our drain tile
in fields DURING the crop season. Here’s how we do it
on our farm and why it may be worth considering on your
farm, too. Just like everyone else around us, we
push to get the crop in as quickly as we can when
conditions are fit, and right after we plant all the
crops, we get started on tiling. First, we’ll go into
corn fields until the corn is about 12 inches tall. Then we’ll switch to soybean
fields until they get a foot tall. After that, wheat
harvest is just around the corner, and once that comes
off, we can tile those areas as needed, too. We aren’t
doing 15-foot pattern tile spacings in-crop. In some
cases, we may just get the mains in or limit our tiling
to a problem area that drowned out. With 30 inch
rows, our disturbance is minimal and we’ve yet to see
it show up as a negative on the yield map. As for
harvesting in the fall, we’ve got the whole growing
season (hopefully with some rain) for things to settle
back down, but YES, we’ll have to be careful in those
areas with the combine. The benefits are awesome,
though! We get the tiling done sooner, and jumping
into a hole to make a connection is a whole lot
more fun when the weather is warm and getting wet is
actually NOT a negative. If you’ve got tiling to do, I’d
suggest you take a look at tiling in-crop to get things
done quicker on your farm. That’s all for today’s Iron
Talk and now, back to the show. B: That’s all the time
we have for today’s show, but before we go, we’d
encourage you to check out the Ag PhD Radio Show. You’ll find us on Sirius XM
Channel 147 each weekday at 2 PM Central. D: And don’t
miss the next Ag PhD TV Show. We’ll have another
Weed of the Week, Farm Basics, Iron Talk and a
whole lot more. I’m Darren Hefty. B: And I’m Brian
Hefty. Thanks for watching Ag PhD. Copyright 2020
IFA Productions All rights reserved.

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