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Take care to apply the right amount of fertiliser when placing with seed

There are a number of factors to consider when placing fertiliser with seed according to Dr. Mike Stewart from the International Plant Nutrition Institute in Norcross, Georgia, USA.

Placing fertiliser in-furrow with the seed during planting is a common practice in small grain production and to some extent in row-crop production. Placing fertiliser with the seed can be an effective and beneficial management practice, but over- application and mismanagement can result in seedling damage, and ultimate stand and yield loss. The type of crop, fertiliser source, row spacing, and soil environment all affect how much fertiliser can be safely applied with seed.

Type of crop: Some crops are more susceptible to injury from in-furrow fertilisation than others. Oil seed crops are particularly sensitive; therefore most guidelines allow no fertiliser placed with the seed of these crops. The general order of sensitivity (most to least) among major crops grown on the Great Plains in the United States is soybeans > sorghum > corn > small grains.

Type of fertiliser: Fertilisers are salts, and these salts can affect the ability of the seedling to absorb water… too much fertiliser (salt) and seedling desiccation or “burn” can occur. Some fertiliser materials have a higher salt index or burn potential than others. Salt index values are usually included in basic agronomic texts, or are available from fertiliser dealers or extension resources such as government bodies or universities. As a general rule, most common nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) fertilisers have higher salt indexes than phosphorus (P) fertilisers; therefore, a common predictor for the potential for salt damage is the sum of N+K2O per acre (0.4 ha) applied with the seed. For example, most guidelines for corn (maize) in 30 inch (76.2 cm) rows will allow for no more than 10 lb (4.5kg)/A of N+K2O in medium to fine textured soils — assuming no urea-containing products are used.

Ammonia formation potential of fertiliser: Fertilisers that have the potential to release free ammonia can cause ammonia toxicity to germinating seeds or young emerging seedlings. Thus, extra caution must be used with in-furrow placement of urea-containing fertilisers. In some cases urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) or urea can be applied successfully in-furrow in small grain production, but this requires careful consideration of several factors including those discussed below.

Row spacing: For a specific set of circumstances (i.e. crop, soil conditions, etc.) the safe rate of in-furrow fertiliser increases as row spacing narrows or decreases. A narrowing row space has the effect of diluting fertiliser over more linear feet (metres) of row.

Soil type and environment: Soil conditions that tend to concentrate salts, or stress the germinating seed, increase the potential for damage. So, the safe limit for in-furrow fertilisation is reduced with sandier soil texture and in drier soil conditions. Also, environmental conditions that induce stress and/or slow germination (e.g. cold temperature) can prolong fertiliser-seed contact and thus increase the likelihood of damage.

Seed bed utilisation: The more scatter there is between seed and fertiliser in the seed band or row, the more fertiliser can be safely applied. The type of planting equipment and seed opener influences the intimacy of seed-fertiliser contact. The concept of “seed bed utilisation” (SBU) has been used to address this factor. SBU is simply the seed row width divided by the row width (i.e., proportion of row width occupied by seed row). The wider the seed row for a specific row width the greater the SBU. As SBU increases so does the safe rate of in-furrow fertilisation.

* Reprinted from the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Plant Nutrition Today Series by Dr Mike Stewart. http://www.ipni.net/pnt

Fuel In The Field

If not in its infancy, biomass farming is perhaps still toddling along. Yet, most indicators point to a significant increase in production and an additional source of revenue for farmers, as well as a variety of other benefits, depending on the crop being grown.

Signs point to a number of infrastructure, process and equipment enhancements that will make the harvesting, transportation and storage of biomass much more efficient in the next few years, if not sooner.

Many areas in the Corn Belt actually produce higher yields if a portion of the stover is removed.

Many areas in the Corn Belt actually produce higher yields if a portion of the stover is removed.

For starters, consider the harvesting of corn stover, which in many areas of the country can increase corn yields for the following year. Also, perennial grasses such as miscanthus and switchgrass can be grown on marginal land, require little in the way of inputs, and offer a number of environmental benefits, such as helping to filter runoff and prevent erosion.

Among such biomass-producing crops, stover already has a foothold. It’s readily available in many parts of the Corn Belt, where a partial harvest does help yields.

Now farmers and the biofuels industry are looking ahead at increased production of all things biomass, including the crops mentioned above, as well as energy sorghum, woody biomass and more. The U.S Department of Energy predicts total crop- and pastureland planted in bioenergy crops will increase from less than 10 million acres today to between 60 and 80 million acres over the next 15 years.

As a result of this increased demand, new processes and technologies are in development to help make the gathering and transport of biomass, particularly stover, more efficient and profitable for the farmer. Especially promising is single-pass harvesting, which promises the operator considerable time and fuel savings over other methods currently in use.

“AGCO has a unique solution for single-pass harvesting equipment with their new series of combines that are single-pass compatible,” says Dr. Matt Darr, assistant professor of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. “AGCO is also a leader in the industry with single-pass baling products to provide producers and large energy companies the opportunity to make single-pass harvesting a reality within a supply chain.”

The technology in Hesston® by Massey Ferguson balers is ready-made to handle stover, as well as other biomass crops. Already, the Hesston 2170XD large square baler has earned its stripes for how densely it can pack the bulky crops, says David Ibbetson, a Kansas-based custom baler who uses two 2170XD balers to bundle some 15,000 bales each year in Iowa. He also uses Hesston round balers to bundle another 1,500-plus bales closer to his home in Yates Center.

Several other pieces of equipment that will aid in the harvesting of residue are now in the pipeline at AGCO. One such tool is a corn header that can harvest upwards of 150% higher volumes of corn and MOG. Another is a receiver chute that’s attached to the front of the baler and allows it to take in MOG without it being deposited on the ground before baling. “By having the baler accept the residue directly,” explains Maynard Herron, AGCO’s engineering manager at its Hesston, Kan., plant, “you cut in half the amount of ash in the bale. Those cleaner bales, of course, are more valuable and make this approach to stover more profitable to the farmer.”

playstoverWatch a video of Iowa State’s Dr. Matt Darr explaining when harvesting corn stover can increase yields, save money and time, and generate revenue at http://www.myfarmlife.com/crops/the-case-for-stover/.

Continue the conversation: Do you harvest stover? If so, have you seen a benefit on your farm?

If you would like to learn more about AGCO’s Biomass Solutions, please visit: www.bit.ly/AGCOBiomass.

 

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