Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pulse Crops

" pulse (Latin "puls",[1] from Ancient Greek πόλτος poltos "porridge"),[2] sometimes called a "grain legume",[3] is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food for humans and other animals. Included in the pulses are: dry beans like pinto beans, kidney beans and navy beans; dry peas; lentils; and others.

Pulses are important food crops due to their high protein and essential amino acid content. Like many leguminous crops, pulses play a key role in crop rotation due to their ability to fix nitrogen.
Just like words such as "bean" and "lentil", the word "pulse" may refer to just the seed, or the entire plant."

We were never taught the term pulse crop in Ohio.  I think it must come from Canada or the plains, probably before that.  Pulse crops do very well in Ohio and soybeans has bean our number one crop more than once.  The first time I heard the term pulse crop was from Dr. Dwayne Beck from Dakota Lakes Research Center at the National NoTillage Conference many years ago.

Pulse crops are key to his research because in that part of the world they can grow about anything and have more crop diversification than we do in the Midwest.

"Archaeologists have discovered traces of pulse production around Ravi River (Punjab), the seat of the Indus Valley civilization, dating circa 3300 BC. Meanwhile, evidence of lentil cultivation has also been found in Egyptian pyramids and dry pea seeds have been discovered in a Swiss village that are believed to date back to the Stone Age. Archaeological evidence suggests that these peas must have been grown in the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia regions at least 5,000 years ago and in Britain as early as the 11th century."

LuAnn topped her salad off with Garbanzo beans or chick peas last night.  I don't like the taste of them or humus which is made from them but they are healthy foods.

I do like raising "pulse crops" though because they fit very well in the rotation in Ohio and across this country.

Pulse crops need to be inoculated properly because most of the soils they are grown in won't be healthy enough to provide the bacteria they need to produce nitrogen.  I don't think I find one field in 1000 with enough soil health that legumes won't make more  yield than if they are properly inoculated.

Do you raise pulse crops?  Do you consume them?

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Don't Blame Ethanol

Don't blame ethanol for high food prices, lower gas prices, or the dead zone in the Gulf.

"Every year, nitrogen used to fertilize corn fields in the Midwest leaches into the Mississippi River and out into the Gulf of Mexico. Experts say the fertilizer feeds a giant algae bloom, which eventually dies and settles to the Gulf floor, consuming oxygen and suffocating marine life. The area is known as a “dead zone,” and some say the federal government’s ethanol policies are to blame.

"There is a correlation between the increased acreage of corn being planted and fertilized in the Midwest and the size and persistence of areas of hypoxia off the Mississippi River, commonly known as the “dead zone," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico studies at Texas A& M University-Corpus Christi.

There is a false assumption that ethanol production is the reason that farmers in the Midwest are growing so much corn. It is much more complicated than that and all centers around economics. Corn production went high when crop prices soared, and corn was the best return on investment for farmers."

If corn is the highest revenue crop a farmer can grow, who can fault him for raising more of it?  Here, I find wheat and soybeans are very profitable in rotation so I let the corn farmers grow corn and I raise it when it fits my rotation.

If you can grow corn profitably, then grow corn.  If wheat or soybeans or another crop are profitable for you, then grow them.

It's pretty simple to me.  Why do we have to complicate the issue by pointing fingers>

E-85 is near $2.50 per gallon today and I thank our corn farmers.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

900 Pounds Per Acre

That's what I spread on our 40 by 60 foot garden, 900 lbs of 12-12-12 and 900 lbs of pellet lime.  That's the rate per acre of course when you figure a 50 lb bag spread in that area.   My soil test showed our garden is a bit on the low side in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.  It needs a good dose of rotted cow manure for the other 13 nutrients if I could talk mom out of a load or two.

I must admit Lerch's barn supply carries Carey Ag Lime.  Just like John Haggard says, it's a little high in magnesium for my needs but it was available, it was cheap, and I needed a lot of calcium and not too much magnesium.  It is 20% calcium and 12% magnesium, which makes it dolomitic.  We get the best response from calcitic limestone here on the glacial moraine.

"Carey Ohio.
Dolomite rock.
Magnesium stone"

The radish greened up quickly of course.  I also spread a bushel of old rye seed from the rodent infested wagon in our barn I need to get rid of.  Maybe I should just pull it over to the garden with the DX-24E and dump a pile in the low spot and let it rot all winter.  It will be a slow rot since winter is colder in temperature.  I can spread some nitrogen on it and cause it to heat up and decompose quicker before we till it all in.  I am not into full notill gardening yet but we get closer all the time.

I sure miss the barn cats but you can't keep a wide eyed German Shepherd who even barks at birds and a barn full of barn cats at the same time.  The mice are taking over again so we need to stay vigilant!

We depend on this garden for a bulk of our day to day food.  We know what is in its soil and we have a good idea what is in the food that comes from it.  It tastes so good and we feel better when we eat it!

Did I do right?  What did you put on your garden spot or are you going to have one next year?

Ed Winkle

Monday, October 28, 2013

90 Million NOT Looking For Work

"The bureau counts a person as participating in the labor force if they are 16 years or older and either have a job or have actively sought a job in the last four weeks.

Americans not participating in the labor force climbed from 89,957,000 to 90,473,000 from July to August, pushing past 90,000,000 for the first time with a one month increase of 516,000.

The figure climbed again to 90,609,000 in September, an increase of 136,000 during the month.

When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, there were 80,507,000 Americans not in the labor force. The number of Americans not in the labor force has increased by 10,102,000 during the current administration.

The percentage of the civilian non-institutionalized population - i.e., not in prison, jail or sanitarium -  over 16 years of age that was employed also remained constant from August to September at 58.6 percent. When President Obama took office in January 2009, the employment-population ratio was 60.6 percent.

Why? One of the chief reasons for the increasing number of people not in the labor force is the aging of the Baby Boom generation, whose members have begun retiring. These workers are not being replaced by an equal number of young people entering the labor force."

I see this is as a sign of the direction we are going.  To me this is unsustainable as an economy.

What do you think?  Do you think this link explains a possible answer?

Ed Winkle

Sunday, October 27, 2013

12 Modes Of Action

This winter, I plan to learn more about the modes of actions so I can do a better job of controlling resistant and non-resistant weeds on my farm.  You can earn $25 per module from BASF by studying these principles with me and we can discuss them here on HyMark High Spots.

The principles that work best for me is crop rotation and soil health.  By balancing the 17 nutrients crops need for maximum productivity also increases weed health but I can control them with different modes of action.  BASF and other companies offer solutions that work on my farm.

No-Till decreases the weed pressure by not continually stirring the soil.  That is a basic concept that decreases weed competition while decreasing erosion and improving soil health.  Nearly level no-till soil will wash easily because it is so light and fluffy on top which really increases water infiltration.  That's because no soil uncovered can't handle the power of the raindrop and the rill erosion that will become gullies if left unchecked.

This is why soil was meant to be covered.  Cover crops have taken weed control and soil health to a new level.  I can still use a little 2,4-D, dicamba and metribuzin with a grass cover but they are going to smoke radish and other broad leaf cover crops.  We need to refine this as resistant weeds like Marestail are present right now and we want to prevent their spread for the next crop.  A fall herbicide application is called for but so are cover crops.  How will you do both?

I can do both with wheat or rye or possibly oats.  I need to determine which is the biggest problem, erosion or resistant weeds.  I need to address both.

How will you use modes of actions at different times of the year to build your soil while controlling weeds?

It's a big job, for sure.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Unlocking The Secrets Of The Soil

Ag Talk has helped put together groups of farmers and scientists who seek to unlock the secrets of the soil.  One email group is referred to as "the bunch," which includes four of us but gets as big as 20 or more on some topics as we refer our thoughts and questions to people outside that group.  Networking is a key part of unlocking the secrets of the soil.

My unlocking of these secrets started as a child as we pulled weeds, repaired broken tile and sowed clover into wheat planted after corn stalks.  Rotation and diversity are key parts to unlocking these secrets.

As I studied biology, chemistry and physics, I never lost the connection to those sciences and growing food.  That is what our family did for a living.  I performed my first LaMotte soil test at age 13 when I rented my first farm and planted corn.  My first field of corn was beautiful like this one from 2010 and I was hooked.

We started no-tilling in 1976 as dad was getting older and I was teaching and advising full time while still farming.  We did that out of necessity to be more efficient, not understanding the implications to our soil.  Every step in my life has been a key part to my development but learning how to no-till was a very important key to unlocking the secrets.

In 1987 I began work as a county extension agent in agriculture.  Ohio State had taught me how to learn and now was sending me all over the country to advance my skills.  I became a proponent of tissue testing to balance the nutrient load in our soils.  I was involved with biosolids and gypsum and became a spokesman for lime because every soil test result I studied in the county was low in lime and deficient in micro-nutrients.

In 2002 I started working more with cover crops.  I discovered the power of the radish thanks to Steve Groff at the National NoTillage Conference and started blending all of these ideas together I'd learned since childhood.  In 2004 LuAnn and I bought our first farm large enough to put all of these ideas together.  Using these ideas for profit and sustainability puts all the secrets to work.  Now I get phone calls and email from all of the country and even beyond to share what I've been blessed to learn about these secrets.

There is no one magic secret, these ideas all work together and blend into one big pot of secrets.  Dan and Rodney in the video put them to work on big acres.  I can do as well on a much smaller operation that fits my personality and style of living.

What is the next secret you need to unleash on your farm?  Let's talk about it.

Ed Winkle

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Soil Test

"What if you had soil data that told you how much food was available for your soil microbes that build soil health? Well, a new soil test is gaining early traction among cover-crop users and no-tillers who reap the benefits of healthier soil, but truly lacked the right test to tell them about their available nutrients.

This new comprehensive soil analysis from Ward Laboratories costs triple that of Ward’s conventional N, P and K package, but what it reveals appears to save users money on every acre. Developed by Rick Haney, a USDA-ARS researcher at the Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory, Temple, Texas, it may be the missing link in soil evaluation, especially with cover crops.
Between January and June of this year, Haney processed 3,200 samples in his ARS lab. Participating growers reduced their N applications by $15 per acre, for an aggregate savings of $3.2 million. The savings came from a better understanding of available inorganic and organic nutrients, including organic carbon (C) and the biological health of the soil.

"Standard soil tests told us we needed to apply P and K, but the Haney test came back suggesting we had plenty of both," says Dave Brandt, longtime Ohio no-till and cover-crop practitioner. "I've been no-tilling since the early 1970s and using cover crops since 1978, but only in the last two years with the Haney test have I begun to understand what those practices are really doing. "Two years of using the Haney test let him cut fertilizer purchases by 50% on 1,200 acres.

Ray Archuleta isn't surprised at Brandt's findings. The conservation agronomist with the NRCS National Soil Health and Sustainability Team has long been frustrated with conventional soil sampling in no-till and cover-crop situations, even when they included organic matter analysis."

I am looking at this as well as a new plant tissue analysis from CSI Labs in Stewartsville, Minnesota to refine my fertilizer applications.  I will talk in depth about the SAP test as it becomes available in the next year or so.

My soils test low enough I am still using quite a bit of K but less P.  Balancing Calcium, nitrogen and sulfur as well as balancing micro-nutrients have created better soil health in my fields and better yields and grain quality.  This will change over time.

SNAP and SAP is in my farm's future.

Do you think either will be in yours?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Take On The Old Bean

Two big mysteries in soybeans have captured my attention,” says USDA-ARS soybean researcher Tommy Carter. “One is how Asians, as many as 5,000 years ago, domesticated soybeans without benefit of technology, pre-Mendel. We still don’t understand how they did it.

“The other one is how soybeans in Sweden became resistant to a wide range of stresses like drought and ozone, salt and cold, unlike anything we’ve seen. No one plant has all these stacked resistances and no other genetic line of soybeans has this. Why?”

That's an ancient Chinese secret!  Tommy raises a very good point as we try to provide high quality plant protein for world needs.  As you know, I've been interested in soybeans most of my life as they became the most important cash crop in many places, places like where I live.  Ohio has the soil and climate to produce a very good and desirable soybean that has many uses.

This year one of Dr. Schillinger's varieties and one of Dr. Cooper's took their place on our farm over my old standby Jacob.  That bean was very good to me and these are even better this year.  They may not be next year.  Highland shows promise for this region and a blend of them and Jacob may be better yet.  Keith tells me "you haven't seen anything yet, Ed", as he is working with World Food's varieties.  If we could make those semi-dwarf, we might really be into something.  High quality, high yielding soybeans less than 2000 seeds per pound peaks my interest.

Soybeans are my main source of farm income, closely followed by wheat and corn.  My soil and climate produces good soybeans.  We are blessed to have 3 non GMO buyers within 100 miles of the farm and they bid competitively on the beans we produce.  Double cropping soybeans behind wheat has been an income producing enterprise for us.

Since we have to use a full residual and burn down on our soybeans anyway, a competitive bid on non GMO soybeans makes most sense for us.  More buyers are discovering the advantage of our high quality non GMO soybeans in southern Ohio and that is good for both of us.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why I Farm

Why I Farm is a short video just released by Beck's Hybrids.  I have to ask my farming readers, why do you farm?  Really, why do you farm?  Why did you pick this risky entrepreneurial career for your life's work?

I never picked farming for my career though I wanted to.  I was raised on a tenant farm that grew all the food and crops we could to feed our livestock that paid the bills on that farm.  It provided food and shelter and plenty of work for us five family members.  I was "groomed" to go to college and "make something of myself," which I did.  I saw value in being a farmer when being a farmer wasn't cool around here."  Lately it seems everyone wants to be a farmer.

When you raise livestock, you are "married" to your farm.  It's not the seasonal crop producing farm that many farms are today.  It's not crops in spring and summer and Florida in the winter like many of my friends do today.  My passionate farmer friends don't do that though, they are working around soil, crops, machinery, meetings and records 365 days a year.  Many of them don't do Florida in the winter.

If you don't farm full time, why do you do what you do?  What led you to what you do today?  Most of my readers have some passion for agriculture though they may not be involved in agriculture directly.  I bet there are some neat stories among us.

I like the grandfather pictured with his main "horse," a Minneapolis Moline propane tractor was not uncommon in Illinois but it was rare in Ohio.  We chose the land and equipment that was most available to us and helped us get our work done.

Farming has changed a lot since America was founded but it's always been the backbone of it.  People who have the passion to farm and even a little bit of opportunity have changed the world for the good.

If you are an American farmer or the farmer of any nation, you have good reason for a little pride and a whole lot of blessing.  You are one of a chosen few.  It's not for everyone and it's not easy but it is always needed and it will always be here.  It is the sustenance of life.

Would you share your farming or non farming story?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Non Profits

Do you support non-profits?  Do you support groups that operate under our nations non-profit laws?  Can you even think of any?

LuAnn has worked as the leader of a local non-profit organization since 2005.  You've read me or heard me mention Turning Point in the past.  Turning Point really is a turning point or stepping stone in getting people's lives back together whether they've been released from jail or went in front of a judge or is on public assistance.  I've seen them do great work in the last eight years due to her employment there.

Our area recently had a big debacle involving a prominent non-profit group for the advancement of local historic preservation.  She wrote a letter to the editor which brings to light the need for non-profit's in this country and the problems they can get into if not properly organized and managed.

"Volunteers, board members, trustees, donors and staff members work tirelessly to provide services and amenities that might not otherwise be available due to budget constraints and funding priorities. Nonprofits can access certain grant funds that are not available to government entities. They can enhance existing public services through collaboration and partnerships. They can leverage and maximize human and fiscal resources.

The economic and human impact of nonprofits on our community is immeasurable.
Nonprofits organizations need community members to volunteer and guide their efforts. However, administering and governing a nonprofit implies that the people in charge will act with integrity and manage the organization in a manner that reflects the trust that the public has placed in them.
Meetings must be open; the board must resolve differences in a respectful mature way that demonstrates their commitment to the best interest of the organization; personalities must be set aside to advance the mission of the organization; and, at no time, can those in control promote their own self-interest or personal gain.
If you have a passion for an issue or cause and you are willing to work in the manner described above, we need you!"

I became Advisor to a local non-profit in 1971.  I had little idea what I was doing but I quickly learned.  As soon as I was hired as "leader", the debtor's crawled out of the woodwork to see if I could get them paid!  Our organization spent the first year paying the previous Advisor's debt but we became profitable again and that organization still stands as a viable group in our community.

Many years we made more profit for our programs than I was paid as a teacher and advisor to that group.  We helped many children and others advance their education.  Most of the farmers in that area were in that program or became a viable support group to it.  We had programs for elementary students through Adult Farmers.  When I was school board president, I learned that agriculture had been taught at that school since 1925, before the Future Farmers of America was even started.

That group is now the National FFA Organization and will hold their annual Convention at Louisville, Kentucky again next week.  That is the best organization I've ever been associated with and I have been exposed to many.  "I got my start in 4-H," but I advanced my career and those of many students through the FFA.

Are non-profits important to your community?  How can you help advance them?

Ed Winkle

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wheat Tissue Testing

I am anxious to tissue sample my good looking wheat but I know it's early yet.  Tissue sampling and testing has helped me feed my crops more efficiently and it's really catching on with some farmers and other crop growers.

"Plant tissue analysis shows the nutrient status of plants at the time of sampling. This, in turn, shows whether soil nutrient supplies are adequate. In addition, plant tissue analysis will detect unseen deficiencies and may confirm visual symptoms of deficiencies. Toxic levels also may be detected. Though usually used as a diagnostic tool for future correction of nutrient problems, plant tissue analysis from young plants will allow a corrective fertilizer application that same season.

Not all abnormal appearances are due to a deficiency. Some may be due to too much of certain elements. Also, symptoms of one deficiency may look like those of another. A plant tissue analysis can pinpoint the cause, if it is nutritional. A plant analysis is of little value if the plants come from fields that are infested with weeds, insects, disease organisms; if the plants are stressed for moisture; or if plants have some mechanical injury.

The most important use of plant analysis is as a monitoring tool for determining the adequacy of current fertilization practices. Sampling a crop periodically during the season or once each year provides a record of its nutrient content that can be used through the growing season or from year to year. With soil test information and a plant analysis report, a producer can closely tailor fertilization practices to specific soil-plant needs.

It also may be possible to prevent nutrient stress in a crop if the plant analysis indicates a potential problem developing early in the season. Corrective measures can be applied during the season or, if the crop is perennial, during the next year. Combined with data from a soil analysis, a tissue analysis is an important tool in determining nutrient requirements of a crop. By request, the following elements can be determined in a plant sample:
Nitrogen Sulfur Boron
Phosphorus Iron Sodium
Potassium Copper Chlorine
Calcium Zinc Molybdenum
Magnesium Manganese  
Levels of elements such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, and selenium also can be examined. See table 1 for sufficiency levels of plant nutrients."

I think I will snip off a few plants per acre and go ahead and start my tissue testing for 2014.  I am curious how this new farm is responding to all the changes I am making to it.

Soil and tissue testing help hit my target more easily.  How about you?

Ed Winkle

Sunday, October 20, 2013


My good readers, you are going to have to help me out.  I don't see any hope of leaving this country a better place than I found it when I was born.  Congress has kicked the can down the road for 55 years now.  There is no way to pay off this debt, let alone pay the interest on it.  We are struggling to do that as a nation.

If it weren't for six great kids and spouses and 12 grand kids, I would seriously consider selling out and retiring in New Zealand.  The people are happy there and are not encumbered in debt and despair like we are here in the United States.  I know LuAnn feels the same way because we do talk about this.

We have the freedom to be stupid and irresponsible and boy are we ever doing it.  I don't like it and I don't agree with it.  It's getting harder day by day to keep your chin up and do what's right.  You just know that this whole thing is going to crumble and chaos will ensue.

Somehow I need to find a way to remain resilient.  I saw a piece about that on CBS Sunday Morning, one of my favorite programs for the last 30 years.  Remember when Charles Kurault traveled the beautiful United States in the big camper bus?  They showed a woman who lost part of her arm and shoulder in a shark attack and how she kept going on with her life.  She even said she wouldn't change that event if she could because it made her a better person!

Scientists studied people who came home from war without symptoms of post traumatic distress disorder and how their brains were a little different than those who have it.  I guess we are all really wired differently, and I am not wired for watching my country do the wrong thing.

We are very blessed to have what we have in this family.  Right now I can't think of a grand child who would or even should take over the farm operation we've built.  We raised our children to be independent thinkers and they are doing the same thing with theirs.  That is good.

It will all work out one way or the other and I am not worried about it.  I just don't like it.

How about you?

Ed Winkle

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Four Pieces

Here is a neat map of the United States broken into four distinct pieces.  I found this on Facebook where a friend was protesting ObamaCare.

I am not sure I've seen our country divided up in four easy pieces on a map.  If I have, it's been a long time ago.  Ohio is almost Mid Atlantic and down here in southern Ohio, some of us talk like we are from the south.  That would be me!

This map makes sense agriculturally.  The states in the Midwest or green section farm pretty much alike in my travels.  So do the three other regions.

Our people seem to be divided, too.  I am not sure it's four pieces but two are easy to pick out, conservative and non-conservative.  I won't call them Liberal but many are.

This piece talks about two kinds of people in the world, kind of one looking up and one looking down.  I found it quite humorous.

Everyone we meet has a quip about our government today.  Everyone I meet calls it dysfunctional or not functioning like it should or could or used to.  It's nothing like when I was a kid, does every grandpa say that?

"Americans couldn't be more divided in their basic preferences for the role of the U.S. government, with roughly one-third favoring an active role for the federal government, one-third favoring a limited role, and one-third something in between. And that has generally been the case for the last few years.

At the same time, Americans seem to favor a less active role for the government than is currently the case, perhaps partly due to a desire for lower taxes but also partly due to perceptions that the current government tends to be more on the active side.

Thus, Americans at this time may be more likely to favor proposed solutions to the major problems facing the country -- including the economy and jobs -- that rely less on government intervention and more on the actions of private entities, including businesses and individuals."

I am the do it yourself category with limited government intervention.  Which one are you?

Ed Winkle

Friday, October 18, 2013

Visual Soil Assessment

My friend Doug in Arkansas found this Vimeo on a Visual Soil Assessment Method from Graham Shepherd in New Zealand.  You might want to bookmark this blog or this link, as it's going to take awhile to watch it and think about it.

"Environmental and economic performance and sustainability of pastoral and cropping farms can be greatly influenced by soil quality. The Visual Soil Assessment method (VSA) described in the Field Guide provides land managers and environmental authorities with a simple tool to assess and monitor soil quality and pasture and crop performance. Visual soil properties are diagnostic of soil quality, and provide an effective and immediate way to assess soil quality quickly and cheaply in the field.
VSA brings alive the study of the soil and plant sciences by presenting graphic images of soil, pasture, and crops in good, moderate and poor condition, and the effects of soil condition on plant performance.

VSA is based on the visual scoring of key bio-physical indicators of soil quality, and incorporated on an easy-to-use scorecard. The soil indicators are supported by plant performance indicators that link soil condition to the performance of the pasture/crop and farm management practices. In addition to assessing the condition of the soil and the performance of the plant, the VSA includes three environmental scorecards that help to assess the environmental footprint of a farm and its farming practices. The first scorecard addresses the potential for nutrient loss into the groundwater and waterways and whether a farm is likely to be a low, moderate or high emitter of nutrients. The second scorecard addresses carbon sequestration and whether a farm (or a field) is likely to be C positive, neutral or negative, and therefore in a position to claim C credits or pay C taxes. The third scorecard assesses the potential of a farm to be a low, moderate or high emitter of greenhouse gases.
The soil indicators are underpinned by extensive research and are linked to economic and environmental performance and sustainability. Soil indicators used are generic, and their interpretation has the advantage of being largely independent of soil type. This allows the VSA to be applied anywhere.

The VSA Field Guide is self-explanatory, and its use does not require special training or technical skills. While the Field Guides contains a wealth of information about soil quality and plant performance, and their fundamental importance to sustainable resource and environmental management, the information is expressed in a simple and concise way, and provides a useful educational tool. The VSA method also provides a framework that allows laypeople with little or no understanding of soil science or agronomy to assess the condition of their underground economy and plant performance almost as successfully as an expert.

For farmers, the VSA provides a practical farming guide, linking soil, plant, animal health, and environmental performance to farm management practices. The books also provide agricultural scientists, farm advisors, consultants, and regulatory authorities with a useful reference document on soil-plant-animal interrelationships and environmental management.

Confucius said “the best fertilizer for any soil is the footsteps of the farmer”. Spending time observing your soil, pasture, crop, weeds, insects, disease and the farm animals is the art of smart farming. The medical profession make their initial diagnosis of patients based on visual symptoms; we can apply the same principle to the farm.

Seeing is believing. Pick up a spade, and have a go!"

Ed Winkle

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Go Jesse Go!

"Recipe for longevity: 13 hours each day in a combine during harvest and six days a week in a fishing boat during the off-season — standing up.

Jesse Small reaches the end of a corn row, shifts his cigar from hand to mouth with a grin, and swings his combine around for another pass across a sea of grain. He’ll turn 90 later this harvest season.

Small’s tale stretches back 62 years, when he walked away from a sawmill, bought a combine, and began cutting grain. And since that day in 1951, Small hasn’t missed a season of combining, covering ground from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico."

Old farmers like Jesse give me inspiration.  Maybe this diet isn't so bad after all.  I am doing things better than before I started it.  I am not sure I was ever made to do what he's doing but it's still pure inspiration.

Then there is Lloyd Ratts.  "Through the stubble, a John Deere tractor pulling a grain cart races to a nearby combine. Using mirrors he has strategically placed inside and outside the tractor’s cab – “Because I’m not as agile as I used to be” – Loyd Ratts perfectly aligns the cart with the combine’s auger while the combine and tractor continue to move in synchronization.

At 98, Ratts is undoubtedly one of the last Dust Bowl-era farmers still actively engaged in farming his land, a living link to the state’s agricultural history."  I think dad and grandpa would be very proud of these two gentlemen, I sure am. Who is going to take over for these fellows? 

Ag educators like Matt and myself are doing all we can to encourage the next generation.  I just told a friend I've had so many young farmers here this summer I can't remember which one had the problem you and I are discussing.  I had to email the young man to fill in details.

Our Ohio showed three young guys from Ridgeway, Ohio who are going to take over the reigns.  They are the VanScoys, and they are increasing production per acre rather than increasing acres.  Maybe I can meet those young guys and write a blog about them.  I love talking to farmers.

These stories are all very inspiring to me today on this cooler and rainy day in mid October.  I hope it's a really good day your way.

Ed Winkle

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

5500 Hours

This old girl has really paid the bills!  This is a friend's 1998 IH 1660 combine.  It has 5500 engine hours on it but no record of separator hours.  It is used in long fields and never roaded so I would bet the separator hours are pretty high.  No wonder these are a favorite with farmers around here and all across the country.

I stopped to give him his final certification inspection papers on his soybean seed.  This is a 4.3 maturity soybean that always does well around here and well on this farm.  It is running over 50 bushels per acre where the picture was taken.  They don't do anything special but raise good seed.

This is the farm that raises the Jacob soybean I have talked about here in the past.  A semi load of that seed has ended up in Illinois and other places as it's hard to find a good 4.0 non GMO soybean seed.  Hopefully that will get easier!  The new Ohio variety named Highland, the same county this is near, looks very good.

There is much interest in non GMO soybeans now as they usually don't test positive for glyphosate and that word is getting out.  Soybeans don't transfer glyphosate readily like corn, wheat and other crops.  People are actually interested in glyphosate levels in different things they use today and food is at the top of that list.

Soybeans are closer to completion here but there are still a lot of soybeans in the field in southwest Ohio.  We are supposed to get rain today and then about ten degrees cooler.

It sure has been a nice fall here!  Don't forget to your local orchard and spend a little money.  I enjoy doing that but I have two buckets full of Red Delicious from my own tree.  This is the first time I remember having good apples two years in a row here and these are truly organic because I am a very poor orchardist.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Clinton County

"After the Revolutionary War, thousands of acres of land were given to the victorious American soldiers as payment for their services to their new country.

The early settlers of Clinton County left the relative comforts found between the Atlantic shore and the eastern slopes of the Smoky Mountains, and ventured into the wilderness of southwest Ohio for one basic reason ... to settle the frontier. That meant clearing the land and farming.

Agriculture in the frontier of the late 1700s meant clearing land, planting a crop and harvesting the fruits of labor. The following year, they would clear more land and plant more crops. They came here to be farmers. That is what drew them to Clinton County. It was not an easy life. It was anything but easy.

It is said that when Ohio was still a wild frontier, a squirrel could easily travel from the Ohio River to Lake Erie without ever touching the ground. Trees covered almost all of the state. There was very little open land that was suitable for farming.

When you drive through the Clinton County countryside today and see a stand of trees, it is usually square. At some point in the past, Clinton County was almost all tree-covered. Over a period of time, all the land around the tree-lots had to be cleared for farming - leaving square tree-lots.

Our early farmers, the settlers of this community, never cleared all the land they owned. They knew they would always need a ready, reliable supply of wood for heat and building, so they always kept a stand of trees; thus, the numerous square-stands of trees that have survived to this day.

Almost everything else became farmland. Acre by acre, the early settlers of Clinton County cleared the land and began planting crops. Trees were either cut down or they were girdled.

To girdle a tree, the farmer would cut a deep groove through the bark all around the base of the tree. They usually did this in the spring. The girdle stopped the flow of tree sap; killing the tree.

Within a season or two, the tree was usually still standing, but it was completely dead and ready to be cut for firewood, planks or fencing.

After clearing a small amount of land, the initial harvest was small, but it was enough to allow the settlers to survive, clear more land, plant more crops, feed their families and continue farming; settling the frontier that eventually became Ohio and Clinton County."

My ancestors didn't quite make it Clinton County but I did 200 years later.  They settled near Sugar Tree Ridge, 25 miles south of here.  I wonder what those early settlers would think of my friend's 274 bu corn average on one of those cleared fields!  We only talk about dry bushels here but that's over 300 wet bushels if you feed or have other uses for high moisture corn!

How did he do this?  Gypsum and soft rock phosphate or CalPhos from Florida was a key part of increasing the Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen that helped the 17 know plant nutrients work.  The RL-37 he has been spraying didn't hurt anything, he is getting close to Non Detectable on a glyphosate test.  It's working the pants of his red combine, we tease our Deere neighbors they couldn't handle it.

The pictures are from Keith's Field Day, I wonder if he will get another 20 bushels out of it in Iowa?  That's the hybrid in the bottom picture.

Clinton County has changed a bunch in 200 years and so must the way we farm.

Ed Winkle

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tipping Point

Folks, we are reaching the tipping point in all kinds of science from basic agronomy, to seeds, to astro physics!

A ‘tipping point’ in science is supposed to happen when the weight of evidence against a theory tips the balance of opinion against it. But we are dazzled in this space age by computer-generated ‘virtual reality’ and the sheer technological brilliance of applied science. So it can come as a surprise to be told that modern theoretical science is in crisis. Today’s inverted science pyramid rests on the mathematics of imaginary particles and energy described by an acausal quantum theory that no one can explain. Occasionally, the more candid scientists admit they don’t understand basic phenomena like mass, gravity, magnetism, lightning, galaxies and even the Sun!

So it is not surprising that planets, stars and galaxies are being discovered that ‘shouldn’t exist’ and most of the visible universe seems to be a mere impurity overwhelmed by mysterious ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy.’ In its role as a consensual belief system today’s ‘settled science’ is now confronted with surprising contradictions more frequently than they can be fitted to the dogmas. And because the fundamental mysteries persist unrecognized, Nobel Prizes are awarded for purely imaginary discoveries in physics. The weird nature of those discoveries should serve to warn us that science is at a tipping point of unparalleled magnitude."

In agronomy, we are figuring out how to raise more corn with less nitrogen.  I love to say my quote, "we tend to overfeed nitrogen and underfeed everything else."  The key to my success this year was more calcium, less nitrogen and more sulfur.  Everything else must be in balance too, down to cobalt and molybdenum, especially in soybeans.
                           N    P       K     Mg  Ca     S     Na    Fe  Mn  B Cu Zn   Mo
GREENE RD1 5.91 0.38 1.80 0.46 1.60 0.35 0.004 158 108 58 16 60 0.390
3297117 NORMS 4.80 0.38 2.00 0.45 1.10 0.30 0.010 95 70 45 11 39
Stage of growth: R3

My soybeans did not suffer from lack of any nutrient and it showed in the tissue test and it really showed in the yield and quality!  They looked good all season and never suffered.  My tested values are all above the "norms" Midwest Labs use to tell us how we are doing on our grade card.  I will finally give myself an "A" on nutrient balance, now let's see if we can do that in the wheat!

The picture is from the edge of the worn out old farm where the tree line had been taken out, compacted, probably not enough nutrient, and two varieties mixed.  I've had good success doing that and the first pass made over 50 bu with each strip getting better.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I set off another little firestorm on Crop Talk again.  Wicket was complaining about seed prices so I posted mine.  "I will pay about any price for the quality and pedigrees I want. 

Fortunately, I don't have to 
corn $129-$169 
soybeans from bin plus cleaning and treatment, to $32 per unit for other seed 
wheat $13 per bushel with SabrEx, it's up and growing 

I am quite a shopper, aren't I? 

Oh yeah, I guess you know I certify seed and plant non GMO. 

Good luck on your stock."

Readers thought that was boastful so I better edit it with some humility like Ron Lukow suggests.  I just did that.

See, I didn't think it through before I posted it.  I sounded like a boastful old fart which is one of my defects of character.  Humility goes a long way.  I think the re-post sounds better, don't you?

I know about every guy who responded and I didn't mean for them to have to take sides.

Why in the world would I pay too much for traits I don't need when I can farm the way I want to without them?

Commercial for Genesys, First Choice, Steritz Seed, Porter Hybrids and all my good suppliers- give those guys a chance and see what they can do for you!  Seed quality is so very important!

NAT and blogging is two of my passions, I might just be addicted.  My goal is this:

Ed Winkle

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Tale Of Two Farms

My friend Darrell Smith at Farm Journal came up with a really interesting article this month.  I found it on Crop Talk one morning and thought it would make a great discussion piece.  All the production articles I've written talk about improving farms like the two in the example.

Darrell has been to our place and I've been on some of Ken Ferrie's farms he consults with.  I found a farm with the most beautiful soil you can imagine with black Flanigan Drummer soils.  It has a 199 bushel APH but the last time it hit that yield level was seven years ago.  Last year it averaged 45 bushels.  It's been a steady decline in yield ever since the last good yield.

The soil test readings make mine look sick, yet my yields are higher.  It shouldn't be that way.  So I took some spadefuls of soil home and did the Solvita test.  The soil was at the bottom of the chart, biologically dead.

That doesn't explain all the differences between Farm A and Farm B but it explains some of it.  I've not found many soils that wouldn't benefit from cover crops or a more diversified rotation.  Corn-soybean rotations are killing beautiful Midwest soils.  Add glyphosate and GMO to that mix and you find the prematurely dying crops I talk about.

With the soil test results I saw the first thing I would do is spread gypsum, plant a cover crop like cereal rye and no-till soybeans into most of it for two years.  Farmers are wanting to grow less corn now anyway because of the economic situation, so now would be a great time.  My best rotation is C-C-S-S-W to double crop beans or a longer season cover crop.  That alone has added 20-50 bushel corn yields to the farms I've worked with.

These ideas really work and are really catching on.  Though we may be talking only 10% if the farms because only the best farm managers know something is wrong, it's progress.  Again I ask my favorite question to you.

As you are combining this fall, what would be the best thing you could do to your farm or your soil to increase productivity and economic yields?

The answers are here, now how do we get them applied?

Ed Winkle

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Wheat Is A Little Pale

My no till wheat behind conventional soybeans came up in record time, I saw blades emerged in 3 days.  That's the quickest I ever remember.  A week later, I had a 99% stand.  It's a brand new winter wheat from the Ohio breeding program called Lion.  The seed was raised right down the road at Steritz seed on similar soils.  We hope it ROARS!

I noticed the blades were on the yellow side or pale.  I started wondering if 100 lbs AMS was enough nitrogen.  I remembered that was the highest nitrogen test I've had on a soybean crop then it hit me today.  That pre-emerge spray of Sonic herbicide in  late May is the culprit.

Even if it's been 4 months or 120 days, I know why that wheat is pale.  I have a little carry over herbicide and the label says 4 months.  I don't think it's enough to hurt this wheat but it is there.  Even labeled herbicides reduce yield and I am hoping I didn't do that to my new crop with my soybean herbicide or anything I spray next spring.

I will tell you one thing, it's the cleanest no till wheat I ever had!  There maybe 100 thistles on the whole farm and a little bit of Johnson grass near the first creek.  I've never cleaned up a run down farm this quickly; lime, lots of fertilizer and good weed control.  That's the secret to farming around here!  Is it that way where you live?

There are rumors there will be less wheat in Ohio this year.  Most of the state is wet.  All my friends who raise lots of wheat can't get it in, it's too wet.  This was dusty dry at planting and you know what they say, plant in dust and the bins will bust!  Then we got over 3 inches over the weekend and I think every seed sprouted.  I might have it too thick but I plan to feed it.

$7 wheat fits in well with the plan for this farm.  I need organic matter and the wheat straw will do that for me.  If I can hit it hard with AMS at combining and chase the combine with the drill again this year, we just might make more money than the crop of corn I was planning to raise.

When the beans come of early and I can plant wheat or a cover crop, it gets planted.  We planted rye after corn last year and it really helped control the weeds and build the soil for the soybean crop that followed.  Our yields and quality is excellent and the corn stalks are still rotting down, plenty of food for our soil microbiology.

The combines started rolling here today as we stopped to talk to Brian and Darren Hefty on The Back Forty portion of their radio show on Rural Radio.  I always enjoy talking to those guys as they talk to people like me all around the country.  We talked about continuous soybeans today and there are fields around here that have been soybean for decades.  Lots of you are listening, too, you've told me!

It's beautiful weather here in southwest Ohio and here's hoping it hangs on a while longer!

Ed Winkle

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Food From Farm To School

I ran across this interesting piece called "farm to school."  There was a big stink about changes in school lunch menu's in 2010.  It looks like trends have changed or reversed as kids get used to more veggies and less hamburgers, fries and pizza.

"School cafeterias have never been awarded top-rated Zagat reviews, but the changes your children are seeing in the chow line are likely the result of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” which required the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, even snacks and a la carte items, beyond the foods that are part of federally supported school meals programs.

Although the act doesn’t need to be fully implemented in schools yet, students in many schools are already seeing a marked difference: fewer fries and chicken nuggets, more fajita chicken and steamed broccoli. The idea is to increase the fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reduce the sodium on the school menu.

The act also promotes connections between schools and local farmers who can provide locally grown produce. Both the National Farm to School Network ( and Ohio State University Extension’s Ohio Farm to School program (, can help a community get started. It’s best to form a team involving school food service staff, teachers, administrators, local farmers, students, parents and community organizations, and establish just one or two attainable goals to start with. A Farm to School effort can go beyond the cafeteria serving line to promoting experiential learning by starting a school garden and organizing visits to local farms as well as incorporating more nutrition and agriculture into the school curriculum."

Many of you have emailed me about the diet I am on.  LuAnn is shrinking away and I have lost 7 pounds in 4 days.  We don't feel hungry or lack energy.  If we can keep this up, we will be well on our way to a healthier winter and you know how that season can put on the pounds!

I never knew a poached egg and half a grapefruit could taste so good with my morning coffee!


Ed Winkle

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Farmers Tackle GMO Issues

The latest Ohio Farmer magazine discusses the many GMO issues going on right now in Ohio and around the world.  A recent panel discussion brought the many pro's and con's together in a setting among agriculturists.

Advertisers bombard us with "what to eat" messages. Chefs become television stars talking about food. Doctors offer their views on consumption in media commentary daily. Scientists are brought into the discussion. Grocers and restaurateurs get their say. But what about the people who produce the food? Shouldn't farmers have a say in the food dialogues too?

That's what the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the Ohio Soybean Council and U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Council had in mind as they organized a "Food Dialogues" event in Columbus last month. In two panel discussion sessions a variety of sources were brought together to examine critical food issues. They participants included scientists, dietitians, restaurateurs, a nutritionist, a food blogger a food bank organizer, an environmental spokesman, and it included farmers."

"Michel immediately made the point that while the public perception is that corn and soybean crops have had genes inserted for herbicidal or insecticidal activity, the fact is that genetic modification has occurred in all plants and continues to occur naturally in all organisms. Billman raised the concern that his crops could be contaminated by GMO pollen. Hoy questioned whether GMO use fit into the concept of integrated pest management and what the intent of creating GMO crops was."

Billman is right.  It is nearly impossible to find pure non GMO in the crops I raise.  I know the Billman family and most of the people in this article so it's really interesting for me.  I interviewed for a job with one of the panel members as their agronomist and quickly saw it wasn't going to work between us.

Scientists don't agree on the impact of GMO's.  Farmers don't even agree on GMO's, so how in the world are we supposed to provide a solid image to the consumer?

If you want to know about your own seed and your own soil, start testing it.  It isn't cheap but it's hugely revealing.  I haven't found a soil or seed in my community that comes back with a test result that says glyphosate is non-detectable.

It appears that glyphosate ties or chelates more than manganese and cobalt, it's effect on aluminum and iron may be even bigger keys why we see corn maturing early with pink leaves.

It's here, now what do we do with it?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Daily Inventory

"The spiritual axiom referred to in many times and places, throughout our lives—"every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us"—also tells me that there are no exceptions to it. No matter how unreasonable others may seem, I am responsible for not reacting negatively. Regardless of what is happening around me I will always have the prerogative, and the responsibility, of choosing what happens within me. I am the creator of my own reality.
When I take my daily inventory, I know that I must stop judging others. If I judge others, I am probably judging myself. Whoever is upsetting me most is my best teacher. I have much to learn from him or her, and in my heart, I should thank that person."
We have been reading to each other for the past two years as we advance our search for our own spirituality.  We find this very helpful to start our busy day.  When we are too busy to do this, we often slip into a pattern of angst and frustration!
I never knew how to live a balanced life, I always burned the candle at both ends.  When age caught up with me and I couldn't do all the things I wanted to do, I had to re-assess what I was doing.  The diet we are on is addressing the chemical and biological parts of our body that has a huge impact on our spiritual and mental ability.  LuAnn has been dealing with the passing of two uncles, the tragic death of one of her coworkers in a house fire.  I lost many good friends this summer.  It makes you think about your own destiny.
Now that we have responsibility to our many children and grand children, we takes these changes seriously but with a light and positive heart.
I am so blessed, I was blessed with another good crop and have winter wheat that is long as my index finger, 4 inches tall.  I was disappointed that our new tile from the water way was not running water yesterday.  The six inch main was running a big stream.  It's OK, we will figure that out some day.  Those are just the things that give me satisfaction and help me make enough money to live and help others.
My spiritual condition is so much more important.
Don't you agree?
I share a recent picture, I hope you enjoy.
Ed Winkle

Monday, October 7, 2013

Reverse Osmosis Water is "Hungry Water"

A friend noted my comment about the filter in our new fridge.  He said "reverse osmosis water is hungry water," so I looked it up.

"Water is not only the most essential substance next to oxygen for human life.  It is also complex, often containing hundreds of dissolved minerals and chemicals.  Most water is also “structured” or clustered in  complex ways.  It is indeed a marvelous substance whose extreme value is often unrecognized.
            This is the most important part of this article.  Otherwise, the recommendations below will not make sense.
1. The type and amount of water one drinks is an essential aspect of health and healing.  Every week, I encounter a person who is not progressing on a healing program due to drinking an improper type or not enough drinking water.  If this continues for several years, it can ruin one’s health.
2. Using any amount of caffeine, sugars (including fruit and juices), or alcohol tends to dehydrate the body by causing water loss.
3. The material in this article is based wholly on clinical experience.  Theories abound regarding which water to drink and how much.  What is important is what works in the body to promote health.
4. Water is more than a beverage.  It is a particular type of energy that we need in a certain amount on a daily basis.  If we do not obtain it, health is negatively impacted.
5. Pure water processed only by nature is a type of “whole food”.  It not only flushes toxins from the body and supplies many needed minerals, but impacts the body in many other subtle ways. Like other whole foods, when it is tampered with, water loses most of its precious healing properties.  Water is tampered with any time one adds anything to it, filters it using anything except pure carbon, spins it, alkalinizes it, and perhaps does other things to it.  All of these manipulations tend to ruin it, in my experience.
Oddly, packaging it in plastic jugs, even the cloudy type of plastic water containers found in the supermarket, does not ruin its properties, although it will add a little contamination to it.
Also, I find that running water through copper or steel pipes also does not ruin it, as many health authorities contend.
6. Most people do not drink enough pure water.  Adults need about 3 quarts or 3 liters daily, and perhaps a little more if you weigh over 250 pounds or 110  kilograms, do physical labor or vigorous exercise daily, and perhaps more if one lives in a very dry or hot climate.
1. As stated above, every adult needs to drink about 3 quarts or 3 liters (about 96 ounces) of water daily, with no exceptions.  It you weigh over about 250 pounds, have a very physical job or do a lot of physical exercise daily, or perhaps live in a very hot and dry climate, you may need a little more.
Drinking more than this, by the way, is not as good.  If someone claims to need a gallon of water or more daily, for example, I immediately start checking to see if their water is hydrating the body properly, or if some other condition might be causing this degree of thirst.
Other beverages such as coffee, tea, juices, or others do not tend to hydrate the body nearly as well, and are discussed below.  Please do not count other beverages as water intake, except perhaps for a cup or two of mild herbal, non-caffeinated tea such as chamomile tea. 
Also, do not drink with meals.  Drink only enough with meals to take your nutritional supplements, and no more.  One small cup of water is usually okay.  More than this will dilute the stomach acid and harm digestion quite a lot, in some cases.
An excellent idea is to drink about a quart of water upon arising and at least half an hour before breakfast.  This will usually provoke a bowel movement and gets the day off to a good start.  When you wake up, just sit and drink a quart of water!"
Reverse osmosis, structured water may work well in our spray tank, but our body needs minerals.  That expensive filter in our fridge took them out for the last six months!
Don't believe everything you read but I found this article thought provoking.
What do you think?  Would a little more water improve your health?
Ed Winkle