TSM Research Farm at Catlin, Illinois, USA     August 2000 Newsletter Articles

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P & K Movements
By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager


In the past two newsletters, we have presented the results of soil tests taken from test plots over the last 4 to 7 years.  Well, here is another one.  This one is from Bill Steinecker's place near Van Wert, OH.

Bill Steinecker's Phosphorus Chart

Bill Steinecker's Potassium Chart

These charts, like those from the other plots we looked at, show that phosphorus and potassium levels in the soil are moving.  There is much more variation than what we had anticipated especially for the potassium.  Yield and the amount of fertilizer applied do not seem to account for these changes.

Environmental factors could be the causes for much of the movements.  Rainfall, temperature and length of the season are three factors that greatly affect microbial activity and mineralization of organic matter.  Mineralization releases more phosphorus and potassium.

Changes in the P & K levels from year to year are why it is important to take soil samples often.  We of course like to take them every year.  This ensures that the recommendation is right for that year and the fertilizer is the right amount for the crop.  From the charts, one can see how a soil test from a previous year can result in under fertilizing or over fertilizing.


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Pit BossTM

By Pat Musser
Chem-A-Co, Inc.


As harvest season is coming upon us, so will the need to pump out manure pits and lagoons.  If odors and/or solids persist, Pit BossTM is the answer.  TSM® has been a representative of Pit BossTM for several years and the results have been fantastic.  Pit BossTM is the most economical Pit and Lagoon Product on the market today.

To make Pit BossTM work for you, there are three letters to remember:  P. R. T.
  • (P) for pH.  The pH of the manure must be between 6.5 to 7.0 and should be checked with a pH meter not paper strips.
  • (R) is for rate.  The application rate for Pit BossTM; is one (1) gallon of Pit BossTM to 60,000 gallons of manure.
  • (T) is for the time.  Pit BossTM should be given to work. Chem-A-Co, Inc. recommends a minimum of two (2) weeks on odors and four (4) weeks on solids.
If Pit BossTM is applied according to these parameters Chem-A-Co., Inc. will guarantee reduction in odors and solids.  How many other products can make this claim?  Now is the time to ask your TSM® representative about a Pit BossTM program to fit your needs.

Remember when ordering Pit BossTM that it is sensitive to cold.


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Sugar Cane Projects In Louisiana

By Eddie Mayeux
TSM® Account Executive


Sugar cane is the dominant crop in the southern half of Louisiana.  This crop has been grown here for 200 years or more and is very different from most grain crops.  It is similar to sugar beets for its by-product "sugar", but the part that produces the sugar is the stalk which can in normal years grow to a height of 15 feet.  Being a ratoon plant, the life cycle is from 3 to as much as 7 years from 1 planting.

I feel that the TSM® program could contribute to extending this cycle and also help the plant produce more tonnage and sugar percentage.  I will be working in cooperation with two TSM® dealers and farmers on replicated test plots, one in the northern part of the cane belt and the other in the southern region.

In these plots we will also test a combination of adding an organic soil ammendment into the TSM® program.  Most of the soils are very old and worn out.   Organic matter averages less than 1% in most of these soils and their calcium percentages are very low.  To make things worse, the magnesium levels are very high.

I feel that the TSM® program can help correct these situations which will automatically give the grower more profit.


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Why Is The "TSM® Soils Program" Considered "Unique"? - Part 2

By Kent Durbin, President
TSM® Services, Inc.



  1. Annual pH adjustment according to the crop grown.  We have been recommending pelletized lime since 1978 for yearly adjustment of pH.  I am sure it is part of the reason we out-yield other recommendations 89% of the time.  What is ironic is that few universities will recommend it.

    My own university says that there is no difference between a granule of powdered limestone (made of 200-mesh powder) and a piece of limestone rock the same size as the granule.  My textbook says that the availability of limestone is based on the fineness or surface area.  Which would have more surface area, one piece of limestone the size of a BB or hundreds of pieces the size of powder?

    The textbook entitled "Soil Acidity And Liming" by R.C. Dinauer, put out by the American Society of Agronomy in Madison, Wisconsin, says that limestone over 200 mesh is 5 times more effective than limestone 20 - 60 mesh in size.

    Purdue University research in 1988 indicated 12.9 more bushels of soybeans per acre where pelletized lime was used with potash as compared to:
    1. Potash by itself
    2. Pelletized lime by itself
    3. Aglime by itself
    4. Aglime with potash

    You use pelletized lime along with the TSM® program and you will see results.  Just another reason why we out-yield all others 89% of the time.

    By the way, Granu-Cal® is a registered trademark used for pelletized limestone materials meeting a very rigid set of standards.  Call us and we will tell you who meets these standards.

    We manage pH instead of letting pH control us.


  2. We use the best of all the philosophies of making fertility recommendations.  There are 3 major philosophies of making fertilizer recommendations:

    1. Build-up and maintenance method.  Building up a nutrient to a certain level in the soil and then maintaining it there.  We use this method for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and will build them up to the high side of "medium" as used by soil labs.
    2. Sufficiency method.  This method uses just enough to take care of any deficiency.   We use this method on all micronutrients.
    3. Cation ratio saturation method.  Some have specific ratios between K, Mg and Ca.  Some have specific ratios for the P1 and P2 tests.  We strive for a balanced soil particle with ranges of ratios.  We sometimes call this having a balanced pH.

    Can you see why we are unique?


  3. Program selling is another unique feature. The Total Soil Management® fertility plan is a "program", meaning many things going together for a better total result.  What if you had the best program and your competition couldn't have it?  This would be great; however, what if your competition had it instead of you?  Ouch!

  4. We use budgets when making recommendations.   I took a survey one year, by asking farmers how many of them followed the fertility recommendations (not TSM®) 100% and I got an eye opener.  Over 90% revised the recommendations because the recommendations didn't fit their pocket book.   When was the last time someone other than TSM® asked you how much money you wanted to spend and made your recommendation fit it?  I know the answer because nobody else does it.  That's why we are unique!

  5. We use indexes for comparing one area to another area.  Does it make sense to spread the same fertilizer per acre just because the same crop is grown?  It would if all the soil was alike but it isn't.  This indexing tells us 4 things:
    1. Where and how much fertilizer to spread.
    2. Gives you the highest return on investment (ROI) possible.
    3. Finds your yield potential.
    4. Has the correct objective in mind when making your recommendations.

  6. Balance charts for knowing where your fertility is at all times.

  7. We are market protected.  Your competitor will not have this program.

  8. We have the products needed to get the job done and they are market protected.


You can probably think of some more areas where we are unique but twelve will do for now.


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Chicken Manure Plots

By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager



Last month, we told you about the new plots we started this spring where we applied up to six tons of pelletized, composted chicken manure per acre.  Well, these plots are really showing some differences.  The treatments with the chicken manure are generally taller than the plots containing only commercial fertilizer.

We have two pictures of them, one of corn and one of soybeans, showing the height differences.  Kent will expound on these plots at the TSM® Summer Seminars during his session on organics.  Also, we will take yield estimates on some of the plots to see if there are differences among treatments.

Larry Schonert in the corn field

Pelletized, composted chicken manure was applied to the corn on the left side of the picture and no manure was applied to the corn on the right side of the picture.


Soybeans in the Chicken Manure Plots

Pelletized, composted chicken manure was applied to the soybeans on the left side of the picture and no manure was applied to the soybeans on the right side of the picture.


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pH Makes a Difference

By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager



In July, several of us from the office went to the Diagnostic Training Clinic put on by Purdue.  It was very informative, and we highly recommend it to anyone.

The research that we found the most interesting was with Dr. Greg Willoughby and his graduate student Andy Like.  In their research they planted four different corn hybrids on two plots.  One plot has a pH of 5.0 and the other has a pH of 7.5.

The corn on the 7.5 pH plot was noticeably taller than corn on the 5 pH.  The four hybrids were very even in height on the 7.5 pH, but there was a fair amount of variation on the 5 pH.

The pictures we have taken show the height differences. It will be very interesting to see how these four hybrids yield on the two different pHs.


         Andy Like with his 5.0 pH plot
  Andy Like and his 5.0 pH corn plot.
Andy Like with his 7.5 pH plot
  Andy Like and his 7.5 pH corn plot.


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Kent's Korner

By Kent Durbin
President, TSM Services, Inc.



Has the spring and summer gone fast enough for you?  I can hardly believe that school will start in a couple of weeks.  With just my wife and I at home now, school starting turns to grandchildren now instead of children.  We have eight grandchildren with the oldest one starting college this fall.

The business is holding its own with the farming economy as it is.  We are still bringing in new dealers.   Our Louisiana ventures are with our new TSM® Account Executive Eddie Mayeux and his wife Sherrie.  Sherrie takes all the GPS soil samples.  She has a 50 horsepower tractor with a Concord auger soil sampler mounted on the side.  In the sugar cane areas, wheel spacing is very important (70 inches wide) and also clearance (at least 18 inches) so a tractor is the best tool.

Ag Chem is cooperating with us in Louisiana providing VRT machines for spreading lime and fertilizer.  We are very appreciative of Ag Chem.

Are you coming to the Summer Training Sessions on August 22nd or 29th? We have something very special planned.  I will be on the program on "How To Use Processed Manure in a Balanced Fertility Program".  I will also be showing and explaining how to separate liquid manure into solids and water.  In fact, I will show you a complete program from separating solids on the farm to producing pellets for fertilizer dealers to sell as fertilizer.

Visit our plots using processed chicken manure.  If you are looking on our website, you will find some color pictures of some of these plots.

This newsletter is our first attempt at pictures.  They are in black and white; however, if you will log on to our website, you will find these same pictures in color.  Do you have articles of interest that others might like to hear about and see?  Call your TSM® Account Executive and we will print it in the TSM® Infarmation newsletter.  If there is a picture of you with a TSM® hat on, we will pay you $10.

Congratulations goes out to Mike Sims of Raber Elevator at Columbia City, Indiana.  Mike had his picture on the cover of Ag Retailer.  A picture of you in a major magazine wearing a TSM® hat is worth $50.

How are your Pit-BossTM sales doing?  Do you realize how easy it is to sell Pit-BossTM?  A 300,000-gallon pit would need 5 gallons of Pit-BossTM for the duration of that pit (until you empty it).  You would put the entire 5 gallons into the pit to start with and then all you would need to do is to check the pH periodically to make sure it does not get above 7.0 pH.  If it does, you sell the farmer Adjust-A-Boss at the rate of 1 pint per 20,000 gallons or 15 gallons and this will lower the pH one entire point on the pH scale (7.0 to 6.0).  It works!!!  Keep in mind that these products must not be allowed to freeze!

We lost one of our suppliers recently.  SIMS Ag Products of Mt. Gilead, Ohio had to close their doors due to lack of funds.  We have sold all the left-over product and will be changing over all dealers to the TSM® Pre-Mix(F) or TSM® Base-Mix(F) products.  If you have a recommendation for 200 pounds per acre of TSM®5 using TSM® Pre-Mix(SS) use 200 pounds per acre of TSM®5 using TSM Pre-Mix(F) instead.  You will be getting the new formula sheets soon.  If you have any questions, please call me.

Congratulations to the members of the 25% CLUB this year.  They are: (any dealer who increases their acres through TSM® over last year by 25% or more qualify)

Lapeer Grain East, Imlay City, MIRay Graham, Mgr.+27%
Reinbold & Sons, Inc., Flat Rock, ILDan Powell, Mgr.+42%
Agway Crop Center, Curryville, PATom Ferry, Mgr.+37%
Agway Crop Center, Plainfield, CTHans Kvist, Mgr.+31%
Agway Crop Center, Detroit, MEDave Wadsworth, Mgr.+38%


Honorable mention: (any dealer who has increased their acres over last year by 1 to 24%)

Schoolcraft Farm Service, Schoolcraft, MIMike Johansen, Mgr.+4%
Lapeer Grain East, Lapeer, MIRay Withey, Mgr.+2%
Custer Grain, Garrett, INPat Crow, Mgr.+3%
Raber Elevator, Columbia City, INMike Sims, Mgr.+19%
C & B Farm Supply, Mt. Sterling, OHRich Clifton, Mgr.+1%
Helena Chemical Co., Boles, ILJim Shannon, Mgr.+6%




Do you people know that we have a program for spreading the Total Soil Management® program with a "one-product" VRT machine?  This unique program is being used successfully by dealers today.  Call us and ask about it.




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Check This Picture Out!


Mike Sims and his TSM cap

Mike Sims of Raber Elevator, Columbia City, IN, proudly wears his TSM® hat for the picture in the Ag Retailer magazine.  He received $50 from TSM® Services.  TSM® will give you $50 when you get your picture with a TSM® logo published in a national magazine.



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