Research Farm at Catlin, Illinois, USA
May 2003 Articles

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Kent's Korner -- "Looking Back"

If you have not already heard, I retired this past fall.  Larry Schonert is now the President and General Manager of TSM® Services, Inc.

My experience in the field of soil fertility spans 50 years, if you start counting the year my Dad (Paul Durbin) started the "Farmer City Fertilizer Company" located in Farmer City, Illinois.  I took soil samples and worked in his soil laboratory. There were three (3) soil tests back in those days:
(1) pH colored in red  (2) phosphorus colored in blue  (3) potassium colored in green.  Maps were made using a colored pencil.

These were the days when you stayed in business because of your reputation for being honest.  The farmers did not use the dishonest dealers and they closed due to lack of business. Today the dishonest dealer gets a CCA certification and continues doing what he always did and it's okay because he has his CCA.

Now that I have retired, the industry will cross me off as an "approved" agronomist (since I am certified both as a CCA and CPAg) to an "unapproved" agronomist (since I will let my certifications run out).  I think it is the money I will not be paying!!

I still come to the office every day and help whenever the busy season time is here.

The "Total Soil Management®" program is still today the very best soil fertility program ever.  It had to come up through the years the hard way.  Now that we have "Nutrient Management" plans, it has had to prove itself over and over again.

Here is some interesting information.  We have compared the "Total Soil Management®" program to (1) University of Illinois' recommendations, (2) Purdue's recommendations, (3) Ohio State's recommendations and Michigan State's recommendations for the past 10 years right here at Catlin, Illinois.  I will compare only the "Total Soil Management®" program on budget E and the University of Illinois "Agronomy Handbook" recommendations.  Actually, we have two (2) fields with them duplicated at Catlin, Illinois.

Let's take field B only.  Over the past 10 years, the University applied an average of 165 pounds of P2O5 per acre while the TSM® program applied 80 pounds per acre. We applied 49% as much as the University of Illinois. The University of Illinois applied 155 pounds of K2O while TSM® applied only 136 pounds per acre.  We applied 88% as much as the University of Illinois.

Maybe TSM® E didn't get as good a yield.  The fact is that TSM® E out-yielded the University of Illinois recommendations in both soybeans (Field B + 4.8 bushels & Field C +5.6 bushels per acre) and corn (Field B + 3.2 bushels and Field C 7.8 bushels per acre).

The soil test values were pretty much equal.

Averages for Field B
 TSM®University  of IllinoisDifference  in poundsDifference  in percentDifference  in bushels
P2O5 applied801658549 
K2O applied1361551988 
Corn Yield177.6174.4  3.2
Soybean Yield64.860.0  4.8

Averages for Field C
 TSM®University of IllinoisDifference in poundsDifference in percentDifference in bushels
P2O5 applied611347445 
K2O applied1301411192 
Corn Yield185.6177.8  7.8
Soybean Yield60.855.2  5.6

10 -Year Comparison for Field B
YearP2O5  appliedK2O  appliedCorn YieldSoybean Yield
199410564178  7365
199612504183  5756
1998157747106  5552
2000287035100  6460
2002138120209120  7567

10 -Year Comparison for Field C
YearP2O5  appliedK2O  appliedCorn YieldSoybean Yield
19936754149  6256
19959544794  4438
1997150420  6157
1999157064150  7265
200113525072  6560

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TSM® Services, Inc. assists fertilizer
dealers and growers with the comprehensive
soil fertility program Total Soil Management®
making fertilizer recommendations on more than
90 different crops on all soil types.

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