TSM Research Farm at Catlin, Illinois, USA     June 2001 Articles

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TSM® Test Plots

By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager

The corn and soybean plots at Catlin are planted.  We had good weather for planting, and got everything planted in a timely manner.  We have the same TSM® fertility plots as previous years but have also added some others.  We were not able to get the composted pelletized chicken manure to put on the Walker farm as we did last year, but we will be able to study the affects of applying the manure last year.  We expect to get more manure this fall.

We have added some corn hybrid and soybean variety trials this year on the main Catlin farm.  As most of you know, we are distributors for Kruger seed and we want to show off and study the different hybrids and varieties they offer.

The main corn fertility plot at Catlin is planted to Kruger K-9111.  The Holden farm and part of the Walker farm are planted to an experimental Kruger number EX-212.  Kruger K-9912 is also used at the Walker farm.  All the corn ground got FulTime and Hornet from DowAgrosciences, and Syngenta's Force was the insecticide used.

Kruger soybeans K-3777/SCN are used on all the farms.  It is a 3.7 maturity, conventional variety with soybean cyst nematode resistance.  The soybean ground was sprayed pre-plant with Syngenta's Boundry and I will use FlexStar and Fusion with Helena's Dyne-Amic.  I like using Strike-Zone PPS from Helena to prevent drift.  We also used Helena's HiStick II inoculant.  We used it last year and have seen some very good results in university trials.  We also have a plot comparing soybeans with and without HiStick.

Last year I had problems with bean leaf beetles because my soybeans were in earlier than my neighbor's beans.  I am on the lookout for them now, but there are a lot of soybeans coming up in the area so I do not think they will be as bad this year.  If they do get bad enough I will use Warrior to reduce the population.  Bean leaf beetles rarely are economic damage, but can make a field look very bad, and can cause mottling on seeds.  We have also had problems with Japanese beetles in past years.  Again, if needed I will spray with Warrior.

We will do a fair amount of work with foliar fertilizers.  The TSM®2 product has shown some real promise with yield increases up to nine bu./acre on soybeans.  We will look at different rates and multiple applications.



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Phosphorus and Potassium Soil Tests Over 8 Years

By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager

This is last year's presentation showing what the soil tests have done over several years at the TSM® Research Farm at Catlin.  The charts below show that the phosphorus and potassium levels can change from year to year.  This is why we recommend taking soil samples every year and not using a soil sample taken three or four years ago.

TSM<font size=1><sub>®</sub></font> Phosphorus Chart

TSM<font size=1><sub>®</sub></font> Potassium Chart

Both the phosphorus and potassium levels start out rather high, then moves up or down from year to year.  There are four different treatments in this field, yet the P and K levels on each of these fertilizer treatments tend to move in the same direction.  This is especially true for the potassium levels.

We used to believe that if you produced a very good crop yield, the soil test would move down because the crop took more out of the soil than we expected.  Conversely, if a poor crop yield were produced, the soil test levels would move up because of the unused fertilizer.

On the top of each chart are numbers showing whether that year produced more or less than average.  The numbers are the percent more or less (-) than the average yield.  This allows us to see if the soil tests are moving according to the yield.  The charts show that the first year produced crops that were 14% greater than normal and the soil tests went down.  The second year produced yields that were 20% less than normal and the soil tests went up.  So, in the first two years, this theory seems to hold water.   However, if you look at the next years, there is no correlation to yield and soil test movements.  Thus, there are obviously other factors that affect the up and down movement of phosphorus and potassium.  One of these factors may be the mineralization of soil organic matter.  Many different weather and environmental conditions affect mineralization.

Taking soil samples every year is a very important part of the TSM® Fertility Program.  TSM® strives to produce the best recommendation for each field and soil sampling every year is one of the tools we use to more accurately feed the crop.



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Problem Fields

By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager

Problems will start showing up in fields soon, if they haven't already.  Is there an area that is shorter than the rest of field, or is off color?  Every year we have whole fields or areas in the field that are not growing, as they should.  Many times it has to due with weather.  Sometimes it is fertility, although using the TSM program will lessen this possibility.

If you have an area in a field that does not look right and you suspect it has a nutrient deficiency, take tissue samples and soil samples from the bad and good areas of the field.  Some deficiencies increase with extreme weather conditions.

Compaction, low micro levels, a pH too high or too low, can all cause crop stress.

The pH of a soil also can be an important factor in the availability of a nutrient.  For example, zinc like most other micronutrients are much more available at low pHs than high pHs.  The table below illustrates how the availability of zinc decreases by 100 times for every one pH unit increase.

pHZinc in Soil (ppm)
4.0555
5.05.55
6.00.0555
7.00.000555
8.00.00000555

Diseases also can cause problems.  Soybean cyst nematodes seem to be increasing.  You can usually see them first along the edge of the fields.  Nematodes can also increase the likelihood and severity of sudden death syndrome (SDS).  SDS is more common where the potassium levels are low.  Again, combinations of stresses can really hit the crop hard.

Many deficiencies can be corrected by a foliar application, but it is better if we can use soil-applied fertilizers to prevent a deficiency before we see it.  The soil-applied fertilizers are usually cheaper and by the time you see a deficiency in the field, there is usually already a yield loss.

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Trimble AgGPS Autopilot

By Gary Grimm
Agri-Data Management Manager

With advances in technology, new things keep coming.  Trimble has introduced an auto pilot system for agriculture that will steer a tractor or an applicator, eliminating overlap and reducing inputs.  This unit gives farmers and dealers the capability to establish a straight line much like a parallel swathing system and then follow that line without touching the steering wheel.

For the price of $54,900, the system includes a GPS base station, antenna and TrimComm 900 radio transmitter on two tripods.  The system transmits Real Time Kinetic (RTK) signals to identical equipment that is mounted on the vehicle, which is capable of centimeter accuracy.  The base station is capable of providing coverage of up to 6 miles or one can take the base station from farm to farm.

There are many benefits that come from using the autopilot system.  Skips and overlaps will ultimately be eliminated.  Tom Niewohner, a farmer using the system, states that on a 2500 acre farm, a person could have as much as 150 acres of overlap.  By reducing this to near zero, it will save time, fuel, labor or chemical costs.

RTK GPS can also produce topographic maps accurate to within an inch.  Generating this type of map will aid in the analysis of site-specific agriculture.  A grower will know the lay of the land and will be able to pinpoint areas of concern as well as good areas by overlaying a yield map with this data.

Compaction reduction is another benefit that can be realized.  By traveling the same track time after time, the compaction zone is confined to one area.  The system will also allow a farmer to plant without markers around the clock.

With a list of benefits that can save money the drawback still is the hefty price tag.  The autopilot system may not be for everyone but warrants being watched for future developments.

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Puzzle of the Month: "Squares"

The famous mathematician Dr. Square Root had two sons, exactly a year apart.  One day shortly after they had both turned a year older, he noticed that if you squared their ages and then added the squares the total would be 1105.  How old are his sons?

To find out if you have solved the puzzle correctly, send your answers to:

TSM Services, Inc.
Attn.: Kim Vallery
FAX: (800)626-3807
E-Mail: 



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The Answer to May's Puzzle!

We appreciate the entries for May’s contest, "Pennies".   We had 10 winners on this month's puzzle!


The answer to the puzzle "Pennies" is :   Abe had 7 pennies and Lizzy had 13 pennies.


Congratulations to May's big winners!! The big winners are:

Anita Sims - Allerton Supply Co., Ridge Farm, IL

Barry Steinman - MFA Agri Services, Salisbury, MO

Julie Sunderland - PC Ltd., Blue Mound, IL

John Flood - Fowler Elevator, Inc., Seymour, IA

Dale Ford - PC Ltd., Decatur, IL

Teresa Sager - Helena Chemical Co., Bowling Green, OH

Dave Stephenson - New Generation Co-Op, Jenera, OH

Phil Schmiege - Helena Chemical Co., Saginaw, MI

Jonathon Russell - Royster-Clark AgriBusiness, Otwell, IN

Terry Goode - Ag One, Fountaintown, IN

Good luck next month!

To enter, see "The Puzzle of the Month" article above.   Then send your answers to:

TSM Services, Inc.
Attn: Kim
P.O. Box 860
Catlin, IL  61817-0860
Fax: (800)626-3807
E-Mail: 

If your entry is one of the first ten correct entries we receive in the TSM Main Office, you could win a prize.  Only one winner per location.  Incomplete or incorrect entries will be considered for prizes, if they are eligible under other rules.



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Kent's Korner

By Kent Durbin, President
TSM Services, Inc.

I really do not have much to say this month.  We have come through the spring feeling like spring really didn't show up.  I mean by this that we never had the "pile-up" in the office as we ordinarily have.  The work was spread out fairly even all spring.

We continue to work on our new program.  We plan to demonstrate it at our TSM® Summer Training Sessions.  We have worked a long time getting to this place.

We are also working on the composted chicken manure program.  This will provide you with something new for your farmers.  On the Walker Research Farm, which is dedicated to this manure project, we took very low fertility soils and raised over 200+ bushels of corn per acre and almost 90 bushels of soybeans per acre using this product with commercial fertilizer.  I think that adding organic matter into the TSM® Program will be a real boost.

It is said that one of the greatest compliments you can be given, as a company, is for larger companies to hire your employees.  This first happened to us with Martin Rund who was hired by Tyler out of Benton, Minnesota (now Case-Tyler Business Unit) and is a Regional Sales Manager doing a great job.  It happened the second time with Ron Taylor who hired on with Helena Chemical Company out of Indianapolis, Indiana as a Regional Proprietary Products Manager and doing well.  You would think that would be enough, but we have been hit the third time.  Gary Grimm will be leaving July 12, 2001 to work for Helena Chemical out of Des Moines, Iowa as a Regional Precision Ag Specialist.  Gary is from Iowa (an Iowa State Cyclone!) and has longed to return to Iowa for several years.

I am going to put a lock on the our door!  You know, it is a compliment because even though we have missed both Martin Rund and Ron Taylor, and we will miss Gary Grimm, we are all better off because they were a part of us for awhile.  We all wish Gary the very best.  Our search for Gary's replacement will begin soon.

So much for retirement!  Here I am trying to retire and my workload keeps growing.  It doesn't seem possible that I have been working in soil fertility for over 42 years.



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