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  • NutraDrip Irrigation

Grower Panel: Todd Rokey, Galen Grimm, Miles Peterson

2023 NutraDrip Field Day



Kurt: So we'll maybe start with Todd since we didn't have him do a set of slides. Maybe just tell us a little bit about your operation, what you do what you've done with drip and some of the things you're doing on the manure side in particular.

Todd: Sure. I farm with my brother. We just farm west of here about a half hour.

And similar type soils, I would say, not quite as good as this part of the country, naturally. But for those of you familiar with this topography here, we do have rolling hills over there. So I have myself, about 127 acres that are irrigated. The system that we've set up is also in conjunction with my brother in law.

He has another 80. That's all under the same irrigation system. Unfortunately, like Miles and these guys in Nebraska, we don't have deep wells here. So our water source has to come from surface water. So we build a pond to, to pull water from that. I'm on our fifth year of irrigating. I've had corn and beans irrigated all those five years, just trying to learn and trying to understand what the differences are and how you manage those crops differently with irrigation.[00:01:00] 

And then we're on our fourth year of running the swine effluent through the drip system. Still figuring that out as well. We've done a lot of things to get that system to work. We've got it, I think, to a place now where I'm much more comfortable with it than we have been the first three years.

Different things that we've tried and different things that we're doing. So the swine operation, the swine unit that I have, we've got about 3, 500 head of swine, so not a real big operation to today's standards. But it I'll go into what we go more in details that if you want to what all it's done for us, but it provides a lot of advantage throwing the manure through that system versus the traditional way of manure management that you might get the experience.

Kurt: Very good. All right. Any questions from out in the crowd? I've got a few on the top of my head. So I'll maybe start while you guys are formulating a few. Let's talk a little bit about soybeans. Galen, maybe lead off what. What are you doing on soybeans with irrigation, pushing yields[00:02:00] what are you seeing that works?

What are the things you focus on to, to, give corn a lot of attention? What about

Galen: beans?

Yeah, beans are hard for us because it's hard to know what, where it comes from on soybeans. But we're focusing lately, the last year or two, we're trying to, we're focusing more on early season

management that's being able to affect the bloom early on, like V3, real small. So that's one thing we've been working with. It was interesting, we were on a call with Next Level Ag, and Jason had just been back from South America and talked to a researcher down there, and this researcher wanted to see how many pods one bean plant can produce.

What did he tell us? 2000 pods on one bean plant, and basically, the bean plant has incredible potential to set a lot of blooms and hold 'em. We lose two thirds of our blooms normally. So how do we hold onto more of those?

Kurt: Miles? Any thoughts on soybeans?

Miles: Not much much other than they are hard and they're so [00:03:00] environmentally dependent. Like Galen said it's so hard to know, I can think back 2 years ago. I think we, we raised the best beans we ever had. And that's the whole area. Everybody kind of thought, oh, we had this,

the whole bean thing figured out, and then the next year it came back and kicked us in the butt, so they're tough. Todd?

Todd: Soybeans? Yeah, so we've done several things with beans that we thought would be the ticket, and just as these guys mentioned, beans, there is no magic bullet. It doesn't appear to be, discovered.

So with the manure and the effluent, we've tried to push it with the potassium. In the things and especially late season in those beans really pushed potassium so we could get our protein values up, get our bean size bigger. We've done okay making that happen, but it wasn't astronomical. It wasn't huge differences.

Still looking at that, I would, I'm going to dovetail off Galen's comment on the early management. That would be where I'd want to go next with soybeans is a see if we can't push the manure, push the nutrients a little earlier in those beans and see if we can't get to get better yields.[00:04:00] 

I'll share a comment just to I'm amazed that Kurt got Galen up here to talk. That was a pretty big, you don't understand how big of a deal that was. That's a pretty big deal. He got him up here to talk. He's a wise man. He told me when I first started irrigating, I said, how do I raise, 100 bushel beans, 80 bushel beans.

He said you got to do in the driest year possible. Okay why is that? There's just because a lot goes into that bean plant with the water and the nutrients that we can get it on a timely and regular basis. And but the bottom line, it's got to be a dry year because the sun shone most of the time.

Photosynthesis and beans is a

Kurt: big deal. Yeah, sure. Something we don't think about or give credit to is the amount of sunlight we get and how do we measure that. Something we don't even measure typically, is what the sunlight radiation is and how that varies from year to year. Definitely is a big part of the equation.

Yeah, excellent.

 What are you doing for biological products? What have you tried? What are you using? What have you found to work by from biologicals? Start with Todd.

Galen: Sure.

Todd: So my answer to that is real quick. It's no, I haven't tried any, [00:05:00] but I'm in the process.

I've got a for anybody familiar with Biosu, or Sue Johnson bioreactors, I've got one of those going. I've got a neighbor that's really into it even more than I am, and I'm following some of his lead on extracting some of these bacteria and fungi that I'm creating myself and putting out there.

We'll see where all that goes. wE have not, I've heard somebody say this at Commodity Classics. We haven't touched the surface of biological activity in our soils yet. We're learning. In the industry, as an industry wide, I'm starting to pick up. There's more and more interest. You've mentioned BW Fusion is another example.

Companies out there that are paying attention to that. We can talk about chemistry all day long, on the chemistry and the nutrients. But if we don't address, at least look at the biological activity and also the physical part of the soil is important too. We're missing a big picture part of that.

It's just all part of the learning process. So I haven't tried anything, but I hope to.

Galen: We've tried some, trying to even remember what some of the, we've worked with some of the Stolar products with some success, we've seen [00:06:00] some yield response, nothing that's like knocking it out of the park or nothing, but with Stolar, we've worked with some Stolar stuff cover crops, yeah, I've tried some

Miles: so this year I've tried some, the PivotBio on seed treatment. I haven't really noticed much of a visual difference yet. I guess we'll take it to in the combine and see what that says. And then tried some of that on some gravity fed acres where we have less option for late season fertility and so far, I've been happy with

nitrogen levels in the plant for this late in season and for what our program is on that particular field. So

Kurt: maybe to dovetail that, what about fungicide? What do you do for fungicide specifically on irrigated and high yield fields? Is it different? I know Miles is a hundred percent irrigated, so he does it on everything. Miles, you gonna start on fungicide, what your practices are?

Miles: Yep, we're using this year we used DeLaro's Komplete Delaro Complete, and put that on at tassel.

So that's been our standard practice [00:07:00] for the last couple years. One application did do a couple trials of I like I'd say V12, V14 application of a fungicide and then paired it with a tassel application as well. We'll see what that shows.

Galen: Yeah, we fungicide pretty much everything every year.

Soybeans we don't, at this point we don't ask questions, we just fungicide. R3 fungicide pretty much seems to at least be break even. In some years it can be pretty substantial. On corn, our standard practice is VT application of Veltima. The last few years we've used Headline before that.

 We've been doing some late season. We, we have done early season, V8. And we can keep the plant really clean doing that. I'm just not sure we're getting a positive ROI on it. So B. T. Seems to be pretty solid bet. And then we've been doing some later season. 21 days after just coming back again.

On some of our high yield stuff to try and keep the plant health up and also to keep it [00:08:00] standing for harvest. And now, I guess we have tar spots and now we're treating for that too.

Todd: Yeah, I should mention tar spot. I was with my agronomist in the field just yesterday, found our first tar spot. Nodules in a couple of our fields, first time I've ever seen it, but I'm similar to Galen.

All the beans get fungicide, no questions asked. That just, it just returns. I figured that out the last couple years. And corn, most of the time, that's getting fungicide. All my irrigated corn gets fungicide, no question asked, just because I want that plant health, healthiest plant as I possibly can get. For the dry land,

I don't always do that

Kurt: but most of the time. What about starter on the planter? In furrow, two by two. Give us your thoughts on what you have tried or are doing or what you think is successful. Galen, you want to start that one? I was trying to better than that. We

Galen: should have Terry mental. I was going to say,

Todd: I'll be thinking of him as well.

Galen: Let's go ahead. Yeah, in furrow starters are our experience in this area, is there their visual is great. The ROI is hard to nail down. What we're trying to do is more, [00:09:00] pull out of our fall program and put that into our planter program. So lately on our bottom ground we've nailed down, we can get a positive ROI on planter applying nitrogen and sulfur. So we're doing that and we're trying to figure out how to work that in on our hill ground, irrigated hill ground around here there, the early season plant health, bigger, this year, it was pretty substantial.

It's not always that way, but we would like to go more planter applied, but that has logistic challenges in the spring that sometimes make it less appealing miles.

Miles: Our standard practice in the past has just been in an in furrow, like a 3 gallon an acre, like I showed up there. Considering applying some nitrogen sulfur with the planter Yeah, to take out of a fall program or something like that.

So I'm curious, Galen, are you using a two by two or like a dribble or two

Galen: by two?

Todd: Yeah, and Todd. Yeah, so I do all my starter with in furrow with the [00:10:00] planter I've got the planter set up that way and that's what I've been doing I feel like I've got an ROI on that I've done a couple of some tests on that where I've done full rate half rate no rate. Don't have a lot of data points on that ,but I've done it a few times and felt like that has worked. My starter program is a starter blend a customized blend that I'll base off my soil samples so I try to customize it actually not quite for each field because I don't want that many tanks and fluid like Galen said that the logistics in spring of the year could be a challenge.

So try to keep it simple, but I've always done the starter in furrow. Do have furrow jet on the planter, so may do some different with some differences between right on the seed or else just a three quarters away from the seed through the furrow jet, but do not, haven't done really done much with the two by two.

Galen: The in furrow, the in furrow, that, a lot of that, those tests that I've seen around here were done, 15 years ago when we were at, what, 200 bushel yield goals? There certainly is, I think, a component, when you're, when we're starting to shoot for 300, you've got to get started, [00:11:00] right?

Otherwise, you might not have an opportunity yet. The in furrow might be a good option.

Kurt: Maybe that'd be a good next question for all of you think about when the stair steps from 200 to 250, 250 to 300, miles, 300 to 350, maybe some keys. For each of those steps like how to a lot of growers dry land or maybe in that 180 to 200 I would say is pretty common.

But then what does it take to do those next steps?

Todd: Yeah, I think it comes out really one word that's management. If you're going to if you're going to get up there and I say and I'm saying it because I haven't I've not raised 300 bushel Corn yet myself and this year's a good example, right? I didn't really watch it as close as I should have.

But that idea of management, they talked about the agronomy 365 of doing the leaf tissue sample with the soil sample in conjunction looking at those ratios. So management equals time. And you if you're going to get, I, these guys can correct me if I'm wrong, but if we're gonna get there, [00:12:00] we're gonna have to dedicate time to manage that,

measure it. And then take action based on it, if we're going to make that jump, that's just, that's

Galen: a general rule. Yeah, I would agree with that a hundred percent. It's super hard to actually implement this stuff when you get down into the in season when you're, you're trying to wrap up planting your spray and then you got ten other things going on and it's super hard to implement.

We try to, we always have, we usually have a hundred ideas and we try to narrow down, okay, which of these are actually like logical, we should actually focus on. And then try and narrow that down to about four or five different things that we're going to try and implement, whether that's testing or, tissue testing or whatever it is.

And then we slot that in every Tuesday morning we tissue test. It pretty much doesn't matter what else is going on. A couple of us are out for a couple hours Tuesday morning. It's just the way it is. To the original question. Yeah, I would agree with Todd. It's all about management. And that starts in the fall of the previous year.

I would say that's, getting your residue spread right if you're no till, we're no till around here. We've seen that huge this year. [00:13:00] Uneven residue has affected our corn stands substantially. But just all the little details when the planter goes, seed to soil contact, all just the basic stuff.

Miles: That's the one I was going to say, Galen, is it's 100 percent details. You have to, and it takes a lot of time. You have to be, if you're taking tissue samples every week, you have to be prepared to make an application right after you get it. And yeah, you have to commit a lot of time to doing it.

But I would also say don't get wrapped up and trying all these new things. And there's something to keeping it a little bit simple, once in a while.

Kurt: And I, yeah, that's a good comment. Miles appreciate that. Because one of the things we're trying to do here is we're trying to sort through all the new stuff.

And you, and. We're getting approached by I think I get approached by 2 or 3 biological companies a week right now and which ones where I have no idea what works right? It's [00:14:00] so difficult to sort through all that. So I hope that we can use our farm and the, that group of growers we're working with to sort through some of that.

And bring things that we see, Hey, this really does work. And this really does provide a return on investment.

So the question is how do you overcome those early season no till challenges in your management practices and residue stand establishment, et cetera. I

Galen: Would say, yeah, seedbed prep. So we're we strip till and it's in heavy residue.

If you're coming in behind, 80 bushel irrigated beans or something, it's hard to clear through that with a trash ripper really well, you can especially in terraces and all that. So I would say seed bed prep is yeah, probably. That'd be my comment somehow get some black soil that you can hit with the planter.

Someone that's consistent

Kurt: residue management is a big deal. Have you I guess, Todd, you have any comments? I got another question.

Todd: I was going to comment on the residue [00:15:00] management things. So on my irrigated, I've tried some corn on corn. You corn on corn at 250 bushel corn, you've got a lot of residue there.

You got to deal with it. That's been a huge challenge. I was determined to do it with no till. That was my goal. Is to be able to do that no till. I think I'm going to give up on that idea. Because it's just not going to work. They're going to have to till it. Yeah, there's some companies out there that claim they got these biological things that'll just, oh, that residue just disappear for you.

You find one of them, let me know. That actually works. So residue management is critically important. As Galen said, that black strip, getting that, that soil warms up. So one of the things I have tried to do to counteract that is I'll, my irrigated corn is the last corn I plant. Just because I've tried to give it as long as I can, the soil will warm up as long as I possibly can.

Beans on the other hand, I'm pushing those though. We were planting those earlier. But that's maybe helped overcome that, but it's not the answer entirely.

Kurt: Miles, any comments on residue management?

Miles: Yeah, you can only do so much with making sure your planner set up. And that's pretty obvious, but that's a big thing, and you touched [00:16:00] on it, but there is some biologicals out there, whether they work or not. I don't know. I don't have any experience, but like BW fusion is a company that you hear a lot about and they have that meltdown product. Something that I'll probably look into this fall and see if that has any success, but yeah, it can be tough.

Galen: I agree. I'd reiterate what Todd said about warm soils. That's huge, especially in heavy residue. And part of that part of the our emergence testing. We know that the earlier we plant and colder soils, the wider that emergence window gets if we want them up fast, it's got to be soil temperature's got to be over 60 degrees, 55, 60.

Otherwise, it's a slow process.

Kurt: Question is, have you experimented with extremes of early and late planted to see what effect that has?

Galen: Not totally because I'm convinced that the warmer soil is better. So I haven't tried the early side of it, but we've, I would say I'm fairly disciplined about I'm not, I'm just not going and so we've ended up with May 20th, planted corn, irrigated corn, which is [00:17:00] pretty late around here.

And we've, we had a good year that, it made two, two 40 something could have been made more if we got it May 1st, probably. But we didn't get the opportunity to get in. So I'm comfortable going to May 15th around here without, I think, without a yield, too much of a yield hit, but I haven't tried the earlier side.

I don't know. There's people around that plant irrigated corn early. It's their first stuff they plant and I hear decent yields coming off of it. I don't know.

Kurt: Miles, Todd, any thought on planting dates?

Miles: In my experience, in my personal area, it's usually as long as yeah, if you have enough heat to get that seed up and going right away, our earlier planted stuff will usually yield out yield the later planted stuff, but don't have any specific trials with any actual data to prove that.

But just my thoughts,

Todd: I don't have any data either what gets us in trouble, or at least in our area here is when that when it pollinates. So the theory [00:18:00] was, always was, but plant a little earlier so we can get it up, get it to pollination before the heat hits. It depends on the year. You can plant in, in May or, middle of May, and as long as it's not super, super hot when it's trying to pollinate, you'll probably be fine.

On the other hand, you plant it regardless, even in the middle of April, and it's a hundred degrees and the wind's blowing to beat all out of the South, when it's trying to pollinate, we're going to be in trouble regardless of how much water we can put to it. There's your typical, I'll blame that on agronomists, it depends.

Kurt: Asking Miles what is showed the groceries he's put out. What's your yield goal? You think

Miles: based on the kernel counts that I've done by hand somewhere between 320 and 380, depending on, how many kernels it takes to make a bushel. So

Kurt: Galen, Todd, what's your crop looking like this year?

Galen: Irrigated.

Pretty good. It won't, I don't think our irrigated will be best ever. We're at, we have too much variability from plant to plant, in my opinion. [00:19:00] But it's going to be solid. I think

Todd: I'm a little bit disappointed with what our yields potentially is looking like in our corn and I'm not, that's not has nothing to do with the irrigation.

It's simply the management factor. I don't think I did a good job. I don't think I'm going to have quite what I've expected in the past. The corn for anyway beans look real good. We got got good potential. That's hard to tell yield on beans. I'm just going by the number of pods that are out there.

Galen: Look pretty good.

We have good pot. We have good pod sets on our beans. Probably from all the dicamba on our beans. I would be in the same boat. Nice and bushy.

Kurt: Let's give these guys a round of applause. Thanks for joining us.

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