Megan Fallon

Aug. 02, 2017

by Megan Fallon

Foliar fertilization can be a very useful crop production tool, especially during stressful environmental conditions. However, supplying nutrients to crops by spraying leaves can be a challenge. There are four essential steps when selecting and applying foliar fertilizers to help maximize the return on your investment. Soil tests are useful in ascertaining the nutrient status of a field, but even if a nutrient is present in the soil, it may not be available to the crop. Tissue testing is a technique that can pinpoint which nutrients (or lack there of) is actually limiting crop growth. The correct interpretation of these analyses is key to their effectiveness. We advise speaking to a qualified agronomist with the most current information on the newest soil and crop tissue evaluation techniques.  Understand What The Crop Needs It is also important to consider the environmental conditions and how they could be affecting the crops nutrient dynamics throughout the growing season. For example, in cold soils in the spring, zinc is less available to the crop, but zinc is also a critical nutrient for early root development. In dry conditions, crops can benefit greatly from higher potassium levels, however this nutrient is taken up in smaller quantities in dry soils. In saturated soil, root growth slows or even stops all together and, as a consequence, crops generally take up less nutrition from the soil, hindering overall growth and yield production.  All of this together means that determining the correct nutrient to foliar apply should begin with soil and tissue tests and be adjusted based on environmental conditions. Apply At The Optimal Time Crops require varying amounts of nutrients throughout the growing season based on their stage of development. Applying particular nutrients at specific times can significantly improve the effectiveness of foliar applied fertilizers. This is exemplified by the application of K and Mg during fruit development, which supports the development of large, healthy fruit. Another example is the increased need for available boron during flower development and fertilization. This is because of the role that boron plays in pollen tube formation in flowers. Phosphorus is most significantly required early in the growing season to support aggressive root development and crop establishment. The degree to which crops benefit from foliar applied nutrients varies throughout the growing season and is further influenced by the environmental conditions, as noted above.  Use The Most Powerful Product The overall effectiveness of foliar fertilizers is determined by the ability of nutrients to move into the leaves and be effectively utilized by the crop. The barrier to foliar nutrient uptake is a waxy layer on the leaf surface known as the cuticle. The primary nutrient pathways through the cuticle are the polar pores. The most effective foliar fertilizers use well-researched technologies that are specifically designed to safely and effectively move nutrients through the cuticle using the polar pores.  Support Higher Yields With Strong Soil Nutrition  Foliar fertilization is a great way to supply necessary micronutrients and to supplement crops with additional macronutrients. However, a sound soil fertility program is vital. Foliar fertilization can push crops to higher yields, but these higher yields need to be supported with strong soil nutrition. Planning a soil and foliar fertility program that supplies the fundamental nutrients at the right times provides crops with what is needed to maximize yields.  NutriAg’s Max and TruPhos lines of foliar fertilizers use leading technologies to safely and effectively deliver essential in-season crop nutrition.  How To Get Started NutriAg is offering FBN Members a special price on its crop nutrient and adjuvant products. To see the latest offer details, log into your FBN℠ account, go to the FBN Direct™ page and click the Fertilizer section to find NutriAg's offer.  Blog post was contributed by NutriAg, a supplier of crop nutrients and agricultural adjuvants, which is available on FBN Direct Marketplace.  © 2018 NutriAg Inc. All Rights Reserved.  The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.

Jun. 04, 2017

by Megan Fallon

The most important thing when considering adopting new technology into your operation is ensuring the transition makes enough economic sense to implement. On-site wind turbines are readily deployable and can be advantageous for operators across the U.S. However, the economic analysis can sometimes keep farmers from installing their own wind system. Determining if the Investment Makes Sense First off, you’ll want to consider what the machine will cost and the electrical production over the next 20–30 years. The production number may vary from the manufacturer's nameplate estimate based on the wind resource in your specific location. You will arrive at the price per kWh for the on-site electricity by dividing the the total turbine cost by the amount of kWhs the system is expected to produce. Next, you’ll want to consider not only what you are paying on a $/kWh basis now but also what you can expect to be paying over the next 20-30 years. It is widely accepted that electric rates increase over time. However, the amount of increase varies by utility or cooperative. Taking the average anticipated price for the kWhs over 20-year period and multiplying by the same expected amount of production from the turbine calculation above will give you an apples to apples comparison of the price for on-site and off-site electricity. After a turbine gets installed on-site, operators tend to find a series of additional benefits that they didn't expect that can add to their bottom line: product differentiation and  positive publicity Product Differentiation If you’re selling your product wholesale you’ve probably heard from some of your purchasers by now that not only do they want to focus on price but also keeping their products in line with consumer preferences. A growing number of the largest agricultural purchasers in the U.S., such as Unilever, have policies about procurement from producers that have elements of sustainability in their operations. United Wind installed a on-site turbine at Double A Vineyard in New York to power the operation’s facility. If you’re selling your products on the retail level you may also find that incorporating wind energy into your labeling can effect for your products performance at the store shelf level. According to a survey study published by Nielsen, 66 percent of people would be willing to pay a premium for products that are produced sustainably 1 . How much more do you ask? Sonoma Country Winegrower reports that some consumers are willing to pay an extra $7 per bottle of wine that is labeled certified sustainable 2 . Installing a wind turbine on your operation can provide a visible display of your values to your community, stakeholders, and company employees. It can show others that you are planning for the future of the business and committed to utilizing the resources available in the most strategic way. For example, on-site wind helps with the conservation of water resources that would have otherwise gone to electricity generation. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimates that electricity produced by traditional sources such coal, natural gas, or nuclear uses an estimated 1 to 2 trillion gallons of water each year to generate electricity 3 . Source: AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2016. This graph illustrates the amount of water saved by wind turbine generated electricity Moreover when the operator takes action like this it can often times serve as a signal and reminder to their employees to practice conservation in other parts of the operation ultimately saving the business more money. How To Get Started: United Wind installs custom on-site wind turbine solutions to save agricultural operations money. Customers are discovering that turbines offer additional benefits such as positive publicity and meeting evolving buyer and consumer preferences. The WindLease™ program allows business owners to lock-in a fixed electricity rate for 20 to 30 years to save on operational costs. By looking at just a couple of utility bills a United Wind representative can create a complementary wind report for your farming operation. As an added bonus, all  Farmers Business Network℠  members are eligible for a special offer! To see the latest offer details, log into your FBN℠ account, go the FBN Direct page and click the Technology section to find United Wind's offer.  Not already an FBN member? You can join the FBN network in under 2 minutes! Blog post was contributed by United Wind, a small-scale wind turbine company, which is available on  FBN Direct Marketplace.  WindLease™  is a trademark of United Wind. © 2016 United Wind Inc. All rights reserved. 1.  (2015), The sustainability imperative, Nielsen, Web . 2. Quackenbush, J.  (2017) , 'Sustainable' Sonoma wine could fetch $7-a-bottle more, survey says, Sonoma County Winegrowers, Web . 3.  (2016),  AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2016, American Wind Energy Association, Web . The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.