Monday, July 26, 2010

AdFarm Tissue Results

Is agriculture an art or a science? I posed that question in this blog last November when we Harvested Our Corn Plot. My thought was "it must be both or it will be neither." Art is the 'human effort to imitate, alter, supplement or counteract the work of nature.' Science is 'knowledge of nature attained through study or practice.' 
Historically farming has been treated as an art with most emphasis placed on effort. There were good farmers and bad farmers. What separated them was thought to be more related to passion and motivation than soil content and variety selection.  In modern agriculture there is still a need for art. We are, after all in the business of altering the works of nature on today's farms.  But more and more, farmers must rely on scientific data. We need the knowledge gained through study. Farmers have the opportunity to participate in experiments that impact the modern development of this knowledge in the industry. Agriculture needs farmer's participation in order to find a way to feed this hungry world. So it occurred to me 'that the effort of our art is always complemented by further knowledge of our science.' Last November, we named that the "Theory of GriggsDakota."
Since that time the "Theory of GriggsDakota" has been firmly established in my mind. Approaching agriculture as anything less is to sell it short. I like the art side of farming, the effort, the courage, the wonder of it all. But we must take time for science in order to be progressive and defend our industry in the Information Age. It will take our courage to a higher level and we must be armed with scientific data.
A few weeks ago Bill, a horticulturist who farms in GriggsDakota, took Tissue Samples from our fields. The results are in and here is a report from the AdFarm Corn field.
First:  Allow me to explain. Soil Samples test the nutrient content of the dirt into which we plant our seeds. Tissue Samples test the nutrient content of the plant leaves that grow in that dirt. It is important to test both.
 Some forms of nutrients present in the soil are not available to our crops. They are bound up and cannot be accessed by the delicate roots of a plant that grows quickly and for one short season. 
If the corn in the above photo found itself nutrient deficient, it would begin to pull nutrients from its lower leaves in order to tassel and mature. This results in a weak plant that cannot produce its full grain potential. By the time Farmer Fred noticed it, it would be too late to add fertilizer. Farmers must be proactive in providing nourishment for our crops in much the same way that parents anticipate hunger and nutrition for their children before they are starving.
The tissue sample results will assure Farmer Fred that his crops have the proper nutrients available to the plants in his fields. It also gives us an indication of what fertilizers our soil will need to support the crop next season. Soil Sample tests, taken in the late fall or winter, will give us further data for this decision.
Click on this chart to enlarge it. 
The chart indicates our tissue nutrients are on the low side. This chart was prepared by a company with high nutrient standards. It might be easy to look at the chart without noticing the detail of parts per million (ppm) in the tissue. That is a comparable number when analyzing results.
Again, click on the above chart, or any photo to enlarge it. 
From the same leaf sample the above result sheet was prepared by an independent soil and tissue testing laboratory. It indicates that our crop will have sufficient nutrients to mature.
 In GriggsDakota we believe it is important for Farmer Fred to analyze the varying test results, as optimum production is actually an art. Remember that science is the study of the tissue. The art is a balance that includes supplementing the soil with fertilizer.
We do our best to stay balanced.

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