Northern Iowa farmer Dave Kronlage says Smart-Till helps conserve water that pays dividends during a dry spring and early summer. While his growers crops looked good, browning lawns revealed that they were in a dry spell.
Kronlage, a corn and soybean producer, lives near Dyersville, Iowa home of the famed farmstead/baseball diamond where the movie "Fields of Dreams" was shot. Kronlage became a no-tiller when he purchased his Smart-Till which enables him to manage heavier and darker soils common in eastern Iowa.
Kronlage did not experience a wet or late spring like most producers did and since he finished planting, had less than 5 inches of rain. "There is a pocket around Dyersville that has been dry. It has been dry since late June and even though the corn isn't hurting yet, it is under some stress."
Kronlage's Smart-Till pass may be paying dividends. While his neighbors comment that his crop seems to look better, he isn't yet certain if the Smart-Till pass is making a difference.
He follows a corn soybean rotation except for one sandy field when he wants the extra residue corn after corn can provide. In bean stubble he runs the Smart-Till in the fall to create divots and then broadcasts hog manure from his pits. In the spring he makes an additional pass to smooth out the field and prepare the seedbed.
Like most producers, he started planting corn after May 2nd and finished on the 8th. "Moisture was good and the seedbed was ideal," said Kronlage. Then, a day later, he immediately wet to beans and finished on May 12th. "Both crops got in in good time and off to a good start."
While it has been a dry season, he says his crops are looking good. "There were some weeds that escaped due to some delays in spraying and since I no longer till fields."
"A lack of heat until this spring meant the crop got off to a slow start and is about 10 days behind normal. Corn normally starts to tassel around July 4th, but not this year."
Kronlage is a fan of side-dressing "I try to side-dress everything (all corn acres). There is too much risk of nitrogen loss in the spring." His routine is to apply 50 lbs of side-dress at V^ so there is plenty available at tasseling.
While some rainfall issues after planting delayed spraying, the dry weather has kept bugs and diseases at bay.
In corn and beans he runs a 1-pass spring program and saves glyphosate as a rescue. On beans he applies Extreme (Pursuit plus glyphosate) as a burndown and residual. On corn he applies Dual plus atrazine and as a post he applies either Realm Q (Resolve and Callisto) or Glyphosate plus Impact if needed.
"Giant ragweed is our main problem," said Kronlage "followed by grasses." However, he comments how purple henbit was a problem this spring creating a dense matt of weeds.
Due to his location in Northeast Iowa, soybean aphids and white mold are constant threats and SDS might become an additional threat. "It is not shaping up to be an aphid year," said Kronlage, "we have no history of SDS in our fields and I hope to keep it that way."