C.O.R.N. Newsletter: 2020-11

  1. Cool and damp end of April, warmer start to May

    Author(s): Jim Noel

    April will end cool and damp after some sun and a milder to start to the last week of April. For April Ohio looks to finish one to four degrees below normal and that is after a warm start to April. Rainfall should end the month of April above normal in much of the state in the zero to two inch range above normal. The northwest part of the state was up to one inch below normal but will likely end April near normal.  Overall, this is a vast improvement over last year. 

    May is likely to start the month warmer than normal as we discussed last week. However, the pattern is progressive and active so it looks to turn much cooler again for May 5-15 period before turning warmer again the last half to third of May. Rainfall looks normal to two inches above normal for May. Therefore, there will be wet and dry periods in May to allow for periods of planting but it will also not be ideal and any open windows will need to be taken advantage of.

    Temperature Outlook

    May will average near normal. Summer will be above normal.

    Rainfall Outlook

    May will average normal to above normal (0 to +2 inches). Summer will go from wet to drier.

    Frost/Freeze Outlook

    It still appears most of the hard freeze risk is gone but expect a few frost days into early May. Preferred places like low lying areas still will see some temperatures down to around 32, but the chance for below 28 are fairly low. The best chances for lows around 32 the next few weeks will be in northern and eastern Ohio.

    Soil Temperature Outlook

    Soil temperatures will still remain marginal this week before they climb through the 50s into 60s in the first half of May.

    16-Day Rainfall Outlook from NOAA/NWS/Ohio River Forecast Center

    https://www.weather.gov/images/ohrfc/dynamic/NAEFS16.apcp.mean.total.png

    Official NOAA/NWS/Climate Prediction Center

    https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

  2. Interested in Soil Health? Learn together with OSU Extension

    Frost burnt wheat

    Improving soil health (SH) can provide a variety of benefits including improved water infiltration, increased water holding capacity, and increased nutrient availability. However, it can be challenging to quantify these benefits in the field.

    In 2020, the eFields program is kicking off an effort to help better understand how management practices influence soil health and ultimately water quality. OSU Extension has worked to identify a few soil tests that can provide helpful indicators of improved soil health. Though several health tests exist, we focused on tests that are simple, economical, and repeatable. We are looking for farmers interested in soil health and who want to participate in a statewide field survey collecting soil health data from fields under various management practices, specifically conventional tillage, no-till, organic nutrient management, and cover cropping. The results from this effort will be used to guide recommendations for improving soil health on Ohio farms. Soil health indicators are also being added to selected eFields trials including nitrogen rate and manure sidedress.

    If you are interested in learning more about participating in eFields trials focused on soil health, reach out to your local Extension educator or email digitalag@osu.edu. For more information about the soil health indicators and how to use them, visit: go.osu.edu/MeasureSH.

    Sorghum Sudan grass

  3. Economic Assistance for Agriculture during COVID-19

    The coronavirus pandemic has certainly altered all our lives. The impact is being felt by families, businesses, governmental agencies, and civic organizations.  To help families and businesses alike, various levels of government have passed legislation to help lessen the economic blow of COVID-19. This article provides a brief overview of some of the assistance which has been made available. These include tax deadline provisions, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation rebates, unemployment compensation, and Wind and Hurricane Indemnity Program, Plus (WHIP+)

    Tax Deadline Extensions:

    On March 21, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service extended the federal tax filing deadline for 2019 taxes from April 15 until July 15, 2020.  The IRS encourages any taxpayer who is owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. The Ohio General Assembly through House Bill 197 also extended the deadline on March 25, 2020 to file Ohio Taxes until July 15, 2020.

    Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

    The CARES” Act was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act contains several provisions designed to sustain Americans during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Discussed here are the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and the Deferred Payroll Tax Program.

    Paycheck Protection Program

    The Paycheck Protection Program expands the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program for 100% federally-guaranteed loans to small employers and eligible self-employed individuals impacted by COVID-19. These loans are designed to be forgivable if specific requirements are met.  Unlike many other SBA programs, farms/agricultural businesses are eligible provided they employ fewer than 500 employees.  Eligible self-employed individuals including independent contractors may apply for a loan.

    The SBAs guidance provides that the PPP loan proceeds can be used by a Schedule F filer for the following:

    • Owner compensation replacement, calculated based on 2019 self-employment income. 
    • Employee payroll costs for employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States.
    • Eligible mortgage interest payments on any business mortgage obligation on real or personal property, business rent payments, and business utility payments. 
    • Interest payments on any other debt obligations incurred before February 15, 2020.
    • Refinancing an SBA EIDL loan made between January 31, 2020, and April 3, 2020. 

    The program has a maximum loan amount of the lesser of either $10 million or 250% of the average monthly payroll costs in the one year prior to the loan plus refinanced Economic Injury Disaster loans received after January 31, 2020.  This loan has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of 1%. A borrower is eligible for loan forgiveness in an amount equal to the sum of certain payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments made during the 8-week period after the loan’s origination date. 

    Farms/businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.   The program is a first come first served program and the initial budget allocation of $349 billion allocation was exhausted by April 16, 2020.  A second allocation of $310 billion was approved by Congress and signed by President Trump on April 24, 2020.  Applications for the second round began to be accepted on Monday, April 27, 2020.  This additional funding is expected to be exhausted quickly so farms and agribusinesses should apply as soon as possible.

    More information about the program can be found at:

    https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

    or at: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/top-priorities/cares-act/assistance-for-small-businesses

    Economic Injury Disaster Loans Program (EIDL)

    Farm businesses and agricultural cooperatives with no more than 500 employees may also now apply for EIDL, which gives loans up to $2 million for businesses that suffer economic injuries due to COVID-19.  Because the program ran out of funds, there is a backlog in EIDL applications and the SBA is not reopening the loan portal until it catches up with the backlog.  If SBA does reopen the program, businesses apply directly through the SBA at: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

    Businesses may use an EIDL loan for fixed debt, payroll, accounts payable, and other operating expenses due to the pandemic, but cannot use the funds for the same purposes as the borrower’s PPP loan.  The interest rate for EIDL is higher at 3.75% (2.75% for non-profits), but the term can be up to 30 years. 

    EIDL also includes an “emergency advance” component that provides a $10,000 advance within a few days of submitting an application.  A borrower doesn’t have to repay the advance, even if the borrower doesn’t ultimately qualify for a loan.  But if the borrower also has a PPP loan, the PPP forgiveness is reduced by the $10,000 EIDL advance.  The emergency advance can go towards paying sick leave, payroll, increased materials costs, rental or mortgage payments, or other obligations due to revenue losses, as long as the borrower hasn’t used PPP funds for those costs.

    Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

    The CARES Act also allocated $48.7 billion dollars to the United State Department of Agriculture to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the production and supply of the United States’ food. On April 17, the preliminary details about CFAP were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for this program targeted to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFAP provides $19 billion in funds

    The $19 billion program includes two major elements. The first element is for direct support to farmers and ranchers. This program can provide up to $16 billion in direct support to farmers based on actual losses where prices and market supply chains have been impacted by COVID-19. The program will also assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.

    It has been reported, although not confirmed by the USDA, that in the direct support program, $5.1 billion will be allocated to support cattle producers, $3.9 billion for row crop producers, $2.9 billion for dairy, $2.1 for specialty crops, $1.6 billion for hog producers and $500 million for other commodities.

    The Chairman of the Senate Agricultural Appropriations sub-committee has indicated the direct assistance to farmers will be made with one payment comprised of the sum of two parts. The first part is 85% of the losses incurred between January 1 and April 15, 2020 (per commodity). The second part will be 30% of the projected loss in market prices due to COVID-19 between April and October 15. Secretary Perdue has expressed that payments are intended to be made by end of May or early June. To qualify for a payment, a commodity must have declined in price by at least 5% between January and April 15, 2020. While several entities have illustrated price declines, including The Ohio State University, the price series USDA will use to determine eligibility is uncertain.

    Federal payment limits apply, set at $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. USDA has indicated that CFAP may take into consideration other farm program benefits when calculating payment limitations, which could limit CFAP payments in cases where a producer is receiving payments in other federal safety net programs. The exact program limitations and qualifying support are unknown at the present time. The direct payment program will be administered by the Farm Service Agency and the Agricultural Marketing Service.  More details will be forthcoming by the Farm Service Agency in the upcoming weeks. Access more information at: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/

    The remaining $3 billion dollars of the CFAP allocation will be used for a USDA purchase and distribution program.  In this program, the USDA will partner with regional and local distributors to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. The USDA will purchase an estimated $100 million per month of fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month of a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month of meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits to distribute. Monthly purchases totaling $300 million will continue until the funds are exhausted.  Costs of purchasing products, and the packaging and distribution contracts are included in the $300 million per month purchases, so actual product purchases will be somewhat less than $300 million. 

    Deferred Payroll Tax Program

    The CARES Act also includes a Deferred Payroll Tax Program which provides employers the opportunity to temporarily defer payment of the employer’s portion of the social security tax.  It should be noted that this program can only be used if you are not using the Paycheck Protection Program or have a loan forgiven by the Small Business Administration.  Self-employed individuals may defer ½ of the self-employment tax. The delay is granted through the end of 2020, then taxes must be repaid in two equal installments on Dec. 31, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2022.

    The complete CARES legislation can be found at: https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hr748/BILLS-116hr748enr.pdf

    Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act)

    The FFCRA requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply through December 31, 2020.

    The Act requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave when an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a COVID-19 related illness.  The provisions include two weeks (80 Hours) of paid sick leave paid at the employee’s regular rate (capped at $511/day) if the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.  The provisions also include two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave at 2/3 of the employees regular rate (capped at $200 per day) if the employee is unable to work because they are caring for an individual with COVID-19 related illness or caring for children (under age of 18) if school/childcare is closed due to COVID-19. 

    A covered employer must provide expanded paid family and medical leave for up to an additional 10 weeks at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay (capped at $200 per day) when an employee is unable to work due to caring for a child whose school/day care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.  Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirements to provide leave to care for a child whose school is closed, or child care is unavailable in cases where the viability of the business is threatened.

    Tax Credit: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act does provide business tax credits.  Employers qualify for reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under FFCRA (dollar for dollar). 

    Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Rebates

    The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation’s Board of Directors approved on April 10, 2020 to send up to $1.6 billion to Ohio employers to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Ohio’s economy and business community. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is currently issuing dividends approximately equal to the 2018 premiums paid by the business less any outstanding balances and premiums due for March, April, and May 2020. Farms do not have to apply for this dividend as they will be automatically issued by the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. The checks will expire in 90 days of issuance. More information can be found at: https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/downloads/blankpdf/COVID-19-BWCFAQs.pdf

    Wind and Hurricane Indemnity Program, Plus (WHIP+)

    This is not a program specifically related to Covid-19, rather the “plus” in this USDA program refers to the non-wildfire and hurricane weather conditions experienced in 2018 and 2019.  Farmers who suffered losses to crops, bushes, vines or trees in 2018 and 2019 due to excess moisture or D3-D4 drought are eligible for WHIP+. All counties minus Cuyahoga County in Ohio are eligible in 2019 or if producers can provide documentation of losses from qualified natural disasters.  More details about this program can be found at:  https://u.osu.edu/ohioagmanager/2020/04/22/whip-not-only-applies-to-baseball-enrollment-at-fsa-now-open/

    Unemployment Compensation

    FFCRA provided additional flexibility for state unemployment insurance agencies and additional administrative funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act also expanded the ability of each state to provide unemployment insurance for workers who are not ordinarily eligible for unemployment benefits including self-employed and 1099 individuals.  The program is expected to open in mid-May.

    More information about unemployment compensation can be obtained by contacting the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services at 1-877-644-6562 or http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/index.stm

    More information on these programs can be found at:

    The Treasury Department

    https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/top-priorities/cares-act/assistance-for-small-businesses

    Small Business Administration 

    https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

    CARES Legislation

    https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hr748/BILLS-116hr748enr.pdf

    Department of Labor - Families First Coronavirus Response Act

    https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

    Paycheck Protection Program Offers Forgivable Loans for Eligible Small Businesses.  Kristine A. Tidgren. 

    https://www.calt.iastate.edu/blogpost/paycheck-protection-program-offers-forgivable-loans-eligible-small-businesses

    Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation

    https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/

    Latest COVID-19 legislation to provide more funds for farm businesses

    https://farmoffice.osu.edu/blog/mon-04272020-1142am/latest-covid-19-legislation-provide-more-funds-farm-businesses

    Ohio Department of Job & Family Services

    http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio

    Note

    This was written and published on April 27, 2020.  Please be advised that further guidance and changes are being released by the agencies for each of the programs highlighted in this document.  Check with each agency for clarification and modifications for each of these programs.

     

  4. Is it time to reevaluate your manure storage and application for years to come?

    Manure storage

    The first three months of 2020 once again brought saturated conditions across Ohio. Figure 1a shows that precipitation totals for January - March 2020 range from approximately 5 inches in Lucas County up to 20 inches in parts of Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Tuscarawas, Harrison, and Carroll Counties (blue shading). These totals are close to average for this period across Ohio’s far northwestern and southern counties, but well above average (compared to 1981-2010) across the central portions of the state (Figure 1b). The previously mentioned counties along with parts of west central and northeastern Ohio 175-200% of normal, nearly double the long-term average. Indeed, 2020 is off to a wet start.

    Figure 1: a) Accumulated precipitation in a) inches and b) percent of normal (1981-2010) for January 01 - March 31, 2020. Figures generated at the Midwest Regional Climate Center (https://mrcc.illinois.edu/).

    With wet conditions this season, and several wet autumn and winters in recent memory, questions rise regarding manure storage and how management of lagoons may be changing due to long term trends. Figure 2 shows the annual and seasonal trends in precipitation for Ohio from 1960 - 2019 (2020 for the December, January, February period (Figure 2b)). Figure 2a shows that annual, precipitation over this period has increased 1.35 inches per decade, with an annual average close to 45 inches during the most recent decade. Figures 2b-e show strong trends in all seasons, with the largest trends during winter (December – February) with a 0.43 inch per decade increase since 1960. Winter is also a time of the year when we experience very little evaporation, so this large trend can have a big impact on storage capacity. Other strong increases of 0.38 inches per decade and 0.34 inches per decade are found in summer (June – August; Figure 2c) and autumn (September – November; Figure 2d), respectively. Analyzing individual monthly trends for Ohio reveals the strongest trends occur in June (0.30 inches per decade) and October (0.24 inches per decade) with the smallest trends in July, August, and November (not shown). 

    Figure 2: a) Annual and b-e) seasonal precipitation for 1960-2019 (2020 for Fig. 2b). The 1981-2010 means, along with linear trends (inches per decade; blue) and 9-point smoothed binomial filter (red) are included. Figure are generated by NOAA National Centers for Environmental information, Climate at a Glance: Statewide Time Series, published April 2020, retrieved on April 10, 2020 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/.

    This increase in rain fall is just one of many factors that may be contributing to your manure storage filling up faster than when it was new, creating storage challenges every spring. We are receiving over an inch more rain fall each decade, each inch equals 27,154 gallons more per acre of surface water that enters your lagoon each year. Some of our lagoons have been around for 2 or 3 decades with our any modifications. Just from increased rain fall you are seeing decreased months of storage. Somewhat scary, but a 30 year old lagoon with a half-acre of surface area would be catching an extra 40,731 gallons of water on average compared to when it was new.

    The next challenge with aging lagoons is sedimentation of solids within the lagoon. This challenge is even greater when dairy operations are using sand bedding. Options for removing sediment from both our door and below barn lagoons are available. Complete agitation while pumping can help greatly with sediment but be cautious of harm gas to livestock and humans that may be produced. With outdoor lagoons the occasional use of an agitation boat can help bring sediment into solution that conventional agitators cannot reach. Some lagoon treatments also help break organic solids down and keep them in solution with the liquids in the lagoon. Many producers have seen these improve the number of gallons they can remove from under barn lagoons.

    Many farms have also slowly grown the number of animals on the farm since there lagoon was built. Along with capturing more surface water to better protect the environment. This all leads to more challenges with lagoons being fuller than you wanted each spring.

    Manure produced by livestock species (gallons)

     Options for increased storage

    1. Based on the changes in weather and increased livestock on your operation you may want to consider either expanding your current lagoon or digging an additional lagoon. Before constructing additional manure, storage be sure to talk to your local soil and water conservation office. They can help engineer your manure storage structure and may have funding available through NRCS to help offset the cost of your additional manure storage.
    2. Very similar to option one is to build a satellite pond close to some of your other crop land to increase your storage capacity. This satellite pond will save you road time, to improve efficiencies when weather conditions allow you to land apply manure.
    3. Contract with dairy or swine facilities who have gone out of business but still have lagoons to take your extra manure. There are many variations of this, but often the livestock owner gives the manure away and pays transport cost to this storage structure. The owner of the storage structure then pays the manure application cost.

     

    Options for increased application window

    1. Apply manure to hay fields between cuttings but be cautious of the possibility of spreading John’s disease to young stock if the forage is feed to anything except cows.
    2. Find opportunities to keep small grains or a mix of annual forages in the rotation. This will allow you to have alternative application windows but will only alleviate the problem if you are having issues emptying lagoons in the fall.
    3. Apply manure to newly planted corn or emerged corn through the V4 growth stage using a dragline system. This window also helps improve manure nitrogen utilization.
    4. Utilize a mix of application equipment. While it is often more economically efficient to hire a custom operator, owning equipment to haul a portion of your manure close to the barn can help alleviate this pressure. During the first dry window each spring you can haul some of your manure until the custom operator arrives.

    As weather conditions continue to change and livestock numbers grow on your operation so does your need for increased manure storage. Planning now for the future is the only way to not have sleepless nights every spring. Each option will come with its own cost but will also save you many headaches and sleepless nights in the years to come. While on many farms today it is not the best time for a large financial layout overflowing lagoons can cause even greater financial harm.   

     

     

  5. CFAES Ag Weather System Near-Surface Air and Soil Temperatures/Moisture

    We are once again providing a soil temperature overview in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter through April-May 2020. The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Agricultural Research Stations located throughout the state have two- and four-inch soil temperatures monitored on an hourly basis.


    Soil Temp and Near Surface Air Temps

    Figure 1 shows that two- and four-inch soil temperatures have modestly warmed over the last week despite average air temperatures still running 2-10°F below average for this time of year. However, as the sun angle continues to increase, near surface soil temperatures are responding well.  In general, average soil temperatures climbed about 10°F over the last week, into the upper 40s at Northwestern to Wooster and into the mid to upper 50s across the southern stations (Western to Piketon). Despite rain in the forecast this week, highs are expected to remain in the 50s and 60s with overnight lows in the 40s (no widespread freezing temperatures expected). Warmer conditions for the weekend should result in soil temperatures continuing to warm throughout the period.   

    Figure 2 (left) shows a wide range in precipitation over the past week (through Sunday 04/26/2020 – 8am), with only 0.10” falling in parts of Fulton, Henry, and Wood Counties to 2” in a few southern locations. With precipitation on the light side the last couple of weeks across Northwest Ohio, calculated soil moisture has fallen there, with some locations now depicting less than the 80th percentile (Figure 2 – right). Very wet conditions remain across the eastern half of Ohio.   

    Figure 2: (Left) Precipitation estimates for the last 7 days ending on 4/20/2020. Figure provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center (https://www.mrcc.illinois.edu). (Right) Calculated soil moisture ranking percentile for April 19, 2020 provided by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (https://www.cpc.noa.gov/).

    For more complete weather records for CFAES research stations, including temperature, precipitation, growing degree days, and other useful weather observations, please visit https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weather1/. For a weekly climate assessment, visit https://climate.osu.edu.

  6. Corn Planting and Pollinators: Research Update

    Honeybees on comb

    The winter of 2019-2020 was relatively mild in both temperature and harmful effects on Ohio’s honey bee colonies.  While many beekeepers have experienced a normal (30-40%) die-off since last October, many of the colonies that made it through the winter look particularly robust.  The colonies we manage at Waterman Farm and near Farm Science Review are bursting with bees and raising new queens in anticipation of swarming over the next few weeks.

    While colonies appear to be doing well, beekeepers continue to be worried that their bees’ success could be compromised by exposure to insecticidal dust produced during corn planting.  Research at apiaries in corn growing areas west of Columbus demonstrated that honey bees can be exposed to high levels of the neonicotinoid insecticides that constitute much of the seed coating.  This occurs as seeds rub against each other during handling and planting to generate a fine dust that is emitted along with air in pneumatic planters.  Both dust generated during planting and the dust left behind in the planter contain high levels of insecticide and may kill bees if they encounter it.  Studies conducted in 2013-2015 showed a substantial increase in the number of dead bees ejected from colonies during corn planting.  A follow-up study, conducted in 2019, showed that bees were exposed to much less corn seed treatment insecticide in that year and fewer honey bees died while corn planting activity was occurring.  Whether this improvement in 2019 is due to better seed treatment application, new seed lubricants, or the very extended planting season that occurred in 2019 is an open question. 

    While technological innovation and luck undoubtedly play a role in reducing bee exposure to corn seed treatment insecticides during planting, there are a few simple things that can be done to further reduce honey bee exposure 1) starting with clean and weed-free fields that are uninteresting to honey bees; 2) following recommendations for using talc or other seed lubricants; 3) following proper planter clean-out and disposal procedures when finished to minimize escape of seed treatment dust.  More advice on protecting bees during corn planting and throughout the year can be found in the “Best Management Practices for Pollinator Protection in Field Corn” (https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/cornbmps/) published by the National Corn Growers Association and the Honey Bee Health Coalition.

  7. Why should you calibrate your sprayer, and how?

    Sprayer calibration
    Author(s): Erdal Ozkan

    This is the time to check the accuracy of your sprayer. While applying too little pesticide may result in ineffective pest control, too much pesticide wastes money, may damage the crop and increases the potential risk of contaminating ground water and environment. The primary goal with calibration is to determine the actual rate of application in gallons per acre, then to make adjustments if the difference between the actual rate and the intended rate is greater or less than 5% of the intended rate. This is a recommended guideline by USEPA and USDA.

    I get this question all the time: “Why should I calibrate my sprayer? I have a rate controller on the sprayer. I just enter the application rate I want, the controller does the rest”. This statement is correct, only if you are sure about the accuracy of the rate controller which is highly affected by the accuracy of the sprayer travel speed data that goes in the rate controller. If  the speed is determined by a sensor that measures the revolution of the tractor rear wheels, the travel speed calculated may not be accurate for several reasons: such as the tire pressure being low (causing a smaller tire rolling radius), or the ground conditions that may cause tire slippage (such as wet ground, or soft, sandy soil). So, it is always a good idea to do a manual calibration of the sprayer and compare the actual application rate with what is displayed on the rate controller. In addition, a rate controller may not pinpoint a plugged, or worn out nozzle on the boom. Overall, you may get the desired gal/acre application rate, but you may not have the uniform application across the boom unless you check all the nozzles individually. That is also a part of the calibration, as well as finding out the application rate. Clean all the plugged nozzles. Check the output of all the nozzles for a given length of time at a given spray pressure. Compare the measured output from each nozzle with the expected output of a brand new nozzle shown in the nozzle catalog for the same spray pressure. Replace the nozzles showing an output error of more than 10% of the output of the new nozzle. Once you do all this, now you are ready to calibrate your sprayer. 

    There are several ways to calibrate a sprayer. Regardless of which method you choose, it usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes, and only three things are needed: a timer (or watch or smart phones) showing seconds, a measuring tape, and a jar graduated in ounces. Here, I will describe perhaps the easiest of all the methods to determine the actual application rate of a sprayer for broadcast applications:

     

    1. Fill the sprayer tank (at least half full) with water.
    2. Run the sprayer, inspect it for leaks, and make sure all vital parts function properly.
    3. Measure the distance in inches between the nozzles.
    4. Measure an appropriate travel distance in the field based on this nozzle spacing. The appropriate distances for different nozzle spacing is as follows: 408 ft for a 10-inch spacing, 272 ft for a 15-inch spacing, 204 ft for 20-inch spacing, 136 feet for a 30-inch spacing, and 102 feet for a 40-inch spacing. (See extension publication FABE-520 for travel distances for other spacings, and for an explanation for selection of these specific travel distances for given nozzle spacing (http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/fabe-520)
    5. Drive through the measured distance in the field at your normal spraying speed, and record the travel time in seconds. Repeat this procedure and average the two measurements.
    6. With the sprayer parked, run the sprayer at the same pressure level and catch the output from each nozzle in a measuring jar for the travel time required in step 5 above.
    7. Calculate the average nozzle output by adding the individual outputs and then dividing by the number of nozzles tested. The final average nozzle output in ounces you get is equal to the application rate in gallons per acre. For example, if you catch 15 ounces from a set of nozzles, the actual application rate of the sprayer is equal to 15 gallons per acre.
    8. Compare the actual application rate with the recommended or intended rate. If the actual rate is more than 5 percent higher or lower than the recommended or intended rate, you must make adjustments in either spray pressure or travel speed or in both. For example, to increase the flow rate you will need to either slow down, or increase the spray pressure. The opposite is true when you need to reduce application rate. As you make these changes stay within proper and safe operating condition of the sprayer. Remember increased pressure will result in increasing the number of small, drift-prone droplets. Using the trial-and error method to eventually reach the intended application rate takes some time. If you follow the equations given in Extension Publication FABE-520 on Calibration you can find optimum travel speed and pressure much faster.
    9. Recalibrate the sprayer (repeat steps 5-8 above) until the recommended application error of +5% or less is achieved.

    Don’t forget one very important thing while calibrating, and especially operating a sprayer: safety. Although clean water is used during calibration, you should still protect yourself from getting in contact with pesticides inside or outside sprayer equipment. Wear personal protective equipment, at least gloves and goggles. Happy spraying!

  8. USDA Announces Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

    Dollar bills

    On April 17, the preliminary details about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program aimed to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFAP provides $19 billion in funds authorized through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).  

    Direct Payments by Commodity

    The $19 billion program includes two major elements. The first element is for Direct Support to Farmers and Ranchers. This program will provide $16 billion in direct support to farmers based on actual losses where prices and market supply chains have been impacted by COVID-19. The program will also assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.

    It has been reported, although not confirmed by the USDA, that in the direct support program, $5.1 billion will be allocated to support cattle producers, $3.9 billion for row crop producers, $2.9 billion for dairy, $2.1 for specialty crops, $1.6 billion for hog producers and $500 million for other commodities.

    The Chairman of the Senate Agricultural Appropriations sub-committee has indicated the direct assistance to producers will be one payment comprised of the sum of two parts. The first part is 85% of the losses incurred between January 1 and April 15, 2020 per commodity. The second part will be 30% of the loss in market prices due to COVID-19 between April and the next two quarters. Secretary Perdue has expressed that payments are intended to be made by end of May or early June. To qualify for a payment, a commodity must have declined in price by at least 5% between January and April 15, 2020. While there are several entities illustrating price declines including The Ohio State University, the price series USDA will use to determine eligibility is uncertain. Federal payment limits apply, set at $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. USDA has indicated that CFAP may take into consideration other farm program benefits regarding payment limitations, which could limit CFAP payments in the case a producer is receiving payments in other federal safety net programs. The exact program limitations and qualifying support are unknown at the present time. The direct payment program will be administered by the Farm Service Agency.  More details will be forthcoming by the Farm Service Agency in the upcoming weeks. Access more information at: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/

    The remaining $3 billion dollars of the CFAP allocation will be used for a USDA Purchase and Distribution program.  In this program, the USDA will partner with regional and local distributors to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. The USDA will purchase an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits to distribute. Monthly purchases totaling $300 million will continue until the funds are exhausted. 

    In addition to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the USDA will utilize other available funding sources to purchase and distribute food to those in need. This includes an additional $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs.

    Additionally, the FFCRA and CARES Act provided at least $850 million for food bank administrative costs and USDA food purchases, of which a minimum of $600 million will be designated for food purchases. The use of these funds will be determined by food bank need and product availability.

    For all the information on USDA’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic and resources available,  visit https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus.

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.

Contributors

Aaron Wilson (Byrd Polar & Climate Research Center)
Alan Leininger (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Alan Leininger (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Allen Gahler (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Amanda Douridas (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Barry Ward (Program Leader)
Ben Brown (Farm Management Program Mgr, Program Manager)
Beth Scheckelhoff (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Boden Fisher (Water Quality Extension Associate)
Brigitte Moneymaker (Water Quality Extension Associate)
Bruce Clevenger, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Chris Zoller (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Clint Schroeder (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Curtis Young, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
David Marrison (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Dean Kreager (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Dennis Riethman (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Ed Lentz, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Elizabeth Hawkins (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
Erdal Ozkan (State Specialist, Sprayer Technology)
Garth Ruff (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Gigi Neal (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Glen Arnold, CCA (Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management )
Harold Watters, CPAg/CCA (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
Jason Hartschuh, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Jeff Stachler (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Jim Noel (National Weather Service)
John Barker (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Jordan Beck (Water Quality Extension Associate)
Kelley Tilmon (State Specialist, Field Crop Entomology)
Ken Ford (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Laura Lindsey (State Specialist, Soybean and Small Grains)
Lee Beers, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Les Ober, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Mark Badertscher (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Mark Sulc (State Specialist, Forage Production)
Mary Griffith (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Matthew Romanko (Water Quality Extension Associate)
Mike Gastier, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Pierce Paul (State Specialist, Corn and Wheat Diseases)
Sam Custer (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Sarah Noggle (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Stephanie Karhoff (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Ted Wiseman (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Tony Nye (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Trevor Corboy (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Wayne Dellinger, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)

Disclaimer

The information presented here, along with any trade names used, is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is made by Ohio State University Extension is implied. Although every attempt is made to produce information that is complete, timely, and accurate, the pesticide user bears responsibility of consulting the pesticide label and adhering to those directions.

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu. For an accessible format of this publication, visit cfaes.osu.edu/accessibility.