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Scouting for Soybean Aphids

It’s time to scout for soybean aphids. Understanding the soybean growth stages and beneficial insects will help when checking for this pest. While recommended thresholds are still 250/plant it’s nearly impossible to check and count this many while scouting a field. The easiest way to scout aphids is to check five random spots in a field and either check a few plants and count one leaf estimating the aphids per plant based on that leaf or if you see them colonizing the stem that is right at threshold. Some agronomists will tell you that once you get to a threshold of 250/plant, that it is too late. This established threshold is based on allowing seven days to spray after this. With the aphids doubling every 2-3 days that can potentially be around 1,000/plant. Aphids love temperatures around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and will reduce reproduction above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep all of this in mind when deciding to make an application.

The common theory is that spraying a blanket application will kill beneficials like lacewing and lady beetles causing a potential for flare ups after spraying. This can happen if you use an insecticide that has very little residual like Lorsban or some pyrethroids, but is less likely if you use a combined product like Hero or Leverage with two modes of action.

The final factor to consider is soybean growth stages, especially in 2017 where we will likely see soybeans go through stages later than normal. Aphids will do damage to soybeans up to the R5.5 growth stage which is a soybean filling half the pod on one of the top four nodes. A lesser known factor is also the white dwarf stage that soybean aphids can go through around R5.  This stage is still an unknown. The thought process is there’s a trigger in the aphids once the plant sugar levels drop, making them convert to this stage where they reduce injury and reproduction. Once you see white dwarf aphids this is the trigger to stop scouting and spraying for them. This is a signal of rapid population decline and reduction in damage.

As of yet, we have not seen significant populations of aphids in soybeans but there is a long way to go before we are out of the woods.

Posted in Agronomy, Blog

Propane 101: 3 Tips to Make You a Smarter Propane User

Propane is an essential service that many rural families rely on. So essential that if it were to suddenly disappear, cold showers, cold homes and raw food are just a few of the immediate repercussions. Check out these tips to make sure that you never have to face these unnecessary hardships.

  1. Have an idea of how much propane is in your tank. When you drive to work in the morning do you assume that there is enough gasoline in your car? We are typically able to keep a close eye on the amount of gasoline in our vehicles thanks to a clear display that lights up every time the vehicle turns on. Propane is a little more out of sight and out of mind. Be sure to lift up the metal hood of the tank and take a look at where the needle is pointing. If the needle is anywhere between 20 and 30 percent, give your supplier a call to place an order. Finding out you are out of propane by waking up to a cold house is not pleasant, and may lead to extra cost for an emergency delivery to your tank.
  2. Know the signs of a propane leak. Propane gas is odorless. Thankfully, the propane delivered to your tank has a small amount of ethyl mercaptan added to it. Ethyl mercaptan is a harmless compound that gives off the smell of rotten eggs or onions. This is to alert you of a propane leak. If you believe you have a propane leak in your house, immediately extinguish any ignition source, do not operate any electrical switches, and get out of the house. Once you have everyone outside, turn the valve on the outside tank shut. Use a cell phone or a neighbors phone to then call your supplier to dispatch a technician. Do not reenter until told the area is safe by a trained service technician or the fire department.
  3. Manage your propane costs. Summer is a great time to have your propane tank filled. You will benefit from a lower price per gallon, and you will be prepared for the winter with a nearly full tank. For the heating season, inquire about locking in a price and quantity. Since propane is a commodity, prices tend to fluctuate and have had the tendency to spike when demand picks up and supply decreases in the winter. Reduce your financial risk and enjoy the peace of mind by knowing exactly how much you need to budget for your home heat needs.

For any further questions, to place an order, or to contract propane call Landmark Services Cooperative’s Energy Division at 800-236-3276.

Posted in Blog, Energy & Retail

Cooling Cows with Positive-Pressure Ventilation

Traditional holding area designs are dependent on natural ventilation to bring fresh air into the cow pen. This system can be compromised by restrictions in air movement due to adjacent buildings, attached utility rooms or even the lack of air movement on still days. These limitations can cause a buildup of humidity and heat in the holding pen. Traditional large circulating fans can create velocity but does not guarantee proper ventilation.

A high producing cow will exhale 4 gallons of water and produce 5000 BTU daily. Heat per square foot in the holding area will range between 375-525 BTU. As a cow’s body temperature increases, cows will stand for longer periods when they return to the free stalls in order to dissipate their body heat. The decrease in lying time leads to lower dry matter intakes, decreased production and increased lameness. Limited perspiration by cows requires wetting of the skin, along with the movement of air to increase the benefits of evaporative cooling.

Utilizing tubes that stretch across the entire holding area disperses fresh air from outside the building in places where natural ventilation isn’t able to reach the cows. Properly designed systems will combine the right fan, tube diameter, and a multitude of correctly sized holes to direct 400 CFM to the backs of all the cows throughout the holding area. The result is more effective cooling of the cows with less fans and energy consumption than have traditionally been used.

The School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, has developed the Positive-Pressure Tube Calculator© to help design a customized ventilation system. Landmark Services Cooperative does have trained staff that can assist your farm.

Posted in Animal Nutrition, Blog