Tissue sampling, haying season, PLFA analysis, upcoming Ward Summit, and more!
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Mid-summer greetings from the team at Ward Laboratories! This year has been a mixed bag for many of our customers. Those in the southern and western plains have had struggles with drought conditions while central and eastern areas of the corn belt have experienced ideal growing conditions. Some areas of Nebraska and Kansas that had pretty severe hail at the worst time will not get to harvest a crop come fall. Livestock producers continue to struggle with price fluctuations and supply chain problems. For those that are experiencing issue we encourage you to keep your heads up and push ahead and know that we at Ward are cheering you on!

This fall when making plans for 2021 be sure to consider a robust soil sampling plan to make every fertilizer dollar count. Research done by Kastens and Dhuyvetter showed that accurate soil tests become even more critical when grain prices are low, and margins are tight. When running multiple scenarios, their work showed that conservatively a farmer could save $4-5 per acre. Often, fertilizer is the second most expensive category of crop inputs and this work shows that knowing why you spend those dollars is critical.

We wish you the best as we finish out the summer season!

--Nick Ward, President, Ward Laboratories, Inc.

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Are your plants HUNGRY?

If you have taken a basic agronomy course or spent some time crop scouting, then you’re probably aware of visual nutrient deficiency symptoms in plants. If a plant has yellowing of lower leaves at the leaf tip developing a yellow V on the leaf, then it is a nitrogen deficiency. When there is purple coloring on the outside of lower leaves, then it is a phosphorus deficiency. If there is yellowing on the margins of older leaves, then it is a potassium deficiency; and so on.  But what about plants experiencing hidden hunger?

A plant can develop a nutrient deficiency without showing any visual symptoms, consequently hidden hunger occurs. Depending on the nutrient and the severity of the deficiency, hidden hunger can have a big impact on yield and crop quality.  Tissue testing is key to determine if hidden hunger is present, so a plant tissue sample should be taken for laboratory analysis.

This month's blog post written by Support Agronomist Hannah Dorn outlines how to sample, when to sample, and how to interpret results.

We've also put together this helpful document for plant tissue testing.

July is the heart of haying season!
Here at Ward Laboratories, Inc. our services go beyond giving producers the numbers. We are here for you through the entire forage sampling process.

  • Not sure how to take a sample? Check out our YouTube video on representative hay sampling!
  • Questioning how to submit a sample? Give us a call and we will walk you through the process!
  • Unsure about what analysis you would like to receive? Our animal scientist recommends NIRS analysis on most forages whether they are being fed or sold. Further recommended analysis would include nitrates for forages of known nitrate accumulating species including sorghum, sudan, millet, and annual small grains. If you are a livestock producer planning to build you supplementation program around a forage analysis, mineral concentrations are valuable information to have in hand.
  • What about when you receive your report and you are unsure how it would be interpreted? Our animal scientist is more than happy to go through your reports with you. Give us a call and ask for Becca.

Here at Ward, we aim to serve you the producer, so you pay for the numbers, but the consulting is free!

If you have more questions about what to do when submitting your hay samples check out these
Four common mistakes for forage samples and tips in this Progressive Forage article by our animal scientist!

Photo credit: Alice Dohnalkova of PNNL

Feeding Soil Microbes: A How To Guide
Feeding soil microbes includes feeding fungi and bacteria present within the soil. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are generally 4/100,000 of an inch wide and long. A teaspoon of healthy soil can contain between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria. Because of their abundance, bacteria play important roles in the way soil functions including water infiltration, nutrient cycling, and disease suppression. Therefore, it is important to feed the soil microbes.

In addition to bacteria, fungi are also a part of the soil microbes. Fungi are microscopic organisms that grow as long strands known as hyphae. Hyphae are usually only a few thousandths of an inch in diameter. These hyphae push their way between soil particles, roots, and rocks. Fungi play important roles in the way soil functions including water infiltration, nutrient cycling, and disease suppression. They also convert difficult to digest organic matter into forms that bacteria and other organisms can use.

Our Soil Health Coordinator Alexis Hobbs outlines steps to feed the microbes which in turn feeds the crop in her blog post.


Planning is underway for the 2020 Ward Summit!  Click the button below to sign up for updates!


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