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Corn grown in rotation with soybeans requires less nitrogen fertilizer than continuous corn, while producing higher average yields per acre, according to a recent research study by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.

"Our research shows that corn residue acts like a 'sponge' immobilizing the fertilizer, making it temporarily unavailable to the corn plant," says John Shanahan, Pioneer agronomy research manager. "Growers working with continuous corn need to be mindful of crop residue from the previous year and adjust (and likely increase) their nitrogen fertilizer rates accordingly."

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A series of studies at Purdue University has shown that spray water pH and hardness can reduce the effectiveness of herbicides, making it vitally important for crop producers to test water sources.

Hard water or water with pH values as low as 4 or as high as 9 have been shown to lower the efficacy of herbicides, including glyphosate, nicosulfuron and saflufenacil, said Bill Johnson, Purdue Extension weed scientist and professor of botany and plant pathology. An ideal pH value would be 6-7.

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0112fg_forage_folks_1Glenn Shewmaker
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Idaho

Idaho alfalfa hay acreage was 1 million acres in 2011 (NASS, 2012), which was down 130,000 acres from 2010. Peak alfalfa hay acreage was 1.2 million acres in 2003.

Production was 4.3 million tons and if we assume an average value of $225/ton, then alfalfa hay was worth $967 million in Idaho for 2011.

Less acres and a dip in yield produced reduced hay stocks compared to past years and some livestock operations may not have adequate supplies to last them until first cutting.

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013112_plant_hardinessThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released the new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM), updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990 with greater accuracy and detail.

The new map – jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU) PRISM Climate Group – is available online at www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov. ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA.

For the first time, the new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also incorporates a "find your zone by ZIP code" function. Static images of national, regional and state maps also have been included to ensure the map is readily accessible to those who lack broadband Internet access.

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013112_rangelandsCattle that graze on rangelands in the western United States may soon have a new forage option, thanks to work by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist.

Research by geneticist Blair Waldron with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Logan, Utah, suggests that forage kochia (Kochia prostrata) can provide more nutritious winter forage than traditional rangeland vegetation.

ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priorities of responding to climate change and promoting international food security.

Waldron and his cooperators in Utah partnered to learn more about forage kochia, a shrubby Asian native plant that sometimes survives wildfires and other environmental challenges more successfully than North American native plants. Waldron works at the ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory in Logan.

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