Mark Pettijohn

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host and we’re in luck because we’re on the Saline/Dickinson County line. We’ve got the Smokey Hill River right behind us, got a good breeze in our face, but we’re gonna be talking with Mark Pettijohn, that’s the reason we’re here. And Mark is known for his on farm research working with K-State researchers and county agents. So, come back right after this break and we’re gonna hear what Mark has to say about some of his research.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host. And today we’re in luck because we’re in Saline County, actually we’re a few feet over in to Dickinson County. We’re on the Mark Pettijohn farm and we have Mark with us. And Mark’s known for his research, on farm research and we’re gonna talk to Mark about why you’re actually doing that. So Mark take it away. Why are you doing on farm research? (Mark) Well, we’re probably having a lot of fun learning is the reason, but we want to know if cover crops are beneficial. We want to know if they’re worth it. Our combine crew has yield mapping capability, so anything we do whether it be using Agrotain, using cover crops, anything we do, we do it side by side, so we can get a good side by side map and try to learn. We used Ascend seed treatment on some products last year, corn seed over the top of milo. It’s always side by side, we’re always trying to prove something and ultimately it’s so that we can do things better and achieve greater profit. (Jim) Kind of fine tune things on your farm cause the research that is done is not necessarily within 50 miles, 100 miles of… (Mark) Right, that’s right. (Jim) And you’re bringing it closer to home. (Mark) Right. A lot of what you might be able to read, might be western Kansas. Well, we are central Kansas and what’s relevant in one county may not be relevant in the next county and what one university says may not be relevant for my county or my farm. (Jim) So, across the river here, what do you have behind us? (Mark) We started this last year. And it’s a 180 acre field that was planted and it was harvested wheat crop in ’14. And then we air seeded a third of the field with a cover crop, we did nothing to one-third of the field, just burn down, fallow. And then one-third of the field, which happens to be the middle third, we not only did burn down, but we inserted into the tank mix an Accomplish product, which is a bio formulation… (Jim) Fertilizer extender. (Mark) …to help the plants take up fertilizer better. And we’re gonna do this study over six years, always putting a cover crop between cash crops on that one, one-third to see if in the long term there is some intangible material benefit. (Jim) OK, so you’ve got these three treatments and then you’re gonna come in with whatever crop, corn or grain sorghum or beans or wheat, all three of those sections have that same crop. (Mark) So, in 2015 it’s currently planted to corn, the whole thing. In ’16 it might be all soybeans, but that area, those three-thirds, will always be treated as I stated. (Jim) Well, that will be interesting. So, just real quickly here, what are your, what’s in your cover crop. (Mark) The cover crop has buck wheat, it had buck wheat, it had hairy vetch, it had mung beans, it had group seven soybeans and it had cow peas. And that was… you could really use about anything. We were just literally trying to cover the ground. You could use turnips or radish, really anything this year. Since it’s corn this year, we’ll probably have… we could have it aerial seeded. (Jim) Right. (Mark) We’ve done that before and we have had mild success doing that. I think we’ll try to get the air seeder in this year and actually use a tool to insert that crop. There’s a lot of trees around this field too, so we don’t wanna drop from too high up. (Jim) Right, exactly. Hang on. We’ve gotta take a break, so we’ve got more to talk about here so Mark, don’t go away. You folks, as well, now’s your time to get a cup of coffee. Rush right back and we’ll be right back talking with Mark.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and with us we have Mark Pettijohn. Just west of Solomon. Mark, what are we standing in here? I know we’re in sunflower stalks, but what do we have here? (Mark) This is a large field of double crop sunflowers, half of which on your side had a companion crop planted with it, basically, I’ll explain that. And on my side, it was without companion crop. (Jim) I can see the wheat stubble there. (Mark) Right. This is a lot more free and clear of residue. (Jim) Right, right. OK, so tell us a little bit about the cover crop. (Mark) OK, so the cover crop were five different legumes. There was hairy vetch, a group seven non genetically modified soybean, a mung bean, there was a cow pea, and… (Jim) Another one you can’t remember. (Mark) Another one I can’t remember. (Jim) That’s OK. (Mark) Basically that side we came in and we went straight east and west with the air seeder on 15 inch rows. (Jim) OK. (Mark) And then left the field. (Jim) Right. (Mark) And then came back with the planter, and planted at a slight angle. (Jim) I see the angle here. (Mark) Yea, cause it has row shut off. And to conserve seed we went at a slight angle to take advantage of that, plus we wanted each sunflower to be able to be pulled up with a legume in close proximity. (Jim) Right, OK. (Mark) And so what we determined after yield mapping and harvest was that the profitability was, in our case, was actually a little better where there was not the companion crops. When I say a little bit, maybe $20 dollars an acre better. Given the same price and… (Jim) And taking into account the cost of the seed for the cover crop. (Mark) Of course, everything into account. What we can’t put a value on is the long-term benefit of simply having the cover crops, or even the sunflowers but we had some odd variables that you could make a case that it was pretty much a draw. And the yield was 12 percent better on this side where there was no companion. So, 12 percent worse over there. But it was a terrific canopy. It was definitely lower cost on your side. (Jim) OK. (Mark) And beautiful. My favorite crop. It was a double crop. And it was the second most profitable crop we had on the farm in 2014. (Jim) OK. So tell me when do you put in the cover crop? The legume cover crop, when did you plant that? (Mark) That was probably in this particular field, it was probably July 13 and then planted on July 14. (Jim) Oh OK. So you planted the cover crop and then you went in with sunflowers right after it? (Mark) Right. Just lickety split.. (Jim) Boom, boom. (Mark) Right after, right after yea. (Jim) OK, so you’ve got a lot of moisture being potentially drawn here, from this side versus this side. (Mark) I think what really happened was this side was protected from the hot sun because of the canopy, because of the cover. And just like laying a rug on a highway, underneath that rug’s gonna be cooler. (Jim) OK. (Mark) Out here it was cooler and less evaporation in July and August. And the flowers averaged 1,600-1,700 pounds were acre. They were the best flowers ever. (Jim) That’s pretty good. (Mark) And incidentally, the worst price ever, but we got by. (Jim) OK. Well that’s really interesting, you can sure see the residue that’s still here. You can see the little bit of the wheat straw there, but this is really kind of an interesting little experiment. (Mar) We also took soil samples on both sides before and after these events. And we’re trying to track that long term benefit also. (Jim) OK. Mark, don’t go away, we’ve gotta take a break here. Folks, stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, with us we have Mark Pettijohn and here in Saline County. And Mark, we’re standing in a corn field, at least last year. And looks like we’ve got corn again this year. So, kind of tell us your experiment here, what you’ve got going on in this particular field. (Mark) Well, in conjunction with K-State, namely Tom Maxwell and Ignacio Ciampitti, this field is actually in Dickinson County; we crossed the line just over here. (Jim) OK. (Mark) So they’ve got a 14,000 population, 18,000, 22,000, 26,000 and 30,000 all the way across the field in triplicate. (Jim) OK. (Mark) So, as to determine any yield differences that might show up. (Jim) So, it should be statistically analyzed right? (Mark) Right. With his way of doing things down there, he can really get into the numbers. We did the same study last year, and as a result of that study, we actually decided to lower our seeding rate from 24,000 to just over 22,000 maybe. (Jim) OK. Final stand or is that dropped or what? (Mark) That’s what we dropped. (Jim) So, how you got to this field, this is what is kind of intriguing to me because this is also a kind of experiment of yours too, this is corn after wheat, last year. (Mark) Right. So in the Fall of ’13 we planted wheat, harvested wheat in ’14 and planted double crop corn on about June 25 of 2014. (Jim) That’s not your normal double crop crop. I mean usually we think, OK soybeans, maybe sunflowers, maybe sorghum. But you hardly ever think about corn. (Mark) Especially non-irrigated double crop corn. (Jim) Right. (Mark) But we’re averaging three or four years and we’re averaging close to 70. Last year I think the worst year, it averaged about 62. And made some money doing it. So, this is a corn following a double crop corn field and we also have very nearby, just over the dike, down here, a double crop cane field. We always plant 100 acres of that for the local livestock producers. It’s the one crop that always makes money because somebody always needs the food, the cattle feed. (Jim) Right. (Mark) It never loses money. Sometimes you lose money on corn or milo or something. But cane always makes a little bit of money. And I like it because it serves as a cover crop in that it grows so tall, so fast it keeps the weeds out for the following year. You’ll have a weed free bean field the next year. A weed free milo field the next year. (Jim) So, take us through the cropping system with… or the rotation with the cane. (Mark) OK. The cane is very interesting because we put legumes in with the cane seed. (Jim) OK. (Mark) And cut back our nitrogen and we can sometimes out yield full season cane producers. (Jim) OK. Don’t go away. We gotta take a break for some messages and folks stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host and with us we have Mark Pettijohn. He didn’t run off during that last break. So, Mark we’ve been talking about experimentation a little bit and you’re doing a lot of work with cover crops. Tell me how you are using, why you’re using them. (Mark) OK. Well Jim, we’ve been using them for probably six years. And every year, using them not only in different and more diverse ways, but different species and probably more acres. And the reason we started doing it and the reason we’re still doing it, is to break the hard pan with some of the brassicas, some of the radishes and turnips and also to allow moisture penetration into the ground. Also to mine nutrients up. I think it’s done all that. We’ve taken ample soil tests to kind of track this over the years. We’re trying to build organic matter with some of the grasses that decompose more quickly perhaps and then with the legumes, we’re trying to add nitrogen of course. (Jim) Right. And bring up.. because of the deeper root systems, potentially, the more perennials you get some nutrients that come up. (Mark) We’ve even had some side benefits of growing- some of these cover crops voluntarily come back the next year. And I may have mentioned to you that we had a bean field last year that grew up in buckwheat. That was volunteer buckwheat, not the… help me out… not the the bad buckwheat, but the… (Jim) Oh OK, you’re right,not the wild buckwheat but the yea… (Mark) Wild buckwheat. (Jim) This is a grain crop. (Mark) Exactly. and anyway the following year, it came up as a volunteer crop and covered my soybeans and I thought they were lost forever. But it proved to be the most, ultimately, the most weed free field I had last year. (Jim) The buckwheat suppressed any other weeds. (Mark) It suppressed all the undesirable weeds. (Jim) Then you came in killed it with Roundup. (Mark) With Roundup. It died easily and the soybeans were very healthy underneath that canopy. I was very surprised. So, we learned some things along the way, accidentally. But some of the things we learned on purpose, trying to learn, was that sometimes a corn field, would yield, we determined 33 percent, it would yield 33 percent better where we had the cover crops the previous year, versus where we didn’t. (Jim) Uh, huh. (Mark) So, we’ve got some history of some of these type studies and some of the newer studies that we’re doing we basically made up, we’ve created. We’ve also done some experiments in conjunction with K-State. (Jim) Mark, we gotta take a break right now, so hang on. We’ll be right back. You folks at home we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) That’s My Farm. We’re on the Mark Pettijohn farm. And in this last segment here Mark, I want us to introduce Dustin Conrad here, your crop management assistant specialist. And so, talk to us, how you came by getting Dustin here, cause he’s not from these parts. (Mark) Well, actually it was suggested through K-State to me that perhaps many more man hours should be required to run this size of a farm and I thought, I am exhausted, I need to get help. (Jim) Right. (Mark) Labor help. And so I knew a head hunter and eventually it led to Hansen Agri-Placement. And what they do is they take employers and potential employees and place them together. (Jim) Right. Well, that has worked out well. And how has he helped you technology wise? (Mark) Dustin is much younger than me, and he’s… (Jim) A little more hustle here. (Mark) And he is very good with the technology part, in the cab and with the data and with the mapping and the software and the flash drive and that kind of thing. (Jim) OK. So Dustin, tell us a little bit about this machine right behind us here. (Dustin) This is something that I introduced to Mark from Illinois, something we run a lot back there. He calls it a coulter rig. I call it a 28 percent applicator. It’s just a machine designed to put 28 percent chloride or a mixture of liquids directly in to the soil. (Jim) As opposed to a broadcast application or a dribble over the top? (Dustin) Yep, as a side dress applicator. (Jim) So, Mark would it be safe to say that Dustin isn’t just your normal hired man? (Mark) No, he… everyday I tell him, you’re gonna cut this out, but everyday I tell him, you’re the best part of my day. I’m not kidding. Because every time he comes through for me. He’ll have an idea or a solution. And I try to tell him thank you often. (Jim) Well, that’s a good deal. Mark, thank you for taking time to talk to us about your experimentation. (Mark) Thank you. (Jim) And Dustin thanks for being Mark’s hired man. Glad to have you both on the show. Folks, don’t forget next Friday at this same time, we’re gonna have another issue of That’s My Farm. So, see you next week.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.