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Northeast Missouri Ag Connection

Volume 3, Number 9 - September 2016

This Month in Ag Connection

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New Rules Affecting Drone Use in Ag-A Summary of FAA Part 107 Rules

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) released permanent rules for non-hobbyist drone operation, referred to as Part 107, on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. These permanent rules go into effect on August 29, 2016. Part 107 covers a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. The following are examples of possible drone operations to be conducted under the framework in this rule:

Highlights from the new rule include:


Aircraft Requirements


Agriculture would be significant benefactors in drone applications. Other commercial uses pertain to security, defense, public safety, communication and environmental and transportation services. Industry experts estimate the recent rule changes will help generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

For more information regarding the new drone rules, refer to the FAA's - Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107)

Source: Kent Shannon, Natural Resource Engineering Specialist

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Gardening Tips for September






The above tips are from the Missouri Botanical Gardens. For specific fall gardening questions contact Jennifer Schutter 660-665-9866.

Source: Jennifer Schutter, Horticulture Specialist

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The Basics of Fertilizer

A fertilizer is a chemical or natural substance that is applied to the soil or plant tissue to supply nutrients for healthy plant growth. Fertilizers are designed to provide mineral elements to plants not adequately supplied by the soil. A soil test is strongly recommended to accurately determine what nutrients are already available in the soil before applying fertilizers. Soil test results provide nutrient levels, and recommendations on what and how much fertilizer is needed to optimize plant growth based on yield goals.


There are 17 essential plant nutrients required for proper plant growth and development. An element is considered an essential plant nutrient when plants cannot complete their lifecycle without it, no other element can replace it or perform the same function, and it has a direct effect on plant growth or metabolism. Carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O) constitute about 90% of plant dry mater and are obtained from water and air. The remaining 14 nutrients are mineral elements and can be divided into primary, secondary, and micronutrients. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the primary nutrients and are needed in the largest quantities compared to other nutrients. Calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S) are secondary nutrients which are required by the plant in lesser quantities. Secondary nutrients are still considered macronutrients and are still essential for good plant growth. Zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), boron (B), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), chlorine (Cl), and nickle (Ni) are micronutrients, essential nutrients that are required by plants in very small amounts. Plants may differ in the amount of essential nutrients needed for optimal growth and production, but all are required for specific plant function. If there is a deficiency in any essential nutrient, plants will be unable to adequately complete their lifecycle and will express deficiency symptoms.

Fertilizers can be broken down into two main groups: organic and inorganic (chemical). In this instance, organic fertilizers are represented from naturally derived sources such as living plant or animal sources. Chemical or synthetic fertilizers are manufactured and are typically associated with lower cost. From the stand point of the plant, the type or source of fertilizer makes no difference, as long as the plant is able to get the nutrients it needs. The majority of synthetic fertilizers consist mainly of macronutrients and are often formulated to be rapidly available to the plant. While on the other hand, organic fertilizers tend to have higher amounts of micronutrients and the macronutrients are likely to be in forms that are not readily available to plants. For example, nitrogen in an organic fertilizer is slow in becoming available to plants because it has to be reduced by micro-organisms to inorganic forms, ammonium and nitrate, before it can be absorbed by the plant. For this reason, organic fertilizers are usually considered to be time-release and inorganic fertilizers tend to be fast acting.

Both organic and inorganic fertilizers have certain situations in which they are better suited. Because organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly they work well with plants that live for multiple seasons, like perennials, woody trees, and shrubs. Organic fertilizers also help increase the soil organic matter content, which improves soil structure and overall soil health. Because organic fertilizers are slower to release, they will not quickly correct a nutrient deficiency and are unlikely to provide adequate nutrients to high need crops. Organic fertilizers are also dependent on soil microorganism to break them down to release nutrients and are therefore most effective when soil moisture and temperature are adequate for the microorganisms to thrive. Inorganic fertilizers tend to be lower in cost and are well suited for short-season, high need crops such as vegetables. Inorganic fertilizers are often found in water soluble forms and can be a source of water pollution if not used correctly. Inorganic sources of nitrogen move easily through the soil and can often leach from the site of application. If a high level of nitrogen is not needed immediately, slow-release fertilizers are recommended to reduce the risk of leaching, particularly on more course soil types.

By law, all fertilizer products must be labeled with three numbers, such as 12-12-12 or 7-0-0 or 15-30-15, indicating the fertilizer grade or analysis. The three numbers specify the minimum percentage by weight of nitrogen (N), phosphate (P2O5), and potash (K2O) in the product. The percent of phosphate and potash is used to represent the amount of phosphorus and potassium in the product, respectively. A 50-pound bag 12-12-12 would contain 6 pounds of each N, P2O5, and K2O. This would be considered a complete fertilizer because it contains all three macronutrients, N, P, and K. It is also a balanced fertilizer because all three nutrients are in equal amounts. A 7-0-0 fertilizer would be considered incomplete because it contains only nitrogen. Incomplete fertilizers work well when a soil test indicates a need for only one or two nutrients. A 15-30-15 would be considered a complete fertilizer because it contains all three components; however, it would not be considered balanced because it has a different fertilizer ratio. Manufactures may also choose to guarantee the amount other nutrients, such as boron, sulfur, zinc, etc. in the fertilizer. This may be done by adding additional numbers on the product label and identifying what nutrients are added in the ingredients.

When purchasing fertilizers be sure to compare prices. Figure the actual cost of the fertilizer by the per pound of plant nutrient. If a soil test indicates multiple nutrients are required, it may be cheaper to purchase a couple of fertilizers. For example, if a soil test calls for a higher amount of N and lower amount of P and K, it may be cost effective to use a complete fertilizer like 12-12-12 to meet the P and K requirements and an incomplete fertilizer like 7-0-0 for the remaining nitrogen needs.

For more information on fertilizers, contact your local extension office or see this guide sheet

Source: Wyatt Miller, Agronomy Specialist

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Missouri Farm Economy Listening Sessions

In July 2016, University of Missouri Extension partnered with the Missouri Department of Agriculture to tour the state, visiting seven sites to listen to farmers, ranchers and community leaders about their take on the current financial situation and current opportunities and challenges facing the industry. Nearly 400 people came to discuss the latest topics in Missouri agriculture. The main findings have been compiled in this article which will be utilized to support industry and program changes.

The following comments and recommendations were made by Missouri farmers and ranchers:

Young Producers Face Challenges:

Policy has great Influence:

Education Is Important:

Land and Lending:

What producers are doing:

Source: Darla Campbell, Ag Business Specialist

Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.