Your local link to MU for ag extension and research information
Northeast Missouri Ag Connection Newsletter, January 2020

To send a message to an author, click on the author's name at the end of the article.

Northeast Missouri Ag Connection

Volume 7, Number 1- January 2020

This Month in Ag Connection

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

The Importance of Soil pH and Liming

Soil pH is a measurement of soil acidity. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, below 7.0 is acidic and above 7.0 is alkaline. The target pH for most field and forage crops is between 6.0 and 6.5. Soils in Missouri naturally become more acidic over time. Crop removal of calcium, magnesium, and potassium play a large role in the change of pH. The breakdown of organic matter and nitrogen fertilizer also increase soil acidity.

When the pH is low or very low, essential plant nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, are not available for plant growth. Phosphorus becomes unavailable because it forms insoluble compounds with aluminum and iron. Some micronutrients, like aluminum and manganese, become readily available, resulting in toxicity issues. High concentrations of available aluminum may inhibit root development and limit water and nutrient uptake. Many beneficial soil microorganisms, like rhizobia bacteria needed for nitrogen fixation in legumes, need a pH near 6.0 to function efficiently.

Soil testing is the only way to know soil pH. University of Missouri Soil Testing Laboratory recommendations for adjusting soil pH are given in the amount of Effective Neutralizing Material (ENM) needed to raise the pH to the optimum level. The MU Soil Testing Lab measures salt pH, which is generally 0.5 units lower than the water pH. It is important to read pesticide labels that may indicate a desirable water pH range for most effective weed control.

Soil pH is raised by adding a liming material to neutralize the acidity. The most common material used is calcium carbonate in the form of crushed limestone. When magnesium is deficient in the soil, dolomitic limestone should be used. Limestone breaks down slowly, taking about six months to fully take effect.

Agricultural liming materials sold in Missouri must have an ENM rating. This number is based on the purity of the calcium carbonate in the product and how finely it is ground. Optimum soil pH required is based on the crop being grown. For example, alfalfa requires a higher pH than other forage crops.

If the liming material is not tilled into the soil, caution should be used to avoid raising pH too much at the soil surface. No more than 1500 ENM of lime per acre should be applied at one time. If more is needed, a split application should be made one year apart.

Products other than crushed limestone can be used, but are often more expensive. Pelletized lime is less dusty, but it may take more time to breakdown and have the full effect on soil pH due to the binding agents. Liquid lime will react more quickly than crushed limestone, but usually has a lower ENM value and will have an effect only near the soil surface. Hydrated lime will react very quickly with the soil, but can be difficult to handle due to its caustic nature. Although gypsum contains calcium, it is not effective at neutralizing soil acidity.

Maintaining the proper pH is critical for efficient fertilizer uptake and plant growth as well as insuring adequate availability of essential nutrient and reducing the toxicity of micronutrients. Adjusting pH to the desired range is often the most economical soil amendment.

Source: Valerie Tate, Agronomy Specialist

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Colostrum Consumption

Setting up the newborn calf for success becomes critically important to the profitability of the operation since the majority of the income comes from selling a calf crop. Proper nutrition of the nursing calf is important as it results in the most pounds of beef to sell at weaning; it sets the calf up for achieving optimal post weaning performance.

The timing and the amount of colostrum consumption is critical for the health of the newborn calf. Ideally, newborn calves need to stand and nurse within the first few hours of life to maximize colostral absorption and immunity. The first meal a calf consumes is one of the most important meals because a sequence of gut changes begins with that meal. The intestines of a newborn calf are capable of carrying their contents across the wall and into the blood. This ability is critical to move antibodies; however, the process is not just for antibodies but can allow pathogens into the blood as well.

To protect the newborn from pathogens, the gut begins to "close" or loses its ability to take contents directly across into the blood, as soon as the calf's first meal is introduced to the intestinal tract. As a result, less and less antibodies can be absorbed from each subsequent meal until gut closure is complete. The window of time for delivery of colostrum is not always 24 hours. The window really depends on when the calf first consumes any kind of meal. A calf can still absorb some antibodies at 24 hours if the calf has nothing to eat. If the calf consumes anything, closure begins immediately and can be complete before the 24-hour mark.

If a newborn cannot nurse colostrum from its own dam, the following options are available:

These options are in order of decreasing efficacy and increasing risk of introducing new diseases. Commercial colostrum replacers are effective but can be expensive. Feeding colostrum from neighboring herds can be effective, but dramatically increases the risk of introducing diseases into a producer's herd. Colostrum supplements are relatively safe in terms of disease transmission; however, they typically do not contain high enough concentrations of antibodies to guarantee adequate passive transfer.

Cow-calf producers should be prepared before the onset of the calving season by having a bottle, tube feeder, and a source of colostrum replacement. Visit with a licensed veterinarian or University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist with further questions.

Source: Heather Conrow, Livestock Specialist

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Gardening Tips for January




All Month

Week 1-2

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Source: Jennifer Schutter, Horticulture Specialist

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Private Pesticide Applicator Training

(for those who need to obtain a license and those who need to renew a license)

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Computers on the Farm Conference

Jan. 17-18, 2020

Lake Ozark, MO
Margaritaville Lake Resort (formerly Tan-Tar-A)

"Digital Tools for the Farm"

Coordinated by MU Extension with several classes taught by farmers. Computer use is from beginning to advanced. Mapping will be a big part of the conference, including GIS tools from MU's All Things Missouri data and mapping service.

Registration details:

Info call: Kent Shannon 573-445-9792

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

MU Extension Seeks Input on Updating Custom Rate Guide

The Missouri Custom Rates survey is routinely used by landowners, farmers, custom operators and government agencies. This survey is conducted every three years to update prices.

University of Missouri Extension is asking all persons involved in custom farming activities to fill out the survey. Responses will benefit the agricultural community of Missouri as it efficiently produces food, fuel and fiber.

The online survey contains dozens of questions but is organized so that respondents can quickly locate the questions specific to their business. Completing the survey should be quick and easy. While the survey is formatted for phones, it is best taken on a computer where entering numbers is simpler.

To take the survey go to Choose the broad categories of custom activity for which you will provide information and enter your values for individual activities.

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.