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Peterson Farms Seed Field Day offers knowledge for success

Peterson Farms Seed

Everyone is invited to the Peterson Farms Seed field day on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Held at the Peterson Farms Seed headquarters, take I-94 to the Mapleton, N.D. exit, go six miles north on County Road 11, and then go one mile east.

Giving a keynote address at 10:30 a.m. is Tom Haag, the next National Corn Growers Association president. A fourth-generation farmer from Eden Valley, Minn., Haag raises corn and soybeans with his son, Nathan. He’s going to talk about international and national issues from his perspective as a National Corn Growers Association leader.

The event includes tours of a whopping 160 acres of agronomic studies focused on yield enhancement and yield preservation.

Thirty-minute presentations will be repeated three times, beginning at 10 a.m. and include:

• “Driving Yield through Tech Tools,” with Nolan Berg, Peterson Farms Seed (10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m.)

• “Gene Editing: What is it? How will I benefit?” with Sarah Lovas, GK Technologies (10 a.m., 12 noon, and 1:30 p.m.)

• “Upcoming Traits,” with Rick Swenson, Peterson Farms Seed (11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2 p.m.)

• “An Impartial Roadmap to Biologicals,” with Jay Stroh, Albaugh (11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.)

• “New Crop Opportunities for Profit,” with Carl Peterson, Peterson Farms Seed (11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2 p.m.)

• “Planter Technology: Believe in Better,” with Kris Brekken, RDK Enterprises (10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m.)

• “Soil Challenges: Salinity, Sodicity and Beyond,” with Naeem Kalwar, NDSU (12 noon, 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.)

Opportunity to learn more about advanced soil testing

It only takes a couple of trips in the combine across the field to learn where there are issues.

Dealing with soil salinity and sodicity is a challenge, but Naeem Kalwar, NDSU Extension soil health specialist, encourages farmers to not give up hope.

There are things that can be done to improve soil areas that may appear lifeless or may grow only weeds or non-profitable crops.

Kalwar says soil salinity is caused by excess levels of water-soluble salts. Salts occur when the positively-charged chemical ions attract negatively-charged ions – such as table salt, (sodium chloride) Na+Cl-.

Salts directly affect plant roots by competing for water and creating drought conditions.

Soil sodicity, he says, happens when excess sodium ions attract soil clay and/or humus particles. This results in the disintegration of soil aggregates resulting in poor soil structure and reduced and smaller pore spaces for water and air movement.

In addition, in some shrinking and expanding types of clays, if magnesium levels are higher than calcium, there can be an excess swell of soils when they are wet. That activity will again negatively affect pore space and air and water movement.

“It’s all about the ratio of calcium vs. sodium, and/or magnesium from soil aggregation, structure, swelling, and most of all, pore space,” he said. “What I have seen in soils free of any of these issues is calcium levels that are at least 2.5 times higher than magnesium and 7-8 times higher than sodium levels.”

There is something that can be done, he said. It starts with soil testing – not to test for fertility, but for the presence of salts and these mentioned elements.

Over several years, Kalwar has helped several farmers complete the needed steps for this soil test.

It begins by mapping out the regions of each field where vegetation may be non-existent, where only weeds grow, and areas where crop productivity is insufficient.

Once these areas are identified, a 4-foot soil probe is drilled into the field. This type of probe sits on the back of a pickup bed or tractor.

NDSU Extension was able to purchase this type of a soil probe back in 2018, and Kalwar has used it across North Dakota to help farmers.

He added that a soil sample and tests need to be completed for each defined area that has different characteristics, i.e., no life, just weeds or poor crops.

He suggests farmers then have a soil testing lab prepare each sample using the “Saturated Paste Extract Method.”

Next, the samples are tested for electrical conductivity, sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), pH, calcium, magnesium, sulfate-sulfur, carbonates and bicarbonates.

He also recommends testing the CEC – the Cation Exchange Capacity – by using sodium saturation and ammonium extraction method.

The tests, Kalwar said, are not cheap, but these methods are offered through the North Dakota State University soil testing lab, and elsewhere. There are differences in pricing, he said, so it pays to shop around.

Once the farmer/landowner has the soil test results, Kalwar and other Extension county agents are happy to offer amendment suggestions. These may include adding calcium to the soil, establishing suitable salt-tolerant annual crops/perennial grasses, and many other practices. What’s most important, though, is to understand what is there causing problems in the first place.

“Gypsum or calcium sulfate is one amendment, beet lime is another amendment, calcium chloride salt is another amendment, elemental sulfur is another amendment,” he said.

At the Peterson Farms Seed field day, Kalwar intends to bring Extension bulletins on these topics.

In similar fashion, attendees can expect helpful information from all the speakers and the entire field day event.

To learn more, please visit

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