It's Fall Anhydrous Application Season - Safety Reminder

It's Fall Anhydrous Application Season - Safety Reminder

Here are precautions to take, from an ISU Extension agronomist who has seen how badly NH3 can injure people if an accident occurs.

Harvest 2013 is moving along in Iowa as farmers are now in early November, albeit more slowly with recent rains and much of the harvested corn coming out of the field wet, and needing to be run through grain dryers. Spot shortages of LP for grain drying haven't helped, but word is that those shortages are easing now. Lots of grain carts, combines, trucks, fertilizer spreaders and NH3 tanks on the roads these days, so please drive carefully!

ANHYDROUS AMMONIA DEMANDS RESPECT: If you're applying and handling anhydrous ammonia nitrogen fertilizer this fall, beware and take proper precautions to avoid an accident and possible injury. If you can, carry a personal eyewash bottle—same place on you all the time so you can find it under stress. A small squirt bottle in your pocket can help you start the flush process and buy time to get to the emergency water tanks.

Clarke McGrath, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, offers the following timely thoughts and guidelines on crop management topics for this particular time of year. Besides being an ISU Extension agronomist, McGrath is also a volunteer fireman with the fire department in the western Iowa community of Harlan. He's trained to handle medical emergencies—and has handled anhydrous ammonia accidents and injury situations.

Be careful when applying, handling anhydrous ammonia—take a minute to practice this safety drill

"It's NH3 season, so here's a safety reminder from a guy who has seen how badly NH3 can injure people first hand," says McGrath. "We work around it so much that sometimes I forget how caustic and dangerous it is. Always, always wear proper gloves and goggles; and long sleeves, and pants—not shorts, and wear good work boots."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Be sure your safety water tanks are full of clean, clear water. It doesn't take the water long to get brackish and even a little mossy, which can slow or stop the flow of the emergency water. Also as it gets colder at night, either drain and refill the water tanks or jugs in the morning or at least double-check them in the morning to be sure they will flow and the outlets and rinse hoses aren't frozen.

If you can, carry a personal eyewash bottle—same place on you all the time so you can find it under stress. If nothing else, a small squirt bottle in your pocket can help you start the flush process and buy time to get to the emergency water tanks.

Just for the experience and practice, McGrath suggests you do a few "dry runs." That is, practice how you are going to fill the applicator from the anhydrous nurse tanks. Be sure everything is drained so there isn't an unexpected NH3 safety hazard component to this practice drill--it will be a little dicey given you'll be moving with your eyes closed. "I'd feel better if you wore a helmet and full football gear, but in lieu of that you can have someone there, present with you as you do this practice drill, to ensure you don't trip and smack your head," he says.

Start at the coupling, gloves on. Close your eyes and feel your way back to the emergency flush hoses--no peeking. It is not an easy task, and hopefully you'll never have to do it for real—but a few evolutions of this drill may just make a difference someday. For more info on NH3 safety, here is a great publication worth reading.

Fall spraying for weed control—it's time to nail those emerging winter annuals

McGrath recommends you read this article on fall application of herbicides to control winter annual weeds.

Kevin Bradley, a University of Missouri weed control specialist, is the author. "Bradley has some great points to ponder and there is even a link to a good slide set on the topic," says McGrath. "Now that we've had some frosts, some fall moisture and some time for many winter annual weeds to emerge, it is time to nail them."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

McGrath adds: "We had some real issues with spring burn down herbicide applications not performing as expected this year; several factors were at play, probably worthy of another article sometime. The bottom line is, if you have challenges with winter annuals--and marestail is probably the most troublesome in our area--fall spraying can make a huge difference. A spring burndown/residual herbicide application will still need to be a component of your weed management program for 2014; the fall spraying made this fall will just help make the herbicide treatment in spring 2014 much more effective if weed escapes have been an issue in some of your fields."

Sample fields for soybean cyst nematode this fall; plant SCN resistant bean varieties next spring if fall soil tests show SCN is a threat

"I've had a lot of calls this fall pertaining to yield variability and questions surrounding that topic," says McGrath. "On the soybean side of things, during these conversations I've been surprised at how many fields haven't been sampled for SCN, either recently or ever. Fall is a perfect time to sample fields for presence of SCN. Knowing if SCN is present and at what population densities will increase the chances of profitable soybean production in 2014 and beyond."

Information on soil sampling and testing for the presence of SCN, from ISU Extension nematologist and plant pathologist Dr. Greg Tylka, can be found by clicking on Sample Fields for Soybean Cyst Nematode. "We have a lot of SCN resistant soybean varieties to choose from on the market today," notes McGrath. "The updated list from Dr. Tylka's yield testing contains information on 673 varieties offered by 33 companies and two universities. So if your soil tests for SCN come back positive, you have a lot of good seed options to choose from prior to planting. Make sure at least all your planned soybean acres for 2014 have up to date tests so SCN issues can be addressed."

Winter meeting and learning season can start from your own home or office

Michigan State University Extension is now offering Integrated Pest Management Academy Online, a series of online prerecorded webinars. While some of their info may not fit exactly with Iowa, a lot of it will…and these webinars are free, says McGrath.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

MSU has created a series of on-demand webinars designed to help growers identify pest management resources and understand IPM basics. Registration is not required and they are available for free. All you need is a computer with Internet connectivity, a web browser and speakers. The following webinars are currently available for viewing. There are more on their list but these are the ones McGrath thinks will be relevant for Iowa producers.

* Introduction to Integrated Pest Management: Learn about the history of pest management, the evolution of IPM and the tenets that define implementation in the field.

* Entomology 101: In this compact session on insects, learn the vocabulary to help you properly identify insects and better understand the role of insects in the world.

* Plant Pathology 101: This introductory webinar covers the basics of plant pathogens and introduces viewers to some popular control methods.

* Soil Science 101: This webinar highlights the importance of soil characteristics and their potential impacts on agricultural producers.

* Plant Science 101: Learn the basics of plant anatomy and physiology—particularly handy for those who struggle with weed identification.

Hit this link for more info— Integrated pest management webinars now available on demand

Corn seedling disease webinar can help you manage and reduce corn losses

A new webinar available through the Plant Management Network titled "Seedling Diseases of Corn" will help crop consultants, growers and other practitioners in understanding and managing corn seedling diseases. Specifically, you will learn what causes seedling diseases of corn, current research being conducted to understand the seedling disease complex, and management steps that can be taken to reduce seedling disease losses. ISU's own Alison Robertson helped with this. It is also free.

More Palmer amaranth is being found in Iowa—a new, troublesome weed

Palmer amaranth is a difficult-to-control weed that's moving up from the Southern U.S. It was first positively identified in Iowa by Iowa State University weed specialists at a couple locations in late summer and early fall. It has now been confirmed by ISU weed management specialists at a few more locations in Iowa.

The latest confirmed sighting of Palmer amaranth is in Fremont County in Iowa's southwest corner. "It's just another reminder that this bad boy weed is here to stay and we will probably be finding more of it next year, if I had to place a bet," says McGrath.

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