By DARRELL SMITH                                                   "I knew I was putting my integrity on       Its safe to...
A SOIL PROFILE excavated earlier this                                                                                     ...
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Farm Journal Dec85 - Herman Warsaw


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This article from the December 85' issue of Farm Journal discusses Herman Warsaw's 370 bu/a corn harvest in fall 1985.

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Farm Journal Dec85 - Herman Warsaw

  1. 1. By DARRELL SMITH "I knew I was putting my integrity on Its safe to say that the readings will beH e r m a n W a r s a w the line when I started to harvest," says high: Previous readings for some of Warsaw. "But a big storm was coming, Warsaws high-yielding plots haveb e a t t h e c h a f f and 40 mph winds were already blow- shown phosphorus in the 300-to-400-lb. ing. Quite a bit of corn had already gone range and K levels approaching 1,000 lb. down." (Afterward, the storm shut The high levels are part of his ongoingo u t of o l d c o r n down harvest for at least 10 days.) efforts to document the conditions re- Few who know Warsaw, his motiva- quired for consistent 300-bu. yields.r e c o r d s w i t h tions and his track record of high yields Warsaw planted FS 854 on April 25. are likely to question this one. It was the Thats the same hybrid that produced fifth time he has broken the 300-bu. bar- his other 300-bu. yields. "It makes veryp l e n t y of rain, rier, and all the others were witnessed— efficient use of nitrogen and phosphor- his world record 338 bu. in 1975, 325 in us," says Warsaw. "It photosynthesizesfertilizer a n d 1981, 312 in 1979 and 307 in 1982. Fur- about 15 days longer than most hybrids thermore, for Warsaw, high yields for of similar maturity—thats where youg o o d soil their own sake are not the goal. "I started get your yield boost. It also roots deep, shooting for high yields because I felt resists stalk rot and withstands the stress they were the best way to promote soil of high populations whether the season conservation," he explains. is wet or dry."(Warsaws 307 bu. in 1982 received only 11" of rain during the growing season.)Y ou almost had to feel a little sorry for Herman Warsaws combine. The six-row Massey Ferguson850 chugged through his one-acre high-yield test plot at 1.2 mph—"as slow as This years yield surpasses not only Warsaws own dryland record but also the world irrigated corn yield record— 352.6 bu. per acre, set by Michigans Roy Lynn Jr., in 1977. Planting rate was 36,000 seeds per acre—about 2,000 more than usual for Warsaws high-yield plot. "We knew we had the fertility, and we just hoped wewe could go"—and still had all the crop Warsaw applied 250 lb. of 18-46-0 got good rainfall," he says. It was; 24"—it could handle. and 250 lb. of 0-0-60 last fall, for a total about 2" more than normal—fell during In corn like that, says Warsaw, who of 115 lb. of phosphorus and 150 lb. of the 85 growing season.farms in McLean County, 111., "you potash. He applied 3001b. N as 28% ni- Warsaw controlled weeds with 3 qt. ofknow real quick theres something tre- trogen solution just before planting. As Lasso at planting and 1 pint of Buctrilmendous going on." That "something" he planted, he put down 63 lb. of nitro- after emergence. He cultivated once.was a new world record corn yield— gen and 66 lb. of sulfur. He side-dressed "The cultivation was mostly for aera-370.3 bu. per acre. 761b. of nitrogen at cultivation. Warsaw tion and to incorporate a little residue," For thefirstfew minutes, Warsaw was had spread 10 tons of cow manure the Warsaw explains. "Some research hasalone in thefield.Both official observers previous fall. shown yield increases of up to 20 bu.had been detained (and one failed to ar- The Saybrook and Drummer silt from cultivation." Because the crop fol-rive at all). Shortly after Warsaw entered loam also received two tons of dolomit- lowed corn, Warsaw applied 1 lb. ofthe plot, Harold Reetz of the Potash & ic limestone the previous fall. At press Furadan for insect control.Phosphate Institute joined him on the time, Warsaw was awaiting the results In fact, the crop followed not just onecombine and at the elevator. of a soil test of the high-yielding field. or two years of corn, but 21. Warsaw16 FR J U N L E E B R 1 A M O R AD C M E 9 / 1
  2. 2. A SOIL PROFILE excavated earlier this year showed that roots grew deep even though there was adequate moisture near the surface. Deep tillage provides aeration and helps nutrients move deep into the soil, encouraging root growth, says Warsaw. keeps continuous corn—along with oc- casional seedings of alfalfa—on his roll- ingfields(mostly in the 4%-to-5% range) to minimize erosion. He shredded stalks the previous fall and chiseled with a spe- cially modified implement. It features a row of plow colters, two ranks of twisted shovels and a rank of sweeps. The sweeps and shovels are on 12" centers. "I moved them in to avoid leav- ing an untilled strip between the shov- els," Warsaw says. He chisels 15" deep. The sweeps leave the surface smooth enough to eliminate a leveling pass in the spring, he adds. He plants after just one field cultivation in the spring. "I try to leave 75% of the residue on the surface after chiseling," Warsaw ex- plains. "By cultivation time, the crop has a canopy to protect it from erosion. So I try to incorporate the remaining res- idue just deeply enough for it to decay and recycle the nutrients, but without pruning the roots ofthe growing crop." Warsaw credits this years record yield to adequate rainfall, high fertility and the soil-building practices he has followed over many years. "It all has to go together," he says. "Higher yields produce more residue. By leaving some of it on top, you pre- vent soil erosion and runoff. By incorpo- rating some of it, you build soil structure from the bottom up. The improved soil structure allows more water to pene- trate. Deep tillage and water move nutri- ents deeper into the soil profile. Its a process that takes many years, and you have to develop a program for your own soils," he adds. Warsaw believes the production prac- tices he used this year would be cost250 lb. 18-46-0 $32.50 Stalk shredding 3.50 effective if the grower could be assured of yields in the 300-bu. range (see table).250 lb. 0-0-60 18.12 Fall chiseling 8.00 Warsaw began his high-yield and soil-300 lb. N (28%) 67.50 Field cultivating 4.50 conservation research in the 1950s,300 lb. 21-0-0-22 sulfur 25.00 Planting 7.00 comparing yields and changes in soil structure under various tillage practices.165 lb. 46-0-0 20.25 Cultivating (once) 3.00 His 75 yield brought recognition.2 tons dolomitic lime 10.42 Harvesting 20.00 Today, universities, agencies such as the$31.25; prorated for 3 years) Potash & Phosphate Institute and evenBuctril 1 pint 4.60 Total costs: 286.79 some farmers are testing his concepts of deep (but minimal) tillage, residue man-Lasso 3 qt. 16.00 agement and high fertility.Furadan 1 lb. 18.50 "Protecting the soil has always beenSeed 27.90 the number-one goal," Warsaw says. "I$62/bag, 36,000 population) think my yields show that you can do that while maximizing productivity and Note: W r a also applied at least 1 tons of cow manure. This is not included in amounts as w 0 the fertilizer getting the full benefit of the fertilizer isted above.) you apply." <: 17A M J U N L E E B R 18 R O R AD C M E 9 5 /