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July 30, 2013

Thank you for participating in our second annual research conference. We had a very successful meeting with over 30 attendees from 4 states and look forward to hosting an expanded conference in the winter of 2014.

We would like to recognize and thank those special guests who helped make our conference successful: Dr. Antonio Mallarino, Iowa State; Randy Brown, WinField Solutions; and Irwin Arnt, Central Valley Coop. Thank you for presenting your findings at the conference and your continued support of Solum!


Solum’s CEO, Sid Gorham, opened the 2013 meeting by describing the company’s mission of making the business of agriculture simpler and more productive through advancements in measurements, software and analytics.

New ISU K Recommendations
Dr. Antonio Mallarino provided the keynote address “Potassium Update: The moist soil test, calibration, and things to watch when switching to a different test.” He reminded the audience that soil test interpretation classes should be understood in terms of probability of response, not absolute certainty. He then presented soil test fertility categories for the field moist method as defined in the following chart:

Soil Test K Classes Very Low Low Optimal High Very High
Field Moist / Slurry 0-50 ppm 51-85 ppm 86-120 ppm 121-155 ppm 156+ ppm
Crop K Fertilizer Recommendation in lbs. K2O5/acre
Corn 130 90 45 0 0
Soybean 120 90 75 0 0
Corn-Soybean 220 165 120 (60) 0
Dr. Mallarino summarized the calibration discussion by saying that field moist testing is better because it has more predictive value and a more consistent meaning across different soils and conditions. He mentioned that the fertilization amounts for each test category are still under review but will most likely remain the same. Dr. Mallarino expects to make a statement about field moist test recommendations in an extension letter in August and said that ISU plans to update official state fertility guidelines early in the fall.


Winfield K Experience and Results
Randy Brown, Manager of Agronomy Services at Winfield Solutions, gave the second keynote. This talk focused on why Winfield believes that Potassium fertility may be a major factor in unlocking higher yields. He presented data on decreasing Potassium fertility levels over the last decade (giving credit to Bob Miller) and described how much of our agronomic understanding for fertility was derived 50 years ago when yield levels were much lower. Dr. Brown highlighted several issues that specifically related to Potassium needs in high yield environments, including reduction in root mass. Dr. Brown also showed Potassium uptake curves and noted that a corn crop needs to take in up to 15 lb. K2O/acre/day during the high growth period. He noted these factors may be related to the fact that national tissue test averages for K were below the response level after V7 and that Krx studies showed response to K was common even when dried ground tests were high. He concluded that better methods for understanding K needs are an important factor in increasing yields.



Solum Advanced Measurements
Morgan Mager, Senior Scientist at Solum, spoke about measuring soil texture, especially how better texture data can affect decisions involving water availability, seed density and availability of nutrients. Dr. Mager presented a method for displaying texture fractions on a single map and used these visualizations to explain trial results, including observed variability across fields and at different depths. The talk concluded with a discussion of available water capacity and how measured information can be extended to multiple depths using data from soil surveys combined with software we have developed.



Central Valley Coop and No-Wait Nitrate™
Irwin Arnt, Agronomy Sales Manager at Central Valley Coop gave invited remarks about the Nitrate Now program that their company rolled out last year. Their program combined same-day sampling and measurements with existing knowledge of soil types and yield history to build a data-driven, in-season solution. Fields were tested multiple times to verify accuracy and multiple rates were applied depending on the results. No response was seen when nitrate levels were high and significant response was observed when nitrate levels were low. Growers were initially hesitant to reduce N where levels were high but were pleased with the results. Growers started talking to each other and CVC gained new business as a result. In conclusion, Irwin Arnt expressed confidence in their Nitrate Now program and said they will be recommending it on all of their acres.



Update from the Solum Soil Lab
The final talk of the conference was given by Bradley Roetman, Director of Operations for Solum’s Iowa facility. Mr. Roetman started off by describing his extensive manufacturing experience and introducing the Ames Team. Mr. Roetman gave a short history of the Ames lab and described how Solum has now implemented a number of tools to streamline sample handling to improve operator efficiency and overall turnaround time. Mr. Roetman showed graphs of our delivery times this spring, where we were able to deliver more samples than last fall and achieve an average turnaround time of 1.5 days.

About Solum™

Solum’s™ mission is to develop software and measurement technology that makes the business of Agriculture simpler and more productive. Our advanced soil nutrient and fertilizer response models are developed by Solum's™ industry leading soil measurement laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

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Ames, IA 50010
(515) 661-5500

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