Turn your lawn or garden into a pollinator paradise

Ned Birkey

Despite all the unsettled weather and rain recently, Eric Snodgrass of Nutrien Ag Solutions and others are saying we get some nice and dry weather for the next six to 10 days! However, the U.S. Weather Service is still calling for above normal chance of precipitation for the 30-day outlook.The March 17 Pesticide Training and Review class had a great morning presentation by the Michigan State Police about truck and trailer safety, rules and regulations. But the weather did not allow an afternoon outdoor demonstration of sprayer calibration. First of all, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Right to Farm Guidelines for Pesticide Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices (GAAMPS), requires that sprayers be calibrated at least once a year and documented as such. Farmers or others with a 3-point or trailer types of sprayer should be able to calibrate it in about an hour or less IF the tractor and sprayer are in good working order and the tank is about half full of clean water. There are only three things to check when calibrating: ground speed, nozzle spacing and nozzle flow rate and pressure. Ground speed should be done in the field if possible and by checking the tractor speed at either a 100-foot, 200-foot or 300-foot distance, depending upon the intended ground speed. Be sure to drive the course twice to get as accurate a reading of the proper gear and throttle setting as possible. Normally nozzle spacing is never changed so there is nothing to do here. Nozzle flow rate is gauged against the rate of a new nozzle of the same type. Remember to check the spray pressure at the boom and not the controls as there can be a pressure drop in the system. A farmer wishing help in calibrating their sprayer can contact myself of one of the MAEAP Technicians for Monroe or Wayne counties. At the Commodity Classic in Orlando, Spraying Systems sent me some newly revised Teejet User’s Guide to Spray Technology, which includes tips about sprayer calibration and correct nozzle selection. Anyone wishing a free copy can let me know by contacting me at National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released county yield data for 2022 corn, soybeans and wheat on March 1. Lenawee topped the state with 188.4 bushels of corn per acre, with Monroe County ranking fifth at 181.3 bushels. The state average corn yield was 168 bushels of corn per acre. The dry summer weather hurt soybean yields more than corn, with Monroe County averaging only a 39.3 bushels per acre. Many counties, including Lenawee, were grouped around 50 to 52 bushels per acre. The state average soybean yield was only 47 bushels per acre, compared to a record 51 bushels last year. For the 2022 winter wheat crop, Huron County topped the state with a county average yield of 97.9 bushels per acre, with Monroe County averaging 81.4 bushels, Lenawee was 84.6 bushels and Washtenaw had 85.7 bushels per acre. The state average wheat yield was 83 bushels per acre, second highest compared to the record of 89 bushels per acre in 2016.MSU Weekly Field Crop Virtual Breakfast webinars have started with an early season weed control and soil fertilizer presentations. Nevertheless, farmers or others can still sign up and receive email notification instructions to join each session. All sessions are recorded and can be viewed later. Participation is free, with various agronomic topics covered through May 4. For more information, contact Phil Kaatz at 810-667-0341.The Nature Conservancy had a great article in their most recent monthly newsletter about taking part of your lawn or garden and turning it into a pollinator paradise. First of all, who doesn’t appreciate flowers and flowering plants? The information about this topic can be overwhelming, but very important. Pollinating insects include butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other birds, beetles and other insects, and bats. There are many native plants that can be grown which also saves on using lawn fertilizers, pesticides, save on water and lawn maintenance equipment. River Raisin Institute, MCCC and Ag Council are planning one or more pollinator plantings at the MCCC student ag farm this year. Depending upon the weather and growing season, later this year we may have an open house with speakers to show and tell what anyone can do.• April 20 Corn and soybean planting considerations webinar• April 27 Postemerge weed control webinar• June 14 Michigan Wheat Program Summer Field Day, MSU• June 28 Weed Day at MSU