Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Department of Crop SciencesWith harvest almost complete after another year with high to very high yields, it’s time to review some basics of fall fertilization. Neither fertilizer nor grain prices are historically high, so there’s reason to be aware of costs while making sure to cover the nutrient basics.P and KFall application of the dry fertilizer materials typically used to supply P and K to the next year’s (or next two years’) crops is normal practice, although there has been some moving of P and K applications to the spring. That’s not a problem with timing—even though P and K are relatively immobile in the soil, applying them as surface broadcast well in advance of crop emergence tends to work well. But fall soil conditions are often better for driving application equipment over fields, and many producers don’t want to add fertilizer application to the list of spring tasks. Most P and K fertilizers are broadcast, but some now apply these materials as bands placed into the soil, in some cases beneath where rows will be planted. Research has shown limited if any yield response to banding P and K compared to broadcasting, especially on productive soils with adequate P and K test levels already present. An advantage to placing P into the soil is that it is less prone to running off with rainfall. But this requires special equipment, and application of dry fertilizer in bands is substantially slower and more costly than broadcast application.While most P and K fertilizer is applied to soybean stubble in preparation for corn the next year and then soybean the year after that, we have seen some claims recently that soybean “needs its own P and K” and that it shouldn’t have to “settle” for the P and K “left over” from the corn crop. In all but very low-testing soils, where crop roots can have trouble reaching enough P and K as they grow into the soil, research has failed to show a benefit to annual applications of P and K, at least in soils such as those in Illinois. We know for certain that it costs more to apply nutrients every year than only once in two years. There have also been claims that soils tie up P and K over time after they are applied, such that “freshly-applied” nutrients are more available to plants. But applying amounts of P and K that crops remove tends to keep soil test levels fairly constant, suggesting that any tieup of P and K is not a permanent “loss” of these nutrients; as long as soil test levels are adequate, both crops get enough even if their roots don’t encounter fertilizer granules as they grow.A sound approach to determining rates for P and K is to add up the amount removed over the last two years (assuming a biennial application) and to apply that amount in preparation for the next two years. A year ago in a Bulletin article I reported the results from a recent NREC-funded grain nutrient sampling project in Illinois. We set grain removal levels as the values below which 75% of samples fell, so a little higher than the average amounts of nutrients we found in the grain samples. In some 2,100 grain samples of both corn and soybeans, we found removal levels of 0.37 lb. P2O5 and 0.24 lb. K2O per bushel of corn grain, and 0.75 lb. P2O5 and 1.17 lb. K2O per bushel of soybean grain. These are 10 to 15% lower than previous “book values” used in Illinois and many other states, and are in line with levels reported by Iowa State University scientists.Even with slightly lower P and K removal levels than we have used in the past, high yields mean removal of a lot of nutrients from fields. In a field that produced 240 bushels of corn in 2017 and 75 bushels of soybean in 2018, we calculate that harvested grain over the last two years removed 0.37 x 240 + 0.75 x 75 = 145 pounds P2O5 and 0.28 x 240 + 1.17 x 75 = 155 pounds K2O per acre. At current estimated retail prices of $520 per ton for DAP and $370 per ton for potash, the fertilizer to replace these amounts would cost about $123 per acre, not including the application cost.The still-sometimes-used “200-200” application (200 pounds DAP, or 92 pounds P2O5 and 200 pounds potash, or 120 pounds K2O) every other year was enough to keep soil test levels moving up when using such rates first became common. That’s because yield levels were much lower than in recent years; Illinois corn and soybean yields from 1961 through 1979 averaged 96 and 31 bushels per acre, respectively. Having applied rates exceed removal for decades in many fields is why soil test levels are as high as they are in such fields today. But using that amount of fertilizer at today’s yield levels will mean a steady drop in soil test values as more nutrients are removed than are replaced.Low crop prices often have some people wondering if they might cut back some on P and K in order to save money, presumably until crop prices are higher (or fertilizer prices are lower) in a year or two. Despite imaginative claims of “hidden hunger” and some overwrought interpretations of tissue testing levels, P and K deficiency symptoms are very rare in Illinois; we tend to see such symptoms mainly when soils dry out after planting and roots have trouble growing into soils enough to take up adequate P and K, even when soil test levels are high. Such symptoms are more common in compacted soils and in no-till fields, but we hardly ever see such symptoms when spring rainfall is normal.With adequate soil test levels of P and K in most fields and with crops that are good at extracting these nutrients, delaying the application of some or even all of the P or K for a year or even two years is likely to have little or no effect on the yield of the next crop(s). Still, nutrients removed by the most recent crops do need to be replaced, if not before the next crop or two then after that; higher soil test levels now provide more leeway. The real risk comes from allowing removal to exceed replacement over years, to the point where even good root systems can’t take up enough nutrients, and yields suffer. Reaching that point in most Illinois fields would take more than a year or two, but Illinois soils cannot generate enough P and K to meet the needs of high-yielding crops, so getting to that point is inevitable if the neglect continues. We can “kick the can (of nutrient replacement) down the road” for now, but that will mean having to replace ever-growing amounts of nutrients later, as grain, along with its nutrients, continues to come off the field every year.
Audi’s new A6 has some seriously impressive technology. The seventh generation A6 seems to have borrowed heavily from its advanced cousins from the same stable and has turned itself into a baby A8 L, which was launched a few months ago.The front looks powerful with the typically large single frame Audi grille and tapered headlamps. On the sides, the A6 has sharp edges of its trademark tornado line bordering large and solid surfaces. The vehicle, in my opinion, looks more contemporary and elegant than its eldest sibling. On the outside, the car is actually slightly shorter than its predecessor and only slightly wider. At the same time, however, it has more in-cabin space. The designers have achieved by reducing the overhangs and increasing the wheelbase. In this crash-safety driven world of automotive design where cars keep getting heavier, the A6 has reversed the trend. It is much lighter than its predecessor, largely due to wider use of aluminium in its body. The engines too are lighter yet more efficient and powerful. The A6 is available with two V6 petrol engines and two diesel engines. The 2.8 FSI engine develops a maximum of 204 bhp and, on the FWD version, is mated to a multitronic (CVT) transmission. The 3-litre supercharged TFSI engine produces 300 bhp and comes with quattro and an S-tronic (DSG) transmission. The most efficient engine on the A6 is the 2-litre TDI. This 4-cylinder unit makes 177 bhp with a fuel efficiency of over 20 kmpl. The 3-litre TDI engine comes in two states of tune with the more powerful one developing 245 bhp and 500 Nm of max torque.All variants of the A6 come with drive select, by which one can choose the modes for engine, throttle, gearbox and steering response. It also includes an additional efficiency setting. All variants of the A6 have Start-Stop as standard feature.The A6 shares a number of features with the A8: a second-generation multimedia interface with Google maps for navigation; redesigned seats that come with advanced massage options, and a WiFi hotspot. Among the new features, the A6 has an adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and Audi’s pre-sense safety system, which aims at minimising the effects of a collision through active intervention.I drove both the diesel and petrol 3-litre engine cars and their performance is electrifying. Even better is the smooth ride and the sound dampening of the cabin. While the ride has been made better, the handling remains the same. In the dynamic mode, the A6 turns into a lithe sports performer. When I drove the car both in Sicily and Rome, I did not use the air conditioner. But Audi engineers tell me that one of the most improved systems on the car is air-conditioning. It is more powerful and is almost noise free-this is something that is likely to work in its favour when it hits the Indian roads soon.Engine: 2967 cc diesel/ 2995 cc petrol Max power: 245 bhp/ 300 bhpMax torque: 500 Nm/ 440 NmGearbox: 7-speed autoWheelbase (mm): 2912LxWxH (mm): 4915 x 1874 x 1455Top speed: 250 kmph 0-100 kmph: 6.1s/ 5.5sPrice: Rs. 55 Lakh (est)Rating: ****Tech marvelOne of the most innovative features of the A6 is its use of LEDs, especially in headlights. Different combinations of programmes and LED clusters produce four distinct light patches, depending on existing light conditions. The car chooses the most effective pattern automatically.A big push forward has been made on driver assistance systems. The car has ultrasonic sensors at the front, sides and the rear, front and rear cameras, an infrared camera up front, and rear and front radar sensors. These work together in varying combinations to power the stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, side assist, pre-sense collision warning and prevention system, an adaptive light system, a parking and park assist system, speed limit display and adaptive protection systems.The MMI navigation plus system integrates Google and Audi maps to provide a realistic picture through an Nvidia graphics card. The full infotainment system on the A6 features two processors, two card readers, a DVD drive, a 60 GB hard disk drive, speech control and a Bluetooth interface.The adaptive headlights can change their shape at the exact moment that the road curves or changes from a country road into a dual carriage way. Another feature is the WLAN hotspot, which is created through the Bluetooth car phone. It allows up to eight devices to be connected to the internet.Harley-Davidson fat boyIt is hard not to pretend you’re Arnie in Terminator when you’re riding a Fat Boy. Few bikes command such a presence on the road as this Harley. Everything about it is solid, chunky and loud. Comfort is the keyword with this bike and you won’t be able to stop smiling when the key is turned to ignition and the engine fired up. The low seating, only 654 mm from the ground, makes your stance comfortable. The bike’s pullback handlebars, or in Harley language Bare Knuckle risers, and floorboards are comfortable for riders of any height. No distance is too much on this bike. The Fat Boy sports a wide 200 mm rear tyre with a new chopped fender. The front wheel diameter has been increased from 16 to 17 inches with a 140 mm tyre wrapped around it. Interestingly, the beefy rear tyre doesn’t adversely affect steering as it remains fairly balanced. The solid disc cast aluminium rims, a Fat Boy trademark, are now perforated with a series of bullet holes that redefine the signature look. The V-twin heart, a 1584-cc, air-cooled unit, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, is outstanding at mid-range torque. The engine comes to life quickly thanks to Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI). The throttle response is excellent with no flat spots or backfire sounds, and the fuel injection is silky smooth even at idle. The familiar Harley trademark ‘potato, potato, potato’ rumble is till there, a feature that the engineers seem to have retained out of some sense of loyalty. The Fat Boy is classic Harley from ground up. Don’t go by its name; it is quite easy to manoeuvre. There is one bonus to riding a Fat Boy–innumerable photo-ops with Harley fans. It has such a distinctive sound that it could very well be humming Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA”! Price: Rs. 21.29 lakh-Arup Dasadvertisementadvertisement