September 30, 2016

OABA Honors Tim Bailey

On August 17th, retired A&L Great Lakes agronomist Tim Bailey was honored at the Ohio Agribusiness Association’s 2016 Educational Trust golf outing.  Tim has been a dependable presence at OABA events and is well deserving of the honor.  Tim has a passion for learning the science of agronomy as well as teaching and helping those around him.  Tim also has another reason to celebrate.  He and his wife Kathy have recently become grandparents to a baby girl - Grace Elizabeth Shawn Bailey.  We at A&L Great Lakes Laboratories offer Tim our congratulations and best wishes!  To read more, check out the OABA Scholarship Golf Outing flyer.

September 30, 2016

2016-2017 Soil Fertility Workshops

A&L Great Lakes Laboratories will be presenting our Soil Fertility Workshops again this winter. While the presentation materials evolve to include current research, the focus on fundamental soil fertility concepts remains at the core of the workshops. The workshops are designed with a focus on how nutrients interact with the soil and function within the plant, and how these relations impact nutrient management decisions. The program uses fundamental text references and university research to introduce concepts and then make them applicable to modern production agriculture.

The workshops run from 8 am to 4 pm local time (except West Lafayette, IN which runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm). For CCA’s, the workshops will provide 7.0 CEU’s, consisting of 4.5 hours in Nutrient Management, 2.0 hours in Soil and Water Management, and 0.5 hours in Crop Management. Please visit our website for more information or to register for one of these workshops today!

Soil Fertility Workshop Registration

November 29, 2016 – Fort Wayne, IN

December 1, 2016 – Grand Rapids, MI

January 4,2017 – Piqua, OH

January 5, 2017 – Effingham, IL

February 7, 2017 - West Lafayette, IN

February 8, 2017 - Rockford, IL

February 14, 2017 - Perrysburg, OH

February 15, 2017 - Frankenmuth, MI

February 21, 2017 - Fort Wayne, IN

February 22, 2017 - Lansing, MI

September 30, 2016

The Thrill of Competition

With the Summer Olympics ending in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, A&L Great Lakes Laboratories’ Olympic committee decided to hold its own first annual Lab Olympics.  Just as in Rio, the A&L Great Lakes Laboratories Lab Olympics was awash with records and landmark moments.

 

April Matha participating in the filter paper challenge

April Matha participating in the filter paper challenge.

 

The opening ceremonies consisted of a short presentation of the A&L Great Lakes Laboratories, Inc. core values.  The company provided a pulled pork picnic lunch along with a slushy machine and soft serve ice cream cone machine to fuel the athletes prior to competition.  We even had super soakers on hand to keep people cool.  During the picnic, corn hole and hillbilly golf games were set up in the company parking lot. 

 

Ag Lab Manager Marty Snodgrass and Veronica Kwasny compete in a friendly game of cornhole

Ag Lab Manager Marty Snodgrass and Veronica Kwasny compete in a friendly game of cornhole.

 

For the Olympic competition, several events were set up to test the skills of our laboratory athletes (stamping, pipetting, filter papering etc).  Employees were split into teams and a series of events in relay style was held.  After an impressive display of laboratory athleticism, a winning team was crowned and the Gold medals were awarded to:

  • Greg Neyman
  • David Henry
  • Veronica Kwasny
  • Stephanie Sanchez
  • Russell Fulk
  • Gleeann VanPetten

The winning team being squirted with Super Soakers during the medals ceremony
The winning team being squirted with Super Soakers during the medals ceremony
August 31, 2016

Shipping Solutions

We offer United Parcel Service (UPS) Return Shipping (RS) labels for your shipping convenience. The RS program offers you convenience and allows our customers to take advantage of our significant shipping discounts.

The cost for shipping samples with the RS program is based on the weight of the package and distance it’s shipped. This results in more accurate shipping rates and, coupled with the significant discounts offered, is a very economical option for customers to ship samples to the lab.  RS shipping charges will be applied to your A&L Great Lakes account and are not applied until after the package is received at the lab. You only pay for what you use, and all available discounts are passed along directly to you. Rather than offering promotional shipping programs we provide cost effective, streamlined, fair, and easy shipping options.

The RS program also allows packages to be tracked through the UPS Quantum View® system. This system is set up to provide the client with an email notification when a package arrives at the laboratory, providing a timely notice when your samples arrive and reducing some of the uncertainty associated with sample shipment. In addition, the Quantum View® system also notifies the client if there is any deviation in the normal processing of the shipment, alerting you in advance of any possible delays. These features help to keep you better informed about the status of your samples.

 RS labels can be ordered via our online store or by contacting the laboratory at 260-483-4759. When labels are ordered, you will be asked what type and number of samples will be in a typical package, as well as its approximate weight . This information will be used to generate labels that are appropriate for the package(s) to be shipped. The labels also contain all of the necessary client information for the package to be shipped, so no additional information needs to be entered on the label.

To ship samples to the laboratory, simply affix the RS label to the package to be shipped and deliver the package to a UPS shipping location or give to a UPS driver delivering packages to your location. Package pickup may also be available for an additional fee if you don’t already have daily UPS pickup. Contact your local UPS representative for more information on package pickup.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 260-483-4759, or by email at lab@algreatlakes.com.

July 27, 2016

Spring Cleaning

What is the most effective and dramatic way to clean up an area?  Renovate, replace and redecorate.  Keeping our instrumentation and computer equipment on the cutting edge has always been a priority at A & L Great Lakes Laboratories.  As a result, much of the décor in our employee breakroom and conference room have existed since we moved to this location in 1987.

However, the time had now arrived to enhance areas for our employees and customers.  We began by emptying the employee breakroom of all content, including cabinets and flooring.  With new furnishings and a fresh coat of paint, the breakroom has taken on a new life with additional seating and a refreshing space for employees to take a break or enjoy their lunch.  Our employees at A & L Great Lakes are vital to our operations and accordingly deserve this atmosphere.

A&L Great Lakes breakroom

 

Next we focused on the lobby and conference room to elevate our customer experience.  Furnishings, flooring and paint also rejuvenated the lobby area while providing additional workspace and a better supply display.  In our conference room, technology was a major consideration for presentations and audio communication for business interactions.  A comfortable space with ample seating represents our company’s commitment to being easy to work with. 

A&L Great Lakes Conference Room

We invite you to check these spaces out the next time you are at the laboratory.  The completed project has been rewarding as many employees were not afraid to get their hands dirty and assisted with demolition and painting.  Great pride and ownership has been taken of these areas and will serve our employees and guests well for many years to come.

July 27, 2016

Manure Analysis for CNMP’s

Land application of livestock manure can be a very cost-effective source of nutrients for crop producers as well as an efficient means of waste disposal for livestock producers. However, to get the most value from a manure application and minimize any potential off-site environmental impacts, it is important to follow the 4R’s of nutrient stewardship. This means using the right source, the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement. The development of a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can be a very useful tool for livestock producers looking to responsibly land apply their manure.

The basic requirements of a CNMP are described in the NRCS Conservation Practice Standard 590. However, it is always best to check with your local NRCS office to determine any specific requirements for your area. Two of the key elements in developing a CNMP require laboratory analysis. First, the fields where the manure is to be applied must have current soil test data that is no older than three years. This will ensure that the nutrients are not being over applied. The second laboratory analysis is a nutrient analysis of the manure. This will ensure that the correct rate is being applied.

Laboratory analysis of manure for CNMP’s must include, at a minimum, total nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total potassium. The benefit in using an analysis package that include ammonium nitrogen is that the estimation of first year available nitrogen is much more accurate as compared to a calculated value based on total nitrogen alone. The analysis package available at A&L Great Lakes Laboratories that provides the minimum requirement for CNMP’s is the M4. For a complete listing of manure analysis packages, please visit our website and navigate to manure analysis under services.

June 29, 2016

Agronomists Leading the Charge for Cleaner Water

Since the introduction of the Certified Crop Advisor program by the American Society of Agronomy in 1992, quite a bit in agriculture has changed. Through all of the challenges and changes during the past 20 years, Certified Crop Advisors have been at the forefront of examining the situation at hand, formulating solutions, and educating others in the industry. As nutrient management challenges impact water quality around the country, Certified Crop Advisors are taking the lead once again with the introduction of the 4R Nutrient Management Specialist certification.

The 4R Nutrient Management Specialist certification was added to the Certified Crop Advisor repertoire of skills and knowledge to focus on nutrient management and the resulting environmental impact. In August of 2015 the first 4R Nutrient Management Specialist examination was held with a limited number of participants. A larger group took the exam in January of 2016 focusing on the Right Rate, Right Source, Right Place, and Right Time to apply nutrients. States participating in the new specialty certification include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The certified agronomy staff at A&L Great Lakes Laboratories has begun earning this specialist certification, and will continue to certify agronomy staff members during future exams.

June 29, 2016

Know Your Irrigation Water!

When grain prices were on the rise, irrigation management began to garner more focus in the desire to manage soil moisture levels for optimal yield. This drove greater awareness in soil moisture monitoring and variable rate applications based on the water holding capacity of the soil. As the cost to pump water remains a large expense, there is focus on continually improving water use efficiency through maintenance of the irrigation systems and soil moisture monitoring. The traditional focus of irrigation management has been on technology and the equipment itself. However, the fundamental input of irrigation is still often overlooked; the water itself.
 
Many producers in the Great Lakes region feel that irrigation water testing is not needed since we do not face the salinity and sodium issues that are seen in arid regions of the United States. While it is true that salinity and sodium are rarely a concern for irrigated production systems in the Great Lakes region, we have our own unique challenges that must be managed appropriately.
 
The majority of our irrigation water in the Great Lakes region is “hard”, due to high levels of calcium based minerals. Long term application of untreated irrigation water that is high in calcium carbonate can lead to several challenges. This water tends to have a high pH that can lead to increased pH of surface soils over time causing nutrient availability issues, or could led to herbicide carryover issues. These effects can be exaggerated on sandy or low CEC soils. Irrigation water high in calcium or iron can also lead to calcium deposits on irrigation equipment leading to non-uniform water applications and additional maintenance costs.  An irrigation water suitability test is key in identifying the severity of high pH and high calcium carbonate levels, and can be used to identify, calibrate, and verify cost effective corrective actions.

Irrigation water quality changes during a short period may be slight, but over time can be significant. A water source that started with good quality may change so that it is no longer acceptable for the intended use.

We strongly encourage all users of irrigation water to establish a water quality baseline for each source (well) by testing the water. Follow-up tests should be conducted periodically to determine if the water quality has changed and, if so, the potential effect on the water use.

May 27, 2016

Spray Water Testing

A key tool that producers can use to reduce the risk of developing herbicide resistant weeds is to use full rates of herbicides. Reducing the application rate of herbicides can help select for and speed up the development of resistant weeds in the plant population.

Minerals in the water used to spray herbicides can reduce the effectiveness of glyphosate and, in effect, reduce the application rate. Many producers use AMS to combat this process. The following article, originally published in No-Till Farmer magazine, does a very good job of explaining the need to determine the correct AMS use rate with glyphosate products.

Our Spray Water Test packages provide a suggested minimum AMS use rate by entering the lab results into an equation developed by researchers at North Dakota State University. However, herbicide users must always read and follow the herbicide label.

 

Why Your Glyphosate May Not Be Working - No-Till Farmer

May 25, 2016

Environmental Monitoring Requirements for Livestock Facilities

A&L Great Lakes Laboratories offers many analytical services as well as the technical expertise to assist livestock producers of every size to manage and monitor nutrients both in the field and around the facility.  We are able to assist our customers in the livestock industry with nutrient analysis that will help them manage manure and site run-off water in a responsible manner that insures compliance with state and federal regulations, provides an economical source of nutrients for cropland and maintains good stewardship practices for the environment.

Many Illinois livestock producers come under the Illinois Depart of Agriculture Waste Management part 900 “Livestock Management Facility Regulations” that require perimeter drainage tile sampling, analysis and reporting for storm water around certain livestock facilities.  According to section 900.511…

“The owner or operator of the livestock waste handling facility shall sample the liquid from the monitoring port prior to the livestock waste handling facility being placed into service and at least quarterly thereafter, if any liquid is available.  The samples shall be analyzed for the following items: Nitrate-nitrogen, phosphate-phosphorus, Chloride, sulfate and ammonia-nitrogen.”

We would be happy to assist our livestock customers with facility water, tile water, manure and soil sample analysis in support of your manure management and facility monitoring program.  If your state requires a specific test for additional nutrients, please contact the lab and we would be happy to discuss your individual needs.

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