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Burning Residue

From Fred Vocasek, senior lab agronomist:

Occasionally, the question of just how much fertilizer value is lost due to burning the stubble comes up. It often is an issue when a fire gets out of control and someone wants to include nutrient loss as part of an insurance claim.

Here is a Crop File that can be a useful reference in these situations: Burning crop residue nutrient losses.

From the file:

Crop residue can be burned off either accidentally or deliberately as part of a controlled burn program. In
some cases, burning can replace the cost of a tillage operation when residue is extra heavy. Corn residue
is probably most susceptible to accidental burning, but wheat and soybean residues are also vulnerable.
Crop residue contains nutrients which can be recycled to replace part of the nutrients removed by grain
harvest. Nutrient loss from the burned residue is a major concern for damage assessments. After the
fire, a common question is “What went up in smoke”?

Initial amount of residue
The first step to assess nutrient loss is estimating the amount of residue that would have been present
before the fire. A yield of one to two bushels of grain typically results in about a pound of residue,
depending on the crop and weather conditions. Table 1 provides a quick way to estimate the
predicted residue weight. Multiply the yield as bushels per acre (bu/ac) by the index value.
For example, the grain sorghum index value is “60″. If the the crop yield was 70 bu/ac, the estimated residue
weight would be about 4200 pounds per acre (70 bu/ac x 60 = 4200 lb/ac). Dividing this result by
“2000″ yields the residue weight in “tons per acre (ton/ac)”.

G:FileDrawer - Technical!CropFile developmentCF04 Soil Managm


Servi-Tech Celebrates 40 years

Servi-Tech Celebrates 40th Anniversary

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Forty years ago, insects in fields were uncontrollable, vehicles did not have air conditioning and there was no way to contact a customer or another crop consultant on the road.

To say that things have changed since Servi-Tech was founded in 1975 is a massive understatement.

Servi-Tech was formed in Dodge City, Kan. by three farmer-owned cooperatives that saw a need to provide technical services for agricultural producers in southwest Kansas. The group expanded into northeast Colorado in 1981, into Nebraska in 1983, and into Iowa in 2000.


An aerial shot, late 1970s, at Dodge City’s original laboratory building with crop service. When it was founded in 1975, Servi-Tech only had 13 employees. SERVI-TECH ARCHIVES

Today, Servi-Tech’s crop consultants provide independent analysis of crops and put their focus and dedication on the producer.

Servi-Tech started with 13 employees. Now, the company employs more than 170 people in five states, including three laboratories in Dodge City, Kan.; Amarillo, Texas; and Hastings, Neb.

“During the next 40 years, we will continue to add new technologies and enhance our service offering – Servi-Tech will continue to set the bar for agronomy service providers,” said Greg Ruehle, Servi-Tech President and CEO.

Jeff Kugler, CEO of Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services, or STEPS, just celebrated his 39th year with the company. STEPS, LLC, focuses on special projects such as remote moisture sensing and irrigation water management through the use of TheProfiler.

“In 1976, once you left the house you had no communication with growers unless you saw them on the road,” Kugler said.

Now, cell phones, text messages and the Internet make communication easier.


Servi-Tech Agronomist Matt Mimick installs TheProfiler in some greenhouse tomatoes near Omaha, Neb. Over the past 40 years, Servi-Tech has increased its focus and dedication on new technology in agriculture. COURTESY PHOTO

Kugler said agriculture has made tremendous strides in technology over the years. Those strides have increased yields and made better use of water available to growers.

Forty years ago, all fields were treated the same way with fertilizer, planting rate and water application. Today, with Servi-Tech’s help, they have gone high tech in the areas of variable rate fertilizer, seeding and water.

“We now can identify variations in the field by the square yard and adjust inputs accordingly,” Kugler said. “Growers are getting more out of every acre because of the improvement in hybrid characteristics, and higher tech planters and fertilizer applicators.”

Corn, soybean and milo yields have improved 20%-40% compared to the yields in the ‘70s. Kugler attributes the increase in yields to better hybrids, biotech traits and other technologies to boost yields.

Center pivots today include high-tech sprinkler packages to more efficiently deliver water to crops. Buried drip tape and calibrated drip hoses help improve the efficiency of delivering water to crops by 15 to 20 percent over traditional nozzles. These efficiencies help growers improve their irrigation practices, even in cases where water restrictions have been implemented.

“Farm equipment today is loaded with features driven by computers, computer software and equipment location monitored with GPS. We can capture and analyze all types of data,” Kugler said. “Forty years ago, little data was captured except final yield. It is still all about the final grain yield, but today the grower is more efficient with cropping inputs while increasing the output, the yield.”

Working towards its purpose of “Making the Planet More Productive,” Servi-Tech continually invests for the future. Utilizing technology such as precision farming and data management, Servi-Tech continues to be on the leading edge of technology, science, and agriculture.

Over the past 40 years, Servi-Tech has set the mark for offering independent agronomic and laboratory services to its customers. “One thing that will never change is our focus on making the customer more efficient and profitable – our contribution to ‘making the planet more productive,” Ruehle said.

About Servi-Tech

Servi-Tech, the country’s largest agronomic firm, was organized in 1975 by three farmer-owned cooperatives to provide technical service for agricultural producers in southwest Kansas. Today, Servi-Tech provides consulting to approximately 2,000 farmers across seven states and over 1 million acres. Servi-Tech Laboratories has agricultural customers in all 50 states and over six countries.


Husker Harvest Days

Good morning!

Servi-Tech will be at Husker Harvest Days near Grand Island, Neb., next week!

We have a building at HHD and we’ll be talking to customers and potential customers. If you’re around Grand Island, stop and chat with us! We’ll be at the show Sept. 9-11.

More information on Husker Harvest Days:


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Servi-Tech in the News

Good afternoon!

Pete Kruse, Servi-Tech’s director of operations, was quoted in a story in the Dodge City Daily Globe this week.

Here’s the story!

rain 1 rain 2

Mobile App Available for TheProfiler

Did you know there’s a mobile app you can download for your phone and tablet that lets you view information from TheProfiler in your field?

TheProfiler pic

Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services (STEPS) has been hard at work to put the latest technology into your hands.

This mobile app provides real-time access to soil moisture information that enables agronomists, producers and soil moisture managers to make better use of water through timely irrigation decisions.

The latest version of the app, version 2.5.3, displays the Plant Available Water (PAW) as part of the device overview. The PAW is the water content difference between field capacity and permanent wilting point of your soil at any given depth.

Google play

Google Play (for Android devices)

iphone app

App Store (for iPhones and iPads)


south dakota pic device overview

For more information about STEPS or TheProfiler, go to or contact our office at 1-800-557-7509.

A special thanks to our partners for helping to make the planet more productive: Servi-TechAgSense, McCrometer, and MP2.

When You Are a Bovine, Brown Is Better Than White…

Here’s a wonderful blog post about feedlots and snow storms.

Feed Yard Foodie

Every year I hope for a nice pretty brown Christmas.  It isn’t that I don’t think that snow is beautiful, rather it is that snow storms are hard on my cattle and make my chores more difficult.

Lots of curious ice covered faces greet me... Lots of curious ice covered faces greet me…

I have found over the past 17 years that snow rarely falls in a vertical pattern across the plains of Nebraska.  Instead, it whips viciously and horizontally across the horizon.

It settles in the roadside ditches camouflaging where the road ends and the ditch begins... It settles in the roadside ditches camouflaging where the road ends and the ditch begins…

The snow makes drifts as is blows across the prairie.  There are times that these drifts are taller than I am.  Fortunately, this go round we have only small drifts…

Here you can see the snow drifting and blowing over the feed bunk... Here you can see the snow drifting and blowing over the feed bunk…

We place our cattle on a special feed ration (casserole) to help them stay warm during…

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Letter from the American Society of Agronomy

Letter from the American Society of Agronomy

Good afternoon!

We received a letter from the American Society of Agronomy, complimenting Fred Vocasek, our senior lab agronomist, on his ASA accomplishments.

Thanks to Sharon Clay, ASA president, for sending it to us!