Pretend it’s the year 2050 and visualize your lawn


By Dave Case

On Fertile Ground

Happy New Year! I thought it might be fun to speculate what caring for our lawns might look like in 2050? An educated guess! Sounds farther away than it really is!

Smart Lawn Care Systems: I think robotic mowers will be commonplace. These mowers could autonomously mow lawns, adjust watering schedules based on weather forecasts, and provide real-time monitoring of lawn health. I also think that if the above is true, gas-powered mowers will be dinosaurs. We’ve had an electric push mower for years and love it. So quiet, good power, easy to start!

Drought-Resistant Grass Varieties: I’m thinking with fresh water being such an issue in the future, grass varieties that are naturally drought-resistant will be common. This could reduce the need for excessive watering while maintaining green and healthy lawns.

Sustainable Practices: I think they’ll be a shift towards more organic fertilizers, natural pest control methods, and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional lawn care chemicals.

Community Gardening: I think we’ll see more community gardens. This could encourage a sense of community involvement and reduce the environmental impact of maintaining private lawns. Do you know we have our own community garden? It’s at 222 East Market Street in Urbana!

Regulations for Environmental Protection: The government may get more involved in lawn care. Governments could implement regulations to promote environmentally friendly lawn care practices. This could include restrictions on certain chemicals, guidelines for water usage, and incentives for adopting sustainable landscaping approaches.

Green Roof and Vertical Gardens: I bet we’ll use our roofs more for gardening and they’ll be more vertical gardening. Sounds like fun?!

Champaign County Ag Sector

As 2023 is wrapped up, what can we do to ensure a successful 2024 season?

▪ Timely planting. Year after year, data shows timely planting factor into higher yields.

▪ Adequate Stands. 24,000 to 34,000 plants final stand for corn and 100,000 to 120,000 plants final stand for soybeans. Figure 95% germination seed and assume 3% plant mortality. Example for corn, 30,000 final stand desired. 30,000 divided by (.95x.97) means plant 32,556 seeds per acre.

▪ Moisture at the right time. High yielding corn requires about 22”-30” of water per year. Corn requires the most during early reproductive stages. But all stages need water. V8, Early Tassel, Silking, early dent and full dent are the highest moisture needed stages. Corn uses very little water during the seedling stage. We should rely on stored soil moisture as much as possible during early growth stages.

Technology. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay!

What can we do to be ready for the next wave of technology which is surely on the way?

▪ What is your management style? Are your employees ready? Can they be made ready? Are you ready?

▪ Do you have quality broadband? You’ll need good internet.

▪ Maximize the tech you do have now, (i.e. smartphone apps)

▪ What is your taste for tech investment? You don’t have to invest in new technology all at once.

▪ Be a lifelong learner in technology. Anyone can learn!

▪ Invest in Education. Trade shows, winter meetings, learning from others.

▪ Get Organized. Things like consistent field naming, where files are stored etc.

▪ Run the numbers. Understand the true costs.

▪ Demand top level service. You’ll need tech service especially when getting started. Nothing more frustrating than service that disappears after the sale.

▪ Think beyond farm size. For even smaller operators, technology has a place.

Tar Spot Situation

This disease will be on the move again in 2024.

Managing it with a good fungicide product will be key. I saw more aerial applications down our way than ever before in the southern part of Champaign County. It’s still a relatively new disease but it’s not going away.

What can we do?

1) Use a tolerant hybrid. Ask more questions of your seed seller. Currently no corn hybrids are completely resistant to Tar Spot.

2) Reduce residue through tillage and

3) Avoid corn on corn, and

4) Use of a proper fungicide at the proper time. Might need two applications instead of one. We’ll need two months or so of control starting in July.

Bottom line, it’s not going away and can be a very devastating disease causing significant reductions in yield. Know your enemy! Remember Asian Soybean Rust that we got al concerned about then it hasn’t been an issue? In 10 years will we be saying the same about Tar Spot? Time will tell. But until then, be prepared.

Till next month, have a great January!

Question or comments? Email me at [email protected].

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Dave Case majored in Agronomy and Ag Econ with an emphasis in Weed Science. Dave’s career spanned Champaign Landmark, Crow’s Hybrid Corn Company and 30 years with Bayer CropScience. In 2018, Case formed Case Ag Consulting LLC. He is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Agricultural Fraternity. He is on the Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Association of Kentucky, Chairman of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust Foundation and Secretary of the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Board. He is on the Board of Directors of the Champaign Family YMCA, Champaign County Historical Society Agricultural Capital Campaign Committee and is a Trustee for the Champaign County Farm Bureau. Dave and his wife Dorothy live on a small farm south of Urbana where they raise goats, cattle, chickens and various crops and they donate all profits to Pancreatic Cancer Research. Dave can be reached at [email protected].

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