Soybean Field with Healthy Soil (B/W)

A few nice surface grinding services images I found:

Soybean Field with Healthy Soil (B/W)

Image by USDA NRCS South Dakota
CAPTION: The soil structure in Bill Nelson’s fields in Lake County, S.D., has organic matter (dark, rich color) and live roots extending way down,” says NRCS Conservation Agronomist Eric Barsness, Brookings, SD. “Healthy soil should look like chocolate cake with air holes permeating throughout. Nelson says “The number of earthworms in my fields is huge. It is fun to look around to see what’s happening down there.”

HEALTH OF SOIL FACTOR FOR WEED/PEST ISSUES
Conservationists Encouraging “Soil Checkups”
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS), Huron, SD, July 17, 2013— This growing season, producers should take some time to assess the condition of their cropland soil resource say conservation professionals. Healthy soil is essential for plant growth and resilient to things that stress it, such as floods, drought, diseases and pests. Agronomic specialists with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are urging producers to take a look at the health of the soil in their own fields and pastures and get help if their soil isn’t functioning as well as it should.
A top factor is organic matter because it holds nutrients and water for plant use and growth. NRCS Conservation Agronomist Jason Miller, Pierre, S.D. says “People can’t do much about the type of their soil, but we can adjust management to increase the amount of organic matter in our soil.” Increasing organic matter increases the soils’ capacity for regulating plant available water along with other benefits.
A “healthy thing” is use of cover crops. However, Miller comments that corn-soybean rotations in a large portion of South Dakota can have challenges for incorporating successful cover crops into rotations since moisture and timing are limiting factors.
Bill Nelson is using cover crops for his cropland in Lake County, SD. Because of the diversity in his cropping sequence, Nelson is seeing benefits of reduced soil compaction and improved nutrient uptake and management. “My fields are gentle, rolling hills typical of eastern South Dakota, but erosion is not happening here,” says Nelson, “The residue and organic matter has greatly improved infiltration and soil water holding capacity.”
Miller says other options for healthier soil are diversifying the plants covering the soil surface and keeping living roots in the soil as long as possible. “Producers, especially in eastern South Dakota, should be incorporating a small grain into the rotation that will then allow a successful cover crop to be incorporated behind the harvest,” he explains. So, for example in a five-year rotation, Miller explains, “Producers can have a portion of their corn acres going into small grains (that contain a cover crop the previous year) and another portion going into soybean stubble. That small grain stubble allows better opportunity for establishing and getting the most benefit out of cover crops–using nutrients from the previous crops and increasing organic matter.”
These practices build organic matter with positive effects on the biological life in the soil. “Active micro-organisms are what helps keep the health of the soil in balance,” explains Eric Barsness, NRCS Conservation Agronomist, Brookings. In mid-July, he used a soil probe in Nelson’s fields and found a rich, dark top soil about a foot deep that has resulted from the good cropping rotations based on soil condition, residue amounts, and use of cover crops. “The soil probe easily slid into Bill’s soil because of the organic matter, good structure and aggregate stability,” says Barsness.
Nelson’s crop rotation for this no-till field was oats (2011), cereal rye as a cover crop, soybeans (2012), and soybeans (2013). He put the cereal rye in with a fall seeding and when the snow came off, the rye was green. “That year (2012), we had a lot of spring rain and prevent plant acres around the county,” Nelson explains. “The root system from that rye cover crop in my rotation held up the machinery up so we could get the soybeans planted.”
The rye was terminated prior to it competing with the soybeans. This worked out well for Nelson, he says, “Then, that mat left from the rye root system and the above-ground residue was just what the fields needed.” Additional residue can reduce weed pressure and helps fields hold moisture if the weather turns hot and dry.
Nelson used the rye in his rotation to help get to his goal of maintaining or increasing organic matter (OM) on his land to mimic levels found in natural prairie soils. Soil tests average 5.0 to 6.3 percent OM in Nelson’s fields.
Another benefit he’s seeing, Nelson told Barsness, is the ‘break’ from weed and pest problems. “With my rotation, I just don’t have pest and weed issues such as corn root worm or Glyphosate-tolerant weeds,” says Nelson.
“When a system gets out of balance, problems can pop-up. If you’re seeing disease or pest issues with your crops,” Miller says, “Maybe it’s time to look past the symptoms and get to the source. Diversifying crop types and incorporating cover crops can help your soil to be more healthy.” Contact Natural Resources Conservation Service for free on-site farm or ranch resource consultations. On the web, links to technical publications and guides are available at www.sd.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/CoverCrops.html.
A healthier soil means better moisture infiltration, retention or movement through the soil profile. “This is a major benefit in the long-term,” says Miller. “By evaluating what their soil needs, producers can feel better about management decisions as they make adjustments to their operation.”
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To learn more, visit the Soil Health Information Center: www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/soils/hea….

Buckeye Butterfly at Monticello

Image by Tony Fischer Photography
Junonia coenia is the Common Buckeye butterfly. It is found in all parts of the United States except the northwest, and is especially common in the South, the California coast, and throughout Central America. Its habitat is open areas with low vegetation and some bare ground. The bold pattern of eyespots and white bars on the upper wing surface is distinctive in much of its range. The eyespots likely serve to startle or distract predators, especially young birds. The species has many flights throughout the year, with mostly northward migrations for the summer. Much of the northern United States is only colonized in the fall from southern populations. Some of the later broods move southwards in the fall.

The Common Buckeye was featured on the 2006 United States Postal Service 24-cent postage stamp.

(wiki)

This butterfly flies around Monticello, Jefferson’s home in Virginia.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: SR-71 Blackbird with caption

Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird:

No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated globally in more hostile airspace or with such complete impunity than the SR-71, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments during the Cold War.

This Blackbird accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time during 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its last flight, March 6, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging 3,418 kilometers (2,124 miles) per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane over to the Smithsonian.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Manufacturer:
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation

Designer:
Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson

Date:
1964

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Overall: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 55ft 7in. x 107ft 5in., 169998.5lb. (5.638m x 16.942m x 32.741m, 77110.8kg)
Other: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 107ft 5in. x 55ft 7in. (5.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)

Materials:
Titanium

Physical Description:
Twin-engine, two-seat, supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft; airframe constructed largley of titanium and its alloys; vertical tail fins are constructed of a composite (laminated plastic-type material) to reduce radar cross-section; Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines feature large inlet shock cones.

Long Description:
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated in more hostile airspace or with such complete impunity than the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the fastest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines. The Blackbird’s performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments during the Cold War. The airplane was conceived when tensions with communist Eastern Europe reached levels approaching a full-blown crisis in the mid-1950s. U.S. military commanders desperately needed accurate assessments of Soviet worldwide military deployments, particularly near the Iron Curtain. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s subsonic U-2 (see NASM collection) reconnaissance aircraft was an able platform but the U. S. Air Force recognized that this relatively slow aircraft was already vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. They also understood that the rapid development of surface-to-air missile systems could put U-2 pilots at grave risk. The danger proved reality when a U-2 was shot down by a surface to air missile over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Lockheed’s first proposal for a new high speed, high altitude, reconnaissance aircraft, to be capable of avoiding interceptors and missiles, centered on a design propelled by liquid hydrogen. This proved to be impracticable because of considerable fuel consumption. Lockheed then reconfigured the design for conventional fuels. This was feasible and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), already flying the Lockheed U-2, issued a production contract for an aircraft designated the A-12. Lockheed’s clandestine ‘Skunk Works’ division (headed by the gifted design engineer Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson) designed the A-12 to cruise at Mach 3.2 and fly well above 18,288 m (60,000 feet). To meet these challenging requirements, Lockheed engineers overcame many daunting technical challenges. Flying more than three times the speed of sound generates 316° C (600° F) temperatures on external aircraft surfaces, which are enough to melt conventional aluminum airframes. The design team chose to make the jet’s external skin of titanium alloy to which shielded the internal aluminum airframe. Two conventional, but very powerful, afterburning turbine engines propelled this remarkable aircraft. These power plants had to operate across a huge speed envelope in flight, from a takeoff speed of 334 kph (207 mph) to more than 3,540 kph (2,200 mph). To prevent supersonic shock waves from moving inside the engine intake causing flameouts, Johnson’s team had to design a complex air intake and bypass system for the engines.

Skunk Works engineers also optimized the A-12 cross-section design to exhibit a low radar profile. Lockheed hoped to achieve this by carefully shaping the airframe to reflect as little transmitted radar energy (radio waves) as possible, and by application of special paint designed to absorb, rather than reflect, those waves. This treatment became one of the first applications of stealth technology, but it never completely met the design goals.

Test pilot Lou Schalk flew the single-seat A-12 on April 24, 1962, after he became airborne accidentally during high-speed taxi trials. The airplane showed great promise but it needed considerable technical refinement before the CIA could fly the first operational sortie on May 31, 1967 – a surveillance flight over North Vietnam. A-12s, flown by CIA pilots, operated as part of the Air Force’s 1129th Special Activities Squadron under the "Oxcart" program. While Lockheed continued to refine the A-12, the U. S. Air Force ordered an interceptor version of the aircraft designated the YF-12A. The Skunk Works, however, proposed a "specific mission" version configured to conduct post-nuclear strike reconnaissance. This system evolved into the USAF’s familiar SR-71.

Lockheed built fifteen A-12s, including a special two-seat trainer version. Two A-12s were modified to carry a special reconnaissance drone, designated D-21. The modified A-12s were redesignated M-21s. These were designed to take off with the D-21 drone, powered by a Marquart ramjet engine mounted on a pylon between the rudders. The M-21 then hauled the drone aloft and launched it at speeds high enough to ignite the drone’s ramjet motor. Lockheed also built three YF-12As but this type never went into production. Two of the YF-12As crashed during testing. Only one survives and is on display at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aft section of one of the "written off" YF-12As which was later used along with an SR-71A static test airframe to manufacture the sole SR-71C trainer. One SR-71 was lent to NASA and designated YF-12C. Including the SR-71C and two SR-71B pilot trainers, Lockheed constructed thirty-two Blackbirds. The first SR-71 flew on December 22, 1964. Because of extreme operational costs, military strategists decided that the more capable USAF SR-71s should replace the CIA’s A-12s. These were retired in 1968 after only one year of operational missions, mostly over southeast Asia. The Air Force’s 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (part of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) took over the missions, flying the SR-71 beginning in the spring of 1968.

After the Air Force began to operate the SR-71, it acquired the official name Blackbird– for the special black paint that covered the airplane. This paint was formulated to absorb radar signals, to radiate some of the tremendous airframe heat generated by air friction, and to camouflage the aircraft against the dark sky at high altitudes.

Experience gained from the A-12 program convinced the Air Force that flying the SR-71 safely required two crew members, a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO). The RSO operated with the wide array of monitoring and defensive systems installed on the airplane. This equipment included a sophisticated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) system that could jam most acquisition and targeting radar. In addition to an array of advanced, high-resolution cameras, the aircraft could also carry equipment designed to record the strength, frequency, and wavelength of signals emitted by communications and sensor devices such as radar. The SR-71 was designed to fly deep into hostile territory, avoiding interception with its tremendous speed and high altitude. It could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach 3.3 at an altitude more than sixteen miles, or 25,908 m (85,000 ft), above the earth. The crew had to wear pressure suits similar to those worn by astronauts. These suits were required to protect the crew in the event of sudden cabin pressure loss while at operating altitudes.

To climb and cruise at supersonic speeds, the Blackbird’s Pratt & Whitney J-58 engines were designed to operate continuously in afterburner. While this would appear to dictate high fuel flows, the Blackbird actually achieved its best "gas mileage," in terms of air nautical miles per pound of fuel burned, during the Mach 3+ cruise. A typical Blackbird reconnaissance flight might require several aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Each time the SR-71 refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker’s altitude, usually about 6,000 m to 9,000 m (20,000 to 30,000 ft), and slow the airplane to subsonic speeds. As velocity decreased, so did frictional heat. This cooling effect caused the aircraft’s skin panels to shrink considerably, and those covering the fuel tanks contracted so much that fuel leaked, forming a distinctive vapor trail as the tanker topped off the Blackbird. As soon as the tanks were filled, the jet’s crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and again climbed to high altitude.

Air Force pilots flew the SR-71 from Kadena AB, Japan, throughout its operational career but other bases hosted Blackbird operations, too. The 9th SRW occasionally deployed from Beale AFB, California, to other locations to carryout operational missions. Cuban missions were flown directly from Beale. The SR-71 did not begin to operate in Europe until 1974, and then only temporarily. In 1982, when the U.S. Air Force based two aircraft at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall to fly monitoring mission in Eastern Europe.

When the SR-71 became operational, orbiting reconnaissance satellites had already replaced manned aircraft to gather intelligence from sites deep within Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover every geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a vital tool for global intelligence gathering. On many occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR-71 provided information that proved vital in formulating successful U. S. foreign policy. Blackbird crews provided important intelligence about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath, and pre- and post-strike imagery of the 1986 raid conducted by American air forces on Libya. In 1987, Kadena-based SR-71 crews flew a number of missions over the Persian Gulf, revealing Iranian Silkworm missile batteries that threatened commercial shipping and American escort vessels.

As the performance of space-based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-based air defense networks, the Air Force started to lose enthusiasm for the expensive program and the 9th SRW ceased SR-71 operations in January 1990. Despite protests by military leaders, Congress revived the program in 1995. Continued wrangling over operating budgets, however, soon led to final termination. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retained two SR-71As and the one SR-71B for high-speed research projects and flew these airplanes until 1999.

On March 6, 1990, the service career of one Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird ended with a record-setting flight. This special airplane bore Air Force serial number 64-17972. Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding and his RSO, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Vida, flew this aircraft from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging a speed of 3,418 kph (2,124 mph). At the conclusion of the flight, ‘972 landed at Dulles International Airport and taxied into the custody of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. At that time, Lt. Col. Vida had logged 1,392.7 hours of flight time in Blackbirds, more than that of any other crewman.

This particular SR-71 was also flown by Tom Alison, a former National Air and Space Museum’s Chief of Collections Management. Flying with Detachment 1 at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Alison logged more than a dozen ‘972 operational sorties. The aircraft spent twenty-four years in active Air Force service and accrued a total of 2,801.1 hours of flight time.

Wingspan: 55’7"
Length: 107’5"
Height: 18’6"
Weight: 170,000 Lbs

Reference and Further Reading:

Crickmore, Paul F. Lockheed SR-71: The Secret Missions Exposed. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1996.

Francillon, Rene J. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987.

Johnson, Clarence L. Kelly: More Than My Share of It All. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985.

Miller, Jay. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. Leicester, U.K.: Midland Counties Publishing Ltd., 1995.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.

DAD, 11-11-01

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