5 min read

The Cropwalker - Volume 1 Issue 13

Always read and follow label directions.


Don't count on harvesting soybean fields in the spring.

Soybeans still out and not harvested, will they make to spring? Can you give them an N credit?

First off, I would plan on taking advantage of any possible window that you can to try and get them off. Realize this is already likely the case. Second, those that are still out, I would give up the hope that they will make any kind of non-gmo/IP program. If the soybeans are still standing in the spring can they be harvested? Certainly, if the quality and yield are acceptable (we are not confident of this today). No point in worrying about it until the time comes. As for a N credit? Data suggests 70 to 100 lbs. (For a 40 bu./ac yield) N for an available credit; They will also have a 15-20 Lb./ac P credit and 50 lb./ac K credit. This is valuing NPK as if it were manure. I would apply a base amount up front, complete a nitrate test in season, and adjust based upon the nitrate test.

Manure on Wheat

Was asked if it is safe to drag line manure on winter. Would there be any crop injury? My recommendation is ensure the ground is fit (which at this time of year means frozen), otherwise the compaction from the hose is likely the cause issues with emergence/winter survival. However, I have seen it successfully applied in the spring to winter wheat to meet some of the N requirements. And this N will be slow release.

Soil Network Peer Group

Looking for a peer group to bounce ideas off of when trying to implement new cropping practices on the farm? The Ontario Soil Network is accepting applications until December 20th for the 2019 intake. Sign up here; https://www.ontariosoil.net/

Canadian Agriculture Partnership

Still waiting to hear if there will be funding available for the 2019 calendar year, website suggests checking back in January 2019. This program is similar in structure to the GLASI program; cover crops, organic amendments, equipment modifications for compaction as examples. I prefer to take the approach that a project should stand on its own merits, and if public funding is available to help support it, then it’s an added bonus.


How Are Soybean Maturities Determined? (A reader asked)

For the public trials someone rates the plots every 3 days or so. Typically soybeans are rated as mature when 90% of the pods are brown. A bit objective, but since soybean maturity is related to day length, there is not much difference between reps for the same variety. (For edible beans there can be a big difference between reps) So, for soybeans if the rating is off a bit in one rep when the numbers are averaged you get a good indication of maturity. When comparing variety maturity, 2 days difference is really no difference.

Should Sulphur (S) for corn be Broadcast or in a Stater?

For corn you need at least 10 pounds / acre actual S. S is mobile in the soil similar to nitrogen (N). However, in the plant it is immobile. The plant cannot take S from part of the plant and move it like it does for N. The plant takes up 70-75% of its N requirement by flowering. But only 40-50% of its S requirements. Very little research comparing broadcast vs. starter S. But Dr. Bob Neilson Purdue just published his latest S research on corn. In this research, in these trials at responsive sites, S in starter increased yields 1 out of 11 trials. In his broadcast plots S increased yields 6 out of 11 times. Answer broadcast.

Insecticides on Soybean Seed

If you have wireworm or corn seed maggot you should use an insecticide on soybeans. I asked Dr. Dave Hume (soybean researcher U of G) his thoughts. He said that if you do not have a known insect problem there is a saw off on insecticides. With insecticides you can decrease your seeding rate by 10%. So, you can either buy more seed without insecticide or less with insecticide. One strategy is to buy say 50% of your seed with an insecticide, plant it first. When you get to your second half of planting, if planting conditions are good and forecast weather is good, then keep same seeding rate and carry on. If planting conditions are poor then up seeding rate.

Fortenza Insecticide Treatment on Soybean Seed

This year a number of soybean seed companies will be switching to Fortenza as their main soybean insecticide treatment. According to Leanne Freitag from Syngenta, Fortenza is a bit weaker on wireworm, and not as strong on soybean aphids as Cruiser was. But we were only getting about 30 days aphid suppression anyway with Cruiser. Fortenza is not a neonic. And it is better on grubs. The benefits of fungicides on soybean seed is well documented.

Phosphorus and Potassium Stratification in No-Till Systems (Written in 2001)

Fields under long-term no-till can experience nutrient stratification. Nutrient stratification is when layers of P and K build up in near the soil surface. Stratification is caused by crop removal of nutrients deeper in the soil without incorporation of fertilizer and crop residues. It can usually be found after 5 years of continuous no-till conditions. The occurrence of nutrient stratification can be verified by taking 2 soil tests from the same area, one in the first 2 inches of soil and the other from 2 to 8 inches. With proper nutrient application methods, the impact of nutrient stratification on yield can be minimized. To avoid a yield-limiting situation, a percentage of the P and K requirement should be applied near the seed row. Because of the low mobility of P and K in the soil, banding is a very efficient method of feeding the crop. Occasional tillage (every 5-6 years) is also an excellent method of reducing stratification layers. (I don’t think much has changed. Perhaps doing some tillage at planting with coulters is mixing nutrients. Only way to know is to do soil testing)

Using your equipment dealer

I recently ran a poll on Twitter asking if you expected your equipment dealer to provide crop recommendations. 313 people voted, with 97% saying No, 3% saying Yes. One grower commented he would rather the dealer focus on providing better training to service managers and tech staff to know units inside and out than learning agronomy. Another commented he would rather rely on a third-party to help with selecting his equipment needs, than using the local dealer. One area I would like to see dealers focus on is improving grower’s understanding of their monitors/gps systems functionality and operation.

Trying to build soil test values continued

Hearing a few comments from growers and consultants that they are having a tough time building soil test values. In speaking with one CCA, they commented that yield increases due to a build program may be overrated. I disagree in some respects about the overrated part, but agree that growers do seem to have a tough time building soil test values. A few have suggested you need to use organic materials (biosolids, compost, manure etc.) to truly build long term phosphorus and potassium soil test values.

Should I soil test for chloride, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium or silicon?

I posed this question to a lab manager this last week, here is their response;

1)     Chloride – typically we are trying to wash it out of the soil profile from applying Muriate of Potash, which is 40% Cl-, not really an issue, only really test for it when looking at road salt contamination.

2)     Cobalt – labs can test for it, usually extremely low levels, no test for plant availability with reliability.

3)     Molybdenum – required by the crop in extremely small quantities and can test for it, the tests tend not to be extremely accurate because of how low the levels are. Important for nodulation in soybeans.

4)     Selenium – The great lakes basin in naturally low in it. Usually better to use a mineral pack in feed to supplement for it rather than fertilizer for it.

5)     Silicon – 8th most abundant element on the planet, usually part of other minerals as part of silica complex. Plants typical don’t take up much, as a result we don’t test for it.

Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it. - Salvador Dali