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The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 5

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There are numerous conferences we will be sharing content from. SWAC will denote Southwest Ag Conference, held in Ridgetown, ON. CCA will denote the Certified Crop Advisor Conference, and FS will denote FarmSmart or CerealSmart.


Questions at Grower Meetings

I asked a fellow CCA who has attended a lot of meetings across Ontario what are the most common questions asked.

1)    How come I lost volunteer corn control when I tank mixed Assure with a dicamba product on my Xtend soybeans. Ans. There is antagonism between dicamba (group 4 herbicide) and Assure. The normally low rate of Assure to control volunteer corn will not be sufficient if tank mixed with a group 4 herbicide. You have to use the higher labelled rate.

2)    Were there many issues with off target movement of dicamba when applied to Xtend soybeans. Yes, there were too many. There are Best Management Practices (BMP) for applying dicamba on Xtend soybeans. In all cases one or more of these BMPs was not followed.

3)    Should I be concerned about water hemp. Yes, you should. There are programs to control water hemp. The best water hemp control in corn is Callisto post emergent.

Results of a 2019 fungicide trial at Dean Fairchild summarized by Paul Sullivan CCA, Eastern Ontario

Figure 1 - Soybean Yield by Fungicide by Population

Background - The field was corn stalks in the spring with no fall tillage. The field has loamy soil that was slow to dry out. It wasn’t close to being fit to seed until June 10th. It was seeded with a Sunflower drill on 7.5 “spacing. When Dean went to seed the field, he increased the soybean seeding of the AltitudeR2 to 270,000 seeds/ acre to compensate for the high level/wet residue and less than ideal soil moisture. After seeding about half the field, he decided to stop seeding + run a shallow pass with his Sunflower tandem disc. He then felt comfortable reducing the seeding rate to 165,000 seed/ acre.

The seeding method in the field created an opportunity to do a fungicide trial overlaying the different seeding rate and tillage. The emerged soybean stands were 245,000 and 140,000 plants /acre. The high plant population screamed at early flower – “The risk of white mold was real”! BASF suggest applying Cotegra on the first pass followed by Priaxor the 2nd pass 10 to 14 days later as a fungicide strategy in high white mold potential fields.

Results: The most stressed part of the field was no discing, no fungicide and super high plant population and had the lowest yield= 45 bu/acre. An application of Cotegra/ Priaxor increased yields by 17 bu/acre versus no fungicide in a hi population and not disced. Wow! When the plant population and population was reduced, the yield improved by 13 bu/acre versus the base treatment. It is difficult to say what yield improvement came from where. I would expect more came from the lower seeding rate. The highest yield was where the soybean crop had the least level of stress. A lower plant stand, tillage and fungicide application added 23 bu/acre.

The first treatment had no white mold. So, what's going on? I think that with the high plant population this treatment had Phomopsis pod and stem blight. In our fungicide trial over the last few seasons, we are finding it to be controlled by later fungicide programs to the extent of adding over 10 bu/acre.

Thank you, Dean, for conducting + sharing this information and to Francois Mercier and Taiga Cholet from BASF for providing fungicide/guidance for this trial.

Corn Successfully Planted after Cereal Rye that had Fall Manure

Research from University of Minnesota Extension. This was an extensive 3 year on-farm project involving 19 farms. Cereal rye was planted after corn silage or soybeans Once the soil reached 50o F manure was injected at 9-10,000 gallons per acre of either dairy or swine manure. The idea of delaying application was to keep the nitrogen in a form that would not be lost to the environment. Manure was tested for nitrogen content. On 50% of the farms no extra nitrogen was applied. On the other farms N was applied to meet University recommended rates. All farms used a starter fertilizer. Average grain yield was 197 bu/ac. There was no difference in yield whether there was a cereal rye cover crop or no cover crop. The cover crop was terminated in the spring by herbicides or tillage or both.. The cover crop above ground biomass was 90 to 2,000 lbs per acre. The average amount of above ground bio mass was around 900 lbs/ac. There are some researchers that suggest the amount of above ground biomass is equal to the amount of below ground biomass. The cover crop reduced the amount of soil nitrate levels in the soil in the spring.

Priaxor on Alfalfa

Priaxor is a BASF fungicide. It is applied to forages a minimum of 2 weeks before harvest. It has consistently shown an increase in forage yield in all cuts. For some reason it is not showing an increase in protein in first cut. It does show an increase in protein and yield in 2nd and 3rd cuts. What Priaxor is doing is reducing the amount of common leaf spot on the lower leaves, improving leaf retention on the oldest leaves.

Figure 2 - Alfalfa Yield by Fungicide Treatment

How much Phosphorus is leaving your field?

How much phosphorus is leaving the field is directly correlated to how high you are above the saturation point for phosphorus. Once you are above the saturation of the soil, you are susceptible to P losses. The higher you are above saturation; the more P losses will be incurred. (Notes from Bruce Soil and Crop Annual Meeting)

When should I take a manure sample?

When I find out a client is a livestock farmer, typically my first question is; do you have a manure sample? Producers often ask how often they should be pulling manure samples; my answer is that it centers around three or four criteria that affect the manure values.

1)    How is the manure stored? Will the moisture content be different from the past? Is the manure from an underground or open-air pit, is it field piled or stored on a concrete pad?

2)    Has the ration changed? Depending on the age and type of animal, the ration will change. Or maybe you have made a switch from prepared feeds to using farm-produced feed stuffs.

3)    What type of bedding material are you using? This is particularly important in years that straw is short, as growers switch to using corn stalks, sawdust or other types of material.

4)    Where have you pulled it out of the tank? In one instance, the client indicated they have two types of manure that come out of the tank, watery liquid and sludge, due to the inability to mix the materials. In that situation, sample as to how it is applied to the field, so that you can properly credit the nutrients.

I understand manure samples are a rough gauge on what is being applied to the field, and there are quite a few opportunities for error, but at least I will know if I am working with material that is 3% solids, or 10% solids, and can adjust accordingly.

If you can’t properly define the response zones, Variable Rate will never work for you

That’s right, if you do not have a way of properly identifying and grouping response zones together, trying to chase the elusive optimal population, or fertilizer response will be, well, elusive. Perhaps a good starting point is to understand what factors influence why there are differences within population (seed mortality, water availability, soil type, rooting depth) or fertility response (soil depth, historical nutrient applications, soil moisture content, soil erosion etc.) to begin with.

Custom Rates for Field Operations

Occasionally I will get asked what the going rate is for custom work. If you’re looking for the answer to that question, it can be found in this 2018 survey conducted by OMAFRA. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/2018customrates.htm

What weed is it?

Commonly misidentified for another weed in the same family, but herbicide effectiveness is significantly different. $10 Tim Horton’s Gift Certificate for the first correct answer. Follow up on what it is, and how to control it next week.

Picture 1 - Mystery Weed
Picture 2 - Mystery Weed

How many times does the pin have to drop?

A few weeks ago, a grower and I were comparing notes on different conferences over the past month. He asked what I saw that was “new” or “interesting” out of the events. My reply? We go to these events and then come home, sometimes the producer asks what they should do for the coming year, I say let’s try a few trials on XYZ, and after the proverbial pin drops following the awkward silence, and we go on about our day. Why do you NEED to do some of your own on farm trials? Well, maybe you are a producer that works your ground 1 day too early every year. What impact do you think this has on the rest of the growing season and plant development? Likely varies by soil type, but you get the point. That one simple difference in management could lead to bigger differences in proper corn population, response to starter fertilizer, planter closing wheels and I could keep going.

Can I build Soil Organic Matter with Nutrient Starved Crops?

In research published in Western Canada and presented at the CCA Soil and Water Quality day, the comment as made by Dr. Bobbi Helgason that you cannot build soil organic matter in nutrient starved systems. The thought process? Poor crops are unable to provide crop residue at levels high enough to build soil organic matter to levels beyond natural decay rates.

Biologicals in “Healthy Soil”

Dr. Bobbi Helgason also commented at the CCA Soil and Water Quality day on Biologicals. In healthy soil, biological products don’t have an effect, especially a lasting effect due to having a good soil community. Outside of a few specific plant species, using an “inoculant” isn’t enough for the population that is already there, it’s typically too small of an amount for the native populations already present in the soil.

Should I inject my manure or digestate?

It depends, to me there are three reasons to inject the manure or digestate at the time of application. 1) You will incur significant nitrogen losses due to volatilization. 2) The manure or digestate will cause odour issues. 3) You will be doing two jobs at the same time (i.e. fall tillage while injecting).

How do you determine the N losses from volatilization? The easiest way is to send a sample of it to a lab, and then run the results through OMAFRA’s Agrisuite. The software considers your specific field location, crop residue, application rate/method to determine what the losses would be. Screen shots below for example, which in this case suggests it pays to inject liquid pig manure in the spring, but not in the fall, from a nitrogen standpoint.

Figure 3 - Spring Applied Pig Manure - Injected
Figure 4 - Spring Applied Pig Manure - Surface Applied and Incorp 1 day
Figure 5 - Fall Applied Pig Manure - Surface Applied and Incorp 1 day
Figure 6 - Fall Applied Pig Manure - Injected

"Amateurs show up to practice to have fun. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in games." -  Shane Parrish