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The Cropwalker - Volume 4 Issue 10

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Crop Conditions

So far so good. Wheat really greened up last week in a matter of 24-48 hours. Red clover seeding is 50-90% complete depending on the area. Probably rest will be spread this week. Spreading nitrogen on wheat is just started with a lot of acres planned to be spread this week. Should you start to spread N on wheat? If the risk of N loss is low, and your wheat has started to green up, go spread your first pass. I would not apply everything this early in the season. This is under the assumption you will not rut the field up. New seedings at least one field sown in the Sarnia area. More acres of new seeding are planned for later this week once frost leaves ground. Otherwise, they will be frost seeded. With new seedings the biggest error is seeding too deep. I like to have at least 5% of seeds on top of the ground.


Question: What is the difference between Infinity and Infinity FX

Answer; In Publication 75 last year there was no difference in weed ratings. In the 2021 version (which is on line) Infinity FX, which is fluroxypyr plus  Infinity – (bromoxynil and pyrasulfotole) gives slightly better control of cleavers, Canada Thistle and Perennial sow thistle. The Canada Thistle and perennial Sowthistle have to be emerged for Infinity FX to have an effect on them.

How Big should Test Plots Be?

If you are measuring yield with a combine monitor, they should be at least 2 acres in size. Minimum distance should be 200 feet. This is to get rid of grain in the combine going from one treatment to the next where treatments are sequential. I prefer a side-by-side plot where you are only measuring one product/system. For more go to an article in Iowa extension. Mar 10, 2021 Best Management Practice for Spatial Layout of Field Trials (Editor – I have some disagreements with this, cover next week.)

Discussions with a Perth County Dairy farmer

Me: so over the last 30 years we have made great yield increases in corn soybeans and wheat. Looking at those increases it appears that 30-50% of increase is due to better genetics. So, 50-60% is due to production practices. Over those 30 years forage yields have not gone up. Why?

Perth county farmer: I believe the biggest reason is fertility. Last year we applied ammonium sulphate and potash in the spring. I was amazed at the yield increase by doing that. It seems that alfalfa really responds to sulphur on our farm.

Me: I am recommending that growers apply at least 20 lbs/ac actual sulphate sulphur (S) first thing in the spring. Alfalfa needs a lot of S. Some will be mineralized from soil but the soil has to warm up before that S is released.

Other main reason for low forage yields.

Compaction between manure spreading, and harvesting alfalfa plant crowns are seriously damaged. New growth starts from basal buds but the integrity of the plants has been affected. Solution, shorter forage rotations. Picture below shows how the main crown is damaged

Picture 1 - Alfalfa crown damage

Question - What form of Sulphur should I put on my cool season crops?

Answer - Sulphate! Any crops that use a growing degree day of base 0 (meaning they grow if it is not below freezing), will benefit from early supplemental sulphur if they require it in large quantities. The soil (or portions from manure) will not start mineralizing until it reaches closer to 10-degree C. It will not mineralize fast enough to meet early season crop demands. This means using a sulphur source like Ammonium Sulphate, Potassium Sulphate or Potassium of Sulphate-Magnesia (K-Mag). Liquid ammonium thiosulphate can work, but it has to still mineralize from the elemental form to the sulphate form. The reason it happens faster with ATS than dry elemental sulphur is you have sprayed it evenly over the surface of the soil, so the bacteria have a much larger surface area to work on the material vs. if you had spread 11 or 12 lbs of Elemental Sulphur to get 10 lbs S/ac.

Discussion with Greg Stewart (formerly OMAFRA corn specialist, now Maizex head agronomist

Me: so, what were the big take aways from this past winter?

Greg: Well, first, I am impressed at how many people attended our virtual meetings. It was time well spent and I didn’t have to drive so much.

Agronomically the planting depth talks were interesting. I believe that early planting at 2” is the way to go. As we get late May or early June clearly planting deeper (3”) is the way to go. We can show that planting shallower leads to more later emerging plants. These later emergers reduce yield more than late emergers planted earlier. Make sense, later planting 2-3 days difference in emergence makes a bigger difference in plant stages than the same difference in emergence earlier planting.

We have found that certain hybrids respond better to higher populations, higher N rates and fungicide treatments than other hybrids.

Me: what percentage of plants are “runts”?

Greg; Good question. As far as genetic runts we don’t know. We know some hybrids are more prone to producing runts. There is an environmental affect for sure. Cold soil produces more runts. But so, do other conditions. Like the seed was place beside a lump, or into a compacted area, or there was a bunch of residue where the seed landed, and of course planting depth can produce runts.

Evita the nitrogen inoculant for corn. That was one of the last major projects I worked on with OMAFRA. I had all different treatments. I couldn’t get a yield response. The issue is how do you make the bacteria inoculate the seed. I don’t think just putting it on corn seed is going to work. At least I couldn’t make it work. Has to be a way to make sure the bacteria infection occurs.

Digital Crop Forecasting Platforms

Thought it would worth a quick review of 4 crop forecasting platforms, as we finalize preliminary 2021 crop planning decisions. Some of them are much more than a digital rain gauge.

Climate Fieldview by Bayer CropScience – as far as I can tell, this platform will provide you with hourly, daily and seasonal rainfall and satellite imagery by field. It is free if you have Bayer Value account (seed/CPP rebate account). The main focus of this software is as applied data management and yield analysis.

Xarvio Field Manager by BASF – will provide you will with in-season biomass imagery, topography, weather, and climate data including rainfall, radar, spraying conditions, temperature/humidity and a 5-day forecast. The big feature of interest to me on this platform is predictive plant growth stage and disease modelling for Winter and Spring Wheat, Canola, Corn, and Soybeans. There are other additional features as well like Zone Spray, which provides you with an on-off spraying prescription in canola and wheat for in-crop fungicide applications. This platform is $450 per year per farm business. The Free version allows you to do a trial run on two fields.

UKKO Agrois a crop modelling and disease forecasting platform. Ukko uses topographical modelling to identify the optimal location to place a field-based weather station, then will provide you with field specific weather information, such as rainfall, temperature, wind speed, relative humidity along with crop modelling for crop stage and diseases. If you do not have a local weather station or it goes offline, the system will pull a digital weather feed in from Weather Underground. The current offering includes white mould in soybeans, sclerotina stem rot in canola, fusarium head blight in wheat, and early/late blight in potatoes. Cost wise is $1.5/ac in wheat, soybeans and canola. $6/ac in Potatoes. Weather stations are $500 per unit. Number of stations required depends on local microclimates. From my experience, having a local weather station makes the crop modelling on this platform very accurate. What sets this platform apart from other platforms is that it will reset the disease model after a fungicide application has been made.

Picture 2 - Road map for UKKO Agro Forecasting (Bottom line is yield forecasting)

Metos Field Climate – This company is usually known as Pessl Instruments, but now runs under the Metos brand. Metos is what many view as the gold standard in weather stations. The interface used to access the weather stations is called FieldClimate, and can be accessed both on the web and uses the FieldClimate app. This platform has over 40different crops it can model for crop staging and over 80 disease models. One item of interest to me was the ability to predict hay drying and maybe provide a rough idea on when you should cut. Pricing wise it really depends on what hardware you put with the FieldClimate system, as it ranges from a basic weather, rain gauge and wind vane to soil moisture probes with solar radiation sensors and insect traps. The company also offers a 3-year contract, which provides you with hardware, software, and support.

In summary, I’ve demoed all of these platforms, and have clients using each of these. Which do I recommend? The one that you will use to address the crop production issues you want to do a better job of managing. Regardless of which platform you decide to work with, I suggest taking a look at using one of these platforms to have a live visual handle on what is happening in the field. It’s not just a nice to have, for many operations these tools are saving labour, travel and increasing confidence when it comes to making in-season crop input decisions.

Soybean Burndown Products

It’s hard to believe, but the weeds don’t get any smaller the longer you wait. If they were there in the fall, they will be there again in the spring. In most cases the rate will be based on the largest perennial in the field. Any newly germinated weeds will be controlled by the herbicide or rate selected for the perennial weeds. There are a few exceptions. 1) If you have glyphosate resistant summer annuals such as, Giant Ragweed, or Waterhemp, scouting will be critical to proper timing, and a tank-mix partner that controls the respective weed, 2) spring germinated Canada Fleabane, which should be assumed to be glyphosate resistant, will also require a tank-mix partner with the glyphosate. 3) If you have a field with very heavy dandelion pressure, the addition of Eragon to the tank mix may impact glyphosate performance on the dandelions, consider another tank mix partner.

Figure 1 - Glyphosate rate by Weed Type
Figure 2 - Soybean Burndown Options

Nitrogen Stabilizers and Rates -  The next best option to splitting your Nitrogen applications in corn is to add a N Stabilizer with your PRE applied urea or UAN. There are several other products on the market that use the same active, but for all intents and purposes, I am going to focus on branded products. 1. Agrotain Ultra is a liquid product that can be added to UREA or UAN – it contains a urease inhibitor and offers “above-ground” protection of N loss by volatilization. Its application rate is 3.1 L/mT of urea, and 1.55 L/mT of UAN. Agrotain Advanced is a more concentrated version of Agrotain Ultra and performs better on Urea. 2. Agrotain Plus SC is a liquid product that can be added to UAN. It contains a urease inhibitor and a nitrification inhibitor, so offers “above” and “below” ground protection of N loss from volatilization AND denitrification.   Its application rate is 11 L/MT. 3. Entrench is a nitrogen stabilizer that contains nitrapyrin, a nitrification inhibitor. It offers “below ground” protection from loss. Its application rate is 1.1 L/ac. It has a per acre rate, while both Agrotain products have a per treated product rate. 4. Super U is a Urea-based product with Agrotain Plus SC melted in to each prill. 5. Environmentally Safe Nitrogen (ESN) does not contain any nitrogen inhibitors and uses a physical polymer barrier to prevent nitrogen loss.

New to the Ontario market this year is two products from Timac Agro. Timac Agro is owned by France-based Group Roullier and is bring traditional materials with a biological component to the market. The two nitrogen stabilizers are Excelis Maxx and Duo Maxx. Excelis Maxx protects against all three forms of N loss and includes Rhizovit, a microbial component that promotes microbial activity in the soil and mitigates the shock of NBPT. Duo Maxx is a NPK stabilizer like Excelis Maxx, but it protects phosphorus and potassium from loss and tie up as well.

One comment I will make, if you are looking at generic vs branded products, ensure they the same concentration per acre when it is applied. Some products have different rates or combinations per acre.

Figure 3 - Nitrogen Inhibitor/Stabilizer Products in Ontario

Strip Till Safe Rates

I’m going to go out on a limb after speaking with various industry professionals that no one really knows what the safe rates are. When fertilizer is mixed in a strip till operation. Some go by the safe broadcast rate related back to the strip. i.e., if the safe rate is 200 lbs/ac N (as urea) + K broadcast and you are working a 10” band then the safe rate is 1/3 the broadcast rate. In some situations, you may burn the crop slightly, and still have a better response if the fertilizer application is more responsive than the crop injury. In non-response environments, this maybe the opposite. A soil test provides a good indication if it’s worth the risk. Another factor to consider is fertilizer placement, if it is banding product at a 2” depth, vs. those that mix with the soil, you will want to adjust the safety factor. A good product to visual this in the soil is ESN, due to the colour contrast, and there will not be a single product you can apply that will have better flowability, so this will be the best-case scenario as far as soil mixing goes.

What we do have good data on is starter fertilizer, at a bare minimum we can apply that.

Figure 4 - Corn Strip-till Safe Rates (OMAFRA Extrapolated Values)

Another option is to use laboratory data from South Dakota State, here are few of their calculations. You can source the calculator from the www.ipni.net/toolbox website. The assumption with this model is that the nutrients are applied individually and not in a blend, so at a minimum you have an idea on the maximum rate for a single nutrient for that soil type.

Figure 5 - SDSU Fertilizer Safety Bench Tests (10% seed mortality)

“Understanding how potatoes grow, determines how to grow potatoes”

- EJ Allen & RK Scott (2001)