Stamping out swede midge?

Stamping out swede midge?

Ontario Canola Growers’ Association strongly recommended that producers avoid growing canola for three years across the New Liskeard area to suppress populations.

Growing winter wheat: 4 top tips

Growing winter wheat: 4 top tips

Winter wheat can be a great crop to include in your rotation.

Controlled drainage can increase yields

Controlled drainage can increase yields

Most eastern Canadian producers have considered whether tile drainage is right for their operations.

What if we could design a landscape that would provide a variety of nutritious foods, high-quality habitat, and ecosystem services, while also delivering a healthy profit to the landowner? According to University of Illinois researchers, it is not only possible, it should be adopted more widely, now.“We need to be on the road to figuring things out before we get to tipping points on climate change or food security, or we could be left way behind. In future environments, people might get paid for ecosystem services or carbon credits, or food might become more valuable. If so, these systems become much more attractive for landowners,” says Sarah Taylor Lovell, an agroecologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I.Lovell believes multifunctional woody polyculture is the way forward. She and several co-authors introduce the concept and discuss their experimental design in a recent paper published in Agroforestry Systems.Essentially, the idea is to incorporate berry- and nut-bearing shrubs and trees in an alley cropping system with hay or other row crops. The combination is meant to mimic the habitat features, carbon storage, and nutrient-holding capacities of a natural system. “We wanted to capture that aspect, but we also wanted it to be commercially viable,” Lovell says. “The trees and shrubs need to fit in perfect linear rows 30 feet apart, so you can fit equipment. That was a much more practical agronomic consideration.”Lovell and her colleagues are three years into what they hope will be a long-term experiment on the U of I campus. Their trial consists of seven combinations of species in commercial-scale plots, from simple combinations of two tree species to highly diverse combinations including multiple species of trees, shrubs, and forage crops. “We added increasingly diverse systems so we can get a sense of how much is too much diversity in terms of trying to manage everything in a feasible way,” she says.The researchers will measure crop productivity, management strategies, and economic potential as the experiment gets established. “We’re keeping track of all the person-hours that go into each of these different combinations, so we’ll capture the labor involved and figure out whether it’s economically viable,” Lovell says.Farmers accustomed to traditional row crops may be daunted by the long wait associated with nut crops. Lovell says chestnuts and hazelnuts don’t produce worthwhile harvests until 7 to 12 years after planting. But, she says, the other species can bring in profits while farmers wait. Hay or vegetable crops can be harvested from the alleys in year one. And shrubs could start bearing high-value fruit crops, such as currants or aronia berries, within a couple of years.Lovell points out that the market for some nuts is growing. For example, Nutella lovers may recall headlines about an international hazelnut shortage a couple of years ago. “It would take a while to saturate that market,” she says. But she also points out that some nuts could be used more generically for their starchy or oily products.Another barrier to adoption may be the cost of specialized equipment needed to harvest tree nuts, berries, and row crops. “There’s a tradeoff in terms of how complex to get and still be able to manage it in a reasonable way,” Lovell says. But she suggests the potential of farming cooperatives with shared equipment as a way to defray costs.It will be several years before Lovell will have results to share, but other trials have shown that multifunctional woody polyculture could be both economically viable and environmentally beneficial. Lovell’s article details the outcomes of long-standing experimental sites in France and Missouri, but she says those two sites are the only large-scale examples in the temperate region. “That really shows just how little research there is on this so far,” she says. “We need to invest in this research now because it’s going to take so long to get to the solutions.”The research team is working with regional farmers to replicate small- and large-scale versions of their experimental setup on-farm. Lovell knows it might take some convincing, but points out that many farmers are willing to set aside portions of their land into the Conservation Reserve Program. “If we can provide the same benefits in terms of water quality, habitat, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling as CRP but then also have this harvestable product, why wouldn’t you consider that?”
Keeping a grass forage stand productive is difficult enough, but add in severely saline soils and the challenges are amplified. A three-year research trial at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Swift Current Research and Development Centre in Saskatchewan is looking at how a one-time application of nitrogen fertilizer could boost productivity and reduce foxtail barley competition. Preliminary results show it is possible.“The field had very high salinity. Even though we had been trying for a long time to get something established on this site, the first time we seeded AC Saltlander in 2009, we got an excellent catch. We were absolutely thrilled with the establishment but were reluctant to break it up,” says Ken Wall, a former research technician with AAFC and now an agrologist with Pioneer Co-op in Swift Current.AC Saltlander is a green wheatgrass developed at AAFC Swift Current, and it has exceptional salinity tolerance. It was established on a severely to very severely saline field near Swift Current in the spring of 2009. Wall says excellent establishment was achieved, and considering the severity of the salinity, the forage yields in 2010 and 2011 were beyond expectations. By 2012, even though moisture continued to be above average, forage yields began to decline. In 2013, yields declined again by almost 50 per cent from the previous year, even though 152 millimetres of precipitation fell during April, May and June.Walls says because the condition of the forage stand was still rated good to excellent, and at least 90 per cent of the production was still coming from AC Saltlander, fertilization was considered as an option to try to bring productivity back to the stand.Two nitrogen (N) treatments were applied as urea at 50 kilogram per hectare (kg/ha) of actual N (44.5 pounds per acre, or lb/ac) and 150 kg/ha of actual N (133.5 lb/ac) to plots measuring six feet wide by 40 feet in length. These were compared to check plots that received no nitrogen. All plots received a broadcast application of 50 kg/ha (44.5 lb/ac) of 11-52-0 as a source of phosphate. Each treatment was replicated four times. All fertilizer was broadcast on May 22, 2014. Soil samples were taken prior to application of the fertilizer and also on April 16, 2015 and Oct. 28, 2015.“We considered banding the nitrogen, but decided against it because we had such a good stand. The site was previously pure foxtail barley, and we didn’t want to give it a foothold by disturbing the soil,” Wall says.In 2014, the plots were harvested on July 9. AC Saltlander and foxtail barley shoot biomass was separated and weighed. Growing conditions were generally favourable with 189 mm (7.6 inches) of precipitation recorded for April, May and June and total precipitation recorded at the AAFC Swift Current meteorological site for 2014 was 456 mm (18.25 in.). The urea applications significantly increased AC Saltlander yield over the control, although there wasn’t a significant difference between the 50 kg and 150 kg rates. Foxtail barley showed no differences in the treatments.In 2015, differences were noted between the treatments. Only 39 mm (1.5 in.) of rain fell in April, May and June, with most of this received in the last few days of June. Total yearly moisture received was 356 mm (14.25 in.). The trend showed increased AC Saltlander forage production but the only significant difference was between the 150 kg rate and the control.“We definitely noticed a trend to higher yields in 2015 with nitrogen application. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2016. Into the third year, the 50 kg treatment might be running out of gas since the nitrogen might have been used up in the previous two years,” Wall says.AC Saltlander and Foxtail Barley Shoot Biomass (g/m2)Source: Wall et al. AAFC 2015.The percentage of foxtail barley also increased in 2015. Wall says this wasn’t unexpected because foxtail barley does well in dry years. The percentage of foxtail barley in the stand ranged from 27.5 per cent for the control treatment, 18 per cent for the 50 kg/ha treatment and 14.9 per cent for the 150 kg/ha treatment. “Although not significant, we were still seeing a trend to lower foxtail barley with increasing fertilizer rates,” Wall says.Economic analysis guides decisionProfitability of nitrogen application comes down to the economics of the day. The cost of urea and price of forage varies year to year. Wall crunched the numbers and found commodity prices had a big impact on which rate to apply. Combining the returns from both seasons, the 50 kg/ha rate scored the highest with a return of $637.74/ha ($290/ac.), the 150 kg/ha application return was $626.73 ($285/ac.), while the control treatment returned $525.47/ha ($239/ac.).Average revenue in $ per hectare. Net revenue expressed as the revenue minus the cost of the nitrogen fertilizer. 2014 feed price price = $110/tonne, 2015 feed price = $154/tonne. Source: Wall et al. AAFC 2015.“A producer could look at the cost of urea and price of forage and decide on the rate he might want to apply. If urea was low, he might want to consider applying the 150 kg rate. But that is maybe a bit more risky. We’ll see after the third year but a strategy might be more like 50 kg every second year or so,” Wall says.The research will also conduct a feed analysis, and will assess the soil samples for nitrogen use efficiency. Wall admits that broadcast urea isn’t the best management practice as some nitrogen can be lost to volatilization. He says the urea application was timed with weather forecasts and was applied in anticipation of a significant rainfall that fell the next day.“We would like to see how a slow-release urea might work and hopefully that can be looked at down the line,” Wall says.He explains that from these preliminary results, it appears yields can be increased with the addition of nitrogen fertilizer, even on a severely saline site. Whether it is economical to pursue would depend on the price of the fertilizer and the price of the forage produced. If fertilizer prices are high and forage prices are low, it may not be economical to fertilize. On fields where the salinity is high, money for fertilizer may be better spent on a less saline site with the possibility of higher returns. However Wall says it appears the addition of the fertilizer seems to allow the forage to better compete with foxtail barley, which seems ever present on these saline soils.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
A recent study by the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) found two relatively minor changes in soybean harvest – reducing combine speed and investing in an air reel – can bring significant economic benefit to producers.
A groundbreaking new method for controlling flea beetle, the pest that causes at least $300 million in damage in North American canola every year, may hit growers’ fields early in the next decade.RNA interference, or RNAi – a process by which RNA molecules “silence” genes targeted as threats – has already been harnessed by public and private research and development programs against several agricultural pests, including Colorado potato beetle (CPB) and corn rootworm.According to Jim Baum, Monsanto’s insect control lead in chemistry, the use of RNAi technology against flea beetle “represents a sizable opportunity and need” for canola growers in the U.S. and Canada who have seen incomplete protection from neonicotinoid insecticides and other chemical products in recent years.Monsanto began work on an RNAi-based product for flea beetle control several years ago, Baum says, as part of a suite of RNAi projects aimed at controlling agricultural pests, including corn rootworm and CPB.Put simply, RNAi for flea beetle control works by “tricking” the beetle’s natural immune system to self-destruct. Beetles are fed double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules that “turn down” expression of a critical gene in the flea beetle midgut, killing exposed insects within five days.There are two possible delivery methods for RNAi-based pest control in agriculture: plants can be genetically engineered to express dsRNA in their leaves, or dsRNA can be applied externally to plants as a topical spray. Monsanto has worked with both methods; its corn rootworm product is transgenic.But the company’s flea beetle project is currently focused on the development of a foliar insecticide that can be applied using its patented BioDirect platform.Monsanto advanced its CPB BioDirect product to Stage 2 in 2015, and Baum says the company’s experience in RNAi for CPB control has streamlined its approach to new RNAi products.The company has already run lab bioassays monitoring mortality in insects fed various dsRNAs, as well as seedling assays in which a set number of beetles are exposed to canola seedlings treated with dsRNA at a prescribed field rate.Last year, Baum says, Monsanto ran successful field trials for its flea beetle RNAi project, and this year the number of trials more than doubled. (The company could not comment on the location of the field trials).Next up, Monsanto will be analyzing effectiveness of various agronomic practices — basically, what works best in terms of rates and application timing, and how the product will work in combination with other products.“Compared to previously approved products’ timelines, we’re being conservative with this one, recognizing that topical is a new application of the technology,” Baum says. “But if the project is successful, we’re projecting commercialization sometime on the early side of the next decade.”Farmer and consumer outreachThough RNAi-based insect control products won’t reach farmers’ fields for several years, they need to know what’s coming, and farmer and consumer outreach will be more important than ever for companies looking to commercialize the technology.This is the view of Curtis Rempel, vice-president of crop production for the Canola Council of Canada.“RNAi provides a tool or a technology that takes us outside of the traditional chemistry realm, so it has the potential for much improved environmental outcomes, but along with new technologies come a new set of regulatory and efficacy evaluations,” he says.Just how safe is RNAi? According to Baum, RNAi has a built-in specificity that means once dsRNA is targeted to a specific insect pest, even closely related pest species are not harmed when they ingest it. “It’s hard to imagine a chemical insecticide, even Bt, that would be as specific as this RNAi product we’re talking about here,” he says.Rempel agrees but believes farmers and consumers alike need to feel that regulators and scientists have had the opportunity to evaluate RNAi technologies in terms of environmental and societal norms.Next year, the Canola Council hopes to include discussions around RNAi in its annual Canola Discovery Forum, and Rempel says the organization is working on developing “supporting material” to help communicate the role of RNAi in pest control to stakeholders – although he is quick to point out that communications outreach about RNAi requires the collaboration of all stakeholders.In Rempel’s estimate, only 10 per cent of farmers are familiar with RNAi and aware of projects in the pipeline, even though they are the ones who will benefit most from its use.But consumers shouldn’t be neglected either. After all, it’s consumers who implicitly afford farmers the “social license” to use technologies like RNAi, and they are the ones who will need to be assured of the products’ safety.“I think we have an opportunity to do a good job of looking at the questions we’re asking, reviewing regulatory procedures and communicating these to the layperson,” Rempel says.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
Western bean cutworm (WBC) continues to be a concern for pollinating corn in areas with high trap counts. Peak moth flight has occurred in counties in the southwest but counties in Central and Eastern Ontario have not reached peak yet. Moths will now be looking for late planted corn that is still in the early tasseling stages or will focus on edible beans. Focus scouting efforts in those corn fields that do not have dried silks yet. Edible bean growers need to scout for pod feeding once pods are present. Edible bean fields that are adjacent to corn fields that reached WBC eggmass threshold this year are likely also at risk. It is best to control fields as soon as pod feeding is observed. The larvae are exposed to the insecticide when they make holes in the pods to get to the seed. For additional information on WBC thresholds as well as optimal scouting and insecticide application timing, click here. Information on product choices is available in the OMAFRA Field Crop Protection Guide.Post Wheat Harvest Manure ApplicationFor livestock producers and those using organic amendments, the post wheat harvest season is an excellent opportunity to apply manure for nutrients and organic matter. Spreading workload, reduced compaction and reduced risk of environmental losses from runoff and erosion, as well as the opportunity to combine the benefits of feeding cover crops with manure, are all benefits of manure applied during the growing season.Where manure or other organic amendments are applied to fields it is important to take a sample for analysis to help determine available nutrients and potential commercial fertilizer savings. Along with analysis for N, P and K in manure, additional tests will help determine nutrient availability. Testing for sulphur will provide an indication of elemental sulphur content which is released to a crop similar to organic nitrogen and can provide all or some of the sulphur needs, especially for wheat and forage crops. Testing for C:N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio for solid manure and amendments will help indicate if additional commercial N will be required for a corn crop. C:N ratios below 20:1 will have adequate nitrogen to help with the breakdown of carbon. Materials with C:N ratios over 30:1 (especially for spring applied materials) should determine with pre-side dress N test if addition N will be required. With liquid materials, testing the pH will help determine the potential for rapid ammonium N loss where manure is not injected or immediately incorporated. Liquid manure with high NH4-N levels combined with high pH (above 7.8) will lose the majority of the quickly available nitrogen in the first 24 hours, especially when combined with warm dry soils and/or high winds over bare soils.Often there is too little credit given to the nitrogen supplied by fall-applied manure. A general guideline with fall applied manure is to credit half the total nitrogen from the analysis. Cattle manure with heavy bedding and/or amendments with high carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio will have lower (30 to 40 per cent) nitrogen credit while broiler poultry manure will have higher N credits (50 – 60 per cent). Mild winter conditions will increase available N from solid manure but can reduce nitrogen contribution from liquid manure where ammonium N (NH4-N) is higher. An early warm period in spring also increases nitrogen contribution from manure to a crop, while a cool wet spring will slow down nutrient release; not able to meet the N needs of a rapid growing corn crop during the period ahead of pollination. Slow release nitrogen from manure will contribute to yield after pollination, especially in areas where frequent and heavy rain may have resulted in denitrification or leaching of commercial N sources. Tissue tests of fields with evidence of some N deficiency on lower corn leaves reveal that levels are still within the normal range. Where manure or other amendments were applied there should be adequate nitrogen to meet remaining crop needs.
Researchers led by Ahmad Fakhoury, associate professor of plant pathology and fungal genetics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale analyzed soil samples from 45 soybean fields in Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. They collected samples from symptomatic patches in fields and from adjacent areas where soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS) foliar symptoms did not develop. Fakhoury’s team compared microbial populations in the “healthy” and “diseased” soil to correlate the presence incidence and severity of SDS. 
Recent rounds of wet weather over the past several years may contribute to an increase in salinity appearing in some areas of the Prairies. An increase in surface and subsurface soil water may bring dissolved salts into the rooting zone in concentrations high enough to impede crop establishment and growth. Traditionally, growers have planted salt-tolerant forages on the worst of their saline lands and barley on moderately saline soils.“Growers are looking for a salt-resistant, non-cereal grain option as an alternative to barley, which is not that economically attractive compared to a crop like canola,” says Bryan Nybo, manager of the Wheatland Conservation Area (WCA) at Swift Current, Sask.Growers concerned with soil degradation established WCA in 1983 with a special focus on salinity. It is now one of eight Agri-Arm research sites in Saskatchewan. Over the past several years, Nybo has been speaking to growers about research and completing demonstrations on using alternative crops on saline soils. One such demonstration was a 2012 Agricultural Demonstration of Practices and Technologies (ADOPT) trial conducted by Nybo. He demonstrated the option of growing canola in saline conditions.“This demonstration of newer canola varieties attempted to emulate in the field what has been shown in the AAFC’s Salt Testing Facility by Dr. Harold Steppuhn, where canola has shown tolerance similar to barley,” Nybo says.The Salt Lab opened at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Swift Current in 1988, and has provided practical solutions for Prairie farmers, ranging from the development of salt-tolerant crops and varieties, to assessing crop tolerances to salinity. Steppuhn worked at the Salt Lab for almost 30 years alongside technician Ken Wall, both who are now retired from AAFC. The Salt Lab has since been converted to a service facility, accommodating the research needs and projects of scientists across AAFC’s science and technology branch as well as private industry.Steppuhn originally found hybrid canola had similar tolerance to saline soils as barley in controlled laboratory situations. He compared Harrington barley to Hyola 401 and InVigor 2573 canola. Emergence, stand density and plant maturity all decreased as saline levels increased, but at a similar rate for all varieties. In terms of relative grain yield, the two hybrid canola varieties actually performed slightly better compared to Harrington.Relative grain yield of hybrid canola and barley at different saline concentrationsSource: Harold Steppuhn, AAFCResearchers use arbitrary ratings set up at the U.S. Salinity Laboratory to rate soil salinity. They classified soils with electrical conductivity (ECe) (a measure used by soil test labs) between zero and two deci-Siemens per metre (dS/m) as non-saline, between two and four dS/m as slightly saline, four to eight dS/m as moderately saline and above eight dS/m as severely saline. This corresponds to an approximate rule of thumb where a grower can observe the occurrence of white surface salts that equate to the field’s ECe rating: rarely if ever seen (zero to two dS/m); infrequently seen (two to five dS/m); frequently seen (five to eight dS/m); and almost always seen (greater than eight dS/m).Recognizing that salinity is much more variable in the field, Nybo tried to replicate the Salt Lab trial with his ADOPT program. He developed a salinity contour map of the demo area using an EM 38 ground conductivity metre to measure soil conductivity. Two InVigor hybrids (5440 LL; L150), three Roundup Ready hybrids (45H29RR; DK73-75RR; VT 500), two Clearfield hybrids (BY5525 CL; 45H75 CL), a canola quality mustard (XCEED Oasis CL) and Harrington barley were seeded in strips down the saline gradient from non-saline to relatively high saline areas.Nybo used EM 38 measurements to provide ECe readings rated from non-saline to relatively high salinity:<80 EC non-saline80 to 100 low salinity100 to 130 low to moderate130 to 160 moderate to high>160 relatively high salinity“We found that hybrid canola was able to perform quite well against Harrington barley, especially the hybrid varieties DK73-75RR and BY 5525 CL,” Nybo says. “EXCEED juncea canola didn’t perform as well as barley.”Canola establishment at increasing levels of salinity (EM 38)Source: Wheatland Conservation Area. 2012While the ADOPT demonstration was able to show similar results as the Salt Lab in this trial, Nybo admits conducting agronomic work on salinity in the field is difficult because of soil and environmental variability. Salinity can vary from slight to severe within a short distance, making replicated trials difficult. That’s why the Salt Lab is so valuable to growers.Steppuhn also studied salinity tolerance of camelina compared to InVigor 9590 canola at the Salt Lab as part of the Canola Agronomic Research Program (CARP) project. He found camelina did not have the same tolerance to saline soils as the hybrid canola. His May 2012 final report indicated: “Overall, root-zone salinity affected both camelina and canola grain yields more than it affected seedling emergence, plant survival, seed-oil content, and oil composition. However, as salinity levels increased, the camelina was more affected than the canola in seedling emergence and early survival, plant heights, relative grain yield and oil percentages. The primary impact of this research shows a need for caution when selecting camelina for saline fields that previously produced adequate canola crops.”Nybo says the results of these demonstrations and research trials show hybrid canola may be an option where barley has traditionally been grown on moderately saline soils. He says because canola may be harder to establish, canola seeding rates may need to be increased. However, on soils higher in salinity, he cautions against growing an annual crop.“On high salinity soils, you would still want to grow a salt-tolerant perennial forage as the best option,” Nybo says.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
It is more important now than ever before to educate youth on how to feed a population of nine billion by 2050. Fertilizer Canada has partnered with the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to create a new Soil Lab Discovery Zone. The lab aims to educate Ottawa's youth about the overlooked foundation of agriculture: soil. Launched on Earth Day on April 22, the Soil Lab has already been met with positive response from schools and museum visitors.The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum receives over 170,000 visitors annually – teaching them, with real soil science instruments, about the 13 essential nutrients found in soil, including the three most important to soil health and food production: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The Soil Lab also highlights the chemical, physical and biological properties of soil and explains how farmers manage their cropland through sustainable fertilizer use.Fertilizer is the primary source for replenishing essential plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in soil in order to keep fields sustainable and food on our tables. Plants absorb these nutrients as they grow, and therefore farmers must replenish the soil to keep it viable and avoid depleted fields for the future.
It took a lot of work, but one young Manitoba grower and entrepreneur finally has the answers the customers of his short-line machinery business have been looking for.Darren Faurschou has a diploma in agriculture and operates a family farm in the Edwin area, west of Portage la Prairie, Man. He also serves as president of the Faurschou Ag Center, which opened in April 2015 and retails air drills, precision planters and a line of independent corn headers that adapt to row spacing. Many customers question the benefits of planting corn with an air drill versus a planter, so last year Faurschou contracted with the University of Manitoba’s department of biosystems engineering to use his 125-acre field and his own machinery for an independent evaluation of row spacing and seeding systems for corn yield and rate of emergence.Row spacing had four variations: 7.5-inch, 15-inch, 30-inch and paired-row (7.5-inch pairs, 30 inches on centre). Two seeders were used: a twin-row Monosem planter and a Salford 522 air drill.There were eight treatments on the field; each treatment was repeated five times in the randomized experiment. The seeding equipment was adjusted to have a uniform two-inch seeding depth. Most plots were planted on May 8 and 9, 2016.To produce the 15-inch and 7.5-inch plots, the planter drove over the field twice. The planter’s 7.5-inch plots were seeded on May 10 and 11, 2016, due to rain and time constraints.Craig Heppner, a recent graduate from the University of Manitoba’s bachelor of science in biosystems engineering program took on the challenge of managing the 40 plots, recording data and processing the results as part of his undergrad thesis. Faurschou provided machinery, set up the field, supplied seed (Pioneer 7332) and was responsible for applications to protect the crop from weeds and disease.“I went with the big field for plots because size is important,” Faurschou says. “If you’re out a point on a big plot, the impact is less. You are more accurate in your detail. Real machines – commercial equipment – do all the work in real-life scenarios. Things like dry spots and wet spots average out at the end of the day.”To be sure the results were impartial, Faurschou asked the university to handle the data collection.ResultsFaurschou had expectations about the results, and some were proven. For instance, it’s tradition in southern Manitoba to plant corn in 30-inch rows with 7.5-inches between plants in the row. For decades, planters and harvest headers have been built for that 30-inch row spacing.“I thought the paired-row on the [Monosem] planter would do the best overall. There’s a lot of research to show that, and it did beat the 30-inch single row,” Faurschou says.The Monosem planter twin rows are 30 inches on centre; each seed row is four inches off centre.But in each row-spacing comparison, the 30-inch row option had the lowest yield.“I thought the 7.5-inch would be the best for the air drill, on the theory of narrow rows using more sunlight. What I found was, for the paired row, the 15-inch and the 7.5-inch trials almost filled the rows at the same time. The 30-inch never really did completely fill in,” he says.Overall, the 15-inch spacing had the highest yield for both the air drill and for the planter.“It ended up doing the best. I was really surprised by that,” Faurschou says.Heppner’s detailed analysis, converted from metric, comes to this conclusion on corn yield: “When comparing effects of the seeders, average yield for the planter was 173 [bushels/acre] bu/ac compared to 161 bu/ac for the air drill. This translated to a 5.5 per cent difference in yield.”“When comparing effects of spacing only, yield was found to be the highest for 15-inch plots at 173 bu/ac. The 7.5-inch plots were not statistically different than this at 168 bu/ac. The 30-inch and paired row plots were significantly lower at 162 bu/ac and 164 bu/ac, respectively.”Heppner also notes the planter was much more uniform in seeding depth, as expected, and that the average seeding depth under the planter was about a quarter-inch shallower than under the drill. The rate of emergence for planter-placed corn also was faster.Heppner concludes, “The planter provided more consistent seeding depth than the air drill, leading to faster speed of emergence, which induced a higher yielding crop. Also, 15-inch and 7.5-inch spacing produced higher yields than 30-inch and paired rows.“The best-case spacing and seeder for south-central Manitoba in a year with similar environmental conditions would be a planter spaced at 15 inches.”Answers and adviceThe work required to run the 40 site trials on 125 acres was more than Faurschou expected. He estimates the time commitment was four to five times as much as he would have needed to plant and harvest a conventional field of corn.However, now he has answers and advice based on science rather than experience and educated guesswork.“There’s been a lot of discussion about planting corn with an air drill versus a planter. As for a replicated comparison in row spacing, with results for a planter versus air drill, I’ve never heard of that,” Faurschou says. “My theory was that there are benefits for an air drill in narrow spacing and benefits for a planter in wider row spacing, but there’s not a lot [of research] done on row spacing in corn in this part of the world.”Now, according to Heppner, there is proven evidence that a planter will return more corn than an air drill and that row spacing returns more corn at 15 or 7.5 inches than it does at 30 inches.Due to the explosion of soybean acres in Manitoba, many farms now have a 15-inch row crop planter in addition to an air drill. It was assumed – but not proven – that lifting every second seed run on the soybean planter would be the best practice for planting corn.Still, many farms are equipped with only an air drill. Faurschou’s trials show that if the farm has an air drill with 7.5-inch spacing, simply putting a seed block on every second run can convert it for seeding 15-inch corn rows.One caution with this, he notes, is that the Salford air drill used in these trials is a double-disc opener. Most air drills probably have only a single disc opener.“With a single disc, you may not have the same depth control, so the results might be different,” he says.After studying his results, Faurschou believes the evidence points to Manitoba corn being “happiest” on 15-inch spacing between rows and between plants. In this set of trials, that spacing allowed for the optimum use of available sunlight, moisture and nutrients and consistently produced the highest dry bushel yield.The results give Faurschou some pretty clear-cut answers for anyone with questions about row spacing.“For my customers, if they are going to plant corn with an air drill, I’m going to recommend 15 inches. If they’re going to buy a planter to use for corn and soybeans, I’m going to recommend that they buy a 15-inch planter for both,” he says.There’s also an economy-of-scale factor. On 15-inch rows, Darren says the average yield advantage was 6.6 bu/ac in favour of the planter; the least difference was four bushels an acre.Using the conservative numbers, Faurschou suggests the four-bushel yield advantage on $4 corn is almost enough to justify buying a planter if it’s time to replace or upgrade an air drill.But, there’s more to consider.“If you’re growing just a quarter of corn and you have an air drill that can do 15-inch spacing, that’s probably the way you should go,” he says. “If you have 1,000 acres of corn, then it would almost justify buying a planter.”In all this, caution remains a good idea. Another trial conducted in another year and under different growing conditions might produce different results.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
The yield potential of hybrid canola continues to push higher, begging the question of whether economic thresholds for lygus bug developed in the 1990s are still valid today. With more vigorously growing crops, higher yield and relatively high canola prices, new research has found the current economic threshold level of approximately one lygus bug per sweep to be too low.“Economic thresholds for the early pod stage were developed in Manitoba in the mid-1990s and were based on conventional canola varieties like Westar. However, since then a number of new hybrids, including herbicide-tolerant cultivars with superior agronomic traits, have entered the market and been adopted extensively,” says Héctor Cárcamo, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Lethbridge, Alta.Cárcamo and colleagues at AAFC Lethbridge, Lacombe and Beaverlodge conducted several research studies from 2012 through 2015 to validate economic thresholds for lygus in southern and central Alberta using a hybrid cultivar. They compared the impact of lygus feeding on current hybrids of canola and a conventional cultivar, and obtained baseline information about lygus in fababeans. The research was funded by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund and AAFC’s Pest Management Centre.A multi-site cage study was completed near Lethbridge and Lacombe to assess how lygus affects yield in canola for current cultivars and to refine thresholds. The cultivar L150 was planted at both locations. One-meter square cages (1.2 and 1.5 m tall, at Lethbridge and Lacombe, respectively) were used to confine 75 plants. The treatments included an uncaged area, and caged densities of zero, four, 10, 20, 50 (40 in Lacombe) and 80 lygus. In year two in Lacombe, an extra treatment was added in each cultivar to compare two lygus species (L. keltoni and L. lineolaris) at a density of 20 bugs per cage. At Lethbridge, the treatments included additional treatments with seedpod weevils at 10, 20 and 40 per cage, as well as a combination of 10 lygus and 10 weevils per cage, to assess the joint effects of these two insects at moderate densities below threshold.Economic threshold increased to two to three lygus per sweepCárcamo says the insect additions were successful in establishing a gradient of different lygus densities, and allowed an assessment of yield impact and economic thresholds.“The outcome of the studies suggests that the current economic threshold of one lygus per sweep at the early pod stage is too low. For Lethbridge, the data suggested that canola yield losses to warrant control did not occur until lygus reached around three lygus per sweep. For the Lacombe region, the threshold was around two per sweep,” says Cárcamo.A second study was conducted at AAFC Beaverlodge from 2012 to 2015 to look at damage and yield comparisons in three canola varieties from bolting to maturity. InVigor and Roundup Ready hybrids were compared to Westar. Lygus adults were collected by sweep-net from local alfalfa fields and sorted by species. The dominant species of lygus was then used to stock cages at the late rosette stage with 20 adults.The results for Beaverlodge were less conclusive, but a comparable impact of lygus on canola was observed and a similar threshold could be applied for Lacombe. More site-year data are needed to relate weather to lygus damage, but for Lethbridge, the highest number of lygus per cage (more than 1,000) and extreme yield loss (40 per cent) occurred in July 2012, when temperatures were hot (mean of 20 C) and dry (lowest rainfall relative to other years). In a normal year with sufficient rain – meaning a normal mean temperature below 20 C in July and greater than 120 millimeters of rain in June and July – lygus bugs at low populations of one per sweep did not pose a yield risk.Cárcamo explains that in a field situation, the yield loss could also be lower because lygus in open fields are subjected to higher predation by natural enemies and also suffer more disturbances from rain and wind, unlike the situation in a cage. This means the estimates of lygus bug damage could be exaggerated and the thresholds could be even higher. Another four-year study funded by the Canola Council of Canada’s Canola Agronomic Research Program (CARP) is underway across the three Prairie provinces to attempt to validate these thresholds in actual commercial canola fields.Cárcamo says using a higher threshold, even if only slightly higher, may result in a large reduction in pesticide use in canola crops and produce significant cost savings for canola growers. Such a reduction may have other positive repercussions, such as increased activity by pollinators and other natural enemies, which provide beneficial ecosystem services.“On the other hand, if lygus reach or surpass three per sweep in the south, there are significant economic returns to be realized by spraying because our results, despite high local variability, showed that lygus can reduce canola yield by about 15 per cent in most years in southern Alberta and up to 20 per cent in central Alberta,” Cárcamo says.Fababean thresholds also evaluatedIn fababean there are concerns that lygus feeding can increase necrotic spots, reducing quality and marketability in addition to potential yield. At AAFC Lacombe and Vuaxhall, both in Alberta, a study was conducted to assess the species and crop damage that occurs on fababean from lygus bug feeding. In Lacombe, two to 10 fields of tannin cultivars and six to 11 fields of zero tannin fababeans were surveyed from 2013 through 2015 with sweep nets at the bud, flower and pod stages. In total, 43 fields were sampled. Lygus were identified by species and nymphal stage and total numbers were recorded.Field and plot studies showed a similar species composition of lygus and activity pattern compared to canola. In most fields, lygus were present at less than one per sweep and rarely two or more per sweep at any crop stage. Cárcamo says further studies are needed to make management recommendations, but as a guideline, farmers may take control action if there are more than two lygus per sweep. He adds farmers should attempt to mitigate any impacts on pollinators and natural enemies of lygus.“Fababean requires pollinators to improve yield, so it is crucial to mitigate insecticide impacts on them or the action could also affect yields negatively,” Cárcamo says. “Planting early is recommended to avoid the peak of damaging lygus populations that occur late in the growing season.”Top tip: Sweep net sampling for lygus bugTake 10 180-degree sweeps with a standard insect net measuring 38 centimeters (15 inches) in diameter, and aim to sweep the canola buds, flowers and pods while moving forward. Count the number of lygus in the net. Sampling several locations in the field and taking more sweeps will provide a better assessment of pest populations. Samples can be taken along or near the field margins. Sample the crop for lygus bugs on a sunny day when the temperature is above 20 C and the crop canopy is dry.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
Like it or not (and believe in climate change or not), Canada has committed to greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions, and the implementation will affect farmers. Part of GHG mitigation will certainly revolve around reducing nitrogen (N) fertilizer losses.“Farmers already have production challenges with growing crops, and this will add another layer of complexity...We don’t know yet how it is going to impact at the farm level,” says Mario Tenuta, a soil scientist at the University of Manitoba.Tenuta says agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and nitrous oxide is the big one for agriculture. The increase in agricultural emissions in Canada is largely related to an increase in nitrogen (N) fertilizer use. In Canada, N fertilizer use has risen five-fold since 1970. In 2009, agriculture in Manitoba, for example, was responsible for 35 per cent of total GHG emissions (excluding fuel and fertilizer production). Fifty per cent of nitrous oxide emissions came from fertilizer and crop residue, and another 27 per cent came from indirect emissions from the soil.In December 2015, the Manitoba government committed to reduce emissions from 2005 levels by one-third by 2030 and one-half by 2050. The province is committed to being emission neutral by 2080.“Nobody likes to be a target, but we are. It is happening so what are we going to do about it?” Tenuta says.4Rs and enhanced efficiency fertilizersThe “4R” nutrient stewardship program focuses on getting the best nutrient use efficiency by using the right source, rate, time of application, and placement of fertilizer. It aims to improve or maintain yield and profitability, while limiting fertilizer loss and providing water and air quality benefits. From a GHG emissions perspective, Tenuta says financial incentives could be used to encourage implementation of the 4Rs to reduce emissions. In 2015 at the Manitoba Agronomist Conference he reviewed current research and outlined how using the 4Rs could reduce GHG emissions.Two research projects in Manitoba showed how increasing the N fertilizer rate also increased nitrous oxide emissions. In a Carberry, Man., potato crop, nitrous oxide emissions increased linearly as the N rate increased from zero to 240 pounds per acre. The economic rate was about 60 pounds per acre. In another trial in Glenlea, Man., a similar increase in emissions occurred as N rates increased.“The simple way to reduce emissions was to match application rate to crop uptake,” Tenuta says.Crop rotation also affected emissions. Nitrogen fixing legumes such as fababean, alfalfa or soybean had little to no nitrous oxide emissions and were fixing N into the cropping system instead of emitting N. Other rate considerations to potentially reduce emissions include using variable rate N, soil testing every year, and better understanding differences in variety and hybrid N requirements.The second of the 4Rs, placement of fertilizer, also has an impact on emissions. Subsurface banding N fertilizer reduces nitrous oxide emissions, and when enhanced efficiency fertilizers such as environmentally smart nitrogen (ESN) or SuperU fertilizers are banded, reductions are even greater, at 26 per cent less than banded urea.“Good band closure and coverage of the band is important. We are also looking into band depth, because we are banding more shallow with crops like canola, and we don’t know enough about losses from shallow bands,” Tenuta says.Another key component of the 4Rs is application timing. Traditional yield estimates based on N application timing showed fall broadcast/incorporated to be 80 per cent of spring broadcast/incorporated, while fall banded was equal to spring broadcast/incorporated, and spring banded was 20 per cent better. However, Tenuta has found very late fall application just before freeze-up doesn’t increase nitrous oxide emissions when compared to spring banded N. Two years of his research comparing fall versus spring anhydrous ammonia application found the spring timing had much greater nitrous oxide emissions.“Lower emissions from fall application goes contrary to what people thought might happen. Because the soil temperature was very cool, the timing used nature to stabilize the N and freeze it in,” Tenuta says.Fertilizer source is the final of the 4Rs to take into consideration. With conventional sources of N fertilizer, scientists generally accept that anhydrous ammonia produces the highest emissions, followed by urea, ammonium and nitrate fertilizers. Nitrification – the conversion of ammonium to nitrates – is behind most nitrous oxide emissions from N fertilizer.The other choices in sources of N fertilizer come from enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEF). These include stabilized, controlled release, slow release and nutrient blend N products. The goal of these products is to slow the conversion of N fertilizer into forms that are more easily lost through ammonium volatilization, nitrification or denitrification, and to more closely match N availability with crop uptake.Enhanced efficiency fertilizer mechanism of action. Source: Tenuta, University of Manitoba.“In the field, the research shows that these EEF products really do work. They tend to provide a larger benefit in wet years,” Tenuta says. “I recommend that you talk to the manufacturer representatives to make sure you are using the right product properly.”Another source of N that reduces nitrous oxide emissions is legume plowdown as an enhanced efficiency N source. Current research at the U of M has found that, compared to conventional cropping systems with N fertilizer, a legume plowdown results in very little emission.“You have to estimate if EEF are worth it for your system. For example, if you’re putting more N fertilizer on in the fall to compensate for winter losses, you might be able to put on a EEF in the fall at a reduced N rate and that might pay for the additional cost of the product,” Tenuta says.He adds that uses of the 4Rs and EEF N products are currently focused on improving yield and N use efficiency for higher profitability. But they can also play a role in reducing nitrous oxide emissions and helping to meet emission reduction targets. Ultimately, if farmers are contributing to emissions reductions, the hope is that they will be compensated for those practices.Best management practice recommendations to reduce nitrous oxide emissions• Use the 4Rs – right rate, time, source and placement.• Optimize N application rates through soil testing, understanding crop requirements and interactions with the other Rs.• Consider using lower emitting sources of N fertilizer.• Legume crops emit little nitrous oxide.• Green manuring limits nitrous oxide emissions.• Banding works.• Investigate ways of making EEF products work through reduced N application rates and improved N use efficiency.• Spring apply N fertilizer unless fall banding can be accomplished shortly before fall freeze-up.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
For the past few years, researchers and growers in southern Saskatchewan have been trialing intercropping. The first intercrops were with chickpea and flax, but this year some other intercrops are being investigated. The results so far from research trials and commercial grower field efforts have been positive and interest is growing.Lana Shaw, research manager at the South East Research Farm (SERF), in Redvers, Sask., explains the researchers began in 2013 with an initial project studying replicated trials. "Chickpeas are a high-value crop opportunity, but are also a crop with agronomic problems such as diseases, lodging and maturity considerations,” she says. “We wanted to investigate the possibility that the area of adaptation for chickpea could be increased potentially through intercropping strategies. We also wanted to investigate the effect on yield and disease incidence by using an intercrop."Flax and chickpea were selected as the first intercrop trials, with flax as a nurse crop for chickpea. These two crops are compatible for a few reasons: the herbicide Authority is registered pre-seed on both; both crops have low levels of shattering prior to harvest; and the crops are easily separated using a rotary seed cleaner. Both crops were grown as monocrops for comparison. One application of Proline fungicide was made per season at flowering timing."The flax holds the chickpea up and keeps it off the ground, maturity tends to be a bit shorter and quality is improved,” Shaw says. “Overall we are getting good, reliable yields of both flax and chickpea as compared to monocrops, and often the combined yields of flax and chickpea are higher overall than either crop on their own. The intercrop provides some reduced production risk in terms of disease and maturity and improved harvestability, plus no [nitrogen] N fertilizer is required and minimal pesticides are called for. A few growers have been growing large acres of intercrops commercially over the past couple of years and are pleased with the results they are getting so far."Field observations indicate significant differences in disease levels between trials, with levels in chickpea intercrops lower than in the monocrop when using one fungicide application per season. For example, in 2014 Ascochyta severity was estimated at 17 per cent for intercrops and 51 per cent for monocrop plots at Redvers. Although early indications are showing reduced disease, Shaw is hoping to expand the project to include a more detailed disease assessment process and perhaps seed disease testing to provide better comparisons between monocrops and intercrops.Chickpea quality was also improved in the intercrop plots when compared to monocrop trials. Shaw is collaborating with Bill May at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Indian Head, Sask., and he confirmed what has been observed in Redvers. "In the 2015 trials at Indian Head, the chickpeas from the intercrop plots had a lot less green seed and better quality at harvest than from the monocrop plots," Shaw says. "Improved quality means better prices and returns for growers, particularly when the cost of a colour separator is added in to separate green seeds out of the sample."Considerations when planning ahead for an intercropThe flax and chickpea can be seeded with an air-seeder at the same time, putting the chickpeas down the fertilizer shank and the flax down the seed chute. "We are using this method in our research plots and this would be an easy way for farmers to start," Shaw says. "Some farmers have been altering their drills to be able to seed chickpea and flax in alternating rows. Bill May and I are looking at another research project to compare seeding intercrops in the same row or alternate rows. If we find a big benefit to alternating rows, then it likely is a good idea to alter equipment. However, if there isn't a big benefit, then it likely isn't worth it."Field selection also matters. Cereal stubble is the best option for growing an intercrop of chickpea and flax. Avoid fields with volunteer canola or wild mustard pressure, as the options for controlling these weeds is poor. Authority herbicide is registered and helps with some weeds, and there are options for grassy weed control, but volunteer brassicas are a problem. One research plot had to be abandoned early in the project because too much volunteer canola emerged ahead of the intercrop.Planning ahead at harvest is required to set up for separation of the two crops. "There are numerous inexpensive separator options for separating these two crops because of the huge size difference," Shaw says. "One of the strategies that growers are using is to separate the two crops when they [are] hauled off the field. The load is dumped and augered into the separator, then two augers run the separated crops into individual bins. The advantage is, if the chickpea, for example, needs some extra drying, that can be done right away."Based on the experiences of the researchers and commercial growers, there is potential to use intercropping to add another pulse crop option across much of the southern grain belt in Saskatchewan. "Intercropping has the potential to expand the area adapted to chickpea and a way of increasing yield," Shaw says. "With the wet conditions in parts of southern Saskatchewan in the fall of 2016 causing harvesting challenges, growers may want to consider intercropping as a way to keep chickpeas up off the ground and make harvesting easier and faster."With the success of the chickpea and flax intercrop, researchers and growers are now trying other intercrops. Shaw has started doing some work on mustard and lentil intercrops. "Two of the options we are trying are lentil and mustard and pea and Clearfield juncea canola, both being trialed commercially by growers as well," Shaw says. "Another intercrop that is in the very early stages is fababean and carinata mustard, a crop being developed for biofuels. This intercrop did very well in the first year and we think has lots of potential. Fababean can be tricky to grow and is prone to weeds, while carinata tends to lodge easily. Both crops have limited weed control options. As an intercrop, the two crops hold each other up and there is much less weed pressure."Shaw hopes to get some funding in place to expand the research into these various intercrop options and provide good production information to interested growers.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common neonicotinoid pesticide, according to a new University of Guelph study.
Building off several research studies over the last decade, research scientist Cecil Vera at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Melfort, Sask., wanted to narrow down the fungicide application window for control of pasmo disease in flax and investigate the effectiveness of fungicides in reducing the impacts of the disease. Graduate student Tonima (Trisha) Islam summarized the results of the three-year study that ran from 2014 through 2016 under the supervision of Randy Kutcher, an associate professor in the department of plant sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.“Not much research has been done on the effect of fungicides on the pasmo disease in Saskatchewan and Alberta,” Islam says. “I think these new findings will help flax growers understand how to control the disease.”The research compared three fungicides and three application timings to measure the effect of pasmo disease severity, crop maturity, seed yield, thousand seed weight and test weight of CDC Bethune flax. Trial locations were at Vegreville, Alta., Melfort and Saskatoon, Sask., and Brandon, Man. The fungicides Headline EC (pyraclostrobin), Priaxor (pyraclostrobin + fluxapyroxad) and Xemium (fluxapyroxad) were applied; currently only Headline and Priaxor are registered on flax for control of pasmo.Fungicide application timing was at early flower (BBCH 61) and mid-flower (BBCH 65), and a dual application was made at both early and mid-flower. Applications were compared to a control without fungicide application.Islam found all fungicides reduced disease severity, but Xemium was the least effective. With respect to timing, fungicide application at the early stage was the least effective. There was no difference in disease severity between the mid-flower application stage and the dual fungicide application.Priaxor had significantly higher yield compared to the control and other fungicides. Priaxor increased seed yield approximately 25 per cent (2,295 kilograms per hectare, or kg/ha) compared to the control (1,822 kg/ha), followed by Headline at 19 per cent (2,172 kg/ha) and Xemium at 18 per cent (2,159 kg/ha). No significant difference was observed between Headline and Xemium.Effect of the Xemium (fluxapyroxad), Headline (pyraclostrobin) and Priaxor (pyraclostrobin + fluxapyroxad) on seed yield of flax at Brandon, Melfort, Saskatoon and Vegreville in 2014, 2015 and 2016Source: Islam et al., University of Saskatchewan.However, the Priaxor treatment delayed maturity by five days, which could present a risk to seed quality in some years. The dual fungicide application also delayed maturity by five days. This delay in maturity may be a result of the effectiveness of the fungicide treatment – pasmo often results in premature ripening and earlier harvests. Earlier seeding may help to offset the delayed maturity.Priaxor increased seed yield approximately 25 per cent compare to the control.Timing of application and the impact on seed yield was also significant compared to the control. Applying fungicide at both the early and mid-flower stages increased seed yield approximately 25 per cent (2,273 kg/ha) compared to the control (1,822 kg/ha), followed by mid-flower timing at 21 per cent (2,210 kg/ha) and early flower timing at 17 per cent (2,143 kg/ha). Yield at the mid-flower application timing was not significantly different from either the dual application or the early flower application, but there was a significant difference between early and dual timings.Effects of fungicide application timings (early, mid and both stages) on seed yield of flax at Brandon, Melfort, Saskatoon and Vegreville in 2014, 2015 and 2016Source: Islam et al., University of Saskatchewan.In terms of thousand seed weight and test weight – proxies for seed quality – the mid-flower and dual treatment increased TKW and test weight.Even though the dual application provided the highest yield, economically, the net return on a second application may not make sense. “With the yield increases we have seen in Trisha’s trial and my previous experience in Melfort in the 2000s, I think two applications would rarely, if ever, be economically beneficial, based on current yields and prices for the fungicide and flax,” Kutcher says.Making the application decisionBasing a fungicide application on the presence of the disease is difficult. Vera says that while there are cases in which pasmo may appear early in the season, in most instances the evidence of pasmo symptoms appear later in the season, and by then, it would be too late to spray.“Usually, conditions for pasmo infection differ from year to year and from location to location, which was quite evident in this study. I think the best strategy would be to protect the crop with the best and most economical recommendations and hope for good results,” Vera says.This means a farmer should base their decision to spray a fungicide on environmental conditions coupled with previous experience with pasmo, flax frequency in the rotation and proximity to adjacent flax stubble.Don't miss out on our other web exclusive content! Sign up today for our E-newsletters and get the best of research-based info on field crops delivered staight to your inbox.
All soils are not equal. Rich loams support the world's most productive agricultural regions, including swaths of the American Midwest. But in some parts of the Midwest, including areas in Missouri and Illinois, claypan soils dominate. And where claypans reign, problems for producers abound. New research from the University of Missouri could help claypan farmers improve yields while saving costs. | READ MORE
There are both environmental and agronomic concerns surrounding the management of livestock manure. The major environmental concerns are: potential risk of nutrient accumulation in soil – particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) – and risk of nutrient movement into surface or groundwater. Poor manure management can also cause accumulation of salts in soil, surface water or groundwater and pathogenic micro-organisms in surface water.
Research trials in the U.S., and more recently at the University of Saskatchewan, are proving what’s old is new again. In this case, the use of “old” herbicides such as Avadex, Fortress and Edge are making a comeback of sorts in a weed management system that’s been dubbed “herbicide layering.” According to Clark Brenzil, who coined the term, herbicide layering is simply utilizing two to three herbicides in sequence to tackle tough-to-control weeds and to stave off weed resistance.Indeed, herbicide tank mixtures and/or a program that utilizes a residual product in a sequential program are now the recommended practice for delayed herbicide resistance. “It’s a good management tool for controlling some of those weeds that may not necessarily be that responsive to one herbicide,” Brenzil notes. “Wild oats and cleavers are two great examples of this.” But even simply switching one herbicide out for another, ie. rotating herbicides, while perhaps delaying the onset of herbicide resistance, still results in selection pressure. Today, many in the industry are starting to stress the importance of using multiple modes of action and tank mixing. “The extension message is to use multiple modes of action together in weed control programs,” says Mike Grenier, Canadian development manager with Gowan. “But it’s not only using tank mixes – it’s using products in sequence, for instance to look at the soil residual herbicides as part of this management program.” The idea is simple: apply different modes of action within a season – layering – and rotate chemistries through the crop rotation. As it turns out, Avadex, Edge and Fortress herbicides fit very well into this strategy. “In our scenario, you would have Group 8, Avadex or Fortress, being soil applied either in the fall or in the early spring followed with a post-emergent program during the growing season,” Grenier notes. “So in this case of Group 1 or Group 2 product use, Avadex is the pre-emergent layer providing resistance management against wild oats.” In trials, Gowan maintains that Avadex and Fortress can provide about 90 per cent control of wild oat, while Edge (Group 3) provides 70 to 80 per cent suppression. “Then you have a post-emergent program working on a much lower level of [weed] population, so lower selection pressure. So now we have the control level approaching close to 100 per cent.” Studies find an added bonusLed by Christian Willenborg, weed scientists at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have been conducting research to determine if herbicide layering proves beneficial. “We have some good information in peas and some really good information in canola,” says Eric Johnson, U of S research assistant. “Graduate student Ian Epp’s research in canola showed some benefits, even with Roundup Ready canola, to be using clomazone pre-emergent to improve cleavers control.” In the studies on cleavers weed control in canola, the researchers used three different modes of action – applying clomazone pre-emergent, then followed by either Clearfield, Roundup or Liberty tank mixed with quinclorac. “Even with the Roundup system, which is already pretty effective on cleavers, we found that using three different modes of action provided weed control benefits, and some yield benefits which totally surprised us,” Johnson notes. (See Fig. 1.) The team also did studies on managing Group 2 resistant cleavers in field pea. “What we found was that if we put a pre-emergent down, that suppressed the cleavers somewhat. But then we came in and followed with a post-emergent, and we ended up with better than 80 per cent control.” (See Fig. 2.) Going forward, the U of S is starting some work on managing Group 2-resistant wild mustard and Group 2-resistant kochia in lentil. The big pictureBrenzil says herbicide layering has some merit for everyone. “What the U of S research has found is that if you have control taking place right at the point where the weed is germinating [with the pre-emergent], you’re going to get better yield response out of your crop, rather than waiting for the three- or four-leaf stage when there’s already been some competitive effect of that weed on that crop,” he notes. “By having a soil active, even if it’s not doing a fantastic job of controlling the weeds, it’s suppressing the influence of those weeds on that crop, and you’re getting a bit of a yield bump by having herbicide in the soil along with your foliar product that’s coming a little later.” An added bonus, Brenzil adds, is that by using a herbicide layering program, you’re making a pre-emptive strike against herbicide resistance. “It’s a good management tool for controlling some of those weeds that may not necessarily be that responsive to one herbicide for effective management, such as wild oats and cleavers.” At the Herbicide Resistance Summit held March 2 in Saskatoon, Jason Norsworthy made a comment about the “treadmill” of using one weed chemistry and the very real threat of developing herbicide resistance as a result. Brenzil explains: “If you use one chemistry to death and then you allow your weed populations to get very high again, then you’re just starting from square one to select for the next Group that you’ll overuse, and so on and so on, until you paint yourself into a corner and there are no herbicide options left. At this point, the only management option left will be seeding the field to a forage crop and cut for hay until the seedbank is exhausted.” With herbicide layering, “If you’ve got your soil active products on the ground, then you come in with your foliar and you’ve got a mix of two foliars that could still control that same weed – now you have three active in there of different families,” he adds. “You avoid that overuse and you don’t allow selection pressure to accumulate.”   This story originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Top Crop Manager West.
With the confirmation of glyphosate-resistant (Group 9) kochia across the Prairies, a renewed focus on best chemfallow management practices is needed.
Is there an interaction between seeding rate of pea and lentil, disease incidence, and fungicide effectiveness? This question was the driving force behind an Agricultural Demonstration of Practices and Technologies (ADOPT) Program project.
Using several herbicides with multiple modes of effective action are essential in combatting resistance, minimizing the weed seedbank and preparing fields for success. A planned herbicide program using multiple modes of action is the best strategy for these tough-to-control weeds. An herbicide that offers multiple modes of action to help manage a variety of broadleaf weeds that can also be used in various tank-mixes to control glyphosate-resistant species will help address the challenges of weed resistance in both the current and future growing seasons. For example, last year, a group of growers in Eastern Canada tested Armezon PRO, a new Group 15 and Group 27 herbicide. With a wide application window from early post-emergence to the eight-leaf stage in glyphosate-tolerant corn and the ability to easily tank-mix with additional products, growers were able to customize their weed management to meet their needs. When tank-mixed with atrazine in glyphosate-tolerant corn, Armezon PRO provides four modes of action. Customizing weed management strategies is especially useful when weather prevents getting into the field for a pre-emergent application. Managing problem weeds with multiple modes of action provides residual activity, reducing the weed seedbank and setting up fields for the next season. 
With the 2017 growing season upon us, here’s a look at the latest seed treatments, foliar fungicides and label updates. Product information is provided to Top Crop Manager by the manufacturers.
Premier Tech, an international leader in active ingredients for sustainable agriculture and horticulture, will take the lead in the final steps to bring to full scale the manufacturing and commercialization of a selective bioherbicide. In January, the Horticulture and Agriculture Group signed a license agreement with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to finalize the development and commercialization of a product formulated from an indigenous fungus (Phoma macrostoma). Over nearly ten years, the federal department invested millions of dollars in research on this fungus and its compounds (macrocidins), which can eliminate broadleaved weeds, particularly dandelions. This breakthrough discovery has been patented in several countries and is commercially registered in the U.S. and Canada.
The late harvest in fall 2016 created more than just delays in crop removal – fields were dirty with weed growth and there was limited time for fall herbicide application. As a result, many farmers are expecting weedier fields this spring and will need to be diligent in using the best weed control strategies including pre-seed herbicides and the best in-crop solutions. To assist farmers in what will likely be a more challenging spring battle with weeds, Dow AgroSciences has announced that the Diamond Rewards herbicide offer that was previously only available to Nexera customers will be open to all growers seeding any Roundup Ready and Clearfield canola varieties this spring. Effectively immediately, with a minimum purchase of 240 acres (6 cases) of Eclipse, any Roundup Ready canola grower can qualify for the $2.00 per acre rebate. Similarly, with a minimum purchase of 240 acres (6 cases) of Salute, any Clearfield canola grower can qualify for the $2.00 per acre rebate. Nexera canola growers will continue to receive the rebate with no minimum purchase requirement. Farmers must be registered for the Dow AgroSciences Diamond Rewards program and purchases must be made between December 1, 2016 and November 30, 2017 to qualify. Click for more information on Eclipse and Salute.  
Industrial fertilizers help feed billions of people every year, but they remain beyond the reach of many of the world’s poorest farmers. Now, researchers have engineered microbes that, when added to soil, make fertilizer on demand, producing plants that grow 1.5 times larger than crops not exposed to the bugs or other synthetic fertilizers. | READ MORE
Collaboration, communication and co-ordination are front and centre as Canadian Pacific prepares to deliver best-in-class service in the 2017-18 crop year.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (CNA) have sent a joint letter to Canadian, American and Mexican government officials, reiterating their calls that re-negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should aim to modernize the agreement, rather than dismantle it.
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.
Canada and the United States (U.S.) benefit from a long-standing history of bilateral cooperation, especially in agricultural trade. The Government of Canada is working closely with the U.S. Administration, as well as state and local officials, to strengthen the robust Canada-U.S. partnership and to ensure continued support for millions of trade-dependent middle-class jobs on both sides of the border.As part of these efforts, Minister Lawrence MacAulay travelled to Oregon and Idaho to promote the benefits of agricultural trade. The Minister's first stop was in Portland, where he took part in the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit, an annual event that brings together state and provincial representatives, as well as industry stakeholders, to discuss opportunities for growth and cooperation within the region. At PNWER, Minister MacAulay delivered a keynote address where he highlighted the almost $12 billion in Canada-U.S. agriculture and agri-food trade generated by PNWER member states and provinces in 2016.The Minister also participated in the summit's feature agricultural session, where he emphasized that nearly nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada. While in Portland, the Minister also got a first-hand look at the value of the Canada-U.S. integrated supply chain, touring the Canpotex facility at the Port of Portland, and visiting a local brewery that uses Canadian ingredients in several of its beers.Minister MacAulay's next stop was Sun Valley, Idaho, where he gave a keynote address and met with state officials and industry representatives at the annual meeting for the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture (WASDA). His final stop was in Boise, where he discussed bilateral agricultural trade opportunities with key members of the Idaho business and agriculture community.
Industry leaders met with federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) agriculture ministers to discuss Canada’s next agriculture policy framework, creating a national food policy and North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations during the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's annual industry-government FPT roundtable in St. John’s on July 19.
The Canadian Grain Commission is reducing user fees for official grain inspection and official grain weighing services and eliminating two supplementary fees for overtime related to official grain inspection services.
Canada’s minister of agriculture and his Mexican counterpart say they’re looking to increase trade between the two countries despite concerns the U.S. wants to review the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).“[There’s] many products they can produce on the fresh market side, and others that we need in this country, and there’s many products we have like canola and other products we want to export to Mexico. And that’s what we’re working on today,” said Agricultural Minister Lawrence MacAulay, after meeting with Mexico’s agriculture secretary. | READ MORE
Agri-food stakeholders from across the value chain are invited to attend the second annual National Environmental Farm Plan (NEFP) Summit in Ottawa, November 1-2, 2017. As Co-Chair of the NEFP steering committee, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) encourages producers and farm groups to be part of this initiative that seeks to harmonize the many different environmental farm plan programs in Canada.An Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is a voluntary, whole-farm, self-assessment tool that helps farmers and ranchers identify and build on environmental strengths, as well as mitigate risks on their operations. A National EFP (NEFP) would not be a replacement program, but rather a harmonization effort across the existing EFP programs nation wide.Building on an inaugural event held last year, summit attendees will further develop a national standard designed to connect environmentally sustainable practices at the farm level with global food buyers' growing need to source sustainable ingredients.The NEFP program is well into development, led by a steering committee comprised of participants from across the agri-food value chain. Four sub-committees are working toward developing a national protocol as it relates to data collection, standards and verification, all of which will be supported through comprehensive communications and stakeholder outreach. Summit attendees will hear from each committee, along with subject matter experts, about the progress to-date - information that will further guide steps toward this national standard.Learn more and register for the 2017 National EFP Summit by visiting nationalefp.ca. The NEFP is always seeking to add to its list of stakeholders involved in shaping this made-in-Canada solution. Interested organizations should contact co-chairs Drew Black or Paul Watson.
Canada and the European Union have finally agreed on a date for provisional application of the oft-delayed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.The provisional application of the massive deal will come into effect on Sept. 21, according to a joint-statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, issued at the G20 summit meeting in Hamburg Saturday morning. | READ MORE
Weed control challenges have grown steadily worse since the first glyphosate-resistant weeds were discovered in 2001. According to a 2016 Stratus Ag Research study, resistant and tough weeds currently infest more than 100 million acres of North American farmland. For additional weed control solutions, the Enlist weed control system was developed.
Local Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia and Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Agriculture, announced $2.9 million in funding at a press conference for two McGill projects aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions caused by water and fertilizer use in agriculture.
Last month Statistics Canada released the results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Like many of you, I was eager to read up on the results and discover how our industry has changed in the five years since the last survey was conducted.
Grain conditioning is a widely used term that can be used to identify situations where either aeration or natural air drying is being utilized. Knowing the difference between aeration and natural air drying will aid in selecting aeration systems, equipment, and storage that will best suit your needs.
For the tractor-mounted sprayer market for 2017, John Deere introduces the Frontier LS11 Series 3-point Mounted Sprayers. These economical, efficient sprayers are ideal for making spray applications to pastures, small or large fields, road ditches, fence rows, specialty crops and for other types of crops and field uses.The LS11 Series Sprayers have many features of the larger pull-type sprayers, including breakaway booms, manual and automatic controls and optional foam marker systems, that help operators reduce skips and overlaps.The Frontier LS11 Series Sprayers come in four different boom-width models, from 25-ft. to 40-ft., that customers can select from based on their application needs. The LS11 Series Sprayers are available in two tank sizes, 250-gallon or 300-gallon; can be powered either hydraulically or by the rear power take-off (PTO); and are Category 2 or Category 3 quick-hitch compatible. For greater convenience, the heavy-duty poly tanks are specifically designed with a tear-drop shape to allow liquid to more completely drain from the sprayers.Additional standard features of the LS11 Series Sprayers include a handheld spray wand to reach small or hard-to-access areas; integrated parking stand and fork-lift pockets to make hook up, moving and loading the sprayer easier; and wet booms that extend the life of sprayer hardware. All models come with a single nozzle body; however, a triple nozzle body is available on the 40-ft. boom sprayer.For more information on the new Frontier LS11 Series 3-point Mounted Sprayers from John Deere, see your local John Deere dealer.
The most advanced grain harvesting technology from front to back is featured in the combines and headers John Deere is introducing for model year 2018 production. This includes four new S700 Combine models (S760, S770, S780 and S790) that offer producers significant improvements in “smart” technology, improved operator comfort and better data, along with the 700C/FC Series Corn Heads and 700D Drapers for more efficient grain harvesting.Building on the proven field performance of the S600 Combines introduced in 2012, the new S700 Combines incorporate the latest in automated harvesting technology. Many of these changes make it easier on the operator by allowing the combine to make needed adjustments automatically, on the go.To make it easier for operators to maximize the performance of their new S700 Combine, John Deere introduces the Combine Advisor package. Combine Advisor incorporates seven technologies to help operators set, optimize and automate the combine for the most effective harvesting performance based on their crop and field conditions.Auto Maintain is a function within Combine Advisor that is supported with ActiveVision cameras.Another addition to the S700 Combines is Active Yield technology that automatically calibrates the mass flow sensor. This saves time by eliminating the need for manual calibrations and ensures the best data is collected.The biggest physical difference customers will see in the S700 Combines compared to previous models is in the cab. This starts with a new state-of-the-art CommandCenter, providing a common user experience across Deere’s larger tractor and self-propelled sprayer lines, that emphasizes customization and operator comfort.Machine performance features of the CommandCenter include a Gen 4 interface and monitor with 4600 processer; CommandArm and multi-function control lever with greater ergonomic design and customizable buttons; premium activation with AutoTrac, RowSense and HarvestDoc; and Extended Monitor and mobile device features. In addition, operators will find set up and start up much quicker and easier, thanks to more intuitive harvest run and setup screens.The new cabs feature either leather or cloth seats that swivel 7.5 degrees left and 15 degrees right for improved visibility; enhanced seat ventilation for greater comfort; improved seat cushion with optional leather seat; and additional grain tank mirrors for improved visibility of the grain tank.New corn head and platform, tooAlong with the S700 Combines, John Deere is introducing the 700C/FC (folding corn head) Series Corn Heads with the RowMax row unit. The RowMax row unit provides up to a 50 percent increase in the life of the row unit gathering chains and features solid-alloy bushings that reduce pin and bushing wear.The 700C/FC Series Corn Heads are available in 6- to 18- row models, in 20-, 22- and 30-inch row widths. The StalkMaster stalk-chopping option is available on all models. Folding corn heads are available on 8- and 12-row units, which allow operators to spend more time harvesting and less time and hassle disconnecting, trailering and reconnecting heads when moving from field to field.For corn growers harvesting high moisture corn, there are several enhancements available specifically tailored to better handle this demanding crop. High moisture corn enhancements on the corn head include an auger floor insert to ease crop handling and a lower auger height to minimize crop damage.For small grains, Deere introduces the 700D Rigid Draper, which provides a 20 percent increase in capacity in tough harvesting conditions over the previous model. The 700D features a top crop auger that’s 50 percent larger in diameter (now 18 inches) with heavy-duty drives, high-performance gauge wheels, and a new center section seal kit that reduces center section grain losses by up to 45 percent in canola.For more information on the new S700 Combines, 700C/FC Corn Heads, 700D Rigid Draper and other harvesting solutions from John Deere, see your local John Deere dealer.
Producers looking for an affordable vertical tillage tool that sizes and buries residue in the fall or prepares smooth seedbeds in the spring have another option: The new Frontier VT17 Series Vertical Tillage Tool from John Deere.The VT17 Series offers fore and aft leveling adjustments that can quickly be made using a simple crank system. Gang angles on the implement can be adjusted from zero to 12 degrees for less or more aggressive tillage. Operators can fine-tune the machine’s operating depth from zero to three inches using a pin-and-clip adjustment.The VT17 comes with the choice of 20-inch straight or 22-inch concave blades. Each blade type is fluted for improved residue flow, sizing, and mixing, even with aggressive gang settings. The machine’s spring-adjustable rolling baskets run perpendicular to the blade direction to break up clods and improve field leveling and seedbed uniformity.Tandem dual wheels, standard equipment on all VT17 models, are mounted on a tubular carriage frame that’s hydraulically raised and lowered. As an option, an adjustable middle breaker can be mounted between the wheels on the center frame to disrupt soil in the center-line of travel that’s left open where the front and rear gangs do not overlap.Four sizes of VT17 Series Vertical Tillage Tools are available with working widths ranging from 10 to 15 feet. Tractor horsepower requirements range from 85 to 150 horsepower depending on the width of the model it’s paired with.Frontier equipment is available exclusively at your local John Deere dealer. For more information, click here.
New Holland Agriculture has set a new World Record by harvesting 16,157 bushels of soybeans in eight hours with the CR8.90 combine. The record-breaking performance, which took place in the Bahia State of Brazil, was certified by independent adjudicator RankBrasil. The performance On record setting day, harvesting started at 10:30 am and finished at 5:30 pm, having harvested approximately 222 acres (90 hectares). CR8.90’s average throughput was 2,020 bushels/hour in a crop yielding an average of 72.6 bushels/acre, and 17 per cent average moisture content. The record-setting performance and efficiency was achieved by harvesting 73.5 bu of soybean per gallon of fuel. The CR series The CR8.90 follows the footsteps of the range topping CR10.90, which proved it is the world’s highest capacity combine when it captured the World Record for harvesting an impressive 29,321 bushels of wheat in eight hours in 2014 – a title it holds to this day. For more information on the CR series, click here.
To serve a growing farm equipment market in Eastern Canada and the United States, Väderstad Sales Inc. has opened a new office and parts distribution warehouse in Cambridge, Ont. The Swedish farm equipment manufacturer offers unique and cost effective equipment to progressive farmers in 30 countries worldwide. The new Väderstad location signals a renewed focus on the North American farm equipment market. Manufactured in Sweden, all Väderstad farm equipment is built to create optimal field conditions. Väderstad’s North American equipment lineup includes drills, planters and cultivators. Equipment models available include: Drills: Spirit, Rapid and BioDrill (attachment to convert tillage equipment into cover crop drill) Cultivation equipment: Carrier, Carrier X, Carrier L, Carrier XL, Swift, Opus, TopDown and Cultus, ranging from 3.5 m to 12 m widths Planters: Tempo planters ranging from 4-16 rows with the most versatile precision high speed lineup in the market The new Väderstad parts warehouse supports all dealers and customers across North America, including 28 Eastern Canada dealer locations. Visit vaderstad.com/ca to find your local dealer or for more information about Väderstad’s innovative farm equipment design and lineup.
Safe storage of grain on farm is a key to successful farm management. Harvested grain may be put into bins at acceptable moisture contents, but is it safe? Knowing what temperature and moisture contents are acceptable is critical for the safe storage of grain. The following information sheds some light on what to watch for in stored grain during springtime conditions. More stored grain goes out of condition or spoils due to lack of temperature control than for any other reason. It cannot be emphasized enough that the control of temperature in a bin of stored grain is absolutely critical. Geographically in Western Canada, we are located in a region where we get North America’s most severe temperature fluctuations from one season to the next. The transition between these extremes can happen rapidly or gradually. It is during these transition periods when stored grain is most at risk, due to a phenomenon called moisture migration. Moisture migration happens inside the bin when the difference in grain temperature and the outside air is the most extreme. Properly drying and cooling your grain in the fall is crucial to preserving grain quality through the fall and winter months, and well into spring. If your grain was harvested in hot, dry conditions in the fall you must be careful to bring down the temperature of that grain to enable safe storage through the winter. Likewise, if due to weather conditions at harvest time you have put your grain in the bin at a higher moisture content than usual, you must also be careful to lower the temperature to a point where you can safely store the grain over the winter. As outside temperatures begin to rise in springtime, continued monitoring of your grain bins is required. In spring, as the ambient temperature of the air outside the bin starts to warm up the bin wall also tends to warm, which in turn warms the adjacent grain. This results in the air adjacent to the bin wall warming up as well. At this point the warm air creates a moisture current that moves upward through the grain on the outside perimeter of the grain mass. As this air warms up and starts to move, it will pick up moisture from the grain and carry it upwards. As the moistened air nears the top of the bin, it moves toward the center where it encounters cooler grain temperatures. This air cools down and starts to move down the center of the bin, laden with the moisture it accumulated during the upwards cycle along the bin wall. During this part of the cycle the air starts to release this moisture. The lower the air migrates in the bin, the more moisture it will give off. Therefore, high moisture due the condensation of the cooling air occurs at the bottom center of the bin. In and around this area of high moisture you can expect grain spoilage to occur. If grain is to be stored in the bin for any length of time it is important to bring the grain temperature up to a point that will prevent the abovementioned from happening. In order to accomplish this, it is recommended that the grain temperature in the bin be raised to approximately 10 C. It is important as a producer to consult safe storage charts that will show what length of time you can store the grain at its’ current moisture and temperature, continued monitoring is vital. Aeration (warming) at this point should be accomplished with .05 to .1 cfm/ bus, and only until the desired, uniform temperature is achieved throughout the bin. From this point forward going into warmer temperatures, the temperature of the grain should be monitored throughout the summer and controlled accordingly using aeration. By utilizing aeration inside of grain bins you are able to minimize the effects of moisture migration and maximize the benefits of temperature control within your bin. In circumstances where you need to warm grain to finish drying in springtime conditions, it is recommended that the temperature be brought back up gradually. This will help preserve the quality of the grain kernel. Once the grain has been successfully dried, it is recommended that when possible the grain be cooled again to be stored at approximately 10 C. In summary, monitoring moisture and temperature conditions in your bin, and having an aeration system in place to help regulate these conditions, is key to successful grain storage.
Spraying chemicals has expanded far beyond in-crop herbicides to include fungicides, pre-harvest, and other late season applications in many fields. Challenges arise as growers transition to spraying at different times of the year and into different crops, canopy heights and densities.
It may be a while before robots and drones are as common as tractors and combine harvesters on farms, but the high-tech tools may soon play a major role in helping feed the world's rapidly growing population.At the University of Georgia, a team of researchers is developing a robotic system of all-terrain rovers and unmanned aerial drones that can more quickly and accurately gather and analyze data on the physical characteristics of crops, including their growth patterns, stress tolerance and general health. This information is vital for scientists who are working to increase agricultural production in a time of rapid population growth.While scientists can gather data on plant characteristics now, the process is expensive and painstakingly slow, as researchers must manually record data one plant at a time. But the team of robots developed by Li and his collaborators will one day allow researchers to compile data on entire fields of crops throughout the growing season.The project addresses a major bottleneck that's holding up plant genetics research, said Andrew Paterson, a co-principal investigator. Paterson, a world leader in the mapping and sequencing of flowering-plant genomes, is a Regents Professor in UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences."The robots offer us not only the means to more efficiently do what we already do, but also the means to gain information that is presently beyond our reach," he said. "For example, by measuring plant height at weekly intervals instead of just once at the end of the season, we can learn about how different genotypes respond to specific environmental parameters, such as rainfall." | READ MORE
The Canadian pickup truck market caters to the multiple needs of those in need of a truck for either work or personal use. But pickups that serve both the workplace and family are becoming the norm. Trying to offer buyers an unbiased perspective is one of the reasons I started the Canadian Truck King Challenge 10 years ago. Each year, a group of journalist judges continue to fulfill that original mandate: testing pickup trucks and vans the same way owners use them.
If you leave your pivot exposed all through the winter, you’re going to be working on it a lot longer in the spring,” says Jeff Ewen, an irrigation agrologist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in Outlook, Sask. To help producers prevent damage from winter’s storms and bone-chilling temperatures, Ewen offers a number of winterizing tips.
For growers considering direct-cut harvesting canola, there are many factors that play a role. Researchers in Saskatchewan are trying to provide growers with more information in a three-year project comparing the effectiveness of three different direct-cut header types (draper, rigid auger, and extended knife auger [Varifeed]) with windrowing treatments, focusing on header loss and performance.Initiated in 2014, preliminary results from the first two years of the project are showing similar trends, which researchers expect to be able to confirm at the end of the 2016 crop season. An economic analysis of the three-year project will also provide additional information to support decision-making.  The project includes three study locations – Indian Head, Swift Current and Humboldt – and uses the same protocols and headers at each location. Researchers have been able to refine their testing methods in the first two years, which will strengthen the information collected at the end of the project. The project also compared two types of canola varieties, a standard hybrid variety (InVigor L130) and two shatter resistant varieties (InVigor L140P and Dekalb 75-65 RR). Factors such as yield, header loss and loss location, environmental shatter loss and various quality components are measured.“The results from the first two years of the project are showing very similar trends,” explains Nathan Gregg, project manager with the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI). “Although all of the headers performed well, the Varifeed with the extendable cutter bar does show some marginal gains in loss retention. It seems to be able to retain more of the shatter loss that occurs with all of the headers.” Gregg adds that from the observations so far the extendable cutter bar allows it to go further forward, which in theory helps to retain losses from the reel. It also provides for smoother crop flow sideways to the centre of the header and then into the feeder house. This smoother crop flow means less violence and less shattering occurring in the conveyance process.“The Varifeed was also a bit more operator friendly and is a little easier to run. The extendable cutter bar is a bit more forgiving and can just go ahead/back to match the crop canopy conditions with the push of a button in the cab. Although the Varifeed provides some advantages, it doesn’t mean the other headers don’t work well. The draper does a good job, but it does take more attention to detail as far as reel position and reel speed to match to the crop canopy. However, the draper header with its ground-following floatation system performed a bit better under lodged crop conditions.” A key objective of the project is to try and identify the source and location of the header losses. In 2016, researchers increased the number of sample pans, which are placed in the crop across the width of the header and into the zone just beyond the header into the adjacent crop. “So far, the preliminary results show the higher proportion of losses are at the perimeter of the header, with another spike of losses at the centre of the feeder house,” says Gregg. “The pattern of losses is similar for all of the headers compared, although there are some differences in the degree of loss. These results are not surprising and are similar to research conducted elsewhere in Sweden and in other regions.” With the higher shatter losses concentrated at the perimeter of the header, researchers also wanted to compare losses of different dividers. Powered side cutters, including a vertical knife and a rotary knife were compared with regular passive end point dividers. Overall, the rotary knife had the highest losses of any configuration. The losses were not only higher but also higher for a wider zone (more than one foot at the point). The losses with the vertical knife were lower, with the regular passive divider showing some of the least loss. Researchers are not sure if the results are universal, but under the harvest conditions in the locations tested, the results from the divider losses were fairly consistent.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.topcropmanager.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria5d908e4050  “One caveat to the findings is the question of why power dividers are being used in the first place,” explains Gregg. “Generally, power dividers are used on swathers for example to allow forward progress without the crop balling up and catching on the crop divider. However, in a straight cut situation, if conditions are right and crop material is drier, power dividers may not be necessary for forward movement. Overall, the passive divider provided a smooth sleek transition and the potential for lower losses in the conditions we have seen so far. Therefore, a tip for growers who are straight cutting and trying to use the header they have, it may be worth some time investment to install cardboard and duct tape, or whatever, to help make the transition at the divider point and around the edge of the header smoother.”The preliminary results of the variety trial comparisons were similar after the first two years of the project. Researchers will be able to provide better details after the 2016 growing season results are in and an economic analysis is completed. “In conventional hybrid canola, the standard control swath and combine treatment actually yielded the highest,” Gregg says. “The losses in the straight cut treatments were a bit higher and there were some additional losses to wind. However, the shatter resistant varieties performed well across all treatments, with the straight cut treatments yielding the highest. We need to complete the economics, however, the results so far indicate that investing in some sort of shatter resistant canola variety would be a very good consideration for growers who are planning to straight cut.” “Although header choice plays a role in minimizing losses, other management decisions, choice of variety and harvest timing may hold more potential to impact yield than specific equipment,” adds Gregg. “As the practice of straight cutting canola gains traction, some growers will move to a specific header for the task, but in the meantime we are not seeing anything that suggests they need to rush out and do that immediately. There are several factors that come together at harvest and we are trying to look at some of those. We have another project underway looking at crop maturity and harvest timing and the potential of using desiccation for straight cutting, and the impact these may have on combine performance (settings, fuel use, productivity, etc). When straight cutting, growers need to be patient and wait for the crop to be ready. In the future desiccation may be one of the tools that becomes more important.” The project is jointly funded by SaskCanola, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and the Canada-Saskatchewan Growing Forward II Bilateral Agreement and the Western Grains Research Foundation.
US researchers have maintained that miscanthus, long speculated to be the top biofuel producer, yields more than twice as much as switchgrass in the US using an open-source bioenergy crop database gaining traction in plant science, climate change, and ecology research. "To understand yield trends and variation across the country for our major food crops, extensive databases are available — notably those provided by the USDA Statistical Service," said lead author Stephen Long, Gutgsell professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. He added: "But there was nowhere to go if you wanted to know about biomass crops, particularly those that have no food value such as miscanthus, switchgrass, willow trees, etc." To fill this gap, researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology created BETYdb, an open-source repository for physiological and yield data that facilitates bioenergy research. The goal of this database is not only to store the data but to make the data widely available and usable. | READ MORE.  
According to research by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, extraction with deep eutectic solvents (DESs) offer an efficient, sustainable and easy method for dissolving proteins from agrobiomass by-products. DESs are mixtures of solids that form a liquid solution at low temperatures when mixed in suitable ratios. The method has been tested on separating protein from BSG, rapeseed press cake and wheat bran, all of which contain significant amounts of protein. These food industry by-products contain significant amounts of fibre, which decreases their suitability as feed for production animals that are not ruminants. Brewer's spent grain responded best to protein separation with DES: almost 80 per cent of the protein in BSG could be separated, while conventional extraction methods can achieve no more than 40 per cent. The separation of other substances, such as carbohydrates, can be optimised through the choice of DES. This new protein enrichment method can particularly benefit breweries and animal feed producers, but there are hopes that after further research, this method could also find applications in the food industry. | READ MORE.
As OMAFRA’s industrial crop specialist based at the Simcoe Research Station, Jim Todd works with non-food crops that have a variety of industrial uses – including energy production, or as a source of specialty oils, chemicals or medicinal compounds.  Although predominantly used as an energy source, petroleum also serves as an industrial feedstock for the manufacture of many products used in daily life. For various reasons, countries around the world are searching for renewable replacements for petroleum. One promising alternative comes from the seed oils of plants. There are hundreds of different types of plant seed oils, many of which contain fatty acids that are structurally similar to those obtained from petroleum and so could be used in the manufacture of sustainable, environmentally friendly designer oils with specific end uses. Researchers from OMAFRA and the University of Guelph are currently investigating the potential of growing two unique plants, Euphorbia lagascae from the Mediterranean and Centrapalus pauciflorus from Africa, as sources of vernolic acid, a naturally occurring epoxidized fatty acid that can directly substitute for the synthetic vernolic acid made from petroleum, soy or linseed oil.  Epoxidized fatty acids are useful as raw materials for a wide variety of industrial processes including the synthesis of chemicals and lubricants.  Vernolic acid is most commonly used as a plasticizer in the manufacture of plastic polymers such as polyvinyl chloride or PVC.  The main goal of the three-year study is to test the suitability of Euphorbia and Centrapalus for commercial cultivation under Ontario’s climatic conditions. Trials to identify suitable varieties and provide information on the agronomic requirements for successful cultivation are ongoing. Other factors being evaluated include seeding practices, fertility and water requirements, harvesting methods, and weed/pest control. Oil has been extracted and analyzed to determine the range of total oil yield and vernolic acid content. Overall, both plants have performed well, but researchers have identified a few key areas that need further research.  Field germination rates remain low, indicating a need for breeding to improve this trait and efficient harvest of Centrapalus will require the development of specialized harvest and seed cleaning equipment. 
As foreign competition and falling U.S. demand are hurting American tobacco farmers, a Virginia company is preparing the crop’s second act as a biofuel. Tyton BioEnergy Systems of Danville is testing its technique for extracting the plant’s fermentable sugars on a small scale and plans to start industrial production in 2017, Peter Majeranowski, the company’s co-founder and president, said during a recent investor webinar. Tobacco has a lot to recommend it as a biofuel source. Most industrial crops are high in either sugar or oil. Tobacco has both, and Tyton’s plant breeders have doubled or tripled the content of both in the company’s specialized lines, Majeranowski says. Tobacco is relatively low in lignin, the compound that gives plants their rigidity. “It’s kind of a soft plant and requires a less aggressive or more mild process to break it down,” Majeranowski says. Easier breakdown leads to lower processing costs, he says. | READ MORE.
The Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC) and its partners have almost finished putting all the pieces in place for a southern Ontario value chain to turn crop residues into sugars. Those pieces include a feasibility study, a technical-economic assessment and a collaboratively developed business plan. Some important steps still have to be completed, but they are aiming for processing to start in 2018.
Jan. 20, 2017 - The Vancouver Declaration resulting from the First Ministers' Meeting in March 2016 saw the beginning of a co-ordinated national approach to carbon risk mitigation. Buoyed by support from high-profile business groups (including key oil and gas sector leaders), the First Ministers' Meeting on Dec. 9, 2016 in Ottawa saw the adoption of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which included several significant announcements regarding federal investment in green infrastructure, public transit, and clean technology and innovation. Canada's industrial powerhouse, Ontario, is ahead of the pack when it comes to low-carbon electricity policy, and has been for quite some time. Ten years after the launch of the province's early procurement programs for wind, solar, hydro and other forms of renewable energy, the province enjoys a vibrant renewable energy sector with leading-edge manufacturing capabilities, a coal-free electricity system, and a project development and finance sector that is active around the globe. Across the U.S. border, things have changed somewhat recently, at least, at the federal level.  | READ MORE.
Today many biofuel refineries operate for only seven months each year, turning freshly harvested crops into ethanol and biodiesel. When supplies run out, biorefineries shut down for the other five months. However, according to recent research, dual-purpose biofuel crops could produce both ethanol and biodiesel for nine months of the year – increasing profits by as much as 30 per cent. “Currently, sugarcane and sweet sorghum produce sugar that may be converted to ethanol,” said co-lead author Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. “Our goal is to alter the plants' metabolism so that it converts this sugar in the stem to oil – raising the levels in current cultivars from 0.05 per cent oil, not enough to convert to biodiesel, to the theoretical maximum of 20 per cent oil. With 20 per cent oil, the plant's sugar stores used for ethanol production would be replaced with more valuable and energy dense oil used to produce biodiesel or jet fuel.” A paper published in Industrial Biotechnology simulated the profitability of Plants Engineered to Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum (PETROSS) with 0 per cent, 5 per cent, 10 per cent, and 20 per cent oil. They found that growing sorghum in addition to sugarcane could keep biorefineries running for an additional two months, increasing production and revenue by 20-30 per cent. | READ MORE
Dec. 9, 2016 - The federal and provincial governments have teamed up to help implement a bioeconomy strategy for Northern Ontario. The two senior levels of government are providing a total of $216,792 to help put a plan into action aimed at creating new renewable energy opportunities throughout the North. Developed in 2015 by the Biomass North Development Centre, in partnership with the Union of Ontario Indians, the strategy will look to reduce policy and regulatory barriers for the industry, develop a skills and training road map for future workers and better inform the public and potential partners about biomass applications and concepts. “This is an opportunity of partnerships and benefits for all of the North,” said Dawn Lambe, the biomass development centre's executive director. | READ MORE.
Dec. 1, 2016 - An Italian company is interested in turning biomass into a new southern Alberta industry. And the Alberta government is providing the data to show what would work. Representatives from Alberta Economic Development and Trade, along with a spokesperson for Beta Renewables from Tortona, Italy, outlined the potential to Lethbridge County Council on Monday. Earlier this year, the county was one of five Alberta jurisdictions to sign onto a formal biomass mapping project across the province. The study found 12 million tonnes of biomass available annually in the form of straw and other byproducts of the region’s grain and speciality crop production – plus 633,000 tonnes of waste from livestock production. “This is good news,” Reeve Lorne Hickey said, as council members asked for more details. For Lethbridge-area farms growing flax, one councillor pointed out, it could provide a way to get rid of flax straw – too strong to be used like other straw. | READ MORE.
The president of a new farm co-op says it's working to sign up 200 to 300 members to supply corn stalks and leaves, also known as stover, as well as wheat stalks, to a proposed new plant in Sarnia, Ont., that will turn the biomass into sugar. The Sarnia Observer reports. | READ MORE
August 10, 2016 - A UBC professor’s flax research could one day help Canadian farmers grow a car fender. In a recent study, UBC researcher Michael Deyholos identified the genes responsible for the bane of many Canadian flax farmers’ existence; the fibres in the plant's stem. “These findings have allowed us to zero in the genetic profile of the toughest part of this plant and may one day help us engineer some of that toughness out,” says Deyholos, a biology professor at UBC's Okanagan campus. “With further research, we might one day be able to help farmers make money off a waste material that wreaks havoc on farm equipment and costs hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to deal with.” As part of his research, Deyholos and his former graduate student at the University of Alberta dissected thousands of the plant’s stem under a microscope in order to identify which genes in the plant's make up were responsible for the growth of the stem, and which weren’t. Due to the length of the Canadian prairie’s growing season, where flax is grown, farmers typically burn the stems, known as flax straw, as opposed to harvesting the material. In many European countries, flax straw is used as an additive in paper, plastics and other advanced materials such as those used in the production of automobiles. Currently, Canadian flax is used only for the value of its seeds, which can be eaten or broken down into flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is used in the manufacturing of paints, linoleum, and as a key element in the manufacturing of packaging materials and plastics. According to the Flax Council of Canada, Canada is one of the largest flax producers in the world with the nation’s prairie provinces cultivating 816,000 tonnes of the plant in 2014/15 on 1.6 million acres of land.Deyholos’ research was recently published in the journal Frontiers of Plant Science.
August 2, 2016 - The Canada and Manitoba governments are supporting a greener, more sustainable economy through the $1-million Biomass Energy Support Program.   Applications are currently being accepted for this continuing program, which is funded under Growing Forward 2.  It includes $500,000 in grants to help coal users transition to renewable biomass fuel.  Another $500,000 is available for applied research projects that support the growth of the biomass industry in Manitoba.   “The Government of Canada is committed to increasing the use of clean and sustainable technology,” says Canada's agriculture minister, Lawrence MacAulay.  “Making investments in the use of renewable biomass fuels through research and innovative practices will help the agricultural sector to be more competitive in a global economy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Funding can be used to convert coal heating systems to use biomass as the fuel source.  Current biomass manufacturers can also apply to expand their operations and meet consumer demands.  The maximum grant available is $50,000.  Eligible biomass fuels include: agricultural residue such as wheat and flax straw, sunflower hulls or compacted biomass-like wheat and oat pellets; forestry residues such as wood chips or salvaged timber; and biomass crops such as switchgrass, willow and poplar.   Projects with short turnaround times that support Manitoba’s coal reduction goal are given priority in the funding approval process.  The funding for applied research projects is intended to address gaps or identify opportunities for business and technology in the biomass sector.  The deadline to apply for research and capital upgrade grants from the Biomass Energy Support Program is Sept. 30.  For more information about the program and how to apply, visit: www.manitoba.ca/agriculture/innovation-and-research/biomass-energy-support-program.html.  Last year, 21 projects received funding from this program.  Since 2012, it has invested approximately $3 million to help farms and businesses transition to biomass energy, leveraging additional contributions of approximately $3 million.  Projects have reduced the amount of coal used by over 10,000 tonnes and greenhouse gas emissions by over 15,000 tonnes annually.  The federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million in Manitoba under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.  For more information, go to www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/growing-forward-2. 

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