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OSCIA celebrates Lambton County farmer’s innovation


February 13, 2020
By Top Crop Manager

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The award was presented to Lumley's daughter during the 2020 OSCIA annual meeting. Photo courtesy of OSCIA.

Mark Lumley of Fairwind Farms in Sarnia, Ont., received the first-ever Don Hill Legacy Award at the 2020 Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) annual meeting in London, Ont., for his innovation that makes it possible to use a seed-placed tank mix of liquid fertilizer and Quadris fungicide in sugarbeet production.

The award honours on-farm innovation and was established in 2019 in memory of past OSCIA president Don Hill.

OSCIA president Stuart Wright described Lumley’s innovation as “a simple yet effective solution that is reflective of Don’s passion for the Environmental Farm Plan and finding simple yet creative solutions to environmental challenges faced on the farm.”

Agitating for efficiency

Sugarbeets face significant disease pressure, such as from the fungal disease rhizoctonia. Standard practice, according to Lumley, is an application of Quadris fungicide in a water suspension into the seed trench just before closing it. Another proven agronomic practice for the crop is applying a small amount of phosphorus in that same spot at planting, like Alpine 6-24-6.

Lumley wanted to maximize his efficiency and effectiveness by using the fertilizer as a carrier for the fungicide so they could be applied at the same time. His solution, a 12V submersible electric pump that he placed inside the planter’s tank, ended up giving him exactly what he needed – aggressive agitation that mixed the fertilizer and fungicide together and kept them from separating and coagulating.

The agitator can be activated anytime by a switch in the tractor cab and can run continually during spraying. Material and labour costs are estimated at approximately $3,000, and the solution can be used in planter spray or sprayer applications in any crop.

Applying fungicide and starter fertilizer together has increased yields by reducing disease pressure, allows for more targeted and precise applications, and reduced the amount of time spent cleaning the system and tip and filter problems.

“I am really honoured to receive this award, since not only can other farmers use the idea easily, but I hope it also encourages people to think just a little outside the box and come up with your own solutions to “pesky” problems,” Lumley says.