Crop Chemicals
Though often abused and neglected, mixed forage stands can respond to fertilization. Still, some growers are hesitant to apply fertilizer to meet fertility needs, perhaps because forage yields tend to decline over time or because lack of spring rainfall can limit yield responses.
Published in Other Crops
Much of our Prairie landscape has gently rolling to hummocky topography. The parent geological material on which these soils formed is often glacial till that remained after the glaciers retreated 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Published in Soil
Corn and soybean growers in Canada have a new tool in the fight against tough and resistant weeds. ZIDUA™ SC is a new Group 15 herbicide from BASF that contains the active ingredient pyroxasulfone.

"BASF focuses on providing Canadian growers with tools that support current and emerging resistance challenges," said Deven Esqueda, Crop Manager, Corn and Soybeans for BASF. "ZIDUA SC, backed by ten years of research, allows growers to add residual Group 15 activity to their weed management strategy and become less reliant on glyphosate."

Recently registered by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, ZIDUA SC herbicide will be available for use in the 2018 season. ZIDUA SC is currently labelled for use in herbicide-tolerant soybeans and field corn.

ZIDUA SC is a stand-alone solution and can also be tank-mixed with glyphosate, ERAGON®LQ, MARKSMAN® or ENGENIA™ in Eastern Canada, and HEAT® LQ, ENGENIA™ or ARMEZON® in Western Canada, to provide multiple modes of action for resistance management.

Resistance has been increasing across Canada in pigweed species, including waterhemp and redroot pigweed. A study by the Canadian Journal of Plant Science states glyphosate-resistant waterhemp was first identified in Ontario in 2014. In Alberta, Group 2-resistant redroot pigweed was identied by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 2010.

The residual Group 15 activity in ZIDUA SC helps to inhibit early root and shoot growth in these tough to control weeds, maximizing corn and soybean yield through the critical period for weed control. ZIDUA SC also provides flushing control of barnyard grass, crabgrass, green and yellow foxtail, common waterhemp and redroot pigweed.

For more information on ZIDUA SC herbicide, contact AgSolutions® Customer Care at 1-877-371-BASF (2273), or visit agsolutions.ca. Always read and follow label directions.
Published in Herbicides
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. announced that the Canadian Competition Bureau ("CCB") has granted unconditional regulatory approval for the proposed merger of equals by issuing a no-action letter dated September 11, 2017.

The CCB concluded that the proposed transaction is not likely to lead to a substantial lessening or prevention of competition with respect to potash fertilizer, phosphate fertilizers and nitric acid.

The CCB found that global prices of potash are correlated with prices in Canada and that customers can source potash from multiple suppliers. The issuance of the no-action letter satisfies the Canadian regulatory condition of closing of the proposed merger of equals transaction.

The companies previously received unconditional clearance for the merger in both Brazil and Russia. The regulatory review and approval process continues in the U.S., China and India and the parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the fourth quarter of 2017.

Upon closing the merger transaction, the new company will be named Nutrien. As the largest global provider of crop inputs and services, Nutrien will play a critical role in "Feeding the Future" by helping growers to increase food production in a sustainable manner.

Additional information on the merger between Agrium and PotashCorp can be found at the following website http://www.worldclasscropinputsupplier.com/

Information about Agrium and PotashCorp can be found under their respective corporate profiles on SEDAR at www.sedar.comor on EDGAR at www.sec.gov, respective websites at www.agrium.com and www.potashcorp.com
Published in Corporate News
The U.S. environmental agency is considering banning sprayings of the agricultural herbicide dicamba after a set deadline next year, according to state officials advising the agency on its response to crop damage linked to the weed killer.

Setting a cut-off date, possibly sometime in the first half of 2018, would aim to protect plants vulnerable to dicamba, after growers across the U.S. farm belt reported the chemical drifted from where it was sprayed this summer, damaging millions of acres of soybeans and other crops.

A ban could hurt sales by Monsanto Co (MON.N) and DuPont which sell dicamba weed killers and soybean seeds with Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant Xtend trait. BASF (BASFn.DE) also sells a dicamba herbicide.

It is not yet known how damage attributed to the herbicides, used on Xtend soybeans and cotton, will affect yields of soybeans unable to withstand dicamba because the crops have not been harvested.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discussed a deadline for next year’s sprayings on a call with state officials last month that addressed steps the agency could take to prevent a repeat of the damage, four participants on the call told Reuters.

It was the latest of at least three conference calls the EPA has held with state regulators and experts since late July dedicated to dicamba-related crop damage and the first to focus on how to respond to the problem, participants said.

A cut-off date for usage in spring or early summer could protect vulnerable plants by only allowing farmers to spray fields before soybeans emerge from the ground, according to weed and pesticide specialists.

Monsanto spokeswoman Christi Dixon told Reuters on Aug. 23, the day of the last EPA call, that the agency had not indicated it planned to prohibit sprayings of dicamba herbicides on soybeans that had emerged. That action “would not be warranted,” she said.

The EPA had no immediate comment.

EPA officials on the last call made clear that it would be unacceptable to see the same extent of crop damage again next year, according to Andrew Thostenson, a pesticide specialist for North Dakota State University who participated in the call.

They said “there needed to be some significant changes for the use rules if we’re going to maintain it in 2018,” he said about dicamba usage.

State regulators and university specialists from Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and North Dakota are pressuring the EPA to decide soon on rules guiding usage because farmers will make planting decisions for next spring over the next several months.

Tighter usage limits could discourage cash-strapped growers from buying Monsanto’s more expensive dicamba-resistant Xtend soybean seeds. Dicamba-tolerant soybeans cost about $64 a bag, compared with about $28 a bag for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans and about $50 a bag for soybeans resistant to Bayer’s Liberty herbicide.

Already, a task force in Arkansas has advised the state to bar dicamba sprayings after April 15 next year, which would prevent most farmers there from using dicamba on Xtend soybeans after they emerge.

Arkansas previously blocked sales of Monsanto’s dicamba herbicide, XtendiMax with VaporGrip, in the state.

“If the EPA imposed a April 15 cut-off date for dicamba spraying, that would be catastrophic for Xtend - it invalidates the entire point of planting it,” said Jonas Oxgaard, analyst for investment management firm Bernstein.

Monsanto has projected its Xtend crop system would return a $5 to $10 premium per acre over soybeans with glyphosate resistance alone, creating a $400-$800 million opportunity for the company once the seeds are planted on an expected 80 million acres in the United States, according to Oxgaard.

By 2019, Monsanto predicts U.S. farmers will plant Xtend soybeans on 55 million acres, or more than 60 percent of the total planted this year. READ MORE 
Published in Herbicides
Farmers in Alberta are being given the tools to take charge against climate change by adopting on-farm best management practices that are scientifically proven to limit the impacts of agriculture on natural resources like air, water and soil.

Fertilizer Canada is proud to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Agricultural Research & Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA) that includes integration of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®) into the province's Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). This agreement marks a significant milestone on Fertilizer Canada's journey to create truly sustainable and climate-smart agriculture in Canada.

"We are pleased that ARECA has officially recognized 4R Nutrient Stewardship as a best practice for nutrient management on Alberta farms," said Garth Whyte, President and CEO of Fertilizer Canada. "By encouraging farmers across the province to use fertilizer effectively, Alberta is joining the front lines in the fight against climate change and ensuring their place among the world's leaders in sustainable agriculture."

"ARECA is a long-time supporter and promoter of 4R Nutrient Stewardship," said Janette McDonald, Executive Director. "There is no doubt this formalized partnership with Fertilizer Canada will aid us in expanding awareness of the program as a best practice for nutrient management planning."

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a science-based nutrient management system that is universally applicable yet locally focused. By applying the right source of fertilizer at the right rate, the right time and the right place, farmers can ensure nutrients are efficiently taken up by their crops and are not lost to air, water or soil. This increases crop productivity and reduces unwanted environmental impacts.

Managed by ARECA, the province's EFP self-assessment process encourages producers to assess and identify environmental risks on their farms and take action to improve their practices.

"While Alberta's EFPs already include a section on nutrient risks, adding information about the positive long-term benefits of 4R Nutrient Stewardship will expand awareness among the province's farmers," said Paul Watson, EFP Director at ARECA.

As growers in Alberta adopt 4R Nutrient Stewardship under the Alberta EFP, the acres they manage will be counted under Fertilizer Canada's 4R Designation program, which tracks the amount of Canadian farmland using 4R Nutrient Stewardship to boost productivity and conserve resources. Fertilizer Canada aims to capture 20 million 4R acres by 2020 – representing 25 per cent of Canadian farmland – to demonstrate to the world the commitment Canada's agriculture sector has made to adopt climate-smart and sustainable farm practices.

To learn more about 4R Nutrient Stewardship and the benefits it offers, visit www.fertilizercanada.ca

Learn more about the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan and the benefits it offers by visiting www.AlbertaEFP.com
Published in Corporate News
Organic matter (OM) in soil is the result of hundreds to several thousand years of microbial, plant and animal residue additions to the soil. Soil organic residues are constantly breaking down and are in various stages of decomposition.
Published in Soil
Parts of southwestern Ontario remain dry, while eastern Ontario continues to have frequent rainfall and saturated soils in many areas. While yields have been good, making dry hay continues to be a struggle for many growers under the later conditions.

Winter wheat harvest has continued this past week in eastern Ontario. Most fields in the area have yielded between 70 to 80 bushels per acre. Quality has generally been better than expected. Spring cereal harvest has just begun on a small number of acres that were able to be planted early this spring.

Insects
Soybean Aphid numbers are generally low, but increasing in some areas in eastern Ontario. Soybean growers should be scouting. Apply foliar insecticide when threshold of 250 aphids per plant with increasing populations has been reached in the R1–R5 stage of soybeans. If aphid populations do not appear to be on the increase above 250 per plant, do not apply insecticide, as it will kill off the beneficial insects that are keeping the aphid population in check. Aphids are then likely to increase quickly in the absence of their predators and could easily reach threshold.

For further information on scouting techniques, thresholds and management options, see OMAFRA Publication 812, Field Crop Protection Guide.

Potato Leafhopper (PLH) continued to be a problem in many alfalfa stands particularly in eastern Ontario. Sweeps collected are showing at and above threshold numbers in many fields that have not been treated. Although PLH are rarely a problem in soybeans they can cause significant yield and quality losses in alfalfa and edible bean stands. New seedling alfalfa stands are particularly vulnerable as the PHL damage can weaken the new seedling alfalfa plant, making them more susceptible to stresses like winterkill.

Economic losses occur before plant symptoms develop, so it is important to identify the presence of large leafhopper populations before the damage occurs. Scouting with a sweep net will help you determine whether early harvest or spraying is needed. Scout at intervals of 5 to 7 days. To determine the number of leafhoppers, including adults and nymphs, take 10 sweeps and divide the number of insect captured by 10. Do this in 5 representative areas of the field and note the height of the alfalfa. Recommended action thresholds are listed in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Thresholds for Potato Leafhoppers in Alfalfa
Stem Height      # of PLH per sweep
9 cm (3.5 in.)     0.2 adults
15 cm (6 in.)      0.5 adults
25 cm (10 in.)    1.0 adults or nymph
36 cm (14 in.)    2.0 adults or nymph

It is important to make decisions to control PLH based on these threshold numbers as spraying insecticides on alfalfa will also kill beneficial insects, the natural enemies of PLH and alfalfa weevil.

Foliar insecticide options are available in Publication 812, Field Crop Protection Guide here.

Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) trap counts are still increasing in most counties north and east of Perth and into eastern Ontario. That means that WBC moth flight has not yet peaked in those areas. This is important because this also means that we have not reached peak egg laying in those areas and that there are a lot of moths flying around looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. Late planted corn fields that are still in the early pollination stages (i.e. silks have not dried down yet) and edible beans are still at risk.

For late planted corn fields, most of what you need to know about scouting and management has already been posted in a previous post here.

For edible beans, it is not as straight forward. Unlike in corn, WBC are nearly impossible to find in dry bean fields until pod feeding begins. Pheromone traps can still help indicate which fields are at greater risk though. Traps at dry bean fields that capture an accumulation of 50 or more moths per trap are likely at greater risk and require scouting for pod feeding.

Pod feeding is expected to begin 10 to 20 days after peak moth flight has occurred, as indicated when trap counts begin to decline after weeks of steady increase. Prior to pods being present on the plants, scouting for egg masses in adjacent cornfields can also help determine what the local WBC populations are like. If any of the corn fields in the immediate area are past early tasseling, the dry bean fields will be more attractive for the moths. If an adjacent corn field reached the corn egg mass threshold and required spraying, the dry bean field is also likely at risk.

Once pods are present, scout 100 plants (10 plants in 10 areas of the field). Look for signs of early surface feeding or holes going directly into the pod. If pod feeding is easily found, a spray application is necessary. Control is still very effective when done as soon as pod feeding is found. WBC exit and enter new pods each night, so insecticides still work at controlling the larvae, as long as the pods are present during the application so that there is residue left on the pod surface.

Spraying too early when pods are not present on the plants will not protect the crop from damage. Spraying too late, when pod feeding has been taking place for some time will not reduce the risk of seed damage and pod disease incidence. The key is to protect the plants when the larvae are feeding on the pods.

Foliar insecticide options are available in Publication 812, Field Crop Protection Guide.
Published in Corporate News
BASF Canada reports the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) has established maximum residue limits (MRLs) for Heat LQ as a harvest aid in cereals in time for this year’s harvest. This allows BASF to establish MRLs in all major export markets to support the use of Heat LQ as a pre-harvest herbicide in wheat and barley with glyphosate.
Published in Corporate News
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 2016
Pasmo chartSource: 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.

wtcm25.4 plotsPriaxor 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 2016Pasmo chart 2Source: 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 decision
Basing 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.

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Published in Fungicides
If climate change continues to progress, increased precipitation could mean detrimental outcomes for water quality in the United States, a major new study warns.

An intensifying water cycle can substantially overload waterways with excess nitrogen runoff – which could near 20 per cent by 2100 – and increase the likelihood of events that severely impair water quality, according to a new study published by Science. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
If you read about neonicotinoids in the news, the context is likely the impact of this class of insecticides on pollinators. But according to Christy Morrissey, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan, there’s another side of the story that’s been neglected in the mainstream media.

Since 2011, Morrissey has been studying the impact of neonics on Prairie wetlands. More specifically, she’s been charting the extent to which wetlands could be contaminated by neonic residues, and the impacts on invertebrate life that form the basis of the food web, as well as effects on bird populations in those wetlands.

“We were interested in wetlands in the Prairie pothole region because of their ecological significance,” she says. “There’s an obvious interaction between water and agriculture in this region of Canada.”

Morrissey and her graduate students have analyzed hundreds of wetlands in the Prairies, and have bird studies at five sites in a range of landscapes across Saskatchewan. Almost all of these sites are located on private land. Morrissey says most farmers are receptive and interested in her work.

“Most people genuinely think the chemicals they’re using are safe because they’re on the market and they are generally following guidelines as to how to apply them,” she says. “It’s the guidelines that we believe are flawed. They aren’t necessarily as safe as [people] were led to believe they are. They do say you shouldn’t use the chemicals near water, but that isn’t possible in the Prairies.”

Last year, Morrissey co-authored a review paper looking at neonicotinoid use in more than 230 studies to come up with guidelines for safe levels. In Prairie wetlands, she says, the levels routinely exceed guideline levels researchers would set as being safe.

“These compounds are extremely toxic at very, very low levels — 1,000 times more toxic to an insect than DDT [dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane]. At these low levels, and because the compounds stick around for a long time, that is enough to cause effects on native aquatic insects,” she says.

Spring runoff
Anson Main, formerly one of Morrissey’s graduate students, is the lead author on a study released last year looking at spring runoff transport of neonicotinoid insecticides to Prairie wetlands.

Main studied 16 agricultural fields on a single farming operation, each of which had at least one wetland collecting runoff from a surrounding field. He took samples of top and bottom snow, particulate snow and wetland water. “In the wetland water you could be detecting up to 200 nanograms of neonicotinoids per litre, but for meltwater it could be 489 nanograms per litre. The mean was something like 170,” he says.

“Prairie wetlands are 85 to 90 per cent formed by snowmelt, so these pothole wetlands were accumulating this runoff,” he explains. “Meltwater is scouring the surfaces of the fields where there is some residual insecticides that are persisting. In the spring, the residues are being washed in as these basins are filling with water.”

Depending on the chemical, the half-life of some neonicotinoids (including clothianidin) is about three years, Morrissey says. Neonics are highly water-soluble and re-mobilize when water pools.

Francois Messier is the owner of a 10,000-acre farm near Saskatoon, where Main conducted the study. He grows canola and cereals (including barley, wheat and oat), of which only canola seed is treated with neonicotinoid insecticide.

Messier, once a wildlife ecologist at the University of Saskatchewan, now makes his operation available to university collaborators for studies such as Main’s.

For Messier, the use of neonicotinoids is unavoidable when it comes to canola. “The impact of flea beetles could be so devastating,” he says. “The average seed cost is about $75 per acre, and you don’t want to lose the crop right off the bat. I don’t think there is an alternative to using insecticide.”

But Messier says a distinction must be made between canola systems and cereal systems. He believes neonics are used preventatively against wireworms in cereal crops but in most cases are unnecessary. “I never use any insecticidal seed treatment on my cereal seed, and I would put my yield against anyone else’s in my neighbourhood,” he says.

Real-farm implications
Morrissey says the biggest take-away from the research is that neonicotinoid insecticides should never be used as an “insurance policy” due to the potential long-term negative effects, such as the development of resistance. “A, it’s expensive,” she says. “And B, it’s a toxic chemical that is environmentally concerning.”

Over the next few years, Morrissey hopes to connect the research community with farmers in the Prairie pothole region in a new “resilient agriculture” project that will develop and implement sustainable practices at a field scale. The project will aim to find strategies to keep crop yields high and environmental impacts low, with farmers as the key decision-makers.

“The information farmers are getting is almost all from seed and chemical companies that are selling them a product,” Morrissey says. “That’s not all the information out there.

“The word hasn’t gotten out to producers as much as I would like. They need to know this information more than anyone,” she adds.

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Published in Corporate News
In 2013, two University of Guelph weed scientists began collaborating on alternatives to herbicides for weed control. The report, by Francois Tardif and Mike Cowbrough, was released in 2016.
Published in Weeds

Tractors delivered participants to more than 10 sites at the 23rd annual Southwest Crop Diagnostic Day. The event, which took place July 5 and 6, saw agronomists, producers and industry professionals visiting stations across the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus to learn about new research and the implications for crops in Ontario.

Here’s a sampling of some of the topics covered.

Albert Tenuta [Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)] and Dave Hooker [University of Guelph – Ridgetown (UGR)] took producers through a few different plot sites and discussed planting corn and soybeans in a cover crop. Although cover crops help with soil organic matter, erosion and moisture control, it’s often best to terminate a cover crop in a dry year.

Peter Sikkema and Darren Robinson (both from UGR) tested participants on herbicide injury in both corn and soybean, respectively. Producers saw first-hand the symptoms caused by new and common herbicides.
IMG 1390Peter Sikkema holding a corn plant injured by herbicides.

Chris Brown (OMAFRA) and Doug Young (UGR) did a smoke bomb demo to highlight soil pores and offered tips for managing water movement through soil. Producers were reminded that soil pores (which include macropores, mesopores and micropores) are impacted by different issues such as soil properties (texture, pH), cultivation (tile drainage, crop rotations), external loads (tillage and compaction) and natural processes (biological activity, frost).

Joanna Follings and Anne Verhallen (both from OMAFRA) talked cover crop seeding rates and options for growers. They highlighted research that indicates underseeding red clover into winter wheat leads to an increase of 10 bushels per acre (bu/ac) for corn and five bu/ac in soybean.
Best clover density plotOne of the plots of red clover planted at UGR.

There’s also a nitrogen credit of 85 pounds per acre. Follings offered tips for seeding, since the biggest challenge with red clover is establishment. (A uniform stand of three to four plants per square foot is the minimum number to be considered a good stand.)

Another session offered an overview of trapping technology, scouting tips and management strategies for Western bean cutworm presented by Christina DiFonzo (Michigan State University), Tracey Baute (OMAFRA) and Art Schaafsma (UGR).
IMG 1521The Z Trap is one of the newest Western bean cutworm traps on the market. 

When scouting, DiFonzo says to look at 100 plants (10 plants in 10 different areas, or 20 plants in five areas) every five days when crop is in the pre- to full tassel stages. The threshold to spray is an accumulation of five per cent of plants with Western bean cutworm egg masses or small larvae over a two to three week period.

Dave Bilyea (UGR) covered some lesser-known but potentially problematic weeds for Ontario agriculture. Some of the weeds highlighted include annual bluegrass (which competes with young plants and is tolerant to glyphosate) and dog strangling vine. There aren’t many reports of this vine yet, but it’s very competitive and is toxic to insects and animals, affecting ecology. Another weed to watch is wild parsnip, which makes skin UV-sensitive and results in burns similar to those caused by giant hogweed. With scouring rush (also known as snakegrass), part of the challenge is that the plant has no leaves for contact with any herbicides producers might spray.
IMG 1488Dave Bilyea explains the similarities between Northern willowherb and goldenrod.

Bilyea reminded growers that they can send in weeds for herbicide-resistance testing free of charge. 

Jake Munroe and Horst Bohner (both of OMAFRA) focused on fertilizing soybeans: deficiency symptoms, strategies and new research demonstrating the importance of phosphorus in soybean. 4R nutrient stewardship was also highlighted using the Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool for Ontario (PLATO).

Ben Rosser (OMAFRA) and Peter Johnson from Real Agriculture had participants digging up corn plants from a variety of plots to discuss the effects of planting dates, depth and staging.
Screen Shot 2017 07 06 at 3.43.48 PMPeter Johnson from Real Agriculture discussing the stages of corn development. 

Hail damage in corn was also discussed using the example of a corn plant damaged just a couple of weeks ago. Although the farmer growing the corn in question thought he should plant something else, there was still new growth in the corn and so he was advised to leave the crop; he would likely only suffer a five per cent yield loss from the hail damage.

Jason Deveau and Mike Cowbrough (both of OMAFRA) highlighted the importance of sprayer clean out and compared two different systems: triple rinsing and continuous rinsing.
IMG 1497Deveau and Cowbrough explaining how a continuous rinse system works.

Growers walked through soybean and tomato plots and saw the level of injury caused when equipment isn’t properly rinsed between spray applications. Although triple rinsing is effective, it takes three times longer to do; the continuous rinse system is not only faster, but also limits operator exposure. The current challenge is adding the pump on the sprayer equipment due to challenges with the computer operating systems.

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Published in Corporate News
Worker and queen honeybees exposed to field realistic levels of neonicotinoids die sooner, reducing the health of the entire colony, a new study led by York University (Your U) biologists has found.
Published in Corporate News
I work in Manitoba and we’ve been dealing with Fusarium head blight (FHB) for the last 25 years. In the 1990s, Manitoba started seeing severe infections. Those of you who are from Saskatchewan and Alberta, over the last two to three years, have definitely seen what it can be like when conditions are correct for Fusarium head blight infection.
Published in Diseases
Alberta’s wheat farmers can now add a Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) risk tool to their agronomy toolbox, improving their ability to make well-informed decisions related to FHB disease management. The risk tool was developed in a partnership between the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Climate Information Service (ACIS) with expert support from researchers based at Agriculture and Forestry (AF) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).
Published in Corporate News
Most soybean and canola acres have been planted across the province, the majority of corn acres are in the V3 to V5 range, and much of the winter wheat crop has progressed beyond the post-flowering stage, according to the latest field report from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Here's the breakdown by crop, below. 

Cereals

A large majority of the winter wheat crop has progressed beyond the post-flowering stage, and spraying for Fusarium head blight protection has been completed in many regions. Stripe rust is reported to be advancing in some areas in fields that did not receive a fungicide application. Significant yield loss can occur in cases where disease pressure is very high. Fields that received a T1 or T2 herbicide application are reported to be still holding disease pressure back well. True armyworm has been observed in some fields, but not at levels that have required control. Growers are encouraged to watch for head clipping feeding. Clover stands in winter wheat look excellent.

Corn
A large majority of the crop ranges from the V3-V5 stages. In general, growers and agronomists in many areas report that plant stands and crops look great. The exception is some localized, heavier textured soil regions where planting conditions of earlier planted corn may have been pushed, and replanting is occurring. Sidedressing has started or is well underway in many areas. OMAFRA recently completed it’s annual PSNT measurement survey from June 5-6. Average soil nitrate concentrations were 8.0 ppm which is lower than the 11-12 ppm range that has been observed over the past 5 years, suggesting N mineralization may be delayed from the cooler spring. The last year when PSNT survey values were in this range was 2011. With the recent warm weather, growers and applicators are reminded to check corn herbicide labels for maximum temperature restrictions. Of particular note, spraying of hormonal herbicides (ie. dicamba) should be avoided when temperatures are expected to be above 25 C during or after application.

Soybeans
With the exception of a few localized pockets where wet conditions have prevailed and planting continues, the majority of the soybean crop has been planted. The majority of the crop is in the 1-2 trifoliate stage. While stands look reasonable in many cases, some replanting continues in areas which received heavy rainfalls after planting where crusting was evident (particularly on fine textured soils), as well as areas where seedcorn maggot pressure was high and reduced populations. A uniform population as low as 100,000 plants per acre is still considered to provide good yield potential. Planting conditions have been reported to be good for late planted or replanted soybeans. Bean leaf beetles and soybean aphids have been observed in some fields, but at very low populations where control is not warranted. If soybeans are to be rolled after planting, rolling should occur at the 1st to 2nd trifoliate stage where plants are no longer brittle and susceptible to snapping, and ideally in the heat of the day when plants are flaccid. High stand losses can occur when plants are crisp and susceptible to snapping between the emergence and the 1st trifoliate stage. When in doubt, check plants after starting to roll and evaluate the stand for snapped plants which will no longer be viable.

Forages
Growers are reporting excellent yields for first cut hay. First cut hay timed for higher quality has neared completion in many regions. In general, there has been a good weather window for first cut in most parts of the province for both haylage/silage and dry hay, and harvest progressed quickly as a result.

Canola
While a small amount of canola planting was still being reported in some areas up until the end of last week, most planting is complete and the majority of crop across most growing regions is in the 3-4 leaf stage. Swede midge emergence was being reported as early as late May, and was occurring prior to Canola emergence in some fields. Growers are encouraged to place and monitor Swede Midge traps. The control threshold is 20 adults across all traps in a field, and has been met in some fields this spring. Flea beetle pressure has been apparent in some fields, with some control being warranted. As the crop progresses beyond the 3-4 leaf stage, Canola is generally able to keep ahead of feeding. While Cabbage Seed Pod weevil has been observed in some fields, it is not typically an issue until pod set starts.

Edible Beans
Edible bean planting is reported to be nearly complete with an estimated 95 per cent of intended acres planted. Planting progressed very quickly once started, with a large amount of crop planted in a relatively narrow window. Planting conditions have been reported to be good.
Published in Corporate News
What I’d like to give you is a view from my previous careers working in Europe, New Zealand, and now Australia with regards to disease management. I’d like to give you a flavour of some of my impressions of disease management over the last 35 years with reference to getting the balance right with regard to the disease triangle and integrated disease management. 

Where are we in terms of integrated disease management (IDM)? What is IDM all about? Principally it’s about trying to make sure we use all the tools in the toolbox, integrating genetic resistance with chemical fungicides, cultural control and overall crop agronomy. When we sow the crop and how we look after it with nitrogen can profoundly affect how much disease pressure we’re under.

Getting it just right is never going to be easy. What’s happened in Australia? Before 2002, there wasn’t a huge amount of fungicide usage because it’s a much less responsive environment. Then we had an “exotic incursion.” Stripe rust came in from North America, probably on a grower’s boots. That changed the pendulum, from a dependence on genetic resistance to a reliance on fungicides, because, overnight, a huge proportion of all of the germplasm in Australia became susceptible to stripe rust.

Meanwhile in Europe, there was a totally different swing of the pendulum. It was inspired by a new set of varieties, in this case semi-dwarf varieties. With the new cultivars and more nitrogen, crops stayed greener for longer. Suddenly yields increased enormously in the ’70s. Higher yields and longer growing seasons in Europe drove growers to apply more and more fungicide. If you go to Europe now, it’s all about T1, T2 and T3 – Timing 1, Timing 2, Timing 3 with fungicides as a fixed part of crop agronomy. Up until 2005 in Europe, the pendulum had swung very much to the fungicide side of the IDM pendulum.

Slide 6
However, that’s all changed. In Europe, the profound driver for change has been fungicide resistance. Fungicide resistance influences everything that a European grower now does with fungicides. If there’s one thing that I think is really important to take on, it is that fungicide resistance – if it’s not affecting you now, it will be shortly unless you can moderate your use of fungicides.

What’s gradually happened over time is that we’ve got better products with greater activity, but at the same time fewer products based on limited modes of action. There are fewer products that are more and more environmentally benign, but at the same time at greater risk of resistance development. In other words, we’ve moved from multi-site fungicides that killed the fungus in many different ways to single-site fungicides that do less damage in the environment but actually are much more vulnerable to resistance.

Fungicide insensitivity and resistance
Fungicide insensitivity and resistance has occurred principally in two ways. In Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s, strobilurins, such as pyraclostrobin and azoxystrobin, came along with the biggest media hype since glyphosate. However, after only three to four years, the pathogen causing powdery mildew and then Septoria tritici (now Zymoseptoria tritici) in wheat developed resistance to stobilurins, and that’s been a real challenge ever since. In two to three years, the strobilurins went from being the best products to control foliar diseases in broad acre cereals to products that wouldn’t work against Septoria, a disease that is widespread in northwest Europe. I think that’s when attitudes really changed and people started asking the question, “Is there a different way to control disease?”

Slide 16
We’re in our infancy with fungicide resistance issues in Australia. We can see it in the field with powdery mildew in barley. Our triazole fungicides such as Tilt (propiconazole), Folicur (tebuconazole), Proline (prothioconazole), Prosaro (prothioconazole and tebuconazole co-formulated) don’t work as effectively to control powdery mildew. With Septoria, we’re not yet seeing reduced activity in the field, but the samples are showing insensitivity in the laboratory, so there is increasing threat that we will see resistance to fungicides in the field. 

Europe and triazole use
What has happened in Europe with the triazoles over the last 20 years is that triazole fungicides have gradually become less effective against key diseases, firstly not working as effectively in the lab and then gradually being noted to be less effective in the field. That’s why with triazoles I think it’s important to talk about “fungicide insensitivity” and not “fungicide resistance.”

For example, it’s taken 20 years of exposing the Septoria pathogen population to the triazoles for them to become less effective. They still have activity but are now only 60 to 70 per cent effective when it used to be 90 to 100 per cent. So in Europe the triazoles and the strobilurins become less effective and ineffective for key diseases in a similar time period, but the triazoles had been gradually degrading in their effectiveness over time. 

Therefore with the terminology we use, I think it’s important to recognize we really have three basic modes of action that we use in broad acre cereal disease control – triazoles, strobilurins, and the new SDHIs [succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors].

With the triazoles I think it is probably more appropriate to call it “insensitivity” rather than resistance, since if you say to a grower, “It’s resistant,” the tendency is to think that it won’t work when in reality it is still partially effective.

With regard to the SDHIs, they’re not actually that new since the family of chemistry has been around for 40 years. But a new branch of SDHI chemistry is now taking Europe by storm, as the strobilurins now have less application because of resistance in key pathogens. But after only three years of commercial use with these new SDHIs, resistance is developing quickly in the net blotch and Septoria pathogens.

It’s really important to recognize that fungicide resistance is changing the way in which growers and advisors elsewhere in the world manage their cereal crops. In Australia, growers and advisors are just beginning on that resistance journey. You’ve already had some exposure in Canada to the fact that the strobilurins are at high risk of resistance development in the pathogen.  It begs the question, “What can you do about it?”

Click here for part two: The importance of multiple modes of action and linking pathology with crop physiology.
Published in Diseases
An Ontario company that developed lunar rovers for the Canadian Space Agency has adapted the technology for use on Earth. The vehicle – called Argo J5 XTR (Xtreme Terrain Robot) – has applications across a variety of industries, including agriculture.

Ontario Drive & Gear Limited (ODG) is well-known to many consumers as the maker of Argo, popular all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that can travel on rough terrain through land and water. The Argo J5 XTR is an unmanned robotic platform that travels on rough terrain in a variety of conditions ranging from war zones to underground mines without putting an individual operator at risk.

In agriculture, the Argo J5 XTR is being used on the Caribbean island of Martinique. Visscher says his team was challenged to address common health and safety risks to workers, who were using ATVs to spray banana plantations on steep land for black mould. The workers were exposed to fungicide, hazardous terrain and health problems due to climate.

“We came up with a robot that we can mount a small sprayer to,” says Peter Visscher, chief technology officer for ODG. “It can drive up and down the fields with a remote control, and the operator can stay at the edge of the field without being exposed to the chemical, and without risking tipping over on an ATV while spraying.”

Closer to home, an Argo J5 XTR is also in use by researchers at the University of Guelph for soil sampling in precision agriculture applications. Visscher says he sees potential in the ongoing use of J5s to speed up the soil sampling process.

“In winter, fields are rough and surveyors have to take hundreds of samples,” says Visscher. “If we can automate that process, a soil sampling operator could run three or four of these robots and cover four times the distance from the comfort of his pickup truck.”

For more information, visit ARGO-XTR.com
Published in Corporate News
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