Archive for the ‘agronomy’ Category

What is Left in the Soil After the 2009 Season

September 15, 2009

By Garth Donald, CCA, Western Canadian Manager of Agronomy, DynagraVRT

With this being a very trying year with a lot of challenges along the way, a large question emerges. What is left in my soil for nutrients? This is a very good question because some areas were very dry and produced below average yields. Others were very wet and produced an above average yield. But definitely the worst cases are the hailed fields. The reason the hailed fields are so tough to figure out is because the crops were at 70 to 75% moisture in the kernel or early dough stage. This means that a good portion of our fertilizer that was placed in the ground at seeding time was already used. Then we started to see some intense regrowth from the hailed crop which started to pull large amounts of nutrient again. So one of the best tools you can you to determine what is left in the soil is a soil test.

There are a few things you need to make sure when you are ordering your soil test. The first thing you need to make sure is that your agronomist is GPS referencing your soil points. With the lack of GPS referencing this is the biggest factor why in western Canada only 30% of our agricultural land gets soil tested and the growers feel this step is a waste of time. With GPS points you take away the large peaks and valleys that you will see on your tests and will see a consistency with your nutrients. Without referencing your points you are basically wasting your time and money doing any soil testing.

Second, do a complete analysis in your topsoil depths. You are trying to make a decision based on the information you have in front of you. The more information the better and easier your decision will become. There are a lot of relationships in your soil test results. For example, phosphate-calcium, potassium-magnesium and sodium-sulphur. With a basic N-P-K-S test it is like wearing a blindfold and having two pin holes to look out. Yes you may be able to see out but you can’t see the whole picture of what is around you and things are not very clear. If your agronomist is only doing an N-P-K-S test then ask him why he doesn’t want to give you a complete picture to look at.

The third thing would be to do at least a double depth test. A single depth test of a 0-12” will give you your nitrogen and sulphur levels but will not give you a clear indication of your phosphorus, potassium and micro nutrients. At a minimum look at doing a 0-6” complete analysis then a 6-12” sub soil test for your nitrogen and sulphur. I find a 0-6” complete and a 6-24” sub soil give a very good window of what is happening in your field.

Lastly, your nutrient recommendation should be made by your agronomist. That is their job not the labs. The labs recommendation is a computer generated recommendation based on averages. Your agronomist should be able to make sound agronomic recommendations based on your yield goals and knowledge of the soil.

Don’t be afraid to ask your agronomist questions about their soil testing protocol and if you don’t like the answer you are given don’t be afraid to look elsewhere for those answers. It is a big decision going into the next growing season so line yourself with people who can help you with those decisions.

Those are my thoughts,

Affects of Modern Farming on the Soil

August 28, 2009

Dr. Ross McKenzie, from the Lethbridge Research Station provides comments on the affect that modern farming has had on the soil. Some groups maintain that modern farming is destroying our top soil levels and creating adverse compaction, and decreasing organic matter. Others would say that things like organic matte are rising based on modern farming methods. I asked Ross to comment on this topic so that we could get a a professional scientific opinion to base some discussion on.

Why Winter Wheat – Ross McKenzie, PhD – Lethbridge Research Station

August 22, 2009

Ross McKenzie, PhD of the Lethbridge Research Station talks about the agronomic considerations for winter wheat. Ross explains seeding dates, plant populations, nutrient requirements, specific variety considerations and seeding depth.

Winter wheat is a great crop with many benefits. Planting winter wheat is a great way to lower the amount of workload in the spring and creates a much more spread out harvest.

Canola School – Lygus Bugs

August 9, 2009
In this edition of the canola school Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada breaks down the issue of lygus bugs and their impact on the canola crop.  Knowing the correct timing for spraying is very important in terms of lygus bugs.  

Dr. Jim Helm and the Lacombe Field Day

August 5, 2009

Jim Helm
Last week I attended the Lacombe Research Station Field Day in Lacombe Alberta. I thought that it was a great time and I picked up some things about a couple varieties that I was unaware of. This is the first time that I have attended this event but based on my experience I will definitely be attending again in the future.

Dr. Jim Helm, Plant Breeder/Head of Research, Field Crop Development Centre, has been contributing to the advancement of feed grains in Canada for 36 years. In the above photo Dr. Helm was commenting on how you breed for drought and fertilizer efficiency. Dr. Helm commented that you simply breed for yield based on the given conditions experienced by the plant. Dr. Helm is great for getting seedsmen, industry and farmers to reconsider the way we are doing something. One of his famous talks is regarding why most feedyards pay for barley based on bushel weight instead of feed value.

See the photo slide show from my trip the Lacombe Field Day
Dr. Helm is responsible for barley varieties like Vivar, Lacombe, Harper, Falcon and Mahigan.

Canola School: Do I Need To Spray Fungicide

July 31, 2009

When the canola canopy is thick and moisture is abundant applying fungicide is necessary.  Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada helps you go through the process of why or why not in terms of applying fungicide this season.  

See more of the Canola School

Canola School: What’s in the Net

July 28, 2009

Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada takes a close look at what bugs we find in the bug sweep net.  Cabbage seed pod weevils and lygus bugs can cause real havoc on the canola crop and Matt helps you identify them.  

Canola School: Proper Sweeping Techniques

July 25, 2009

Finding out what pests are in your canola field starts with sweeping for bugs.  It is essential that you do it correctly if you want to monitor the threshold levels.  Matt Stanford demonstrates the proper technique in the following video.  

Canola School: Creating a Spraying Strategy

June 12, 2009

Weed Identification is key before you spray your canola crop.  Depending on whether you have a glyphosate, liberty or clearfield tolerant variety, your spraying strategy may be different depending on what weeds are in the field.  In this edition o the Canola School Matt Stanford of the Canola Council talks about how forming a spraying strategy is the key to success.  

Canola School: Plant Stand Counts

June 5, 2009

Plant stand is very important and in this segment of the Canola School, Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada talks post seeding evaluation work that needs to be done.  Matt also talks about some of the adversity canola growers have been experiencing this year with seeding and plant stands across Western Canada.  

If you want to see other canola school videos click here