Edible Bean School: Fine-tuning N rates and fungicide decisions through on-farm research

There’s no better place to conduct practical agronomic research than in the real world, under the same conditions, using the same equipment and management practices.

That’s the premise underlying the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers’ On-Farm Network, a farmer-driven research program that was officially launched 10 years ago, in 2014.

“We really saw a need for us to validate some of the things we were learning from small plot research, to actually take that to the field scale — how does it actually perform in our fields, when we’ve got field scale variability, field size equipment, and our own growing conditions in those fields,” explains Laura Schmidt, MPSG production specialist, in this latest Edible Bean School episode.

There have been 34 trials conducted together with dry bean growers in Manitoba as part of the On-Farm Network — 19 looking at fungicide applications, six focusing on nitrogen rates, five on inoculants, three on strip till, and one looking at biological treatments (check out the research reports here).

For example, the on-farm trials in Manitoba have shown a single application of foliar fungicide at early pin bean (R2) increased yield 11 per cent of the time, with an average increase in those instances of 170 lb/ac.

On N rates, trials have shown environmental conditions and field history major factors in how nitrogen-fixing beans respond — applying 70lb N/ac increased yield by 8 to 17 per cent on half of on-farm trials.

“We are noticing a lot of our dry bean crops are actually forming nodules with the rhizobia in our soils, so what else can we do to promote that? Is it walking nitrogen rates back? Is it trying some of these inoculant products that are all about that nitrogen nutrition? We have some history of dry beans, so we can definitely take advantage of that. and fine tune that nitrogen management decision,” notes Schmidt.

She encourages farmers interested in conducting their own research to check out a step-by-step guide on how to set up on-farm trials in a way that maximizes confidence in the results.

Check out this episode, filmed at the 2024 Dry Bean Day in Altona, Man., for more with Laura on the value of on-farm research when it comes to managing edible beans.

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