Soybean School: Weed control strategies for a late fall

As the growing season winds down, fall provides a critical opportunity for weed management — especially in those soybean fields that are a bit behind in the maturity game.

As Ken Currah, of BASF explains in our latest episode of the Soybean School, this time of the year the focus is going to be on perennial weeds — such as thistles — that are pulling nutrients into their extensive root systems.

“Fall is a great time to hit the emergence and establishment window of some weed species,” he explains. “But for some perennials, it allows us to catch them when they’re getting ready for winter.” (Story continues below video)

One challenge when it comes to fall weed control is the shorter daylight hours, which makes it more difficult for herbicides to work to their full capabilities. Currah notes that in fall, we can send herbicides for the ride, with nutrients moving to the roots, and “really start to set ourselves up for some actual weed control — as in removal from the field.”

Left unchecked, problem perennials like thistles can form extensive root systems that are much more difficult to control in spring. In order to stay on top of it, it’s going to require knowing your field inside and out, and knowing exactly where and what those problem areas are.

“You’ve also got to know how [the problem weed] fits into your spring herbicide program as well,” explains Currah. For growers facing late harvests, optimizing the post-harvest weed control pass becomes even more crucial. However, it’s important to note that crucial doesn’t mean get it done as fast as you can — speed really matters for efficacy, here.

“If you slow down, you will get better coverage, there’s less turbulence behind the boom, and you’ll get better coverage on that crop,” says Currah. “Cleaning up problem perennials in the fall, growers set themselves up for better spring control.”

Living Lab — Ontario is looking for farmer participants

Ontario farmers interested in participating in the Living Lab initiative are invited to complete a survey in order to begin the process.

The Living Lab — Ontario project has been set up to bring together farmers, scientists, sector organizations, and other experts to co-develop, test, and evaluate Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that address climate change challenges in livestock and cropping systems.

This five-year program is one of 13 living labs across Canada that are part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) program.

Led by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), other commodity groups involved include Beef Farmers of Ontario, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Pork, and Ontario Sheep Farmers.

This latest iteration is seeking motivated farmers who are willing to collaborate with researchers to co-develop and implement research and innovation trials aimed at addressing climate change challenges on their farms for up to four years, share pertinent management data for assessing BMP impacts on profitability, productivity, and the environment, and participate in networks and events to foster information sharing with their peers.

The project builds on the previous living lab project in Ontario, but with a revised focus on evaluating and adopting BMPs that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase carbon sequestration on farms, including:

  • Technologies and practices to increase nitrogen use efficiency and minimize nitrogen losses
  • Managing manure storages to reduce GHG emissions
  • Grazing practices to increase carbon sequestration
  • Profit mapping to improve land use decisions
  • Increasing carbon sequestration and environmental benefits in field boundaries and nonproductive lands

Those farmers interested can fill out a survey by October 2nd, here.

The Agronomists, Ep 126: Soil sampling for N and P with Austin Bruch and Jason Voogt

Fall soil sampling is an integral part of planning nutrient application rates for the following crop. Knowing where to sample, how early is too early and why, and what to do about results is the topic of this episode of The Agronomists!

Focusing on fall sampling of phosphorus and nitrogen, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Jason Voogt of Field 2 Field Agronomy and Austin Bruch of Sylvite, to tackle how fall application can differ from spring, how to minimize losses of both nutrients, and why sampling is so valuable overall.

This episode of The Agronomists is brought to you by ADAMA Canada, Corteva Enlist E3 soybeans, and RealAg on the Weekend!

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RealAg Radio: Broadcasting fertilizer, wheat planting depth, and corn maturity, Sept 25, 2023

Thanks for tuning in to this Agronomic Monday edition of RealAg Radio. In today’s episode, host Shaun Haney goes over some feedback from you — the audience! He is then joined by Peter Johnson to discuss a number of topics, including:

  • Gibberella in corn;
  • Corn maturity;
  • Wheat planting depth; and
  • Cutting height on silage.

We will also hear a clip from Pat Lynch on the evolution of broadcast fertilizer.

Thoughts on something we talked about on the show? Connect with host Shaun Haney via email [email protected], on Twitter by using the hashtag #RealAgRadio, or give us a shout on the response line, 1-855-776-6147. 

Pulse School: Dry year? Check residual nitrate levels

Pulse crops, for the most part, prefer drier conditions; however, the level of drought in some areas of the Prairies over the past few years has been too much for even them.

Following multiple years of drought, it becomes more important for farmers to conduct soil tests ahead of planting pulse crops, such as lentils and peas, which can be picky crops to grow, to say the least.

Lara de Moissac, precision agronomist with SWAT Maps, joins our latest episode of the Pulse School to discuss why residual nitrate levels could be high after such dry conditions, which could negatively impact nodulation and nitrogen fixation next year.

Proper nodulation is very key for pulses to exchange carbohydrates for usable nitrogen from rhizobia bacteria in root nodules, says de Moissac. Too much residual nitrate in the soil will stop the pulses from singling rhizobia to initiate the nodulation process.

Soil testing in the fall will allow farmers to determine these residual nitrate levels, allowing time to potentially change field selection to set the crop off  with the best possible chance for success.

“If you think of the brown soil zone, they barely had any snowpack last year, and most areas are surviving with less than three inches of precipitation this year. So the nitrogen levels could be really really high,” she explains.

Check out the full conversation between de Moissac and RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis, below:

When soil sampling, de Moissac says it’s best to separate samples by zone, based on factors such as topography, texture, and organic matter that influence nutrient response. Hilltops as well may have very high residual levels, while low-lying areas could be even higher.

“You also want to make sure you’re going deep enough in case there was any nitrogen movement, since it is a mobile nutrient. So test at least down to 16 inches. I know a lot of people would recommend down to 24. With the amount — or lack thereof — precipitation we’ve had, I think 16 years this year would suffice. So you do want to make sure you’re getting that complete picture.”

A new tool joins the fight against corn rootworm

Pests, such as corn rootworm, continue to evolve and so does the technology required to control these these yield-robbing insects.

At Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show earlier this month, Bayer Crop Science launched SmartStax Pro with RNAi technology, a new mode of action to help defend corn plants against the pest.

David Kikkert, Bayer Crop Science’s Canada portfolio lead for corn and soybeans, says the RNAi technology builds on the rootworm defence already delivered by Bt proteins. In this interview, he explains that Bt proteins produce a toxin that kills the rootworm when it is ingested by the pest. RNAi technology, however, works differently. When rootworms bite into corn and ingest RNAi, the technology disrupts the pest’s ability to create life-essential proteins necessary for  survival and effectively kills it.

Kikkert notes that it’s also important for growers to maintain best management practices, including crop rotation to help manage resistance to corn rootworm traits. He says hybrids carrying SmartStax Pro with RNAi technology will be widely available from a range of seed brands for 2024 planting.

Kikkert also gives growers a glimpse inside the Bayer Crop Science product pipeline and discusses what new traits and technology the company is expecting to commercialize in the near future.

Check out the full conversation with Kikkert and RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, filmed at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show 2023, brought to you by PRIDE Seeds:

Click her for coverage of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

U.S. lawmakers to consider legislation aimed at guaranteeing farmers’ right-to-repair

Lawmakers in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have now proposed legislation aimed at guaranteeing farmers have the right-to-repair agricultural equipment.

Washington Democrat Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez introduced the Agricultural Right to Repair Act in the House last week. The bill closely mirrors legislation put forward by Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester in the Senate last year.

The U.S. National Farmers Union is welcoming the bill, saying it could save American farmers an estimated $4.2 billion per year in direct costs and equipment downtime.

“The introduction of the Agricultural Right to Repair Act is an important step in our fight to ensure farmers across the country have fair and affordable access to the parts, tools, and information they need to fix farm equipment,” notes U.S. NFU president Rob Larew. “NFU stands ready to push this bill forward.”

The legislation proposed by Gluesenkamp Perez defines the type of information manufacturers would be required to provide regarding repairs. If an OEM does not make the necessary digital or physical tools available, they would be required to provide enough information to create the tools. The bill would also enhance the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to enforce these requirements.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has not commented on the proposed legislation. The AFBF has reached right-to-repair memorandums-of-understanding with several major manufacturers, including John Deere, Case/New Holland, AGCO (Fendt, Massey, Challenger, and Gleaner) and Kubota, over the past ten months, however, the terms of the agreements prevent the Farm Bureau from lobbying for legislation that goes beyond the terms of the MOUs.

At the state level, Colorado has already passed its own agricultural right-to-repair bill. The legislation, which was signed into law in April, requires manufacturers to provide farmers and independent repair providers with diagnostic tools, software documents, and manuals starting Jan. 1, 2024.

While American legislation could affect the extent to which repair resources are available to farmers in Canada, a private member’s bill aimed at protecting Canadians’ right-to-repair is currently waiting for third reading in the House of Commons.

The intent of Bill C-244, which was brought forward by BC Liberal MP Wilson Miao, is to amend the Copyright Act “in order to allow the circumvention of a technological protection measure in a computer program if the circumvention is solely for the purpose of the diagnosis, maintenance or repair of a product.”

Related: Machinery dealers ask for farm equipment to be exempt from proposed right-to-repair law