Top Crop Manager

Top Crop Manager
Weed frequency in canola rotations

Weed frequency in canola rotations

With increases in canola production demands and the needs of emerging markets, canola crops are often included more frequently in rotation.

Barley breeding update

Barley breeding update

Barley is the fourth-largest crop in Eastern Canada, after the standard rotation crops of soybeans, corn and wheat.

Soil moisture, nitrogen fertility after pulses

Soil moisture, nitrogen fertility after pulses

On the semiarid Prairies of southern Saskatchewan, where wheat/fallow rotations were common, chemfallow was the first step to improving sustainability.

Soybean cyst nematode in dry beans

Soybean cyst nematode in dry beans

As it spreads across Ontario’s bean-growing region, soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is an increasing issue – not only for soybeans, but also for dry beans.

Barley's health benefits

Barley's health benefits

Research has already proven that barley beta-glucan lowers cholesterol. Now a major clinical trial has answered some previously unanswered questions about this effect.

video
Honey Bee AirFLEX...
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North American Manure Expo comes to Canada...
For the first time ever, the North American Manure Expo is being hosted within a Canadian province. The annual show is being held August 20 and 21, 2013, at the University of Guelph’s Arkell Research Station, located near Guelph, Ontario. So, what's a Manure Expo and why should you attend? This video will provide all the dirt.
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Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitatio...
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitation
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The population explosion...
With the world's population increasing exponentially and farmland staying the same, BASF took to the streets to ask consumers if this trend is sustainable.

Seed/Chemical

If you wait to see significant white mould in the crop, then it’s too late to spray for this disease. Foliar fungicide timing for soybeans

  With foliar fungicide applications, timing is a key factor in soybean yield response. A soybean specialist gives his take on the best timing options. Based on his research results so far, “the long and the short of it is that fungicide timing is highly dependent on the year and what disease you are going after,” says Horst Bohner, provincial soybean specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Bohner’s research interest in fungicide applications began about 10 years ago. “In 2004, soybean rust was found in Ontario for the first time. It was just on one leaf so it wasn’t an economic issue. But it did stir the industry to register fungicides to help control that disease if an outbreak occurred,” he explains. “Prior to that we really only used foliar fungicides in soybeans very sparingly and mostly for white mould. Unfortunately fungicides didn’t really work well for white mould control because soybeans flower for such a long time.” (For white mould, the aim of a fungicide application is to protect the flowers because infected petals are the main way the disease starts in the plant.) “So in 2005, we started a number of trials – as did many people – to assess the different foliar fungicides available at that time. We found that there was a real yield benefit even in the absence of soybean rust; often there are other minor diseases present or, in some cases, there are no visible disease symptoms at all.” Once they knew there was a definite yield benefit from a foliar fungicide, the next question to answer was timing-related: which soybean growth stage would be the best time for spraying? Given that soybeans flower for a long time, what timing would be the most effective for white mould? And what timing would be best for controlling other foliar soybean diseases? Fungicide companies had been recommending that foliar fungicides be applied between the R3 (beginning pod) stage and the R4 (full pod) stage, based on research conducted mainly in the United States. However, results in some initial Ontario trials by BASF and by David Hooker from the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus indicated that an earlier timing, between the R2 (full flower) stage and the R3 stage, provided a greater yield benefit. So Hooker conducted trials in 2013 and found that an R2 to R3 timing increased soybean yields by about one to 1.5 bushels per acre compared to the R3 to R4 timing. Generally in Ontario soybean trials, the yield response to a single foliar fungicide application averages about two bushels per acre, so the possibility of an extra bushel per acre is exciting. As a result, Hooker continued his fungicide timing trials in 2014 and 2015. Hooker’s 2013 results sparked Bohner’s interest in fungicide timing. So Bohner has been conducting field-scale, replicated trials to compare various application timings for the past two years, with funding assistance through the Grain Farmers of Ontario. Bohner’s 2014 trials involved Priaxor and Acapela, and took place at Bornholm, Lucan and St. Thomas, with two soybean varieties at each site. The fungicide timings were: untreated control; in-furrow; V6; R2; R4; in-furrow + R2; and in-furrow + R2 + R4. The 2015 trials involved Priaxor, Stratego Pro, Allegro and Acapela, and were conducted at Bornholm and Lucan, with two soybean varieties at each site. The timings were: untreated control; in-furrow; V6; R2; R4; and R2 + R3. The in-furrow treatment was included in the trials because interest in liquid in-furrow applications in soybeans has been increasing in Ontario. “The idea of applying a foliar fungicide in-furrow is to help protect the roots and early seedlings, similar to putting a fungicide on the seed, which is what we often do now; most certified soybean seed has a fungicide on it,” Bohner explains. He notes that in-furrow foliar fungicide applications are being tried in the United States with mixed results. The tables on the right show the yield results of the different treatments in 2014 and 2015. So far in the trials, the in-furrow and V6 fungicide timings have not resulted in statistically significant yield gains. In 2014, the wet, cool weather conditions favoured white mould at two of the sites. The results showed that if white mould is present at moderate levels, then using a foliar fungicide can produce large yield gains. The greatest yield benefit occurred with the most intensive treatment (in-furrow + R2 + R4); the in-furrow portion of this intensive treatment likely did not affect the yield. In 2015, there was no statistically significant difference between any of the yields, likely because there was no disease pressure present. Timing tipsBohner’s results show that the choice between R1, R2, R3 and R4 timing depends on which disease is the major concern and on the weather conditions. “If you are trying to suppress white mould – white mould is a really hard disease to control so we talk about suppression – you need to think about spraying two times in the growing season. Because you are trying to protect the flowers, consider spraying at R1 [first flower] and then following up with another application 10 to 14 days later, which is around R3. The timing of the first application is not the early part of R1, because R1 can happen quite early in the season. Often R2 is fine for the first spray; if you do that, then you would follow with another application at R4,” Bohner says. “[The choice between a late R1 timing and an R2 timing] depends on the growing season, how big the plants are, how much moisture there is and how much it looks like there is going to be a disease problem. One of the main considerations is coverage. If the plants are quite small and good coverage can be achieved at R2, then this timing is likely all right.  “For the other foliar diseases, when most growers will only need to spray once, the earliest you should spray is at R2,” he adds. “In 2015, we showed that you could spray right up to the R4 stage and get the same [yield] response as at the R2 stage. So the window for the correct timing is wider than we thought it was. It probably ranges from mid-R2 to R4 in most years, depending on the growing conditions that season.” With these other foliar diseases, you have some time to scout and decide whether the disease problem is serious enough to warrant a fungicide application. For white mould, however, you cannot wait until the disease shows up in the crop. “Typically at that late R1, R2 or R3 stage, when you’ll be spraying the first time for white mould, almost no disease would be present. So you have to base your spray decision on the field’s disease history and the weather. If it is cool and wet, and you have had a lot of disease in that field, in my estimate you should apply that first spray at the late R1 to early R2 stage. And then you see what the weather does. If it is wet and cool and you are starting to see some white mould, then you spray again 14 days later. If it turns hot and dry, you don’t spray again,” Bohner explains. He emphasizes, “If you wait to see significant white mould in the crop, then it’s too late to spray. The research shows that. If you wait to spray at R5, for instance, there is no response at all to a fungicide. The disease is set in. “Overall, if you are going to chase control of disease and higher yields with these fungicides, then so far in my work, two applications provide much more consistent results. Of course the problem with that is the cost. And the cost is a pretty big barrier.”      

Agronomy

Rye grass, shown here at the Elora research station,  typically thrive in a cool, moist climate, but new varieties are doing well in Ontario. What’s new in forages

  More and more producers are starting to recognize the benefits forages provide in terms of improved soil quality and reduced erosion, notes Jack Kyle, the pasture and forage specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. But, Kyle notes, “there are still many who don’t manage their forages to the optimum.” The main – and significant – benefits of forages to the crops that follow is in added organic matter and improved soil tilth. However, Kyle warns that perennial forages must be managed correctly for benefits to be fully realized. “A well-fertilized relatively young stand of forage can be very productive,” he says. “But if there is limited fertility or the stand is old, you will not see optimal results.”   New offeringsKyle suggests new varieties of annual and perennial ryegrass may be of particular interest to growers because these species are higher in energy than the other cool season grasses and therefore make excellent forage and pasture. While the challenge in the past has been winter survival, he says, newer cultivars and blends of cultivars are showing not only better persistence, but also higher growing season productivity. “Rye grasses prefer a cool moist climate,” Kyle notes, “but through breeding and selection, there are now blends that are doing well in Ontario.” Another species that is relatively new is festulolium, a hybrid forage grass developed by crossing Meadow Fescue or Tall Fescue with perennial ryegrass or Italian ryegrass, which Kyle says can be used where ryegrass might also be considered. Matt Anderson, manager of product development at DLF Pickseed Canada, says festulolium combines the best properties of the two types of grass. “The fescues contribute qualities such as high dry matter yield, resistance to cold, drought tolerance and persistence, while ryegrass is characterized by rapid establishment, good spring growth, good digestibility, sugar content and palatability,” he notes. “The individual festulolium varieties contain various combinations of these qualities, but all are substantially higher-yielding than their parent lines.” DLF Pickseed has developed a substantial breeding program in festulolium that has produced a unique range of varieties.   On the legume side, Kyle says there is currently quite a bit of interest in sainfoin, in Western Canada anyway, because a new higher-yielding variety called AC Mountainview was recently developed in Lethbridge, Alta., by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Surya Acharya. “There is a renewed interest in grazing and wanting to maximize the productivity of the pastures,” Kyle says. “Alfalfa is excellent from a forage productivity standpoint but the risk of bloat in grazing livestock discourages its use. However, sainfoin is non-bloating, and if you include it in a mix, its non-bloat characteristics would counteract the bloat-inducing qualities of the alfalfa.”  Sainfoin (from French words “sain” and “foin” meaning “healthy hay”) is a centuries-old forage from Europe and western Asia. The plant contains a fair amount of condensed tannins, which help a cow’s digestive tract more efficiently process plant protein, preventing build-up of gas in the rumen (bloating). AAFC trials are ongoing in western provinces and may take place in Ontario in future. Forage cultivation – fertilize and think short-term“I think one of the biggest mistakes with forage management is the lack of fertility applied to fields,” Kyle notes. “There is a significant amount of phosphorus and potassium leaving a hay field with each harvest. Often this is not replaced with commercial fertilizer or manure. Over a few years, the fertility in the soil is reduced, resulting in reduced plant vigour and shortened stand life.” Grass hay fields and grass pastures specifically, he says, need adequate nitrogen for good plant growth and productivity. Kyle says most forage fields reach their peak production in the third year and then productivity starts to make a significant decline, yet producers often look for five to 10 years from a forage stand. Shortening the life of the stand to two or three years instead, he advises, will result in increased productivity and the positive impact on the succeeding crops will be maximized. Anderson completely agrees. “In pastures, the biggest opportunity to increase productivity is to rotationally graze the pastures so that the forage plants get grazed over a short time period (a few days) and then give them sufficient time to recover and regrow,” Kyle notes. “Pasture fields should be managed in the same way as hay fields – harvest at the opportune time as quickly as possible and stay out of the field until there is sufficient growth to harvest again.” Double crop foragesDouble crop forages are forages that follow a cereal crop and are allowed to grow from mid-late summer through to a killing frost in the fall. With this scenario there is going to be ground cover during much of that time, Kyle explains. “This is what forages are all about – adding organic material to the soil through ground cover and also through root growth,” he says. “It reduces soil erosion and provides improved yields in succeeding crops. And the combination of ground cover and added soil organic matter provided by double crop forages is similar to what perennial forages provide, but on an annual basis.” When planning double cropping with forages, Kyle advises a close look at the growth characteristics of the species that you are considering in the forage mix. “Find out whether or not the species will set seed in the fall, and if so, ask yourself if you can you manage it as a volunteer next year,” he says. “The same goes for any species that might over-winter – how are you going to control it next spring?” Kyle also urges growers to ask themselves if there is a sufficient growing season for the species to gain reasonable root and top growth, and whether or not they wish to harvest some of this crop as forage. “If yes, what considerations will be necessary given that harvest is going to occur at a time when drying conditions are poor and frequent rains may well be occurring?” he asks. Also ask if it makes sense to pasture the cover crop. “I think this is a real opportunity for cover crop utilization,” Kyle says. “By grazing, the nutrients stay in the field, you don’t have to deal with harvest issues and you have a very low-cost livestock feed, with added benefits to the soil. It’s a win all around.”    

Business & Policy

 The 2016 Canadian Truck King Challenge compared four trucks in the full-size half-ton pickup truck category. The best of the bunch

For the past nine years, veteran automotive journalists have donated their time to act as judges in the only annual North American truck competition that tests pickup and van models head to head – while hauling payload and also towing.   The Canadian Truck King Challenge started in 2006, and each year these writers return because they believe in this straightforward approach to testing and they know their readers want the results it creates. I started it (and continue to do it) for the same reason – that, and my belief that after 40 years of putting trucks to work I know what’s important to Canadians. Now, that’s a long list of qualifications, but in a nutshell it’s the concept that a truck can be pretty, but that alone is just not enough. It had also better do its job – and do it well. This year, nine judges travelled from Quebec, Saskatchewan and across Ontario to the Kawartha Lakes Region where we test the trucks each year.  All the entries are delivered to my 70-acre IronWood test site days before the judges arrive so we can prepare them for hauling and towing. In the meantime they are all outfitted with digital data collectors. These gadgets plug into the USB readers on each vehicle and transmit fuel consumption data to a company in Kitchener, Ont. (MyCarma) that records, compiles and translates those readings into fuel economy results that span the almost 4,000 test kilometers we accumulate over two long days.   These results are as real world as it gets. The numbers are broken into empty runs, loaded results and even consumption while towing. Each segment is measured during test loops with the trucks being driven by five judges – one after the other. That’s five different driving styles, acceleration, braking and idling (we don’t shut the engines down during seat changes).   The Head River test loop itself is also a combination of road surfaces and speed limits. At 17-kilometres long it runs on gravel, secondary paved road and highway. Speed limits vary from 50 to 80 km/h and the road climbs and drops off an escarpment-like ridgeline several times; plus it crosses the Head River twice at its lowest elevation. The off-road part of our testing is done on my own course at IronWood. Vans are not tested on the off-road course, though it’s noteworthy that the Mercedes Sprinter was equipped with a four-wheel drive system this year. This is the third year that we have used the data collection system and released the final fuel consumption report that MyCarma prepares for the Truck King Challenge. It’s become one of our most anticipated results. But how do we decide what to test? Well as anyone who’s bought a truck knows, the manufacturers never sleep, bringing something different to market every year. As the challenge looks to follow market trends, what and how we test must change each year too and the 2016 model year proved no different. We had a field of 14 contenders at IronWood this year covering four categories. They were as follows: Full-size half-ton pickup truck Ford F-150, Platinum, 3.5L, V6 EcoBoost, gas, 6-speed Auto Ford F-150, XLT, 2.7L, V6 EcoBoost, gas, 6-speed Auto Chevrolet Silverado, High Country, 6.2L, V8, gas, 8-speed Auto Ram 1500, Laramie, 3L EcoDiesel, V6, diesel, 8-speed Auto Mid-size pickup truck Toyota Tacoma, TRD Off-Road, 3.5L V6, gas, 6-speed Auto GMC Canyon, SLT, 2.8L Duramax, I-4 diesel, 6-speed Auto Chevrolet Colorado, Z71, 3.6L V6, gas, 6-speed Auto Full-size commercial vans Ford Transit 250, 3.2L Power Stroke I-5 diesel, 6-speed Auto Mercedes Sprinter 2.0L BLUE-Tec I-4 diesel, 2X4 Mercedes Sprinter 3.0L BLUE-Tec V6 diesel, 4X4 Ram ProMaster 1500, 3.0L I-4 diesel, 6-speed Auto/Manual Mid-size commercial vans Ram ProMaster City, SLT, 2.4L Tigershark I-4 gas, 9-speed Auto Nissan NV200, 2.0L I-4, gas, Xtronic CVT Auto Mercedes Metris, 2.0L I-4, gas, 7-speed Auto These vehicles are each all-new – or have had significant changes made to them. However, this year, the Truck King Challenge decided to try something else new by offering a returning champion category. This idea had been growing for a while and had everything to do with the engineering cycles that each manufacturer follows. Simply put, trucks are not significantly updated each year and to date we have only included “new” iron in each year’s competition. However, we started to think that just because a truck is in the second or third year of its current generational life shouldn’t make it non-competitive. Certainly if you watch the builders’ ads it doesn’t!   So, this spring we decided that for the first time the immediate previous year’s winner (in each category) would be offered the chance to send its current truck back to IronWood to compete against what’s new on the market.   This year the invitation was sent to the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Ford Transit 250 and Nissan NV200 – all previous winners that accepted the offer to return and fight for their crowns. They, along with the new vehicles, took the tests over two days with the judges evaluating everything from towing feel to interior features. The judges score each vehicle in 20 different categories; these scores are then averaged across the field of judges and converted to a score out of 100. Finally the “as tested” price of each vehicle is also weighted against the average (adding or subtracting points) for the final outcome. And this year’s segment winners are... Full-Size Half-Ton Pickup Truck – Ram 1500 EcoDiesel – 82.97 per cent Mid-Size Pickup Truck – GMC Canyon Duramax – 76.30 per cent Full-Size Commercial Van – Ford Transit 250 – 73.90 per cent Mid-Size Commercial Van – Mercedes Metris – 75.69 per cent The overall top scoring 2016 Canadian Truck King Challenge winner is the Ram 1500, Laramie, 3L EcoDiesel, V6 diesel, 8-speed Auto. Congratulations to all the winners and to the two repeating champions – the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and the Ford Transit 250.

Machinery

 The 2016 Canadian Truck King Challenge compared four trucks in the full-size half-ton pickup truck category. The best of the bunch

For the past nine years, veteran automotive journalists have donated their time to act as judges in the only annual North American truck competition that tests pickup and van models head to head – while hauling payload and also towing.   The Canadian Truck King Challenge started in 2006, and each year these writers return because they believe in this straightforward approach to testing and they know their readers want the results it creates. I started it (and continue to do it) for the same reason – that, and my belief that after 40 years of putting trucks to work I know what’s important to Canadians. Now, that’s a long list of qualifications, but in a nutshell it’s the concept that a truck can be pretty, but that alone is just not enough. It had also better do its job – and do it well. This year, nine judges travelled from Quebec, Saskatchewan and across Ontario to the Kawartha Lakes Region where we test the trucks each year.  All the entries are delivered to my 70-acre IronWood test site days before the judges arrive so we can prepare them for hauling and towing. In the meantime they are all outfitted with digital data collectors. These gadgets plug into the USB readers on each vehicle and transmit fuel consumption data to a company in Kitchener, Ont. (MyCarma) that records, compiles and translates those readings into fuel economy results that span the almost 4,000 test kilometers we accumulate over two long days.   These results are as real world as it gets. The numbers are broken into empty runs, loaded results and even consumption while towing. Each segment is measured during test loops with the trucks being driven by five judges – one after the other. That’s five different driving styles, acceleration, braking and idling (we don’t shut the engines down during seat changes).   The Head River test loop itself is also a combination of road surfaces and speed limits. At 17-kilometres long it runs on gravel, secondary paved road and highway. Speed limits vary from 50 to 80 km/h and the road climbs and drops off an escarpment-like ridgeline several times; plus it crosses the Head River twice at its lowest elevation. The off-road part of our testing is done on my own course at IronWood. Vans are not tested on the off-road course, though it’s noteworthy that the Mercedes Sprinter was equipped with a four-wheel drive system this year. This is the third year that we have used the data collection system and released the final fuel consumption report that MyCarma prepares for the Truck King Challenge. It’s become one of our most anticipated results. But how do we decide what to test? Well as anyone who’s bought a truck knows, the manufacturers never sleep, bringing something different to market every year. As the challenge looks to follow market trends, what and how we test must change each year too and the 2016 model year proved no different. We had a field of 14 contenders at IronWood this year covering four categories. They were as follows: Full-size half-ton pickup truck Ford F-150, Platinum, 3.5L, V6 EcoBoost, gas, 6-speed Auto Ford F-150, XLT, 2.7L, V6 EcoBoost, gas, 6-speed Auto Chevrolet Silverado, High Country, 6.2L, V8, gas, 8-speed Auto Ram 1500, Laramie, 3L EcoDiesel, V6, diesel, 8-speed Auto Mid-size pickup truck Toyota Tacoma, TRD Off-Road, 3.5L V6, gas, 6-speed Auto GMC Canyon, SLT, 2.8L Duramax, I-4 diesel, 6-speed Auto Chevrolet Colorado, Z71, 3.6L V6, gas, 6-speed Auto Full-size commercial vans Ford Transit 250, 3.2L Power Stroke I-5 diesel, 6-speed Auto Mercedes Sprinter 2.0L BLUE-Tec I-4 diesel, 2X4 Mercedes Sprinter 3.0L BLUE-Tec V6 diesel, 4X4 Ram ProMaster 1500, 3.0L I-4 diesel, 6-speed Auto/Manual Mid-size commercial vans Ram ProMaster City, SLT, 2.4L Tigershark I-4 gas, 9-speed Auto Nissan NV200, 2.0L I-4, gas, Xtronic CVT Auto Mercedes Metris, 2.0L I-4, gas, 7-speed Auto These vehicles are each all-new – or have had significant changes made to them. However, this year, the Truck King Challenge decided to try something else new by offering a returning champion category. This idea had been growing for a while and had everything to do with the engineering cycles that each manufacturer follows. Simply put, trucks are not significantly updated each year and to date we have only included “new” iron in each year’s competition. However, we started to think that just because a truck is in the second or third year of its current generational life shouldn’t make it non-competitive. Certainly if you watch the builders’ ads it doesn’t!   So, this spring we decided that for the first time the immediate previous year’s winner (in each category) would be offered the chance to send its current truck back to IronWood to compete against what’s new on the market.   This year the invitation was sent to the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Ford Transit 250 and Nissan NV200 – all previous winners that accepted the offer to return and fight for their crowns. They, along with the new vehicles, took the tests over two days with the judges evaluating everything from towing feel to interior features. The judges score each vehicle in 20 different categories; these scores are then averaged across the field of judges and converted to a score out of 100. Finally the “as tested” price of each vehicle is also weighted against the average (adding or subtracting points) for the final outcome. And this year’s segment winners are... Full-Size Half-Ton Pickup Truck – Ram 1500 EcoDiesel – 82.97 per cent Mid-Size Pickup Truck – GMC Canyon Duramax – 76.30 per cent Full-Size Commercial Van – Ford Transit 250 – 73.90 per cent Mid-Size Commercial Van – Mercedes Metris – 75.69 per cent The overall top scoring 2016 Canadian Truck King Challenge winner is the Ram 1500, Laramie, 3L EcoDiesel, V6 diesel, 8-speed Auto. Congratulations to all the winners and to the two repeating champions – the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and the Ford Transit 250.