Hello ReaderWe finished harvest last night in time for the dramatic lightening storm and rain showers this morning. I apologize for the late newsletter but it came down to a choice of writing to you fine people or finishing harvest before the rain. Harvest won out.
The dust has settled on our farm but most producers in the area are about 50% complete. There is still a lot of harvest to go and that heavy snowfall put everything into a slow grind. The forecast looks mixed but I’d say another ten days should have it in the bag.
In this newsletter, we’ll look at the impact of uniform plant densities in canola and a fungicide trial that produced greater results than just yield. I’ll provide a great follow up on the results of vertical tillage demo and a few great comments on the seed treatment article from last week. I’ve also included a great read on precision
Stay safe out there!
Harvest Progress(Calgary to Drumheller to Three Hills)
Uniform stands key to optimum canola yieldsEvery year I crawl across thousands of canola acres during my pre and post herbicide scouts. The one thing that stands out is the lack of uniformity in plant stand densities both in furrow and across the field. We often console ourselves when we don’t achieve a uniform canola stand by saying how adaptable and plastic canola plants are. Well, what if I told you that non-uniform plant stand could be dropping your yield by 20 to 30%?
Researchers from Ag Canada released a study on the impact of uniform plant stands with sobering results. They looked at the impacts of plant stand uniformity on pod formation, seed set and yield.
Here is a quick study summary:
- At each site-year, the cultivar InVigor® 5440, a glufosinate-resistant hybrid, was sown at 100, 80, 60, 40, and 20 plants per square meter with uniform and non-uniform stands.
- Uniform plant stands optimized the use of available resources, leading to more fertile pods per plant.
- Survival rate is more important for canola seed yield than plant emergence, as the emerged seedlings do not necessarily become viable productive plants.
- Spatially uniform stands increased seed yield by up to 32% at low-yielding sites and by up to 20% at the high-yielding sites compared to non-uniform plant stands.
- This effect is mainly due to increased number of fertile pods. The yield increase was more pronounced with plant densities lower than 60 plants per square meter.
When it comes to producing a uniform plant stand, the majority of factors that impact canola survival are within our control. Things like residue management, seed depth, speed, rotation, seeding tool, packing pressure and seed placed fertilizer all have great impact on canola emergence and survival. Getting those factors right should be our top priority as this research showed, there’s a lot to gain if we decide to do something about it. What will you do to improve plant stands in your canola fields next year? SL
Fungicide improves standibilityFor many, fungicides have been part of our wheat program for some time. With consecutive wet years and high wheat prices, the ROI’s on fungicides in wheat have been good. Now, with falling wheat prices, 2015 could prove to be more difficult to make that decision. I thought I’d share some interesting results from a fungicide trial that puts fungicide applications into perspective.
The photo you see here shows the strength of using fungicides on wheat outside of higher yields. John Guelly farms near Westlock, AB and took the photo after 8 inches of snow fell on his standing wheat crop in early September. The Stettler HRS wheat was sprayed at flag leaf with Folicur EW on the left and no fungicide on the right. It is easy to see the dramatic difference in standability from the fungicide application versus the check. The yield results as a percentage look impressive as well. Here are the details:
Variety: Stettler HRSW
Fungicide: Folicur EW 200 ml/ac
Fungicide yield 3 reps: 63.82 bu/ac
Check yield: 59.44 bu/ac
Yield increase: 4.38 bu/ac or 13.5%+
Cost: $14.00/ac fung + $8.00/ac app = $22.00/ac
Return: 4.38 bu/ac x $6.00/bu = $26.28/ac
ROI: $4.28/ac or 20%
In the end, the returns aren’t great at $4.00/ac for a $22.00/ac investment in fungicide but it at least it protects your investment from disease and the returns are positive. The impact of fungicides on standability are equally positive and an added bonus to increase harvest efficiency in some cases. The important thing to keep in mind when choosing a fungicide in 2015 is that a 13.5% yield increase sounds impressive, but barely breaks even on a 63 bu/ac wheat crop. SL
The right vertical tillage unit for the job
Case TT 330 versus Salford RTSIn last week’s article on vertical tillage units I mentioned how each machine does a slightly different job of residue cutting and soil disturbance. At $90,000 to $160,000 price tags you want to make sure you purchase the right tool for the job. And, remember, vertical tillage may not be the answer at all, but I digress.
The photo you see here shows the impact of soil disturbance between a Salford RTS foreground and the Case TT 330 background. It is plain to see how different these two machines are. I went back to the site where we tried the Case TT 330, Horsch Joker and the Salford RTS on silage barley stubble that had been hailed at soft dough stage. There was very little
volunteer barley growing in the foreground where the Salford RTS ran through. In the background you can see a tremendous amount of volunteer barley where the Case TT 330 plowed.
The Case TT 330 has notched coulters pitched on an angle versus the Salford which runs a fluted coulter at 90 degrees. The Salford is built to cut and size residue while leaving stubble anchored and standing. The Case TT 330 does a good job of cutting and sizing residue but incorporates a lot more soil than the Salford.
If you’re looking at a residue management tool only, then the Salford is the tool. If you’re looking at incorporating fertilizer or granular herbicides while managing residue, then the Case TT 330 may be a better fit. SL
Nuffield report on precision agricultureHere is another great Nuffield report summarizing the many applications and techniques used in precision agriculture around the world. The author Andrew stopped by the farm back in March.
Favorite quote: “Data analysis is key to unlocking the full potential of variable rate technology. It has to be good enough to determine the cause of the variation, and not just measure the variation.”
Link to Nuffield report here
Reader Comments: Seed coating technology“Yes, the lime and talc work very well. The talc gives the hardness and the lime gives the coating good porosity. We apply the powder at a continuous ratio of 20% talc and 80% lime, and we have found that to get 100% coverage over the seed you need to apply a rate of 20% coating. However, best results have come at 30% total weight gain.
One of the keys to this working so well is that here in Australia our Talc is a round particle shape and the lime has a jagged more triangular shape and the two go together quite well. You would need to look at the particle shape of your own powders as from memory they are different to ours.
Our coatings have all your normal chemistry ingredients applied first and even on occasions we are using inoculants on canola now but they are still really under testing phases.”
Ashley Fraser, Victoria, Aus.
General Manager- Baker Seed Co.