Your Shadow: The Most Valuable Thing You Can Put on your Crop

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06 0709 Your Shadow The Most Valuable Thing

Fully utilizing your Agri-Coaches shadow through crop scouting & tissue testing.

This title is an old, old quote from an American agronomist I ran into years ago. His statement ismore “true” today than ever. It turns out that every year we put lots of shadows on crops. Seeders, sprayers, planes, satellites, growers and Agri-Coaches all cast shadows. Each shadow is usually an opportunity to tweak things either through observation, understanding, application or non-application. High tech tools are available. Agri-Coaches are able to assist. Real-Shot and RapidEye are examples of high-resolution imagery that can make fi eld scouting more directed and effi cient. Th e Precision Management Process allows us to start fi xing fi elds for many years to come. Each of us should seriously consider picking at least 1 owned field in 2009 and use PMP to begin to “fi x” the yield variability for the future. Th e “fi x” may be drainage, pH, variability in potash (K2O) or sulphur, nutrient stratifi cation, subsoil salinity, %BS Na, a specifi c micronutrient, or a combination of issues. One thing I know for sure is that variable rate nitrogen will seldom provide a lasting solution to most fi elds.

Regular scouting of fi elds is the lowest cost input you can put on your crop with the greatest potential return.

Regular fi eld scouting can easily be the most cost eff ective input you can implement on your farm in 2009. In most cases the cost will be signifi cantly less than the "all in" cost of one pass of generic glyphosate!

Typically, an Agri-Coach will off er a scouting services menu that you select from. Weeds, insects, diseases and nutrient evaluation that can be used independently or in conjunction with the various available high tech tools. An Agri-Coach goes into a field with their eyes and mind open to most everything that aff ects that fi eld. While looking for weeds or tissue testing, they are also observing OPD, signs of bugs, disease, nutrient imbalances, etc.

Field scouting is all about connecting the agronomic dots, fi nding synergies and implementing action plans. Every fi eld, every crop and every grower has diff erent issues every year. Second fl ush weeds, wheat midge, club root, corn borer, FHB, sclerotinia, hail, frost, nutrient defi ciencies, are but a few examples of the army of yield robbers that are about to attack your fi elds.

Timely insecticide, fungicide, herbicide and in crop nutrient (soil and foliar) applications have the potential to return huge bucks. Growth regulators, aerial imagery, strategic soil sampling (presidedress corn and Precision Management Process), tissue testing, pest monitoring, moisture probing, irrigation scheduling, Green-Seeker and a host of other tools your Agri-Coach can access will all make a big diff erence, in the right circumstance, in the right field

Tissue sampling is an under utilized tool that can add value in this, and future, crops.

Few Canadian growers use soil testing to help support their input decisions. Far fewer use tissue tests. For about $0.60/ac you can get important information about this years crop AND future crops. Th is data is readily linked to existing soil tests and future crop planning.

Good advice is worth more. Great advice is invaluable

A simple example: Your canola crop tissue analysis is low in Cu. Your soil test is marginal. We all know that canola doesn’t respond to Cu fertility but the tissue is telling you that you need to be very concerned about next year(s) cereal (or fl ax) crop on this field. You may opt to take a deeper soil sample next year to determine the soil Cu profi le &/or add Cu to next
years fertilizer blend &/or plan for a Cu foliar application &/or investigate priming your seed with Cu &/or a multitude of other agronomic possibilities.

Learn, un-learn and re-learn Constantly!

Arm yourself with the right tools and the best help in dealing with this army of yield robbers. Most fungicides will be in short supply, some insecticides will be too, while certain specialty fertilizers are already sold out. Continue learning the “Language of the Plant”.

Walk your fi elds. Get your Agri-Coach to help out. Th row out the old tried and true economic thresholds! Th ey DO NOT apply in today’s market environment.

Inputs cost more so let’s make the best use of them as possible. Manure is worth more (you can move it further!). Straw is worth more (quit giving it away). Your time is worth much more (at least as much as your accountant, maybe even your lawyer!?).

If there was ever a year for in season decision making, supported by in fi eld scouting, this is it!

Talk to your Agri-Coach as soon as possible to take full advantage of their shadow plus the shadows of the Senior Agri-Coach bench (now over 500 years of wisdom/experience) and 70+ fellow Agri-Coaches.

Have a great year!

About the Author
Elston Solberg

Elston brings over 25 years of research expertise to Agri-Trend, through his work as Head Cereal Specialist and Research Agronomist with Alberta Agriculture. In addition to his experience as a researcher at the University of Alberta, Elston also has experience in the waste management industry, including municipal and intensive livestock operations. He has authored, co-authored, and published many research papers in a wide variety of technical and industry journals, and has contributed to numerous articles throughout the ag-media sector. Elston and his associates have raised the awareness of copper fertilization, and he is one of the world’s foremost authorities on sulphur nutrition. Mr. Solberg was instrumental in the establishment of the Crop Diagnostic Training Centre near Edmonton. He has been involved in agricultural projects throughout North America, Europe, China and Australia, and is an accomplished speaker being well received by farm and industry audiences alike. As Head of The Agri-Knowledge Division, Elston provides leadership to our retailers (Agri-Trend Associates), consultants (Agri-Coaches) and farm clients by: Overseeing the agronomic integrity of all Strategic Crop Plan™ recommendations; Providing internal and external training through The Agri-Training Solution™; Managing The Agri-Trend Research Initiative™, and Developing Agri-Knowledge Tools for Strategic Crop Plan farm clients & Agri-Coaches.


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