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Avoid precision equipment spring madness

Sports of all kinds offer a ready analogy to consider when preparing your team and your customers for a great season of precision agriculture. Pardon the cliché, but having a solid game plan matters. Machines, systems and people all offer opportunities for “spring tune-up” and often it’s the little things, when overlooked, that will stop you cold.

Bill Cosby did a routine years ago about his career as a football player at Temple University. He tells the story of how the coach fired them up at halftime with a raucous back-and-forth dialog, “Are you ready to go out there and kill ‘em?” answered by a “Yes, let’s go get ‘em!!” The frenzy accelerates to a fever pitch and the players jump up to rush from the locker room to the field.

Then he delivers the punch line: “And the door was locked.”Envizio-PRO_2

Precision agriculture, with its sophisticated software and electronics, offers many moments when the door can SEEM to be locked. Even small glitches can be amplified when growers are eager and the stress is high. Anticipating possible pinch points offers the virtual equivalent of WD-40 for a sticky deadbolt.

Andy Hill is president of Independent Support Services, Inc. (ISS) located in northeast Indiana. ISS is a business with two components, a precision technology testing service and a “Tier One” phone support service for precision systems. Each of these activities give Hill and his team a wide open view of how precision technology interfaces with farmers and retailers in the field. He offers the following short list of priorities for prep and troubleshooting.

Check equipment early. Get your equipment—auto steer, application controller, planters—out and do a pre-season dry run to make sure everything is working.

“Systems may not have been working when they put the machinery away last season,” said Hill. “And of course it’s when they pull it out again for spring that they remember, ‘oh, yeah, that’s right, I remember that failed late last year and we just put it away anyway.’” Hill suggests setting aside two hours for a dry run on each unit to make sure it’s doing what it should.

Update your software. If your system is not working and you need help from support staff, among the first questions they are going to ask is, “Have you updated?”

“If it’s working, I understand that you may want to leave well enough alone,” said Hill, but added that it may be a short-sighted choice. “Updating software has to become more routine.”

Hill says the industry is now further along, meaning that the numbers of different systems and versions have multiplied.

“All of us are moving forward and we have good people, but they may not remember every version being used out there.” When you have the latest version, you are likely to have the best experience. Examine and replace cables. Even in a brand new install, cables can be the culprit. Take a close look at cables to see if anything is loose or shorting out, or if you simply have a bad cable or rodent damage. “Mice do like to chew cables,” Hill said.

Of course, all of this preparation and troubleshooting involves real people with varying personalities, so maintaining a positive attitude will always improve the outcome.

Hill ended by saying, “If you are a precision ag guy working with growers faced with challenges of this kind, the first thing is be professional. You need to exhibit in the field what you would want people to exhibit to you. Be a person who really wants to help the customer solve the problem. Treat them as you would want to be treated.”

By K. Elliott Nowels

7 Keys To Delivering Effective Fertility Programs

Agriculture today is being challenged. The task ahead for every person and entity in the crop  production chain is clear: figuring out how to feed a growing global population using essentially the same number of acres while making best use of our limited resources.

This challenge has triggered a top-to-bottom review of best practices to determine what the industry is doing right, and what we can do better. One key focus is on the condition of our soils, and whether our fields are nutrient-optimized to reduce risk and maximize yield.

Not unlike the annual check-up we go through at the doctor’s office, a regular soil testing regimen sets the baseline to understand a field’s soil health and vitality. Adds long-time agronomist and researcher Dr. Harold Reetz, “soil testing is the only way we have of determining whether or not we have enough nutrients in the soil to grow healthy crops.”

Dr. Paul Fixen, senior vice president and director of research at the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), says that the idea of nutrient balance — comparing the amount applied to the amount removed by crop harvest — has been a key topic at meetings he has attended recently.

Through aggregating national soil test data, IPNI has determined that despite the benefits of optimizing yield, soil nutrient levels are often not where they need to be.

“The balances for phosphorus and potassium in much of the U.S. Corn Belt have become decidedly negative, and our soil test summaries have demonstrated that these negative budgets are frequently drawing down soil fertility to less than optimal levels,” says Fixen. Retail agronomists play two critical roles. First, they must ensure that accurate and regular soil tests are a part of the fertility program. Second, they must reinforce with growers the importance of following scientific recommendations to more fully realize the yield potential of the crop and maintain the long-term value of the land.


usa2.largeusa1.largeThe maps reveal the percentage of soil samples that are below critical levels for major crops in phosphorus (at left or top) and potassium. 2010 data courtesy of IPNI. Click to enlarge.


What To Consider When Selecting Your Starter Fertilizer

The use of starter fertilizer materials is an important decision for your farming operation. Make certain your crop is getting the adequate nutrition early in the growing season to make high yields achievable.

  1. Soils with low-soil-test phosphorus and potassium are prime soils for applying a complete macronutrient starter package.
  2. Tillage is a major factor on selection when using soil-test information to make starter-source decisions.
  3. Starter formulations with sulfur and micronutrients are also an option. However, soil type is a major factor when considering this formulation.
  4. High pH testing soils can respond well to starter fertilizers that contain zinc, manganese or other micronutrients.
  5. Soils that produced nutrient-deficient crops in the past can benefit from starter fertilizer containing the deficient nutrient.
  6. For farmers that rely primarily on sidedress nitrogen for the bulk of the nitrogen budget, starter materials with a good amount of nitrogen can go a long way toward ensuring adequate nitrogen nutrition until sidedress time.

Shop Agrimart.net for all your Fertilizer Application needs

BASF: The key to weed control comes early in the season

Want to improve yields, control weeds and fight resistance this growing season? Experts agree the key to success is early season weed control.

“Effective weed management today means starting the growing season with a clean weed-free seedbed,” said Bryan Young, Ph.D., Associate Professor of weed science, Purdue University. “That typically means tillage in corn and in some cases a spring burndown in soybeans. Then make sure that the field stays clean from that point forward throughout the season. Residual herbicides are critically important in helping us reduce weed competition to optimize crop yields and to improve control of our most problematic weeds.”

Residual weed control can save time and money by reducing the amount of post-emergence applications needed throughout the season.gal1l7apacheequipmenttechIMG_0209

Studies have shown that preplant and preemerge herbicides can improve net return by a potential $36 to $60 per acre after the cost of herbicide application in soybeans.

“Weeds are easiest to control at the beginning of the season,” said Mark Oostlander, Technical Market Manager, BASF. “Early in the season, weeds aren’t taking as many important resources such as water, sun and nutrients from your crops as they will later in the season. Controlling weeds in the beginning is the most efficient and cost-effective step you can take in weed control. I would recommend a preplant or preemergence herbicide with residual control.”

As weeds grow larger, they become a greater threat to crops. Studies have shown that soybean yields can be reduced six percent if weeds grow to nine inches. In corn, 12-inch weeds can cause up to 10 percent yield loss.

Not only is early season weed control an effective strategy for combatting weeds at their easiest stages, but it can also help in the fight against weed resistance.

“When you have weeds resistant to glyphosate and are utilizing different herbicide chemistries, a two-inch weed might be the maximum height you can control with the herbicide,” explained Young. “We’ve seen resistance happen before and it’s too risky to allow these weeds to emerge and depend solely on the timing of a post-emergence herbicide. For some weeds, we don’t have effective post-emergence herbicide options, it’s all about never letting these weeds get a start.”

Visit Agrimart.net for all of your Weed Control Spray needs.

Medium Pressure TurboDrop DualFan – TADF Nozzles

The TurboDrop Asymmetrical DualFan is a revolutionary air injection nozzle design that allows spraying the target two to four times in one pass. The 10 degree forward spray pattern makes slightly smaller droplets than the 50 degree

rearward spray pattern. Set up in the standard orientation on the spray boom, the forward spray covers the front side of the target and the rearward spray covers the back side. If every other nozzles is mounted “backwards” on the boom, the result is four distinct spray patterns delivered to the target. The two outer patterns (with the larger droplets) help shield the two inner patterns (with smaller droplets) from the wind. By spraying forward, backwards and down, the TurboDrop DualFan achieves a unique balance of coverage, penetration and drift control not previously possible with any other spray nozzle.

In most sizes, the droplet spectrum is Medium-Coarse below 80 psi and Medium-Fine above 80 psi, making the DualFan nozzle extremely versatile. It can be used in drift-sensitive applications at 30-60+ psi and can be used for coverage-critical applications at 60-120 psi. Shop Agrimart for all of your Greenleaf Nozzle needs.

Wide Pressure Range: 20-120psi
Wide Drift Control Range: Sizes 015-02: 20-50 psi

Sizes 025-04: 20-60 psi

Size 05: 20-70 psi

Sizes 06/08: 20-80 psi

Size 10: 20-100 psi

Separate Injector (Venturi) Comes apart by hand, easy to clean (no tools required).
Patented Stabilization Chamber Even and uniform mixing of air with liquid which gives a tighter, more uniform droplet spectrum and a homogeneous spray solution across a wide operating range.
Excellent With Rate Controllers Wide pressure range allows greatest speed variations.
Improved Coverage, Reduced Runoff Air-filled droplets spread on the target surface rather than bouncing off.
Reduced Clogging One metering orifice versus two with other twin fan nozzles.
Interchangeable Tip / Cap Two spray nozzles in one. Other tips may also be used.
Proven TurboDrop® Technology Over 17 Years in 40 countries.
Longer Wear Life 20-30,000 acres for TADF

50-80,000 acres for TACDF

Patented Pulsation Dampener Stable, uniform spray pattern across pressure range gives good patternation and coverage.
Widest Variety of Applications Recommended for herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers, growth regulators, etc.
More Spray on Target Spray two to four times in one pass.
Approved for Bayer’s Liberty herbicide TurboDrop TADF are the only dual fan Venturi nozzle recommended by Bayer for their contact herbicides.

Shop Agrimart for all of your Greenleaf Spray Nozzle needs.

WHAT STEPS SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN MY SPRING START UP?

Depending on where you live, you may be starting to think about preparing your sprayer and other equipment for the 2014 planting season. Before you apply your first fertilizer application, you should be sure to include these steps in your sprayer spring start up.

1. CHECK FLUID LEVELS AND TIRE PRESSUREAsk the Application Specialists

Check your engine oil, hydraulic oil, differential oil and planetary or dropbox oil and change as needed. Your engine requires 15w40 oil. The hydraulic and differential systems use universal hydraulic oil, and the planetary or dropbox needs 80/90 oil.

Depending on the model of tires, your air pressure will vary; however, typically we recommend 35 PSI on the front tires and 49 PSI on the rear tires for standard tires. Keeping tires at the recommended PSI will prevent excessive soil compaction in the field.

2. CYCLE THE REAR SUSPENSION

Cycling the rear suspension lubricates the cylinder rod and seal on the cylinders. It also prevents the eyelets on the cylinders from breaking when the axle pivots. To cycle your Apache Sprayer’s rear suspension, start the machine and unhook the leveling rods at the ball joints. Then, hold the switch arm up until the cylinder stops. Once completed, hold the switch down until the machine lowers all the way. Connect the rod, and the machine will go back to its normal height. Repeat on the other side.

3. GREASE THE ENTIRE MACHINE

Greasing all the components will prevent parts from wearing out too quickly. It is necessary to grease your steering components including the tie end rods on the cylinders.  A lack of regular attention to this area can lead to erratic steering. Greasing the driveline will prevent premature wear on the driveshaft. When greasing the booms, include the rack lift parallel bars, boom fold pivots, sway pivots and cylinder flag pins.

4. INSPECT THE WET SYSTEM AND BOOMS

Put 100 gallons of water in the product and rinse tanks to check for leaks in the wet system. After adjusting the booms, pressurize them and inspect the hoses for any leaks. If any of your hoses are damaged, this is a good time to replace them. Install your nozzles and check them with a spray calibrator. To retighten the product tank straps, fill the tank with 250 gallons of water and tighten the straps until secured.

5. VERIFY FIELD COMPUTER CALIBRATIONS

Field computer calibrations include the boom, meter and speed calibrations. Always verify the correct controller calibration values are entered in your machine. It is important to make sure nothing has been changed in the calibrations.

Performing regular maintenance checks on your Apache Sprayer will help you prevent mechanical issues. For more information on Apache Sprayer maintenance, consult your owner’s manual or check out the Apache Maintenance section on our blog.

Micro-Trak Blockage Monitor

The SafeGuard Liquid Blockage Kit functions by using sensors placed over rows or traditionally ganged in order to create an alert whenever there is a blockage disturbing the desired liquid application.

Micro-Trak Plug W/FKM (18489)

Unlike previous models of this type of technology, there is a distinct sound that is emitted from the in-cab console as well as a numeric indication on the console of which row number is blocked. This defeats the need to physically check to see if all the rows are properly working. The alert will be present regardless of the time of day, night, present weather conditions, or viscosity of the application.

Furthermore, unlike traditional sensors, Micro-Trak sensors have the ability to be mounted individually, together, or both.

Learn more about the SafeGuard Blockage Monitor.

Golden Age For Application Equipment

When discussing the state of the ag retail and agricultural markets, much of the talk usually turns to such high profile topics as outstanding commodity prices, crop nutrient applications and seed choices. One area that doesn’t come up as often — but remains just as important to overall health of the industry — is equipment.

“It’s true that many of the decisions we make as ag retailers each season start with the crop inputs, but you can’t overlook the machines we use to store, deliver and apply these,” says Doyle Pearl, co-owner/general manager for J.B. Pearl Sales & Service Inc., St. Marys, KS. “Having good, reliable equipment is just as important, if not more so. Without these, we couldn’t do our jobs as retailers to our grower-customers.”
Apache-Plus-II-Package.jpg

And this market reality has kept the ag retail equipment industry humming for quite some time. Over the past few years, with corn acreage and overall commodity prices on the rise, grower-customers have spent a lot of their income on crop inputs such as fertilizer and crop protection products. In turn, this has kept ag retailers scrambling to not only supply these products to their customers, but have the machines in their fleets to deliver and apply it as well.

For evidence of this trend, you need look no further than some figures gathered from the annual CropLife 100report. Over the past several surveys, the percentage of CropLife 100 retailers who have purchased new equipment for their operations has steadily grown. In the 2011 CropLife 100 survey, 79% of respondents said they planned to buy new equipment for their outlets during the coming year. By the end of 2012, this figure had improved to 86%. During the most recent CropLife 100 survey, conducted this past September, the number of ag retailers planning to purchase new equipment in 2014 had grown to 88%.

These kinds of numbers are borne out by some from the ag retail equipment manufacturers themselves. Over many of the past three years, the companies that supply units to retailers have consistently reported the elapsed time from an order being placed to delivery for their customers is in the six- to nine-month range. Some manufacturers say it is closer to one year.

“We are very, very busy right now filling orders,” said one manufacturer at the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting in early December. “If someone placed a new order with us today, it would be close to 2015 before they would receive delivery of that product.”

The Reasons For Buying

For many ag retailers, buying new equipment each season comes down to a simple numbers game. “We upgrade based on the age of our equipment,” says Scott Firlus, COO for Allied Cooperative, Adams, WI. “Five years is the typical length of time we keep an applicator, for instance.”

Other retailers have an even shorter replacement cycle in place, depending upon the equipment involved. “Our records show that application equipment needs to be traded every three years or maintenance costs raise higher than the costs of trading,” says Tom Fullenkamp, CEO for Golden Furrow Fertilizer Inc., Eldon, IA. “We continually buy anhydrous ammonia tanks, bars and meters each year to expand for higher demand.”

A few ag retailers kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, when buying new units each season. “Most of our equipment purchases are to replace equipment,” says Frank Schumacher, agronomy division manager for Mountain View Cooperative Inc., Black Eagle, MT. “However, in the last few years, we have been replacing and upgrading equipment at the same time. You have to replace equipment at some point in time and upgrades are partially standard procedure and needed to keep up with our producers.”

As for what kind of equipment upgrades most ag retailers are looking for, it boils down to a single word: Technology. “We want our equipment fully loaded,” says Karl Hensley, senior vice president of agronomy for Central Valley Ag Cooperative, O’Neill, NE. “We get all the technology available.”

And this covers a lot more ground than it used to, say ag retailers. A mere 10 years ago, high technology on a self-propelled sprayer likely consisted of a yield monitor and in-cab controller. Today, however, a cab is likely to contain GPS tracking systems, automatic steering systems and individual boom-shut off controls, to name a few.

“We need autosteer, fleet tracking and multiple bin variable-rate technology as well as float and row crop tires on our new dry machines,” says Allied Cooperative’s Firlus. “On sprayers, we need autosteer, fleet tracking and different boom sections based on the crops.”

Coupled with this trend towards more technology in ag retail equipment has been an increase in unit sizes. In recent years, sprayers that have 120-foot booms have become standard with product solution tanks often holding in excess of 1,000 gallons. Spreaders and tenders have also increased in size with multiple bins options and 24-ton capacity units becoming much more common.

However, not all ag retailers are looking for larger equipment. According to Bill Hubbell, general manager for Wilco-Winfield, LLC, Mt. Angel, OR, there are some parts of the country where larger machines can’t service often wet fields as easily as smaller units can. “The focus has moved to covering a large number of acres per day for us,” says Hubbell. “To do this effectively, we need lighter equipment that can run 12 months a year.”

Several manufacturers have apparently caught onto this trend. For 2014, many of the new self-propelled sprayers from AGCO Corp. and Case IH feature smaller product tanks (in the 700 to 800 gallon range) and are lighter weight than previous models.

The Service Question

Despite the many changes to the machines themselves, all ag retailers agree that the one area that ultimately influences their purchase decision is service.

“This is huge, huge,” says Golden Furrow’s Fullenkamp. “If there’s no reliable service available to us, then there’s no purchase being made.”

And while some retailers supplement their equipment service needs by stocking up on their replacement part inventories, the lack of access to reliable service from the equipment dealer is a major factor when it comes to buying new units for their fleets.

“Good service is critical,” says Central Valley Ag’s Hensley. “Having knowledgeable service people and timely service is part of our decision-making on all purchases.”

By  | 

2014 State Of The Industry

By  | 

As any sports team coach can attest to, the problem with winning streaks is they eventually come to an end. Some market insiders in the agricultural community are wondering if 2014 might be that kind of a year.

And let’s face it, ag retailers and their grower-customers have been virtually giddy the past few years. Since the beginning of the Great Recession in mid-2008 and subsequent halt in fertilizer sales for the remainder of that year, agricultural fortunes have positively boomed. In fact, according to statistics compiled in the annualCropLife 100 survey of the nation’s top ag retail organizations, ag retailer revenues increased from just under $19 billion in 2009 to more than $24 billion by the end of 2012 — an increase of 28%. Each of the four sales tracked in the CropLife 100 — fertilizer, crop protection products, seed and custom application — now tops the $1 billion mark (from a high of more than $15 billion for fertilizer to a low of just over $1 billion for custom application).

This winning streak continued in 2013, but at a much slower pace than in previous years. For 2013, the nation’s leading ag retailers recorded sales in the $29 billion range. This represented only a 4% increase from 2012 and might have reflected something of a delayed market reaction to two consecutive challenging weather years for grower-customers (drought in 2012 and too much rain in 2013).43543-300x199

The New Year

As agriculture enters 2014, there are plenty of triumphs to celebrate. Despite an uneven weather year for much of the country, the nation’s corn harvest during the fall of 2013 came in at more than 14 billion bushels. Likewise, ag retailers are anticipating lots of sales activity in the seed and crop protection product categories as new varieties and cropping systems gain approval from regulators.

However, 2014 seems to have more question marks hanging over it than the previous three years combined as they began. For one thing, agriculture’s strong harvest in 2013 has depressed commodity prices as the year starts off, with some market watchers reporting an overall 20% to 40% decline from 2012. For example, from a high of more than $7 per bushel for corn, the commodity price has fallen into the $4 per bushel range. As many analysts have pointed out, $4 corn is likely “the new reality” for grower-customers and will undoubtedly affect the way they not only buy but apply crop inputs to their fields.

This is already showing up in some areas, say ag retailers. “Right now, I would say 2014 will be a flat year for us because anhydrous ammonia sales are lagging due to the late 2013 harvest and grower-customers reading about how prices will go down,” says Tom Fullenkamp, CEO for Golden Furrow Fertilizer Inc., Eldon, IA. “However, phosphate and potash sales look to be up, but corn-on-corn will be the key to this happening. Right now, I believe more soybean plantings are being planned by the average grower.”

Frank Schumacher, agronomy division manager for Mountain View Cooperative, Inc., Black Eagle, MT, agrees. “An increase in the seeding of malt barley in our area will reduce the amount of nitrogen applied and reduce volumes,” says Schumacher. “Fertilizer margins are expected to shrink with lower cost of fertilizer and the lower commodity prices, so profits are likely to follow.”

What might make this situation even worse for ag retailers in 2014 could come from the proposed changes to the nation’s ethanol policy. For the past several years, the federal mandate on using ethanol blends in gasoline has kept the demand for corn (and by extension, commodity prices) high. In fact, most industry insiders say that approximately 40% of the nation’s corn harvest the past few years has ultimately ended up being used to produce ethanol.

But this could all change in 2014. Because demand for gasoline is falling, gasoline producers say they have reached a 10% “saturation point” where it becomes hard for them to blend more ethanol into their product. As a result, the EPA is reducing the amount of corn ethanol for 2014 to approximately 13 billion gallons, down more than 1 billion gallons from the amount originally envisioned under a 2007 law to support renewable fuel use.

According to many market analysts, this ethanol reduction could prove devastating for agriculture in 2014. “Most of the demand for corn in the U.S. the past few years has been driven by the ethanol market,” said Rich Pottorff, chief economist for Doane Advisory Services, speaking at the 2013 The Fertilizer Institute Outlook conference. “Without this, corn demand over this period would have probably dropped.”

Other Issues

Retailers are concerned about a variety of issues leading into 2014, but most are out of their direct control. For example, crop protection manufacturers are continuing to tweak their “just-in-time” approach to crop protection manufacturing and delivery, which creates an ongoing threat of product shortages if retailers do not manage product inventory with great care.

And the globalization of supply and demand dynamics in crop protection makes management even more challenging. Last year when the European Union placed restrictions on some crop protection products, inventory of alternative products was shipped there from the U.S., diminishing the availability of some key products in the states.

Domestically, the still-unsolved Farm Bill debate, and regulatory repercussions that are likely to result from the West Fertilizer plant explosion are still in the offing. And a downturn could serve to spur consolidation and merging among retailers and growers.

As a rule, it generally takes a full 12-month cycle for a downturn to be felt in the distribution channel, so retailers are much more concerned in general about the 2015 season than the one in front of us. Still, unlike the past three or four seasons, what happens to critical metrics like crop prices and land values in 2014 seems destined to set the tone for retail business for the next two to three years.

Weed Control Strategies and their Cost

Here’s quick look at weed control strategies and their cost.

Over the past 20 years many growers — and perhaps dealers — have been relieved to leave behind the days of managing multiple products and approaches for weed control. Glyphosate, and later, glyphosate-resistant seed, made everyone’s job easier. But the industry is now returning to the host of crop protection tools developed over decades — though this time with an eye toward more careful planning.

To that end, chemical manufacturers, weed scientists and other stakeholders in agriculture have been working to engineer new, sometimes more complex herbicide programs. The goal is to both kill weeds and preserve effective products. Dealers are seeking out the best strategies, and the effort takes resources and patience. One proof of the challenge lies in the fact that Midwest universities’ herbicide guides include bountiful pages and charts covering current products and their uses.

Dealers we talked with suggested it can be difficult to nail down a typical cost per acre because so many options are available. Kevin Mainord, sales and marketing director with MRM Ag Services, East Prairie, MO, puts the range at $18 to $50 depending on past weed pressure and the level of control desired by growers. Plans incorporate products with varied modes of action throughout a season.

Current Approach To Corn

In many cases, dealers recommend a program start with fall burndown products to prevent winter annuals from germinating, says Shane Eck, location manager at Mid Kansas Cooperative (MKC), Lindsborg, KS. He also suggests a preplant/preemergence application come spring to kill existing weeds as well as prevent other weeds from germinating.

A postemergence application would be next — prior to canopy — to kill existing weeds. A key with post applications is timing. “It’s important to follow the label and not spray weeds that are larger than the recommended height,” points out Eck. Larger, more mature weeds have a better chance of surviving off-label applications. Specifically, Midwest extension weed specialists say products should go on before weeds exceed two to four inches to avoid excessive crop competition.

Hitting weeds when they’re small with the right rate is also tantamount. While a lower rate may actually take out virtually all of a particular field’s weeds, the ones that do survive will reproduce and can contribute to the development of resistant populations.

Mainord offered a quick summary of his company’s corn programs: Preemergence product applied behind the planter (“most premix products work”), then an early postemergence application of compounds such as dicamba/diflufenzopyr premix and glyphosate.

Jeff Consbruck, seed lead, CPI Coop, Hastings, NE, says that “in our corn programs we really encourage a two-pass approach. We try and use multiple modes of action and get the first pass on as early as the
weather permits.”

In fact, the efficacy of a one-pass program made at 1) preemergence with a residual herbicide or 2) postemergence with a tank mix of glyphosate and a residual product — raises doubts for Micheal Owen, weed science extension specialist with Iowa State University. “Regardless of what some advertising suggests, no herbicide treatment will provide full season control consistently, and more importantly, meet grower expectations,” he has commented in the school’s ICM newsletter. An appropriate expectation for a soil-applied herbicide treatment would be six to eight weeks of effective control, he explains. If rates are reduced expect less weed control.

Plans For Soybeans

Here again, it’s vital to start clean, said many of the dealers contacted. As with corn, MKC’s Eck suggests a fall burndown with preemergence control to prevent winter annuals from germinating. Then would come a spring burndown product with residual action. “Some growers like to use a preemergence chemical preplant, while others prefer to use a preemergence application in-crop,” says Eck. “An in-crop application is generally planned prior to canopy.”

Mainord suggests a preplant incorporated product on grass — or for just broadleaf weeds, depending on specific pressure. He also says growers can do an early postemergence application with both a contact and a residual product in the tank.

Consbruck would say soybeans are where his clients are having the most trouble these days. “Starting with a pre is a must anymore, as weeds in our area such as marestail, waterhemp and Palmer amaranth are getting very hard to control.

“Timing is our biggest challenge due to weather conditions and the fact that we are in the middle of applying our corn preemergence products and fertilizer at this time as well,” he adds. “Getting the pre on early ­— such as Enlite, Verdict, Prefix or Sonic — and then coming back with a tank mix of Roundup and another mode of action seems to be what is working in our area.”

Fortunately, research has yielded many non-chemical strategies in the weed wars. For instance, University of Illinois and USDA work has shown that several good cultural practices help: adequate seedbed preparation, adequate fertilization, crop rotation, planting on the proper date, using optimal row widths and seeding at the rate needed for optimal stands.

Their research also confirms that planting in relatively warm soil can help the crop emerge quickly and better compete with weeds. In fact, both corn and soybeans usually compete quite well with most weeds that begin growing beyond the first three to five weeks after planting — so good weed control during that early phase is extremely important. In addition, narrow rows help the crop compete better with weeds. Experts say that if herbicides alone cannot give adequate control, then growers should keep rows wide enough for cultivation.

Shop Agrimart.net for all of your ag spray equipment needs.

Raven Industries Enhances Steering

Raven Industries has announced enhancements to their SmarTrax and Slingshot product lines. “Raven is committed to driving innovation in precision agriculture in order to help our industry solve the problem of finding ways to feed a rapidly growing world population,” said Matt Burkhart, vice president and general manager for Raven Industries Applied Technology Division. “These new enhancements are really based on customer feedback, and we are excited about how these new innovations will help our customers in the global marketplace we serve.”

SmarTrax MD

SmarTrax MD is a new simple-to-install mechanical drive steering system that allows growers throughout Raven’s global markets to seamlessly transfer the ability to steer automatically across their fleet of vehicles, including multiple tractors, combines, windrowers and more. Customers will also benefit from the added torque for faster operating speeds, increase accuracy, and reduced noise. SmarTrax MD is ISOBUS compatible providing even more convenience for customers with a compatible virtual terminal already in the cab.

Buy Raven SmarTrax MD at Agrimart.net.

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