Crops

Make your crop residue an opportunity, not a problem

That’s the philosophy at VanMeer Farms, in Tillsonburg, where using residue to control erosion and give back nutrients to the soil is routine practice

by TONY BALKWILL
 

When you enter the office of George Vermeersch and his sons, Greg and Jeff, of VanMeer Farms, Tillsonburg, you will notice a key feature: a whiteboard displaying different tillage tool headings and fields specifically labelled to require a certain tillage pass based on cropping history, harvest and previous tillage.

CSI AGRONOMY Crop Scene Investigation – 33: Which pest invaded Jeffrey’s corn field? – Solved

About one-third of the larvae in Jeffrey’s field were not western bean cutworm. These pests had yellow and greenish bodies, a tan-coloured head and distinctive black dots along their body.

by BERNARD TOBIN

Jeffrey had assumed that all the pests chewing on his corn were western bean cutworm (WBC). But on closer examination, about one-third of the larvae were actually corn earworm (CE). Feeding patterns of the two pests are similar.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – #31 SOLVED: Why was excess residue accumulating in Richard’s fields?

by BERNARD TOBIN
 

The narrow strips of yellow, slower-growing winter wheat plants in Richard’s field were the result of heavy levels of canola residue that had been buried three inches below the surface of the strips.

While Richard used a residue manager to incorporate the heavy residue produced by his canola crop, he did not account for the high portion of residue – chaff and pods – that ended up directly behind the combine.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 26 SOLVED: What’s ailing Art’s alfalfa?

Art’s yellow, stunted alfalfa was suffering from aphanomyces root rot.

This investigation was first published back in May 2010. Despite some editorial nudging in subsequent months, no one solved the mystery – until recently!

Similar to phytophthora root rot, aphanomyces is considered a major cause of disease in alfalfa seedlings, particularly in wet soil conditions. But, while there are seed treatments available to protect seed against phytophthora and other soil-borne diseases, no seed treatment product offers protection against aphanomyces.

CSI Agronomy – Crop Scene Investigation – 30 Solved: What’s clipping Wilson’s wheat?

by BERNARD TOBIN

The pest that was clipping the heads off Wilson’s wheat was a grass sawfly.

It is extremely rare for this pest to be found in wheat. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs entomologist Tracey Baute consulted her colleagues across North America to help determine why the pest migrated to the crop in Ontario in 2010.

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