Better Farming | June July 2024


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4 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | June/July 2024 INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR FARMLAND DISPUTE; HAPPY 150 TO OAC We continue to hear from readers on the potential expropriation of Wilmot farms by the Region of Waterloo. At press time, local politicians and bureaucrats were still adding to the exasperation of farmers, refusing to provide any answers or dialogue to address the serious concerns and questions. The Region is seeking to acquire 770 acres of prime farmland, but since farmers began pushing back against the land assembly, the lack of transparency and any information has exacerbated the situation. Something smells bad here, and the lingering odor isn’t coming from any farm. I spoke recently with Kevin Thomason, vice-chair of the Grand River Environmental Network, who strongly supports the local farmers against this “absurd” development. “This is prime agriculture, based on soils, and far from our urban centres. It’s simply the wrong location for a mega-industrial development. Worse yet, local Wilmot Township politicians blame Regional politicians. Who blame the Province. Which claims no involvement. All claim to be gagged and under NDAs with no answers from anyone. Meanwhile, farmers’ lives are on hold, and the situation is already costing them in so many ways. “These local politicians were elected to represent everyone – including farmers. It’s just very unfortunate to put farmers and our entire community in this awful position without any consultation or dialogue.” One farmer reader emailed us this summary: “The Region is threatening farmers with expropriation of their working farms. It’s an upsetting and unfortunate act.” We join all readers celebrating Ontario Agricultural College’s 150th Anniversary. It’s a big milestone, and an opportunity to acknowledge the incredible role OAC has had in farm families across the province and beyond. Those years at OAC were so important to so many alumni, who have gone on to do so many great things in our industry. 1-888-248-4893 90 Woodlawn Road West Guelph, ON N1H 1B2 PUBLISHER & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR PAUL NOLAN ext 202 ASSISTANT TO THE PUBLISHER & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR LESLIE STEWART ext 265 AGRICULTURAL JOURNALIST EMILY CROFT CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS EDITION MOE AGOSTINO CAMPBELL CORK DALE COWAN ABHINESH GOPAL PAUL HERMANS RICHARD KAMCHEN PATRICK LYNCH EMILY UNGLESBEE RALPH WINFIELD ADVERTISING TEAM GLENN RUEGG JEFF McKEE JENNY LONGSTREET SCOTT FARHOOD SAMANTHA RENAUD JOAN SPIEGELBERG DESIGN & PRODUCTION TEAM TANYA MYERS GREG MARLOW SHAUN CLARK ANDREA WILLIAMS Better Farming magazine is mailed as a member-benefit to all farmer members of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. If you are not an OFA member, subscribe at: 1-888-248-4893 ext 281 ISSN 1498-9344 (Printed) Canadian one-year subscriptions: $41 (11 issues; includes $4.72 HST). Two-year: $74 ($8.51 HST). U.S. subscriptions: $72 annually. International: $121. Single-copy back issues are $12. GST Registration #868959347RT0001 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to AgMedia Inc., 90 Woodlawn Road West, Guelph, ON N1H 1B2. Publications Mail Registration #1156. Publications Mail Agreement #40037298. Copyright ©2024 by AgMedia Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any content without written permission of the publisher is forbidden. Acceptance of advertising does not constitute endorsement of the advertiser, its products or services, nor do Better Farming, AgMedia or endorse any advertiser claims. The publisher shall have no liability for the omission of any scheduled advertising. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada. Follow us on @BetterFarmingON “Those first two to three weeks of July are critically important. That’s when we start seeing tar spot build up, and that gives us an indication of what’s going on in Ontario, as well as in the U.S.” - Albert Tenuta, Page 16 “Overapplication of N fertilizers can and does occur, as the relationship between N and yield is not simply a straight line, where more is always better.” - Colin Elgie, Page 25 “Nobody seems to have a great handle on the number of dairy-beef calves in Ontario, but when talking to people in the genetics business, they are saying that up to 40 per cent of breedings are producing beef-cross calves.” - Keith Schweitzer, Page 40 “As a teenager, I was always assigned the task of loading the wagon and feeding the threshing machine. The older men preferred to keep both feet on the ground and provide sheafs to the young fellow on the wagon.” - Ralph Winfield, Page 45 Cover: Leslie Stewart photo; Bacres Grain photo


6 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | June/July 2024 Beyond the Barn GRAIN GROWERS STAY FOCUSSED ON LOWERING GHG While celebrating a 50 per cent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) intensity, Grain Growers of Canada recently announced their strategy for continuing to decrease emissions to help meet Canada’s net-zero goal for 2050. In April, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) released their Road to 2050 policy recommendations for federal government programs targeting sustainability in the grain industry. “Facing the need to feed more people, tackle climate change, and keep grain farms profitable, Canadian grain growers are leading with sustainable practices,” said GGC chair Andre Harpe in a recent release. “These efforts not only reduce our carbon footprint but also play a crucial role in achieving Canada’s climate goals.” The policy recommendations suggest government collaboration to increase research into crop genetics and develop more climate programs with expanded criteria and funding. GCC also recommends creating a data management strategy. From 1997 to 2017, steady GHG levels alongside more efficient grain production resulted in a 50 per cent decrease in GHG intensity for grain farmers. This exceeded the 36 per cent reduction achieved by Canadian economy during that time. William van Tassel, GGC first vice-chair, said that “for decades, grain farmers have been at the forefront of sustainability, making Canada a global leader in producing grain with the lowest emissions possible.” Harpe added, “Grain farmers stand ready to partner with government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also increasing production to meet a growing global food demand. It’s clear that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but by working together, we can ensure that the sector continues to be part of the solution.” BF The Ontario government is investing in the grape-growing industry by supporting research at Brock University’s new research farm. The university was recently awarded $3.5 million to contribute to agricultural and grape and wine research as part of the Ontario Research Fund, which was announced in March. The funding will support the Clean Agriculture for Sustainable Production (CASP) Field Infrastructure project. The government “has recognized the time is now to be proactive in building resiliency and sustainability into Ontario’s $5.5-billion grape and wine industry by supporting this university-industry partnership,” said Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) director and core scientist Debbie Inglis in a release from Brock. One aspect of the CASP project is the Clean Plant Program, which builds on the national grapevine germplasm repository, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency partnership CLEANSED, and the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network partnership. These aim to produce certified virus-free grapevines for the wine industry. The researchers state that Canada needs approximately 6.2 million clean grapevines each year and currently relies on imports to meet the demand. Another phase of the project will focus on selection of more resilient crops by investigating interactions between grapevines and other plants and organisms. “We are focusing on clean grapevines, but our research outputs pertaining to sustainable agriculture will be applicable to many other crops grown in Ontario,” said project lead and assistant professor of Biological Sciences Jim Willwerth. “This will help build Ontario’s food security, resiliency to threats like climate change, pests and diseases while increasing biodiversity in our agroecosystems.” Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, added “This provincial funding for Brock University through the Ontario Research Fund will help support sustainable local farm practices and establish a home for Canada’s first Clean Plant Program for grapevines at the university’s new research farm.” BF ONT. INVESTS IN NEW GRAPE RESEARCH Ken -

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8 Story Idea? Email Better Farming | June/July 2024 Beyond the Barn New research has found that the microbiome of dairy farmers is affected by their cows. The study, conducted at Marshfield Clinic Health System in Wisconsin, investigated the effect of the dairy cow microbiome on the health of their farmers. They collected nasal and fecal samples from 66 dairy farmers and 166 cows across 37 farms. The study also compared the farmers’ microbiomes to those of non-farmer controls within the same zip code. The researchers found that nasal bacterial communities were more diverse in farmers and contained microbes associated with their livestock. The nasal microbiome of farmers and their cattle were quite different from those of non-farmers. These increased numbers of shared microbes were also found in gut microbiomes. “Overall, our study demonstrates the interconnectedness of human and animal microbiomes,” said Dr. Sanjay Shukla, director of the Center for Precision Medicine Research at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, in a recent release from the institute. “It is increasingly evident that billions of microbes that inhabit the human gut, which includes the stomach, intestines and colon, have tremendous opportunity to influence the health of a person.” The dairy farmers that participated in the study had greater numbers of nasal bacteria belonging to families Lactobacillaceae, Aerococcaceae, and Enterococcaceae, which can reduce sinus infections. Associated studies from the same team found that dairy farmers had reduced staphylococci bacteria, which in increased levels are associated with serious infections, and that dairy farmers reported fewer gastrointestinal symptoms through the study period. “We know that people who work on farms have some unique health characteristics, both good and bad, but we do not fully understand why,” said Dr. Jeffrey VanWormer, director of the Center of Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health, and co-investigator in the study. “This study helps us begin to understand the biological pathways by which the farm environment impacts workers’ health.” The comprehensive study is published in the April issue of Nature Microbiology. BF - Emily Croft Farm & Food Care photo FARMERS SHARE COW MICROBIOME A FARMING LIFE: FRANK GERBER Farmer, husband, father, grandfather, business owner. Born Sept. 4, 1936; died March 5, 2024. Frank Gerber of Port Elgin was born on a farm – and born to farm. Frank bought his first farm across from the one he grew up on outside Milverton after marrying his wife, Joan. They started their family and had three children: Debbie, Wendy, and Tim, who passed away in November of 2023. In the late ’70s, the Gerbers moved to Shallow Lake. Frank became involved in farm real estate and also worked with a neighbour on a tree-transplanting operation called “Ready-made Shade.” After some time passed, Frank returned to his roots and went back to farming. He and Joan found a farm outside of Port Elgin and remained there for 38 years, growing soybeans and other cash crops. Frank, along with his son Tim, started Gerber Sod Farm, where they grew Kentucky Bluegrass. In the early days at the Port Elgin farm, Frank and Joan grew a crop of strawberries to be sold as pick-yourowns. They also had a large vegetable garden, and Wendy and Debbie would sell the vegetables they harvested at the roadside. Frank enjoyed spending his downtime working on antique tractors. He restored a 1949 Massey Harris Pony and a 1949 Ford 8N. The Gerber farm was also the happy host of the local radio-controlled flying club, which flew planes there for many years. Frank remained on the Port Elgin farm until he passed. BF - Leslie Stewart Frank Gerber

10 Follow us on @BetterFarmingON Better Farming | June/July 2024 Many farmers have a few pieces of older equipment sitting around their properties, whether it’s for frugal or sentimental reasons. With higher machinery prices, many producers are opting for used models when upgrading their equipment. Others may see the time and labour-saving value in having newer equipment. When asked how old their equipment was on average, 54.2 per cent of Better Farming readers said that theirs would be between 10 and 20 years old. The average age of equipment was between 20 to 40 years for 29.2 per cent of farms, older than 40 years for 8.3 per cent, and younger than 10 years for 8.3 per cent. Below, readers share details on their oldest equipment and if they have any plans to upgrade them. Veronique, Wellington County: “Our oldest piece of equipment is from 1998.” Brady, Kawartha Lakes: “My combine is the oldest piece of equipment I own. It’s a Gleaner L3. I had a 1998 sprayer but upgraded to a 2018.” Joan, Grey County: “Our oldest equipment is 75 years old. We upgrade equipment when we see a good replacement.” Brian, Waterloo Region: “We have used our solid manure spreader for over 20 years. We are keeping on the lookout for a newer one at the right price.” Geoff, Bruce County: “We try to keep tractors for 10 to 15 years and try to renew one piece of equipment a year.” Brianna, Lanark County: “Our potato planter/digger and bagger set is over 100 years old. We are planning to upgrade our crop drying equipment and some hay implements.” Ben, Huron County: “Our loader tractor is 51 years old.” Jessica and Bryon, Huron County: “Our oldest is a 1956 John Deere 620. We also have a John Deere B and John Deere H, but they’re not used for farm work. At this point, we’re not planning to upgrade any equipment. We took over the farm in 2021, and all the equipment is paid for, works, and Bryon can do any repairs that are required.” Michel, Russell County: “Our oldest is 23 years old.” Barclay, Wellington County: “The oldest piece is a John Deere 2755. We aren’t upgrading because we can’t afford anything new at the moment.” Bill, Elgin County: “Our oldest equipment is 49 years. We are not upgrading at this time.” Eleanor, Leeds County: “Our oldest is 50 years old or more.” Daniel, Simcoe County: “Our oldest piece is our disc harrow.” Janet, Wellington County: “We have two tractors from the late 1970s. We plan to upgrade our liquid manure pump this year.” Doug, Middlesex County: “We have a tractor that is just turning 30 that we use to spread manure. We won’t be trading until absolutely necessary, as the cost of the upgrade makes it prohibitive even when looking at potential time saved.” Larry, Brant County: “Our oldest is 60 years old. We have no upgrades planned.” Gerald, Niagara Region: “Our oldest equipment is a 1987 John Deere 2550 tractor, but that’s just for running augers. My main line of equipment is newer than 2010. I want to upgrade the sprayer (a 2012 AGCO Spra-Coupe) and combine (2012 John Deere S660) and header (John Deere 635F Flex Head). With current pricing on equipment and higher interest rates, combined with lower commodity prices, it may not happen for a bit yet.” Louis, Chatham-Kent: “Our oldest equipment is a John Deere 1120 tractor from 1973.” John, Prince Edward County: “Our oldest equipment is a 1920s Ace Bottom plow that we use for the flower fields. Everything else is from the ’70s and ’80s.” BF Digging Deeper HOW OLD IS YOUR FARM EQUIPMENT? Some producers don’t plan to upgrade older equipment any time soon. By Emily Croft Farmers may keep older equipment for a number of reasons. Emily Croft photo

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12 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | June/July 2024 If you can’t beat them, crowd them out! That’s the wisdom from a new meta-analysis on the effect of narrow rows in corn and soybeans on weed control. The study, authored by a multi-state team of researchers led by University of Nebraska weed scientist Dr. Amit Jhala and graduate student Mandeep Singh, examined 35 studies from 12 states between 1961 and 2018. The researchers came to a pretty clear conclusion: Narrow rows (less than 30 inches wide) suppressed weed density, size (biomass), and weed seed production, and bumped yields up, but only in soybeans. “Overall, results suggest that narrow row spacing can potentially be used as an integrated weed management tool in combination with herbicides in soybeans for the management of herbicide-resistant weeds,” the researchers concluded. Soybeans canopy faster The study’s results are largely focused on soybeans, which accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the studies the researchers examined. In narrow rows, soybeans canopy faster, stealing precious sunlight from their weedy interlopers between the rows. So, while it’s not terribly surprising that the practice would suppress weeds overall, the numbers the researchers uncovered were eye-opening. Within narrow-row soybean fields, on average, the density of weed populations thinned out by up to 42 per cent, and weed size (or biomass) shrank up to 71 per cent. Weed seed production also fell by 45 per cent on average. Fields with multiple applications of herbicides and 7.5-inch rows showed the most statistically significant drops in weed seed production, the researchers noted. Soybean yield also fared well in narrow rows, with the researchers finding an average increase of 12 per cent across the studies they examined. Narrow rows can also help buy time in the spring to manage emerged weeds. Past research has found that the “critical time for weed control,” meaning the time when weeds can be removed before they affect yield, comes earlier in wide-row bean fields around the V1 growth stage. In contrast, in narrow-row fields, farmers had until the V2 to V3 growth stage to control weeds with herbicide passes before the yield loss became permanent. Narrow rows pair well with other integrated weed management tactics, such as cover crop residue. Fewer solid conclusions could be drawn for corn, in large part because the researchers found only six studies that examined the effect of narrow row spacing in corn fields. The difference between row spacing in those selected corn studies was also less pronounced than in the soybean studies, where row space options ranged from 30 inches to as low as 7.5 inches. As a result, meaningful differences in light interception between the smaller range of corn row spacing likely wasn’t observed, the researchers noted. BF Research NARROW ROWS ARE A WEED-CONTROL WIN Research finds benefits to decreasing soybean row width. By Emily Unglesbee, GROW (Getting Rid of Weeds) Narrow-row soybean fields saw the density of weed populations thinned out by 42 per cent. Emily Croft photo … the top producers across Ontario for just PENNIES per adult reader! ADVERTISERS REACH ...

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14 Ate Today? Thank a Farmer. Better Farming | June/July 2024 ‘THIS IS A GOOD YEAR TO BE OUT SCOUTING & KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN YOUR REGION.’ EMERGING DISEASE: TAR SPOT By EMILY CROFT Lesions (stroma): Small, raised, round, irregular shape. Tar Spot Albert Tenuta photo Tar spot is an emerging foliar leaf disease in corn which first appeared in the U.S. in 2015 and was later identified in Ontario in 2020. As the disease continues to spread and impact Ontario’s corn crop, it’s important that producers are informed about how to identify tar spot and which resources are available to monitor it in their area and beyond. Tar spot is caused by a fungus called Phyllachora maydis, which produces black, tar-like spots on the leaves of the corn plant. It is somewhat climate dependent, thriving in cool temperatures with high humidity. The disease is transmitted through spores, which are airborne and are now known to also overwinter in residue. Albert Tenuta, field crop pathologist at OMAFRA, says that the mild 2023/2024 winter leads to questions about how that will affect the spread of tar spot this growing season. “The question we have this year is, since we’ve had a mild winter, what does that do for tar spot? It could be an issue here in areas where it’s overwintering and in the U.S.,” says Tenuta. “This is a good year to be out scouting and know what’s going on in your region as well as what’s happening in surrounding areas, including south of the border.” How it got here Ontario’s corn crop has been affected by tar spot since 2020. “Tar spot was first reported in a field near Ridgetown in September 2020, and was later confirmed in fields in Essex, Chatham-Kent and Lambton,” says David Hooker, associate professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at University of Guelph – Ridgetown Campus. “The regions with the greatest risk are the counties in the southwestern part of the province, although tar spot has been found in fields as far east as Toronto. The disease has been moving eastward for years, so corn producers across all of Ontario and Quebec need to familiarize themselves with the disease and how to manage it.” Tar spot was first identified in the U.S. in 2015, in Illinois and Indiana. Bob Thirlwall, agronomic solutions advisor at Bayer Crop Science, says that weather played a large role in the spread of tar spot to Ontario. “It was spread to Ontario on storm fronts or weather patterns from the western U.S.,” says Thirlwall. “The spores were transferred by the wind and landed on the Ontario corn crop and spread from there.” Regions previously affected by tar spot have an increased risk of continuing to be infected year-after-year, depending on environmental conditions. Fisheye lesion (tan halo).

15 Ate Today? Thank a Farmer. Better Farming | June/July 2024 “The issue with this fungal pathogen is that it has the ability to produce multiple cycles – we would call it polycyclic – which means that it produces multiple generations of spores that can affect the developing corn crop,” says Tenuta. “It’s not like a one-off disease that produces one spore and then is done.” Tenuta explains that the spores overwinter on corn residue and the leaves that are left in the field. This means that once spores are present in a corn crop, tar spot can continue to reappear year-after-year. Spore movement and the ability to overwinter emphasize the importance of knowing the status of tar spot in Ontario and across the border. Grain farmers should regularly monitor their own crops. What to look for Producers across Southwestern Ontario should make a habit of checking their corn crops for tar spot. It is valuable to A POWERFUL ADDITION TO OUR REVYSOL® FUNGICIDE. THE REVYLUTION JUST GOT STRONGER. Visit to learn more. MAG Always read and follow label directions. AgSolutions, REVYSOL and VELTYMA are registered trademarks of BASF; all used under license by BASF Canada Inc. VELTYMA DLX fungicide should be used in a preventative disease control program. © 2024 BASF Canada Inc. 3205_VeltymaDLX_CORN_Print Ad_BFE_HalfPg-Hor_v2.indd 1 2024-03-28 11:08 AM Tar Spot Albert Tenuta photos Two tolerant tar spot hybrids – one treated with fungicide (right) and one without.

16 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | June/July 2024 Tar Spot know what to look for and when to look for it. “Tar spot in corn is identified by small raised black circular spots that resemble specks of tar on the leaf surface,” explains Hooker. “These spots are fungal structures called stromata, which are embedded in the plant tissue and cannot be removed by rubbing.” Thirlwall explains that these black spots cause the yield drag from the fungal infection. “Because tar spot sets in as a dark black spot on the leaf, it reduces the photosynthetic process,” says Thirlwall. “This greatly affects yield. In 2023, there was the highest tar spot pressure so far. We saw a yield difference of 30 to 50 bushels per acre for sprayed versus unsprayed fields because of tar spot. It can be a huge yield robber.” Hooker adds, “Tar spot has reduced yields by up to 70 bushels per acre in fields that were infected early around silking, followed by favourable weather conditions through grain-fill. It was reported on the Crop Protection Network that tar spot was the No. 1 corn disease in Ontario in 2023, causing a loss of an estimated 3.9 million bushels. In severe cases, tar spot can lead to a reduction in test weight and grade due to poor kernel fill.” Tenuta has been involved with monitoring efforts led by the Crop Protection Network in collaboration with U.S. agronomists, OMAFRA, Grain Farmers of Ontario, and the University of Guelph. In recent years he has been finding tar spot as early as the first week of July. “Those first two to three weeks of July are critically important. That’s when we start seeing tar spot build up, and that gives us an indication of what’s going on in Ontario, as well as in the U.S.,” says Tenuta. “In areas with a history of tar spot, it takes six weeks for the initial spores to germinate and build up until we start to see it. If you’re in an area without a lot of tar spot, you’ll likely start seeing it appear higher up on the leaves. The spores would be coming in from other fields or areas, and you’ll see that above the ear leaf.” Tenuta also says that through his surveillance with the Crop Protection Network and their research into tolerant varieties, they have noticed another type of lesion caused by tar spot. The fisheye lesion has a black tar spot with a tan circle of necrosis around it. He says this lesion appears to occur more often in more tolerant hybrids. The evaluation of tar spot tolerance, along with other efforts from researchers and crop scientists in Ontario and the U.S., have developed a strong set of tools for managing tar spot. Emily Croft photo Producers should know the status of tar spot in their area as they’re scouting their fields.

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18 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | June/July 2024 Managing risk Tar spot risks significant yield drag in corn crops. The factor that has the largest effect on this risk is weather. “The spread of the disease is dictated, overwhelmingly, by favourable environmental conditions,” says Hooker. “If weather conditions are favourable for the development of the disease, and if the pathogen or disease is present in the field, then an application of an effective fungicide may be warranted between the VT and R2 stages of corn development. The fungicide application at this time would offer two to three weeks of protection of non-infected leaf area during the critical phase of corn development and delay the onset of disease development through the grain-fill period.” Thirlwall adds that fungicide application is the primary approach to managing tar spot. “You can’t really minimize the spread. If the climate is right, it’s going to be there,” says Thirlwall. “The main way to minimize tar spot is to use a fungicide that is registered for control of tar spot. Delaro Complete from Bayer is registered for control of tar spot in corn.” Tenuta notes that in addition to Delaro Complete, it’s been found that Veltyma (BASF), which is registered for control of tar spot, and Miravis Neo (Syngenta), which is registered for suppression, have also shown success in managing the fungal disease. Thirlwall says that the timing for spraying for tar spot lines up with most producers’ current fungicide programs. “The best timing for Southwestern Ontario to spray is at R1 timing or Silking, which we also use for protection against ear moulds and DON suppression,” says Thirlwall. Tenuta says that the Crop Protection Network has also reviewed residue management as a strategy for managing tar spot, but found a welltimed fungicide application was significantly better at reducing the risk to the crop. “What we’ve seen at our trial locations with very little residue – 20 per cent or less – is that we still observed tar spot development,” says Tenuta. “Residue management can reduce tar spot slightly, but not to the point where it’ll drastically reduce your risk. You don’t need a lot of tar spot in your field to develop it, and the impact of residue management is limited.” He shares that the Crop Protection Network has been investigating tolerance in corn hybrids to give grain farmers another tool for managing tar spot. “The good news is that we have the tools to manage tar spot already. We’ve been doing a lot of work with seed companies and breeders to evaluate hybrids,” says Tenuta. “We’ve been testing around 100 different commercial hybrids in our nursery or tar spot location at Rodney, Ont., and we see variation in terms of tolerance. We see some with greatly reduced tar spot levels and some that are very susceptible. We are working to make sure this information is available in areas with higher risk for growers that need it.” As producers monitor their own crop through the summer, it is beneficial to know the status of tar spot in surrounding regions. Thirlwall says that one easy-to-access option for monitoring the disease is the Tar Spotter app. “Many agronomists in Ontario are scouting for tar spot in their customer’s fields. There is also the Tar Spotter app to follow the spread of the disease and see if there is a risk in your local area,” says Thirlwall. The Crop Protection Network has also developed maps on the Corn ipm PIPE website to show yearly historical and current tar spot infection in the U.S. and Ontario. These tools allow growers to stay up to date on the risk to their fields and help them develop a strategy for fungicide application. Tenuta says collaboration with researchers in the U.S., who managed tar spot for five years prior to its arrival in Ontario, has yielded information to help Ontario farmers without the usual delay associated with research on emerging diseases. “Because of our collaboration with the U.S., we were ready to go right away. We had trials lined up and were ready to go,” says Tenuta. “This really helps us get that info and those tools out to Ontario growers as soon as possible. They don’t have to wait two to three years, because we are already a part of the planning process to deal with diseases such as tar spot.” By staying informed about the status of tar spot and reviewing the available options for risk management, grain farmers can protect their corn crop against yield losses from tar spot. BF Better Farming and are accepting applications/resumes for the following position. It’s Farming. And it’s Better. APPLY TODAY TO JOIN OUR TEAM: FARMING JOURNALIST New full-time or potential part-time home-based role with popular farming magazine. You love farming and can write engaging, insightful stories about our industry and its farming families. You possess a professional, team-oriented attitude with strong language skills. You are comfortable proofing copy for errors and factchecking for accuracy. You enjoy taking interesting farm photos with your mobile device. If this sounds like you, please let us know! EMILY CROFT Emily lives on a beef farm, raising Red Angus and Simmental cattle. She holds a Master of Science in Animal Biosciences from University of Guelph, with a focus on ruminant nutrition. Tar Spot

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is proudly offering five post-secondary bursaries this year: OFA encourages all students who are OFA members, a child of, or employee of an OFA member and are residents of Ontario, to apply for the 2024 bursary program. Eligible applicants must demonstrate industry-related accomplishments, a passion for agriculture and rural issues, and active community involvement. The deadline to apply is August 31, 2024. Apply today for OFA’s 2024 bursary program One $2,000 bursary for a recipient completing a post-graduate, veterinary or leadership development program. One $2,000 bursary to a recipient completing an apprenticeship. Three bursaries in the amount of $2,000 per recipient to students in an undergraduate program. BURSARY PROGRAM 2023 Bursary PrOgram winners BURSARY PROGRAM BURSARY PROGRAM BURSARY PROGRAM OFA: Supporting the next generation of your farm business. Visit to learn more.

20 Story Idea? Email Better Farming | June/July 2024 Fungicide in Soybeans Imagine a world where you could see into the future. What would it be like if you could predict the weather? If you could predict which insects, diseases or other issues would affect your crop and what this would mean for final yields. I always tell growers that if I could do that, I would be a millionaire who travels the world. The trick is to figure out what these pest issues will be annually for different crops, on different fields, for different yearly growing environments. In this article I will explore soybean crop physiology and reference some fungicide trial work we conducted during the 2023 growing season. You may have heard me say that the key to getting higher soybean yields is to set a large pod load, fill a large pod load, and harvest a large pod load. Having as big a factory as possible right from the get-go is crucial to higher yields. This involves planting as early as possible for your given maturity area and having all the foundational management practices in place, like soil fertility, drainage, and variety selection. From here it is critical to manage the large pod load of flowers that will eventually make it to soybean seed. This is extremely important in the reproductive stages of soybeans from R1 through to R5, which usually starts around the summer solstice for 40 to 45 days. A quick refresher on reproductive stages:  R1 has one open flower at any node on the main stem.  R2 has an open flower at one of the two uppermost nodes on the main stem and has a fully developed leaf.  R3 has a pod 3/16 of an inch long (4.8 mm) at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem with a fully developed leaf.  R4 is like R3 but the pod is 3/4 of an inch long.  in R5 the seed is forming, and is 1/8 of an inch long (3.2 mm) in the pod at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem with a fully developed leaf. Taking a closer look at how a soybean crop grows and when soybean yield is determined allows us to understand when we need to make sure the IT’S THE KEY TO HIGHER YIELDS KEEPING YOUR SOYBEAN CROP HAPPY By PAUL HERMANS Paul Hermans photo

21 Story Idea? Email Better Farming | June/July 2024 Fungicide in Soybeans soybean crop is the happiest. Most of a soybean’s life cycle occurs during the vegetative stages. Seventy per cent of the soybean lifecycle occurs when growing plant stems and nodes, followed by about 40 percent of a plant growing branches from nodes. From here, smaller portions of a plant are broken down into seed size development, followed by pollinated flowers and then seeds per pod. Although most of the plant’s life is in vegetative stages, it is the reproductive stages that are most crucial to soybean yield. All nodes produce flowers; however, yield on a soybean plant is more located around the middle and upper canopy. This is driven by absorption of light entering the canopy. Less than 25 per cent of light makes it down to the bottom quarter of a soybean plant. Hence the differences in where yield is found on a plant. Soybeans abort higher percentages of flowers in the lower canopy due to differences in light absorption and sugar movement within the plant. Studies have shown that 20 to 80 per cent of flowers produced will be aborted at the R2 stage. With newer plant breeding, soybeans have changed over time. Plant leaves are smaller and changed in architecture, allowing more sunlight to pass through the middle-lower portions of the plant, reaching lower nodes. Again, the middle to upper portion of a plant are the higher-yielding parts. Hence the reason to make sure this part of the plant is kept healthy from insects, diseases, and other stresses. Here in Eastern Ontario, keeping soybeans happy means applying fungicides in a timely manner to reduce white mould infection. In our 2023 white mould fungicide trials, we focused on one application of Viatude fungicide at the R 1.5 to 2.5 stage. Yield results showed a 3.2-bushel advantage to the fungicide applied versus no fungicide gained by yield protection. The 2023 season was a white mould magnet year. In a few trials, we had Fungicide plant health edit from DroneDeploy. Droen Deploy Plant Health photo Soybeans growing in previous corn ground at the V2 stage of development. Paul Hermans photo

Fungicide in Soybeans DEMAND NEW HOLLAND EQUIPPED FOR A NEW WORLD™ Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Campbellford • 705-653-3700 Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Lindsay • 705-324-2221 Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Napanee • 613-354-9244 Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Sunderland • 705-357-3121 Delta Power Equipment Mitchell • 519-348-8467 Delta Power Equipment St. Marys • 519-349-2180 Delta Power Equipment Tilbury • 519-682-9090 Delta Power Equipment Waterford • 519-443-8622 Delta Power Equipment Watford • 519-849-2744 Delta Power Equipment Winchester • 613-774-2887 Ebert Welding Ltd. New Liskeard • 705-647-6896 ESM Farm Equipment Ltd. Wallenstein • 519-669-5176 Maxville Farm Machinery Ltd. Maxville • 613-527-2834 McCauley Equipment Sales Orillia • 705-325-4424 Oneida New Holland Caledonia • 905-765-5011 Oneida New Holland St Catharines • 905-688-5160 Regional Tractor Sales Ltd. Freelton • 905-659-1094 Richards Equipment Inc. Barrie • 705-721-5530 Robert’s Farm Equipment Sales, Inc. Chesley • 519-363-3192 Robert’s Farm Equipment Sales, Inc. Mount Forest • 519-323-2755 Robert’s Farm Equipment Sales, Inc. Walton • 519-887-6365 Smiths Farm Equipment (Jasper) Ltd. Jasper • 613-283-1758 Stewart’s Equipment Erin • 519-833-9616 PAUL HERMANS Paul Hermans, CCA-ON is an area agronomist in Eastern Ontario with Corteva Agriscience. two applications applied that showed a 9.9-bushel advantage compared to the one-pass system. There is no surprise here, as flowering occurred during a longer period. This long reproductive stage was compromised by continual wet canopies and soil moisture that aided white mould development. Interestingly enough, on two plots that were planted across the road from each other, they had varying results. One trial planted earlier, on May 18, with five varieties ranging in maturity from 0.4 to 1.2, saw a 0.5-bushel advantage. The later planted plot, planted May 23 with the same varieties, had a 4.2-bushel advantage. You may ask yourself why this would be. The difference is timing of when flowering occurred, and when most of the crop was experiencing spores from white mould. In another trial, conducted by P.T. Sullivan Agro, they looked at a range of soybean maturities from 0.3 to 2.8 RM with a total of eight varieties planted. The trial was planted over three planting dates: April 16, May 11, and June 2, 2023. The highest yielding date was April 16 at 62 bushels, followed by June 2 at 42 bushels. The May 11 planting date yielded 40 bushels. White mould plot scores were taken for each planting date. April 16 was 2.25, May 11 was 4.5, and June 2 was 2.2. The May 11 planting date had the highest mould infections (1 being minimal and 5 being heavy pressure). Again, this shows timing effect of critical flowering periods and how they relate to white mould infection. Going forward, research initiatives are looking at utilizing computer modelling programs that will allow us to get a better handle on application timing to ensure we have better white mould control. I realize a lot of areas in Ontario do not have white mould pressure like we have in Eastern Ontario, so what would the strategy be in these areas to increase soybean plant health? One fungicide application in these environments will suffice and aid yield improvements. Timing in the R2.5 to 3 stage is advisable for a one-pass system. Get a good handle on what diseases you have present and what fungicides are most active on those diseases for better returns. Plant health is the key reason for applying a one-fungicide application in the absence of white mould. To summarize, yield can be divided into three parts: Total number of pods, number of beans per pod, and the size (weight) of the beans (seed size). What can you do throughout the 2024 growing season to make a positive change to affect one of these three parts? Wishing you a bountiful soybean cropping season! BF

24 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | June/July 2024 More isn’t always better when it comes to applying nitrogen fertilizer – agronomically or financially – certainly not in the face of federal goals to slash nitrous oxide emissions. “In some cases, a little less N may be more,” says Colin Elgie, OMAFRA soil fertility specialist. He explains nitrogen (N) fertilizer plays a critical role in farmers’ cropping systems, particularly in grain crop production. “When used at the proper rate, nitrogen fertilizers promote increased growth and yield, and improved profitability,” Elgie says. “However, overapplication of N fertilizers can and does occur, as the relationship between N and yield is not simply a straight line, where more is always better.” Different factors illustrate why adding more N to crops may not necessarily be in a farmer’s best interests. Agronomic optimization Elgie says grain crops in Ontario respond well to N fertilizer, but that the relationship has its limits, as increasing rates of N applied to a crop will eventually reach a yield plateau. “At this rate, additional N fertilizer will not increase yield, and if applied at exceptionally high rates, can decrease yield,” he says. Issues such as delayed maturity and stalk lodging can reduce quality and harvestable yield. The effects are easily seen in winter wheat, for which high rates of N, coupled with early summer storms, can lead to flattened fields prior to harvest. Impacts are also evident in corn yields. Alfons Weersink, an agricultural economist at the University of Guelph, says in terms of corn’s response to N, yields increase at a decreasing rate until a maximum yield is hit, and then it essentially plateaus. ‘THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN N AND YIELD IS NOT SIMPLY A STRAIGHT LINE.’ OVERAPPLYING NITROGEN: WHEN MORE ISN’T BETTER By RICHARD KAMCHEN Appying Nitrogen Emily Croft photo

25 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | June/July 2024 Appying Nitrogen “It does not tend to fall within a reasonable range. While yield may not be lowered with rates beyond that associated maximum yield, it is not profitable to do so,” Weersink says. Josh Nasielski, an agronomist at the University of Guelph, adds that for corn, taking up N costs carbon (or sugar). The plant needs to expend photosynthate to assimilate it from the soil to a usable form. Corn won’t expend energy taking up much more N than it needs: It normally has a small reservoir of N, but the amount is small, he says. “So, from the perspective of more is better, the corn plant itself may not even be using the extra N that was applied,” Nasielski says. This leaves excess nitrate in the soil, which is vulnerable to losses to the environment, notes Saskatchewan agronomist Edgar Hammermeister at Western Ag Professional Agronomy. He adds that what’s underappreciated and largely not understood is the back side of the N yield response curve, where each additional pound of N starts taking away from yield. How steep that decline is relates to a growing season’s weather conditions. For instance, in a wet season, crops could experience lodging if they’ve been overfertilized. “The implication of the kinked stems is moisture and nutrients can’t be delivered to fill the kernels, resulting in a poorer quality crop,” says Hammermeister, who also notes the greater harvesting challenge. In a dry season, however, overfertilizing could result in “haying off,” particularly in the brown soil zones of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Haying off refers to a crop growing too aggressively at the start of the season, and thereby depleting its water reserves before it can set yield. Having provided such a crop more N than it needed could amplify those effects. Economic optimization “From a farmer perspective, there’s a loss of profitability, because he’s spending money on inputs that aren’t necessarily going to give him a return on investment,” Hammermeister says. Elgie explains that the ideal scenario is to choose the rate of N where $1 of input equals $1 of output, at a point known as the Most Economic Rate of Nitrogen (MERN). Applying N at a rate higher than MERN means spending more in fertilizer input than you will make up for in yield, he says. “While maximum yield may be the focus of yield contests, it may not be in the best interest of the farm business to target that maximum yield with relation to their N rate decision,” Elgie says. “Nitrogen fertilizers are expensive inputs, and excessive use can reduce the return on investment of these products.” Weersink notes that one dilemma for farmers trying to determine optimal rates at the beginning of the cropping season is that MERN varies significantly across years, depending on weather conditions, which are unknown beforehand. Nasielski says that some farmers will apply more than they need to in order to compensate for environmental N losses, with the logic being that rainfall could leach some N away. “I understand this thought process, but it doesn’t always work that way. Generally, losses increase the more N that is applied,” Nasielski says. Environmental optimization Avoiding N losses can not only help improve profitability, but also reduce environmental impacts, Elgie says. He warns that overapplication of N poses significant environmental risks. At rates higher than MERN, uptake of additional N fertilizer decreases, and every additional kilogram of N has a higher potential for loss. “Excess N is prone to losses via volatilization, leaching, and denitrification,” Elgie says. “In Western Canada, the leaching is less of a concern,” adds Hammermeister, “but there can be denitrification losses, and depending on the moisture circumstances, it might be a small loss (or) quite a significant loss.” Denitrification leads to losses of nitrous oxide (N2O), a powerful greenhouse gas, approximately 298 times more potent by weight than CO2, Elgie says. For its part, the federal government wants to see N2O emissions from farms reduced 30 per cent by 2030. Although Ottawa’s goal isn’t mandatory, Hammermeister worries that that might change if the sector faces years when farmers are powerless to stop Mother Nature from forcing N losses. One way to mitigate that or avoid overapplication in typical years is to determine the right rate. Chart provided by OMAFRA YIELD NITROGEN RATE N Loss Yield N LOSSES Maximum Yield MERN NITROGEN RATE INTERACTION WITH YIELD AND LOSSES Theoretical nitrogen rate interaction with yield and N losses. As N rate increases above MERN, less N is taken up by the plant, leading to higher rates of loss. note that MERN occurs at a lower N rate than maximum yield.