Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

A Look into the Museum of Modern Agriculture

Joel Wipperfurth
Minnesota-Based Agronomy Advisor, WinField United
Last summer, the WinField Crop Adventure exhibit was unveiled at Fair Oaks Farms®, a family-friendly, agrotourism destination in Fair Oaks, Indiana. The purpose of the WinField Crop Adventure is to inform people, especially those who do not have a direct connection to farming, about how modern agriculture works and the role it plays in their lives.
 
A lot has happened over the past year. Nearly 150,000 visitors have toured the Crop Adventure exhibit, with many more vacationing families anticipated by Labor Day weekend. This means that more people are becoming familiar with the science, agronomic practices and technological breakthroughs needed to feed the growing global population.
 
Interactive exhibits most popular
The Crop Adventure features different rooms representing various aspects of crop production, including the history of agriculture, the soil ecosystem, how harvested crops are transformed into various commodities and the future of agriculture.
 
According to Jamie Miller, attractions manager at Fair Oaks Farms®, the most popular aspect of the Crop Adventure is the “Winning in the Field” room, which explores what it takes to keep growing crops healthy, watered and safe from pests.  The room includes a “Be the Crop” experience, where children can “catch” the sun’s rays and raindrops, and load “grain” made of Styrofoam into a small-scale grain elevator. “There are so many interactive exhibits, and everyone loves to learn by doing,” says Miller.
 
A different room, called “The Battle Underground,” is another popular spot. “We usually get a number of questions about soil differences in various areas,” says Miller. “Visitors also enjoy viewing the flip displays, which uncover everything from different seedling diseases to bugs that live in the soil.”
 
Advancing technology and knowledge
Most people outside of agriculture don’t realize how much technology plays a role in advancing crop production, water and land conservation, and irrigation methods. The Crop Adventure integrates a lot of technology into the mix, not only demonstrating how features like in-season imagery and infrared maps can help determine crop health or field problems, but how tools like drone technology and predictive crop modeling are helping shape the future.
 
Through venues such as Fair Oaks Farms® and educational opportunities such as the WinField Crop Adventure, agriculture becomes less mysterious and more people engage with our industry on an emotional level. See for yourself with a trip to the WinField Crop Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms®, learn more here.

Setting the Standard for Boom Spraying

Joe Gednalske
Director, Product Development, WinField United
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), a standards-developing organization for food, agricultural and biological systems, presented an award to the committee who authored ASABE S592.1: Best Management Practices for Boom. The award was presented at the ASABE 2017 Annual International Meeting held in July in Spokane, Washington.
 
I’m pleased that a member of our team, Lillian Magidow, research manager for Winfield United product development, served on the committee to create this international standard. Her role was to  ensure that adjuvants were included in spray recommendations, because they are not used everywhere in the world, but are very important for farmers in many countries, including the United States and Canada.
 
S592.1 identifies, formalizes and organizes basic spray application best management practices, addressing areas not discussed on product labels and helping educate users about proper handling of spray equipment. The standard reflects advanced boom-sprayer technologies that can affect nozzle performance and the potential for off-site drift.
 
In addition to WinField United, the committee included representatives from  equipment manufacturers, nozzle manufacturers, the agrochemical industry, university and independent researchers, and specialty sprayer manufacturers.
 
A voice for farmers
Lillian wanted to ensure that the standard made sense for someone who would actually use it in the field. Many times, what a farmer sees on a label started as part of an ASABE standard. So if a standard is created without farmer participation and representation, there might be something included on that label that isn’t practical or doesn’t make sense, or is less relevant for North American agriculture. And the label is the law.
 
Because the Environmental Protection Association (EPA) has limited resources, it depends upon standards organizations such as ASABE for guidance. We can’t tell the EPA how to assess a particular product; but if it has a question about what is a typical recommendation to a farmer, we can help guide that discussion.
 
We are so proud of Lillian and the committee’s accomplishments. We look forward to continuing these efforts to help give farmers a voice in critical agricultural decisions that are being made in Washington, D.C., as well as internationally.

Start Seeding Your 2018 Trait Strategy Now

Carl Scholting
Technical Seed Manager—Western Corn Belt, WinField United
While having the latest corn traits can represent a significant investment, they ultimately offer tremendous benefits. Here is a look at how traits have served farmers in my area of the western Corn Belt this season and how planning your seed purchases for 2018 now can help you forge full speed ahead next spring.
 
What happened in 2017?
Corn rootworm (CRW) is always an issue in pockets throughout the United States, especially in heavy corn-on-corn acres. CRW technologies such as SmartStax® are designed to provide excellent protection against this pest. Particularly with the large volume of rain we’ve had in several areas of the Corn Belt this year, the fact that traits don’t wash away or become diluted like granular insecticides can be very important.  
 
Corn earworm has also been an issue this year, and SmartStax® and VT Double PRO® have been designed to protect against it. In the western Corn Belt and in Wisconsin, western bean cutworm is currently an issue. Farmers who chose hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera® trait are not having to spray for that pest, while those who don’t have this trait are spraying for western bean cutworm right now.  
 
A look into 2018
The rotational aspect of continuous corn is going to necessitate CRW protection. Even rotated fields, if they have a history of corn rootworm, are getting that insect trait protection on next year’s seed. As noted above, western bean cutworm is progressing quickly this year and farmers are noticing that they will want more Agrisure Viptera®-traited seed in 2018.
 
Another key item is helping corn resist drought stress. Much of the western Corn Belt and parts of Iowa and Illinois are currently facing severe drought. The DroughtGard® products in the CROPLAN® seed portfolio are helping to support yield potential when drought stress occurs. I suspect there will be more discussion and questions asked about DroughtGard® products for next year.
 
Start planning now
Take note of the pressures you’re seeing in your fields now, while things are fresh in your mind. What worked and what didn’t pan out the way you wanted this year? You can’t plant next year’s seed now, but you can start having discussions with your local CROPLAN® seed representative about enhanced insect protection or drought-tolerant hybrids for next year based on what you’re observing. Don’t wait until January to start seeding your 2018 hybrid selection strategy.
 
 
Always follow IRM, grain marketing and all other stewardship practices and pesticide label directions. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. B.t. products may not yet be registered in all states. Check with your seed representative for the registration status in your state. RIB Complete and Design®, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup®, SmartStax and Design®, SmartStax®, VT Double PRO®, are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design® are registered trademarks of Bayer. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC.

Agrisure Viptera is a registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company.

WinField United is a trademark and CROPLAN and WinField are registered trademarks of Winfield Solutions, LLC.

Plan Ahead for Soybean Success

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager, CROPLAN® Corn and Soybeans
One of the largest soybean crops ever planted in the United States is underway this season. While lower market prices may have prompted many farmers to take a closer look at soybean production, our research is showing that solid genetics coupled with innovative technology are making soybeans a valuable choice for many farmers. As crops are racing toward maturity, it’s time to start thinking about boosting soybean ROI potential for next season.
 
Change your thinking
How do you know which soybean products and technology will provide the best return for your farm? The first step is to think about soybean production differently. Research shows that, like corn, soybean crops respond positively to more intensive management, with increased emphasis on management paying off at harvest.
 
To get started, ask your local agronomist to help you sort through the complex decisions concerning trait and variety selection, seed treatments, crop protection and plant nutrition choices. Relying on high-quality data that comes from sources such as the Answer Plot® Program can help you make informed, fact-based choices to manage next season’s environmental and production risks, no matter what conditions Mother Nature throws your way.
 
Broaden selection criteria
An important first step in soybean production is variety selection. While it’s been common to make soybean seed selections based mainly on trait package and relative maturity, there are many other factors that should also be considered. Answer Plot® data has shown a tremendous amount of difference in specific soybean performance, depending on where the seeds are planted. For example, two varieties that would be expected to yield similarily on average, can perform in incredibly different ways when placed in a high-yield environment versus a low-yield environment, or in sandy soil versus heavy soil, for example. Your local advisor can help you review performance data to select the best varieties to match your conditions and planned management.
 
Address field variability
Choosing just one soybean variety for an entire field can be challenging, since most fields include a range of conditions. To help farmers manage field variability, CROPLAN® seed offers WinPak® soybean products, which include a unique combination of two soybean varieties that are designed to deliver stability throughout the field and capture the full yield potential of your acres.
 
The complementary products in each CROPLAN WinPak® product provide a natural hedge against each season’s unknown conditions, working together to increase yield potential on tough acres while maintaining yield in higher-producing areas. Answer Plot® data has also shown that WinPak® varieties out-performed their individual component varieties across maturity groups.
 
As harvest approaches, take a few minutes to review how your soybean crop has performed this season and talk to your local advisor about choosing the right varieties for next year.

Zap Sunflower Bugs Before They Blossom

Kyle Okke
Agronomist, WinField United
Diligent scouting is critical to promptly identifying and controlling insects in your sunflower fields before yield and quality potential are compromised. No matter what your sunflower market, your crop deserves to have every opportunity to deliver a healthy ROI.
 
By this time, you’ve probably seen cutworms, an early-season pest, come and go. Most sunflower crops are in the bud stage now, which brings about several other destructive insects. Here are the main ones to watch for.
 
Red sunflower seed weevils
The number-one sunflower pest in my area near Dickinson, North Dakota, is the red sunflower seed weevil, which lays its eggs into developing seeds after pollination at the R-5.1 stage, when the outside of the sunflower head is starting to bloom. This causes seeds to be completely hollow or greatly reduced in test weight, which reduces sunflower yield.
 
Begin scouting for seed weevils as soon as the yellow ray petals begin to show. Counts should continue until the economic threshold level has been reached or most plants have reached 70 percent pollen shed, at which time very few seeds are suitable for egg laying.
 
For accurate checking of individual sunflower heads, brush the face of the heads vigorously to bring the weevils to the surface, or spray mosquito repellent containing DEET on the head. This will force the weevils to move out of hiding.
 
Keep in mind that the economic threshold is based on the market price of the crop. Here are the economic thresholds for the three main sunflower markets:
  • Confection: 1 weevil per head
  • De-hull: 2 to 3 weevils per head
  • Oils: 4 to 5 weevils per head, based on a $0.15 to $0.16 oil grain market. 
Banded sunflower moths
Careful scouting is critical with this sunflower pest, and you need to wait until the eggs hatch before you can spray them (typically about a week after you see the eggs). Sunflower moth larvae will chew petals as well as developing seeds and tissue. The timeline for banded sunflower moths mirrors that of the red sunflower seed weevil, so both can be sprayed at the same time.
 
Lygus bugs
Lygus bugs pierce and suck the nutrients out of developing seeds in the sunflower head. They are especially problematic in the confectionary and de-hull sunflower markets, where the appearance of the seed is important, and they also cause the seeds to have a bitter taste. As few as one lygus bug per nine plants is enough to cause a significant problem.
 
So protect your sunflower crop with boots-on-the-ground scouting to detect insect threats early and deal with them promptly. Your agronomist can help you determine optimal timing and the most effective insecticide to use. 

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