Growing Knowledge

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

Five Steps to Controlling Corn Rootworm

Ryan Wolf
Agronomy Services Manager
Called the “billion dollar pest” due to its mass destruction of valuable crops, corn rootworm continues to spread rapidly across the Midwest. The problem is compounded in the northern Corn Belt, where there are large populations of northern corn rootworm and the more destructive western corn rootworm is showing some resistance.

As you look at insect challenges you faced last year, I urge you to take preventative measures to control corn rootworm because once corn is planted, postemergence applications cannot stop larvae from feeding on roots.
 
Here are five tips to help control this destructive pest and protect yield potential:
  1. Rotate crops. Plant soybeans when possible to break up corn-on-corn rotations.
  2. Choose trait packages. Corn farmers should choose hybrids that feature two traits for maximum corn rootworm control.
  3. Use full insecticide rates at planting. Many farmers have become accustomed to getting by using half-rates of insecticide. To stand a chance at controlling corn rootworm, make in-furrow insecticide applications using the full rate.
  4. Be proactive. Begin scouting for corn rootworm beetles at tassel and continue through early August. Timely foliar insecticide applications will prevent beetles from laying eggs and reduce populations the following year.
  5. Control volunteer corn. Western corn rootworm is known to lay eggs in soybean fields, posing a threat to corn crops the following year. Removing its food source prevents larvae from maturing and continuing the cycle.
Stay vigilant for signs of corn rootworm throughout the upcoming growing season, and work with your local agronomist to help guide pest control decisions.

Factoring Data Into Decision-Making

Kelsey Berger
Agriculture Technology Specialist
The new year is underway, so it’s time to dial up your planning for the coming growing season. With commodity prices demanding thorough preparation, data will be critical to ensuring you get the most out of every field in 2017. Take time now to evaluate how you’re using data to make decisions on your farm and determine how you can get more from the information available to you.
 
Here’s a look at how the Answer Plot® team uses data to power seed placement and help farmers place inputs precisely and effectively.
 
Determining seed placement through replication and localized conditions
A multitude of factors must be considered to place hybrids for optimum performance, including response to soil type, reponse to population, rotation and specific growing conditions. Because of the many factors that affect seed placement, quality data play a critical role in making decisions confidently. Through the Answer Plot® Program, we replicate hybrids and varieties at nearly 200 locations across the country in diverse soil types and growing conditions to determine how to best utilize each hybrid in a multitude of environments and cropping systems.
 
Recommendations for placement and management are backed by high-quality data that we’re able to maintain due to low trial error. Trial error represents factors we cannot see or anticipate that affect outcomes, which could include weather, disease, insect pressure, soil variability and other factors. The more replications, the smaller the margin of error.
 
Using data to inform input decisions
The WinField® United data analytics team is made up of 70 people who gather, analyze and organize data from the test plots then put the information into a useable form. For example, through the R7® Tool, response to nitrogen and fungicide scores are available for particular hybrids. These scores give you insights on how to prioritize your inputs based on the needs of specific hybrids in unique environments.
 
To learn more about incorporating different types of data into your decision-making process, contact your local WinField® United retailer.

Stay Up to Date on Spraying Requirements

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
With increasingly complex technologies, strict application regulations and a multitude of weed resistance issues, it is now more important than ever to ensure you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your herbicide program.
 
There are four key steps to controlling weeds through the use of herbicides. WinField United works with farmers and applicators to get the most out of each step through hands-on demonstrations at local spray clinics. Here are some examples of how attending a spray clinic can help you make the most of the four steps to effective weed control.
 
Contacting the weed. During spray clinics, we discuss what types of nozzles should be used, and go over the pressure and gallons per acre that would be ideal for each application. We also talk about maintaining the correct boom height and increasing canopy penetration by utilizing drift control products. Anything that we can do to increase the amount of herbicide that makes it out of the nozzle and down to the plant will dramatically help improve the herbicide uptake.
 
Absorbing the herbicide. Adjuvants are absolutely critical to increasing penetration into a leaf. From the time the droplet hits the leaf surface until it dries, is all the longer the herbicide has to be absorbed. Adjuvants can enlarge the surface area of the droplet, decrease evaporation and cut through waxy cuticles of the leaf surface, thereby increasing absorption of the herbicide into the plant. However, not all herbicides are receptive to the same adjuvants. During a spray clinic, we focus on which herbicides require which adjuvants to increase their efficacy within the plant.
 
Movement of the herbicide in the plant. Once the herbicide is into the plant, it must move to the site of action. The more herbicide that moves into the plant, the more that will get to the site of action. Because some herbicides do not move much in the plant, we have to focus on increasing coverage with those particular herbicides.
 
Reaching the site of action. In other words, enough herbicide must reach the site of action to provide a lethal dose. All the recommendations during a spray clinic will help you boost the amount of the herbicide within the plant, which will enhance the chances of the herbicide reaching a lethal dose at the site of action.
 
For more information about attending a spray clinic and to find one near you, see your WinField® United retailer.

Add Greater Value to On-Farm Trial

Steve Anthofer
Answer Plot Operations Sr. Manager
Testing new products and management techniques on your own fields is a good way to get a close-up look at results under your own growing conditions. However, because most on-farm trials are limited in scale, the results provide only a glimpse into performance.
 
To rely on such small-scale data for planning purposes can stymie your chances for success, since the decisions you make are only as good as the data you’re analyzing. And if your data is “iffy,” any resulting actions you might take will be equally suspect.

That’s why it’s beneficial to compare your on-farm data with high-quality, large-scale test results that reflect a variety of soil conditions and weather scenarios, results that paint a more complete performance picture. In 2015, our WinField® United Answer Plot® Program tested 231 corn hybrids, replicated 12 times at 191 locations across the country. We also collected a total of 5 million data points from our trials. This level of local, regional and national testing allows us to ensure the validity of our data, so you can feel confident using it for comparison purposes with your on-farm results.
 
Tips for On-farm Trials
Before doing any data comparisons, make sure your on-farm trials deliver the best results possible. Master Agronomy Advisor Matt Mesenbrink has worked with a number of farmers performing their own trials and offers the following recommendations:
 
  • Keep things simple. Test one thing at a time: one hybrid versus another hybrid; high management versus low management. Limit the trial to the most important information you seek.
  • Understand variabilities. Remember that weather and fertility will affect your outcomes. Because of factors you can’t control, the size of your trial might diminish and, as a result, it may not be a true test of what you’re farming.
  • Work with your agronomist. If trial results differ from what you expected, ask your agronomist to help determine why. Understand that you may need to adapt if conditions change.
  • Engage your other stakeholders. Review your plans with the managers and applicators you work with to help ensure everyone understands what you want to accomplish and what their roles are in helping make that happen.
 
By following these simple steps, you can feel assured in your results and you’ll be on your way to making solid, data-based decisions for the coming year.

WinField United Staffer Is New NCWSS President

Eric Spandl
Technical Marketing Manager
Greg Dahl, a research manager for product development at WinField United, was named president of the North Central Weed Science Society (NCWSS) on December 15 at the organization’s annual meeting in Des Moines. Iowa. He will serve in this role until December 2017.
 
Greg Dahl, NCWSS PresidentThis is a great honor for Greg, a 30-year industry veteran who has been with WinField United since 1997. He has been an active member of the NCWSS since 1981 and was given the organization’s Distinguished Achievement Industry Award in 2011. WinField United is proud of Greg’s many accomplishments in the field of weed management research. He sees a number of important issues ahead for the organization to deal with in 2017 and beyond.
 
“We have resistant weeds. We also have the new dicamba technologies hitting the market, which will create opportunities to do great things,” said Greg in a news release announcing his appointment. “But we will need to practice stewardship like we never have before — doing our very best to keep chemicals in the right place and ensuring they stay where farmers put them.”
 
Greg has coordinated and conducted numerous experiments in the areas of adjuvants, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, seed treatments and micronutrients with WinField United. His research has led to the introduction of more than 50 new or improved products.

Many NCWSS members are affiliated with universities or the crop protection industry. Others are crop consultants, state or federal agency or private research personnel, extension educators, graduate students in weed science, or other weed science experts. The NCWSS covers 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario.

Greg has an impressive track record in the industry, and we are very proud that he has been named president of the NCWSS. His professional background, and his broad and deep knowledge of agronomy and weed science, make him a valued colleague. I know the NCWSS will benefit from his vast experience.

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