Growing Knowledge

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

What We Learned From Analyzing 42,000 Tissue Samples in 2018

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Farmers submitted over 42,000 tissue samples for analysis by WinField United teams this year, and the data shows that crops could benefit from fertilization adjustments made in-season.
 
Nutrient trends and insights
Here are some nationwide trends revealed by tissue analysis conducted by WinField United in 2018.
 
  • Key essential nutrients for corn were limited. Corn plants could have benefitted from in-season nutrient applications based on analysis of over 26,000 tissue samples submitted from across the country. The most common deficiency was zinc; nearly 78 percent of sampled plants were short on the nutrient that aids in chlorophyll synthesis and other metabolic functions. Potassium, nitrogen, manganese and boron were also commonly deficient or responsive.
  • Soybeans had a sharp increase in copper deficiency. Nearly 75 percent of soybeans sampled lacked sufficient copper levels to meet plant health needs. This is up 10 percentage points compared to 2017 and 34 percentage points compared to 2016. Copper is a key nutrient for protein synthesis, cell wall formation and many enzyme systems. A majority of soybeans were also low in potassium based on analysis of over 8,400 soybean tissue samples.
  • Wheat lacked micronutrients. Chloride deficiency was widespread across wheat crops last year, with nearly 85 percent of sampled plants lacking adequate concentrations of the nutrient. Limited availability of chloride can disrupt plant metabolism, including water regulation in cells and plant enzyme activation. Copper, boron, zinc and magnesium were also limited in most wheat crop samples.
  • Cotton was deficient in potassium. Nearly 90 percent of cotton samples fell into the deficient or responsive category for potassium levels in 2018. Potassium is an essential nutrient that is important for fiber development in cotton. Phosphorus and copper were also commonly deficient based on over 1,300 cotton samples submitted for analysis.
  • Alfalfa was short on calcium. Similar to last year, over 90 percent of the more than 400 alfalfa samples analyzed had low levels of calcium in 2018. Calcium aids in nitrogen uptake and nutrient absorption, and it contributes to enzyme activity in plants. The majority of alfalfa samples were also short on magnesium and phosphorus.
 
Timing, source and rates matter
The WinField United sampling database includes more than 475,000 data points that help identify nutrient trends based on geography, soil type and environmental conditions. Based on analysis in 2018, it’s clear that a crop’s nutrient needs vary depending on growth stage, reinforcing the need for tissue sampling throughout the season. It’s not enough to know what nutrients may be limiting plant development. To optimize plant performance, consider the timing, source and rates of fertilizer applications.
 
Tissue sampling, combined with soil sampling, can help you assess crop nutrient availability to fine-tune fertilization applications. Now is a good time to speak with your local WinField United retailer to review sampling data and prepare fertilization plans for next year.

New Zinc Treatment Available for 2019 Corn Seed

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
The micronutrient zinc is important to corn plants for a number of reasons. Zinc acts as a catalyst for enzyme creation and is a precursor for auxin hormones that signal seed germination. When early zinc levels are adequate, there is more consistent seed germination and plant emergence.
 
All CROPLAN® corn seed has come treated with Advanced Coating® Zn zinc seed treatment — as well as with a fungicide and an insecticide — for a number of years. Answer Plot® testing has helped us develop a new and improved zinc seed treatment, Fortivent™ Zn, which will be available on all new CROPLAN elite class corn hybrids in time for the 2019 growing season.
 
What the data shows
WinField United has been testing Fortivent Zn seed treatment in Answer Plot trials for the past two years. Results from 2017 and 2018 trials indicate a positive effect on yield. Corn planted with Fortivent Zn seed treatment saw a 4.8-bushel-per-acre increase across 41 trial locations. There’s a positive response from Fortivent Zn seed treatment and the Advanced Coating Zn formulation meaning putting zinc on seed could lead to a potential yield boost.
 
Zinc makes us unique
Fortivent Zn seed treatment is designed to provide an early zinc supply to promote seed germination as well as early-season plant health and vigor. The fungicide and insecticide remain. And though fungicide and insecticide often come standard on other hybrid brands, CROPLAN is the only seed manufacturer that adds zinc to our standard treatment. And at no additional cost to you.
 
Supply zinc throughout the season
Zinc is challenging to get to corn plants because it is immobile in soil and in plant tissue. As a result, plant roots have to come into contact with zinc to take it up, making robust early root growth critical. Corn plants need zinc throughout the season to meet growth and development needs. So in addition to a seed treatment, you can boost early-season zinc levels with a starter fertilizer. As the season progresses, tissue samples can help identify when foliar applications may be beneficial.  
 
Talk with your local trusted advisor about the new Fortivent Zn seed treatment and how it can help you turn early-season vigor into end-of-year yield potential.
 
 
© 2018 WinField United. Advanced Coating, Answer Plot, CROPLAN, Fortivent and WinField are trademarks of WinField United.

Wind Tunnel Will Enhance University of Minnesota Research

Dan Bissell
Senior Research Engineer, Product Development
A donation from WinField United will enable aerosol researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (CSE) to study what’s blowin’ in the wind. And then use that knowledge to help farmers.
 
A large wind tunnel once housed at the former WinField United Product Development Center in River Falls, Wisconsin, is now ready to rev up at the Aerosol Diagnostics Laboratory on the university’s Minneapolis campus. The tunnel will be formally presented at a ceremony on November 16.
 
The tunnel played a major role in our breakthrough product research for many years. However, the new WinField United Innovation Center (opened in 2017) required an upgraded wind tunnel designed for the high throughput demanded by our product development process. This prompted us to see if the University of Minnesota was interested in acquiring our existing wind tunnel and using it for agricultural product research.
 
As a graduate of the CSE and having served as an undergraduate research assistant in the aerosol research department, I realized how beneficial this technology will be. 
 
Using aerosol research to fuel ag progress
The aerosol research group of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, founded in the 1950s, is one of the leading centers of small-particle research in the United States. Aerosol research is the study of how particulate matter moves through the air. Our work, which uses active ingredients with various spray nozzles and in multiple tank mixes, has enabled WinField United to develop considerable expertise in understanding the potential for spray drift of agricultural products.
 
Research at the Aerosol Diagnostics Laboratory will help validate and inform our activities at the Innovation Center and vice versa. WinField United and the University of Minnesota will collaborate and share learnings, and expand knowledge about spray drift in the agricultural industry.
 
One area of specific exploration may be dicamba drift. At WinField United, we’ve already begun to examine this issue and the use of drift reduction agents. This new partnership gives us another avenue to help tackle this problem. Examining droplet size more closely might be one way to begin to offer some answers to dicamba drift.
 
Pursuing the unexpected
WinField United sought out the CSE to make a connection with a discipline of science that is distinct from agriculture. We wanted partner with the experts on spray drift and particulate movement in the atmosphere.
 
There are numerous scientific disciplines in the CSE that WinField United could tap into. These include soil health, residual effects of herbicides, movement of pesticides through the soil layer and runoff of crop protection products into waterways. This partnership is a way for our company to bring more subject matter experts into agriculture to offer fresh perspectives on making our industry better for farmers and more sustainable for everyone.
 

It’s Not Too Early to Talk Fungicides

Jason Roth
agronomist
Farmers often ask me when they should plan to purchase their fungicides for the season. My answer is, in the off-season AND in-season. It seems contradictory, but there are good reasons to make purchases both times of the year.
 
It’s not just about disease pressure
With tighter margins, many farmers are choosing to delay their fungicide purchases to see what the season brings. But that might not be the best approach to getting the most from your genetics. Our Answer Plot® data shows that not all hybrids respond to fungicide applications the same way. We’ve seen some locations where disease pressure has been relatively low, yet the hybrids respond significantly to a fungicide application. That’s because fungicides do more than just control disease. They affect plants in other physiological ways, including influencing nitrogen use efficiency, respiration maintenance and hormone production. All these things can affect yield potential, even in the absence of disease.
 
3 tips for a stronger plant health strategy
My advice for building a solid plant health strategy comes down to three steps.
 
  1. Review your seed choices and learn how they respond to a fungicide application. Plan to prepay for fungicides and adjuvants on acres with high-response hybrids. Our data shows a positive return on investment, even when disease pressure is low.
 
  1. For hybrids that are less responsive to fungicides, I’d recommend holding off on fungicide purchases to assess disease pressure in-season. If disease comes in early and is heavy, I’d recommend a fungicide, paired with MasterLock® adjuvant, to help protect yield potential.
 
  1. Regardless of when you make your purchase, you should always plan to add an adjuvant to your tank mix. The drift deposition aid MasterLock improves fungicide coverage within the plant’s canopy, leading to improved ROI potential on input costs. Our Answer Plot data has shown an average 5.7-bushel-per-acre yield advantage in corn, simply by adding MasterLock to the fungicide tank mix.
 
If you’re tempted to wait to make your fungicide purchases until next summer, take a look at your genetics’ response-to scores to make sure you’re not missing an opportunity to optimize yield. Postharvest is the perfect time to work with your local WinField United retailer to plan hybrid placement and management to ensure you’re capitalizing on your seed’s potential.    
 

Scout Now to Get Ahead of Spring Weeds

Dennis Christie
Agronomist
A proactive approach to crop protection starts at harvest. Whether you’ve already finished harvest or are about to wrap up, your view from the cab is the perfect vantage point to evaluate your 2018 weed management strategy. Knowing what worked — and what didn’t — will help you make the decisions to start strong next season.
 
Identify weed escapes
Starting clean and staying clean is the ultimate goal with weed control, but in order to do that you’ll need to know what you’re up against. Keep a watchful eye on your fields during harvest and note what weed species you find and where you find them.
 
Weed escapes don’t just limit crop yields and grain quality; they can also become compounding challenges by adding to a field’s seed bank. By making good observations and notes about your weed escapes, you’ll know where to focus your scouting efforts next spring.
 
Review your plan
The relative calm of life after harvest provides an opportunity to meet with your trusted advisor and look back at your 2018 weed control strategy. The goal here is to determine the cause of weed escapes and create a plan that minimizes the possibility of them showing up again next year.
 
You’ll want to think about what herbicide tank mixes you used, how you applied them and what size the target weeds were. Perhaps the weeds were simply too large to control effectively when herbicides were applied. If so, you’ll want to adjust your 2019 scouting schedule.
 
Control fall weeds
Depending on the weeds you find during harvest, a fall burndown application may be warranted. Some troublesome species that show resistance to certain modes of action can be just 2 inches tall and already have seed heads. Other species may still germinate in the fall, despite cold weather.
 
If needed, an effective fall burndown herbicide can give your next crop an early advantage against resource competition in the spring.
 
Plan for next year
Most important, the weed control plan you choose should be effective at preventing and controlling herbicide-resistant weeds. That requires rotating multiple modes of action every year. Even if you will be planting different crops and your weed control strategy worked well last year, it is imperative for you to incorporate new modes of action into your plan.
 
This also requires a season-long commitment to weed control. Start clean by using an effective preplant burndown application with residual activity, then stay clean with a postemergence program that layers residuals and includes multiple modes of action.
 
Additionally, adjuvants should complement the herbicides that are used. Adjuvant choice can have a considerable impact on product performance. Because of that, WinField United tests every product under broad conditions for several years before release and provides training on adjuvant use and tank mixes at Answer Plot® spray clinics.
 
Talk with your local trusted advisor about scouting as you harvest and evaluating what you find. Determining your next weed management steps now helps you get an early start on the 2019 season.
 
© 2018 WinField United. Answer Plot® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.

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