Growing Knowledge

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

Consider Seed Treatments Now For Increased Protection at Planting

Cliff Watrin
Product Development Manager
We’re heading into harvest season. It’s a time when you can begin to quantify the management decisions you’ve made throughout the year. If your crops were able to establish strong stands and vigorous emergence, they had a better chance of dealing with stress later in the season. One way to help give plants that strong start is by choosing the right broad-spectrum seed treatment.
 
Insurance for your seed
Your seed purchase is arguably the biggest input cost you’ll face, so it makes sense to protect that investment. Applying a seed treatment helps mitigate early-season risks, such as planting into cool, wet soils, and defends the seed against soilborne insects and fungal diseases. As farmers have moved toward earlier planting to maximize yield, seed treatments have become essential for establishing uniform stands and for reducing replant risks. Protecting seed from early-season stress is key for late-season yield.
 
Choose the right seed care package
Four soilborne fungal pathogens — Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium — are native to all North American soils. Under favorable conditions, these diseases can infect emerging crops, leading to early-season root rots, reduced vigor and poor plant stands. A seed treatment that includes a broad spectrum of fungicides to control these pathogens can help limit early-season losses.
 
For soybeans, Warden® CX seed treatment can help protect against yield-robbing diseases. In addition to containing three different fungicides, the rates selected are optimized to give maximum residual control of early season diseases like Phytophthora and Pythium. Warden CX also includes Cruiser® insecticide with the patented Thiamethoxam Vigor effect for improved plant quality, stronger stems and larger root mass. Answer Plot® trial data from nine locations in 2014 showed an average 3.4-bushels-per-acre yield advantage when soybeans were treated with Warden CX compared to untreated seed.
 
Seed treatments can help protect your investment, reduce the risk of replant, help defend against diseases and insects, and help shield crops from suboptimal field conditions. Choosing the right seed treatment can result in better germination and more uniform stands, and it is a cost-effective way to help maximize yield potential. Talk with your local WinField United retailer or seed dealer to find out which seed treatment options are right for your acres.
 
Answer Plot® and Warden® are trademarks of WinField United. Cruiser® and Thiamethoxam Vigor are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company.

Focus on Data Quality, Not Quantity

Brody McCauley
Wisconsin Answer Plot Research Manager
“Data” seems to be the buzz word in agriculture lately, with new agriculture startups launching daily to provide more information for farmers. But maybe more data isn’t what we need. It’s time to focus on quality data that leads to profitable decisions. Here’s how we’re doing that with the Answer Plot® program.
 
  1. Cause and effect or correlation? There’s a big difference between correlation and causation. We have nearly 200 Answer Plot testing locations across the U.S. where we’re able to replicate our trials. We’ve generated more than 6 million data points from the Answer Plot program, and each data point has been statistically analyzed to help us deliver reliable, consistent insights to improve farm profitability. Our dedicated analysts help us decipher the data to make sure what we’re seeing is real, not just correlation.
 
  1. You get what you give. If a trial protocol is flawed by design, or if the execution of the trial is botched, data integrity is compromised. The old saying “garbage in, garbage out” applies to data as well. Our Answer Plot teams are committed to limiting variability in our tests by placing trials on the most uniform soils possible. We follow pre-established protocols for all processes, from how we get the seed into packets for planting to our quality control of data points. 
 
  1. We’re all human. Human error is one way data integrity is compromised. We’ve tried to limit the introduction of human error by employing as much technology as possible to help improve our accuracy. For example, we use ArcMap GIS to manipulate and create all plot maps. And Trimble GPS guidance systems read those maps when we’re planting, applying fertilizers and crop protection products, and harvesting. Using pre-mapped files, we can accurately place each seed and apply each treatment using technology, which helps reduce human error.
 
The Answer Plot program is a valuable resource for farmers because you can be confident that you’re getting quality data that has been collected using established protocols and analyzed using sound statistics. To learn more about the data we’re collecting, visit AnswerPlot.com or contact your local WinField United retailer.

Making a Difference With Community Gardens

Nathan Pohlen
agronomy research specialist
As an agronomy research specialist with WinField United, I spend a lot of time finding ways to help farmers increase their productivity. My position has provided me a unique opportunity to use my training and experience to mentor the next generation of farmers as a sponsor for the WinField United Answer Plot® Community Gardens project.
 
The program is supported by the Land O’Lakes Foundation, which grants funds to high school FFA chapters to plant and maintain community gardens. Local Answer Plot teams share agronomic knowledge and support the schools throughout the growing season. At the end of the season, all the produce grown is donated to a local food pantry to help battle hunger in rural communities.
 
The Community Garden project gives teens who may not have had a typical farm upbringing the chance to experience modern agriculture and find out what it takes to produce a quality crop. Students learn about pest control, pollination, planting and harvest, as well as how to be good stewards of the land. At the same time, they’re giving back to their community through a local charity.
 
I work closely with the Gilbert and Story City FFA chapters in Iowa to help coordinate crews, provide advice and maintain the gardens. I’m impressed by how these students have taken ownership of the project and how it has served as a gateway to get them involved in other local charities. I’ve also seen a big boost in ag education as students invest time in the gardens.    
 
WinField United teams support the Community Garden project because we understand the value of agricultural education for our young people. This collaborative program continues to enrich the lives of local students, the community and Answer Plot teams.

Plan Now for Better Nutrient Management

Kyle Gustafson
Agronomist, WinField United
If you’ve made tissue sampling a priority this season, you probably have a pretty good understanding of how your nutrient management program fared. You can use what you learned this season to develop a solid nutrient management strategy for next year. Proactive planning can help alleviate pressure when in-season challenges limit nutrient availability. Here are some tips to get started.
 
Identify nutrient uptake issues. Comparing nutrient levels in plant tissue with the nutrient levels in soil is a great way to understand how effective plant nutrient uptake is. In South Dakota, soils may test adequate for zinc, but tissue sampling will frequently reveal the micronutrient is deficient in the crop. This suggests the need for multiple forms of zinc that are delivered in a plant-available form. Knowing this, we can experiment with different fertilizer rates or formulations to help improve plant uptake.
 
Capitalize on top-end yield. With tissue sampling data, we can critically evaluate how to improve nutrient application, rate and formulation to increase uptake. For example, if tissue samples consistently show a nitrogen deficiency in V6 corn, your crops may benefit from a split nitrogen application. Adjusting nitrogen application timing could be just what your hybrids need to reach their high-end yield potential.
 
Identify management zones. Using technology such as the R7® Tool, you’re better able to identify areas with varying productivity potential and manage those areas independently. You can take tissue and soil samples from different areas to gain a better understanding for why each zone has high or low yield potential. From there, your agronomist can assist in developing site-specific fertilizer recommendations to address each zone’s nutrient issues.
 
Build a better plan. Many nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium, have a limited ability to be corrected in-season once deficiencies occur. Using historical data, we can proactively build better nutrient management plans to limit the risk of deficiencies in-season.
 
Tissue sampling is a great way to boost your operation’s productivity and save on input costs. While this season is still fresh in your mind, take advantage of the opportunity to revisit your 2018 tissue sampling results to begin building a solid nutrient management foundation for 2019. You’ll likely find ways to increase productivity and potentially cut input costs by using a critical eye to analyze data. 
 
To learn more about how to use tissue sampling to build a better nutrient management plan, contact your local WinField United retailer.

Want Big Yields? Don’t Skimp on Zinc.

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
When it comes to plant nutrition, it seems that N, P and K are often in the limelight. But zinc is an unsung nutrient hero that helps maintain some of a plant’s most important physiological processes. Here are some reasons it’s time to rethink the power of zinc.
 
Zinc promotes consistent emergence. Hybrids that get a strong start are better equipped to meet their yield potential. Zinc is 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 emergence.
 
One way to ensure plants have enough zinc early in the season is by incorporating the nutrient into your seed treatment. All CROPLAN® corn hybrids come with a zinc seed treatment at no additional cost to you. We make this investment because we know that seed that starts strong has better potential to battle stress later in the season. In fact, we tested zinc-treated corn seed at 62 Answer Plot® locations last year and found that it averaged a 3.2 bushel per acre yield advantage over standard seed treatments.

ZincTreatment.png
Healthy root development requires zinc. Because zinc is an essential component for many enzymes, it’s no wonder it’s so important for the growth and development of healthy roots. Adequate zinc levels and quicker emergence tend to lead to more robust early root growth in the corn plant. This sets the plant up for a bigger root footprint, earlier in the year, to capture water and nutrients.
 
 
When zinc is sufficient, so are other nutrients. If zinc helps build healthy roots, it makes sense that the uptake of other nutrients would also increase with sufficient zinc. We analyzed over 9,400 tissue samples taken from farms in Minnesota, and found increased levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur when zinc levels were sufficient in the plant.
 
Zinc is immobile in soil and tissue, so it’s critical that plants have a constant supply throughout the season to meet growth and development needs. In addition to a seed treatment, you can boost early-season zinc levels with a starter fertilizer. Tissue samples can help identify opportunities where foliar applications may be beneficial as the season progresses or consider planned applications of dry zinc fertilizers before the next season.
 
For more information about zinc-treated CROPLAN hybrids that are a good fit for your operation, contact your local retailer.
 

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