Growing Knowledge

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

4 Ways to Leverage Tissue Sampling Insights in the Off-Season

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
The majority of farmers who choose to take tissue samples are looking for in-season insights to help them fine-tune their fertilization programs. But tissue nutrient analysis can also tell you a lot about your production practices and identify changes that can be made to improve productivity. Here are four ways you can use tissue sampling results in the off-season to make changes to your management practices.

1. Soil and tissue analysis comparison can reveal potential problems. When used together, soil and tissue testing can help you identify potential issues in your field. For example, if soil analysis reveals you have ample nutrients present but tissue testing shows that they aren’t being taken up by the plant, that’s an indication that there may be issues with root growth caused by compaction, environmental conditions or shallow planting.

2. Tissue sampling helps calibrate the Field Forecasting Tool. The R7® Field Forecasting Tool (FFT) delivers more accurate results as new information is added to the model. The tissue sampling results from the NutriSolutions® app can be automatically fed into the FFT and can help estimate yield potential in-season. The model can also be used in the off-season to help establish management practices for the future that can reduce the gap between the forecasted yield and the actual yield.

3. Evaluating nitrogen trends can help with seed selection. If you find your plant nitrogen levels are often trending low, you might choose to be more aggressive with your nitrogen applications. But if you’re looking to maintain input costs, an alternative would be to place a hybrid that has a low response-to-nitrogen score on those acres in the future, knowing that nitrogen could be limiting.

In 2017, we tested 210 hybrids at our Answer Plot® locations and found 36 percent were highly responsive to nitrogen, 45 percent were moderately responsive and 19 percent were less responsive to nitrogen. Across the tested hybrids, there was a 39.5- to 97.2-bushel-per-acre yield response gradient, illustrating the vast differences genetics can have on nitrogen utilization in plants.

4. Choose the right seed if zinc comes up short. If tissue sampling trends reveal an early-season zinc shortage, consider using CROPLAN® corn hybrids on your acres. All CROPLAN hybrids are treated with Advanced Coating® Zn seed treatment. By coating seeds with zinc, Advanced Coating Zn promotes quick emergence, even in cool, wet conditions, and it helps establish strong, healthy stands. In nearly 180 Answer Plot program test plots over three years, corn treated with Advanced Coating Zn seed treatment averaged an extra 2 bushels per acre.
Don’t put your tissue sampling results on the shelf once you’ve used them to make in-season decisions. Evaluating nutrient data in the off-season can help you develop a more comprehensive crop management plan that includes mapping out management zones and choosing the right hybrids and seed treatments based on what nutrient trends are showing. Work with your WinField United retailer to put your tissue sampling results to work in the off-season.
 
Advanced Coating®, Answer Plot®, CROPLAN®, NutriSolutions®, R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinFIeld United.

Farmer Stories: Bringing It Back to the Farm

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Successful farmers today rely on top-performing products, innovative ideas, strong partnerships and smart decision-making to meet their business goals. As we reflect on the past 20 years of the Answer Plot® program, we are spotlighting some of the ways that the program has impacted farmers and helped increase their productivity.  
 
Finding the right product for the job
Generally, if an agricultural product makes it to market, there’s data to support that it fits somewhere. That somewhere just might not be your farm. The Answer Plot program began as a way to evaluate hybrid performance to help farmers understand what products would work best on their farms. While that’s still one aspect of the program, it has evolved into a comprehensive management tool that helps farmers get the most from each unique acre.
 
Dave Armstrong, a corn and soybean farmer near Newcastle, Nebraska, looks to the Answer Plot program to help him select and manage his hybrids throughout the growing season. He’s been farming for 41 years and attending Answer Plot events for 15 years. Even with his wealth of farming experience, Dave finds value in staying current with what’s going on in the industry by attending Answer Plot events.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0000_-The-hundreds-of-replications-that-they-do-in-soil-types-like-m-copy.jpgBoosting confidence in technology
Farming is risky business, and adopting new technology and agronomic practices can be intimidating. Over the years, Answer Plot events have helped farmers like Mike Thompson increase their confidence in adopting new technology by delivering reliable, consistent data and providing hands-on demonstrations of the latest ag technologies.
 
Mike farms near Rochester, Minnesota, with his two sons, Cody and Brett. He’s attended Answer Plot events for the past five years to learn more about the newest innovations in agriculture. Mike says he adopted better spray practices after learning about them at Answer Plot events. He and his sons now use InterLock® and Class Act® in their tank mixes and change up their nozzles to get the most effective spray coverage.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0001_-Rochester-is-one-of-the-windiest-cities-in-the-country-We-wen.jpgWe’ll continue to spotlight farmer stories as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Answer Plot program. Check back as the season progresses to learn how other farmers have found value in local Answer Plot events.

Gear Up for Fall Burndown Now

Andrew Schmidt
Regional Agronomist
Clean fields in the spring. On-time planting. Fewer pest havens. These are just a few of the benefits of an effective fall burndown. It’s not too early to think about your burndown strategy and consult your local trusted advisor about how to limit next season’s weed pressures. Here are a few tips to get you started.
 
1. Take a look back.
Did you do a fall burndown last year? If so, what worked well? What didn’t? If you didn’t do a fall burndown, were there any consequences? What weeds were most prevalent in your fields in 2018? Answering these questions will help you and your agronomist devise a plan and sort through what herbicides would work best on your acres.
 
2. Take annuals down.
Winter annuals germinate in autumn, so fall burndown is the perfect opportunity to nip these pests, which include fall-emerging marestail, chickweed and henbit, in the bud. A fall burndown can also provide some residual protection against summer annuals, but…
 
3. Don’t rely solely on residual protection.
Even if you do a highly effective fall burndown to control fall weeds, you’ll still need to apply a preemergence herbicide in the spring to control waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, and other weeds and grasses. Your fields will look clean in the spring, but don’t be deceived. Put on the preemergence herbicide for protection.
 
4. No-till? No question.
If you are a no-till farmer, you should absolutely consider a fall burndown. Overwintered marestail, for example, is extremely difficult to control in the spring, and you’ll find yourself in a lot of trouble trying to plant in fields when it is actively growing. It’s imperative to control chickweeds and henbit in the fall too. Clean fields in the spring mean better seedbed preparation and timely planting.
 
5. Don’t forget the adjuvant.
The goal of any herbicide application any time of year is to get as much product as possible to the target weed or soil, so choosing the right adjuvant for the burndown system you use is key. Consider adjuvants such as high-surfactant oil concentrates (HSOCs) or methylated seed oils (MSOs) that work well in challenging environmental conditions. Choose a product that works effectively with a wide range of herbicides to improve spray deposition, enhance canopy penetration and manage drift. Your agronomist can recommend the most appropriate adjuvant for your situation.
 
6. Minimize pest havens.
A fall burndown gives insects fewer places to hide and thrive. If, for some reason, you are unable to do a fall burndown, you can spray an insecticide in the spring; however, you can also rely on seed traits to help control pests. For example, you can plant corn seed with a trait that offers cutworm, corn borer or earworm control.
 
7. Time applications right. (Drier is better.)
To avoid heavy dew, don’t spray early in the morning. Wait until the sun burns it off. Mid-morning to evening is the best time to apply a fall burndown herbicide. Another reason to spray in the fall is that soils are usually drier. This helps minimize compaction compared to waiting until spring when soils are potentially wetter.
 
Large weeds result in limited options and higher costs for you. It pays to be proactive and consistent to achieve season-long weed control, so be sure to get an early start by doing an effective fall burndown. You’ll be thankful you did come spring. Talk with your local trusted advisor now to begin.

Make the Most of Your Alfalfa Quality Testing

David Weakley
PhD, director of forage nutrition research, Forage Genetics International
There are many variables involved in testing for forage quality. Here are a few basics of forage testing and what you should look for — and expect — when sending samples to the lab in order to receive the most accurate results and a fair price for your crop.
 
What makes a good test?
Most forage producers and nutritionists agree that, at a minimum, a good forage quality test should include accurate values for protein; neutral detergent fiber (NDF); neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFd); ash; the macro-minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur; and a calculated energy value (plus starch and starch digestibility for grain containing silages). From these values, Relative Feed Value (RFV), Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) and total digestible nutrients (TDN) can be calculated.
 
Today, wet lab (and in vitro digestion) analyses are commonly used in conjunction with the testing method of near infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy, which predicts the values of various forage nutrients using reflected wavelengths. Many labs have a database of wet lab results that they correlate with NIR data to get prediction equations that are then used to determine forage nutrient values.
 
Should you always use the same lab?
The short answer is yes. Even though a number of producers want to compare results between labs, I recommend sticking with one. Every lab has some analytical and NIR prediction biases for a number of reasons, which makes comparing results among labs difficult. If you send an alfalfa sample to six different labs, you’ll likely get six different predictions for NDFd. Determine what measuring standard you’re going to use and stay with it.
 
Should you use RFV or RFQ?
RFQ is not perfect, but it’s the best measurement we have to get a holistic view of forage quality. RFQ is a better number than RFV because it takes into consideration protein, ash, ether extract (fat), NDF and NDFd. In addition, there is a coefficient in the equation used to determine RFQ that requires entry of the lab average for alfalfa NDFd. This helps account for biases in NDFd among labs. While there are still some lab biases that go into an RFQ calculation, it comes closer to objectively evaluating alfalfa than anything else that’s currently available.
 
Work with your team to achieve optimal results
As every farmer knows, achieving the highest-quality forages takes a lot of dedication. Work with your agronomist, your nutritionist, the staff at your testing lab and your farm’s team to grow, harvest and test your forages to the highest degree possible. Work with one lab to avoid frustration with comparing test results among labs, and use RFQ as the best test for quality assessment.
 
 
© 2018 WinField United.

Consider Fungicide Response When Selecting Seed

Kevin Sloane
National Technical Seed Manager
When considering seed choices for next season, include WinField United’s response-to-fungicide (RTF) scores in your decision-making process.
 
In 2017, WinField United tested 199 corn hybrids at 41 Answer Plot® locations and compared corn hybrids sprayed with a fungicide at V5 and VT against those receiving no fungicide treatment. The yield difference between the treated and untreated plants ranged from a 4-bushel-per-acre decrease to a 37-bushel-per-acre increase, with an average response of 11.2 additional bushels per acre for the fungicide-treated plants.
 
After measuring the yield difference between hybrids, WinField United assigns each hybrid a high, medium or low response score based on its yield difference between the treated and non-treated compared to all hybrids tested. Choosing the hybrids with optimal RTF scores for your unique fields is key. Here are some things to consider.
 
Monitor fields all year long
I recommend making your seed decisions a process, rather than something you only think about during the first part of September. Keep a close eye on your fields all year long to better understand what your hybrids are doing — and not doing — throughout the season and what steps you can take to help them achieve better yield potential. Season-long management allows you to adjust cropping plans according to what the year is giving us.
 
Consider field history
Evaluating your field history can help you anticipate future issues and select the right hybrid. If you have a field in a corn-on-corn rotation, and/or that field has had disease in the past, there is a high probability that it could occur again. This field would be a prime candidate for a high-RTF hybrid to potentially control disease there.
 
Optimize yield potential and standability
Our Answer Plot trials have shown that high-RTF hybrids give farmers a better chance to optimize yield potential by keeping the plant alive longer, and offer potential agronomic benefits such as improved standability late in the season. Alternatively, in situations where you are selecting a hybrid for lower-yielding ground that is difficult for equipment to access, it might make more sense to choose one with a lower RTF score.
 
Use RTF scores as a one of the talking points
Remember that RTF scores are only one factor in your seed-selection decisions. Other considerations are response to continuous corn, response to population and response to nitrogen. So, asking the right questions when making seed selections is the key to better placement, return on investment and predictability year over year.
 
Using all the tools in the toolbox, all season long, is the key to help you put the odds in your favor for predictable yields year over year. Talk with your trusted advisor about the best mix of hybrids for your operation.

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