Having a pesticide and herbicide plan can protect your bottom line.
Pests and weeds diminish the quality of crops and can impact your yield. For example, wild oats ≥ they can become a problem fast and crowd out your crop, especially if it's canola or a cereal.
Plan Your Herbicide Rotations
A plan is extremely important because keeping good records is essential to doing good pesticide application.
"It's amazing how many people don't have records of what they did 2-3 years ago," said Mike Gretzinger, Research Coordinator at Farming Smarter. "One of the big things we're battling is herbicide resistance. If you have good records, you can plan out an appropriate strategy."
Additionally, it lets you manage your pests and rotate your herbicide groups. You can select products that are more specific or effective to the pests you have.
At Farming Smarter, we make sure to get the best bang for our buck.
Our plans allow us to rotate our herbicide groups, which has the added benefit of combating herbicide resistance as well. However, with the new chemistries and combinations in recent years, we've even found ourselves becoming overwhelmed.
"There have been a lot of new formulations and rebrandings recently. It's not an easy thing to stay on-top of. Thankfully, you can work with your reps and retailers to come up with a plan," said Gretzinger.
With spraying, it's important to monitor your dates and products. Additionally, you should track what spray volumes you use and how much chemical you mixed. If you can, include your equipment like the kind of sprayer and nozzle speed used.
Tracking this information can help you, especially in situations where a treatment didn't work as expected. Being able to review your process can help you identify possible solutions.
Remember to take notes while you're out in the field as well! Include if it's a marginal day, or if you had to quit halfway through spraying because of the wind.
A good starting point for developing your plan is scouting your fields. While we repeat this point often, we do so for a reason! Scouting your fields informs you of developing problems, letting you stop them early. It's important to scout all your fields often, as conditions can change quickly between fields.
"Even for us at Farming Smarter, we go from one field to the next and the composition or density of weeds can change rapidly, even when it's only a mile apart," says Trevor Deering, Custom Research Manager at Farming Smarter.
"One field can will have no problems while the next will have a problem. It can be a kochia problem, or redroot, anything like that ≥ that's why it's important to get in there and understand each of your fields," added Deering.
By understanding your fields, you can identify problem areas before they appear by understanding your crop, soil, and region. For instance, southern Alberta is arid which eliminates the risk of sclerotinia for canola growers, while someone who grows canola in the Peace region would be more likely to see an outbreak.
Knowing the dangers and risks associated with your region's climate gives you an advantage in managing and controlling them. A producer who knows what to look out for is less likely to have their bottom line impacted by these problems. That's why we recommend taking time in spring and fall to scout.
While it's too late to do a pre-season scout, take time to set a reminder to get out there and look after harvest. A post-harvest scout can give you solid insight into problems you can get a jump on in early spring.
Sometimes after harvest, you can get out and see weeds have been growing underneath your canopy for a month or two. While the crop grew tall enough to suppress the weed, and was unhindered by its presence, there's a risk the weed will get ahead of your crop next season. Knowing it's there, you can plan to combat it from its onset.
Scouting also gives you a solid understanding to establish a risk management threshold.
Plan For Everything and Everyone!
We recommend developing multiple plans of action for your field. At Farming Smarter, we will treat seeds to combat soil borne diseases, and will follow-up with insecticides and herbicides depending on the field and crop.
Our goal is to minimize the threats to our crops from every angle. These plans can get complicated and keeping up with them can be difficulty. If you don't already, having professionals on your team to help you is a must.
And professionals aren't just the agronomists helping in your field ≥ having an economist on your team can help you develop risk management thresholds for your fields.
"When we scout, if there's a disease and we think it's going to affect yield, we'll look at our thresholds," said Gretzinger.
A good place to start with meeting new professionals is to talk to research stations in your area, or your county. Additionally, Agriculture Canada has lots of resources and connections that they're happy to provide you with.