Fusarium Head Blight

Fusarium head blight

What is it? Fusarium Head Blight is a fungal disease that affects the head of small grain crops. Also referred to as Scab, it can affect wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, and triticale. Wheat and barley are generally the most affected. It is mainly caused by the species Fusarium graminearum, and can cause loss of […]

Canada Fleabane

Life cycle of weeds

Weed identification is halfway to control.

Identifying your weeds and understanding the life cycle of weeds is an important step to a proper and sound weed management strategy for your farm.

Each weed has a certain life cycle attached to it. It is important to know the life cycle of weeds to help you quickly identify which weed it could be in the field and to know how to control it. Read more

Prevent farm fires

Did you know?

Faulty electrical systems cause approximately 40 per cent of farm building fires with a determined cause, making it one of the leading known causes of farm fires.

What can you do?

Regular inspections and maintenance are key to reducing the risk of a fire. We recommend that you work with a professional to inspect and monitor your farm buildings. Read more

EcoTea™ dry seed treatment

Critical weed-free period

Weed-free period in corn In corn this period occurs from V1 to V6 (1 to 6 leaf collars). Some sources will mention that it even begins at the VE stage (emergence). During this time the corn crop needs to stay clean. Weeds will affect yield

back pain photo

Day-to-day work around the farm doesn’t have to be painful

Here are some tips to avoid injury by evaluating activities and preparing for them

Farmers take their aches and pains as part of their work, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Understanding factors that contribute to on-farm injury can be a start to reducing risk of getting hurt.

Why it matters: Farmers are busy, especially in certain seasons of the year, so reducing risk of injury when they need to be at their physical best can have important farm business implications.

Julie Anceriz, Syngenta Canada’s territory health and safety manager, told a recent Whole Farm Health seminar put on by the Ag Women’s Network, that there are ergonomic factors that affect risk of injury no matter what type of work one does, whether sedentary at an office chair or in a combine or tractor, or active, lifting and doing heavy work. Read more

Early season pests

With the cold winter that we have had, a slow start of insect development may occur. Many of the acres planted in Ontario have been planted with neonicotinoid insecticides. With the current debates over neonicotinoid insecticides, the best strategies to control pests is to start with a good knowledge of crop pests. By understanding early […]

Corn Nitrogen Response Curve

Nitrogen stabilizers

Nitrogen management has always been a challenge in high nitrogen demand crops such as corn and winter wheat.

The three pathways that can contribute to significant nitrogen loss are:

  • Volatilization (loss of ammonia nitrogen to the atmosphere from the soil surface),
  • Denitrification (which occurs when soils are saturated and in an anaerobic environment) and
  • Leaching (downward movement of nitrate nitrogen out of the rooting zone due to excessive rains)

The challenge has always been to make nitrogen available when the crop needs it and minimize the exposure of nitrogen to the weather scenarios that contribute to N loss. Consider the nitrogen response relationship for corn and winter wheat (below):

Corn nitrogen response curve

(Adapted from Richie, et.al, 2005, How a Corn Plant Develops).

Corn Nitrogen Response Curve

We often apply nitrogen early in the season before the crop actually utilizes it. For example, the demand for nitrogen in corn is at its peak at about the V10 growth stage (often around early to mid-July). Split-applying nitrogen has been a reasonably effective way to reduce the risk of nitrogen loss, however, with added application costs. Read more

text image

Do you understand the different forms of micronutrients?

Increased interest in micronutrients

When it comes to applying micronutrients, understanding the different forms that they can come in is very important to know. There is an increased interest in micronutrients with today’s growers. Many growers and advisors realize that these can be a major limiting factor in crop growth. In order to increase yields, the levels in the soil of micronutrients need to be monitored and properly placed. As well, more accurate soil testing through zone management has created the need to address micronutrients even more. There are agronomic advantages and disadvantages of each of the following forms of micronutrients. By understanding the different types of micronutrients, you can cater the right micronutrient product to the right field and operation. Read more

Phosphorus deficiency in corn photo

Phosphorus – what is the tie-up?

Phosphorus is a nutrient that is greatly needed for high yields in crop production. It stimulates root development, increases stalk and stem strength, improves flower formation and seed production, improves crop quality, and supports development throughout the entire life cycle of the plant.

Phosphorous has also been receiving a lot of attention lately in the ag industry with the emphasis being on using the 4Rs best management practices to reduce or eliminate it moving into the Great Lakes. Many growers in the province still do not soil sample properly. If a farm is not soil sampled correctly, understanding how much phosphorous is in your soil is simply a guess. Having large quantities of phosphorus in your soil doesn’t mean it will all be available to a crop.

A plant will take in phosphorus through three different ways. In the soil including interception, mass flow and diffusion. The majority typically is taken up through diffusion which is the movement of ions from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. Phosphorus is very insoluble, so movement is very slow. Placement and maintaining good soil levels of phosphorus are essential. An example of this is if you have loam soil, Phosphorus must be less than ¼’’ from the root to be taken up. Phosphorus does not readily leach out of the root zone. The loss of Phosphorus mainly stems from erosion and run-off of fertiliser or soil-adsorbed P.

Many growers do not know that phosphorus can easily become tied up and unavailable in their soil.

Two important things to remember about phosphorus is:

  1. As the chart below indicates, high pH levels with anything above 7.3 has calcium that can combine chemically with phosphorus, making a compound that is insoluble and that crops can’t access.
    Phosphorus tieup chart
  2. Lower soil pH that is below 6.3 can have iron and aluminium and manganese begin to tie up the phosphorus also making it unavailable to the plant, as the chart below indicates.
    Phosphorus tie-up chart 2

Phosphorus can exist in both organic and inorganic forms. In organic materials, the phosphorus is released by mineralization which occurs when microorganisms break down soil organic matter. For inorganic phosphorus, when phosphorus reacts with Iron, Aluminum and Calcium, it will create a product that is not very soluble and this is considered to be fixed or tied up.

There are several ways to protect and manage your phosphorus from becoming tied up in your soils:

  • Band your Phosphorus.This keeps areas concentrated in the soil allowing less to become tied up then if it was just broadcasted on the top or broadcasted and incorporated.
  • Take advantage of products that protect your Phosphorus from getting tied up. Using a product such as Avail from the Andersons can be a great option as it reduces fixation of phosphorus in the soil.
  • Cold soil and starters.If organic matter is a source of P, then it will release slowly if the soil is cool and wet. Roots have a hard time absorbing P when the soil is cold. That is why starters with P close to the seed is so important.
  • pH counts. We know that Phoshorus is most available between a pH of 6.5-6.8 but it can be hard to keep our soils exactly in that range. Accurate, proper, and timely soil sampling can make sure lime is being applied to correct to the pH, or acidifying products are used to lower the pH.
  • Mycorrhizae to the rescue. These are fungi that live in the soil and invade plant roots. They can provide supplementary P to the plant. These fungi move out over the soil and absorb many minerals such as Phosphorus, and pass that on to the plant.
Phosphorus deficiency in corn photo

A phosphorus deficient corn plant (Purdue University).

Myths about phosphorus

  • MYTH: Orthophosphate is better than polyphosphate because it is in the plant available form.
  • Polyphosphate ions are readily converted to orthophosphate ions in the presence of soil moisture. If the soil temperatures are normal the conversion can be completed in days with normal soil temp. Trials done show that fertilizer applied in the different forms clearly show that a pound of P is a pound of P.
  • MYTH: Liquid Phosphate is more mobile in the soil.
  • Phosphate will not move very far at all in the soil regardless of fertilizer form (liquid or granular.)
  • MYTH: Liquid Phosphate is available throughout the entire growing season.
  • Phosphate fertilizer in any form can get tied up quickly. Only 10-30% of applied phosphate fertilizer is available during the season it was applied in. It is important to remember that seed placed P fertilizer will always be more efficiently available compared to any broadcast that is spread on the field.
  • Mainly a MYTH: Elemental Sulfur acidifies the soil and frees up phosphate for the plant.
  • While it is true that elemental sulfur can acidify the soil or acidify a part of the soil locally, it has not been proven to be effective for improving phosphate availability.

Availability factors:

Several factors come into play when you are dealing with phosphorus and making it available to the plant.

Aeration and compaction 
If water levels are low, absorption by roots is low.

Diffusion needs moisture, excess limits water.

P level of the soil
More P concentration to move around.

Amount and type of clay
More P concentration to move around.

Time and method of application
The longer time it is applied before a crop the more chance it has to bind with the soil. Method determines how far it will be placed from the roots.

Other nutrients
Levels of other nutrients can affect uptake. The longer time it is applied before a crop the more chance it has to bind with the soil. Method determines how far it will be placed from the roots.

Soil pH
Most available at 6.5 – 6.8.

Deep rooting crops have more areas to pull from.

Temperature influences plant growth and P conversion.

Sources: mofga.org, agweb.com, Novozymes, MSU Extension, cropnutrition.com, and extension.umn.edu.