Scouting 2014: New Season, New Concerns

Following a downright brutal winter that in many parts has soil temperatures laid low and the overall condition of the soil in question, this spring could throw a curveball by even the well-seasoned agronomist when it comes to early season field scouting.

“We’ve got good soil conditions coming in (to the season), but we had an open winter with some fairly deep frost levels so there’s going to be frost that is slow to come to the surface and it could hold some early planting down,” says Brad Ruden, director of agronomy services, South Dakota Wheat Growers (SDWG). “We all know that cold, wet soils tend to favor early season disease, but there’s also planting issues to consider – you’ve especially got to watch soil compaction with the larger equipment we’re using today.”

Scott Ahrenholtz, East region agronomy sales director, West Central Coop., Ralston, IA, has concerns of his own in his territory. “Corn rootworm is going to be a big one for us to monitor, especially with all of our corn-on-corn acres,” he says. “Soybean cyst nematode is another one, and aggressive testing is really important there. Disease-wise, we’re always looking for Goss’s Wilt disease in our corn-on-corn.”

As the season progresses, Ruden will keep his eyes open and his ears to the ground, hoping to get information from further east that tends to foreshadow what his network of 50 SDWG agronomists will be dealing with come planting time.

“We get a little bit of a heads up from watching what happens out in the Corn Belt,” he says. “Resistant corn rootworm is just hitting the Dakotas — I’d say it’s an emerging pest for us and something we’ll watch out for as our crops shift to more corn acres.”

Ruden says that although insect pressures typically remain low in his territory, herbicide-resistant weeds will factor quite prominently into the equation for his growers and scouts. “We’ve got four glyphosate-resistant weeds in South Dakota now and resistant kochia is becoming a major concern. It (kochia) starts to germinate early, as opposed to waterhemp (which doesn’t emerge until later in the season), so early season is a key time for our scouts to look for kochia.”

Mobile Technologies

For most scouts iPads are quickly becoming standard operating equipment and, come 2015, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) will likely become another tool in the retail agronomist’s repertoire, but ground-based scouting is still the prevailing option.

“We’ve adopted iPad technology for all of our scouts, and one of the apps we’ve demoed is ScoutPro, which ties in nicely with Integrated Pest Management thru Iowa State,” says Ahrenholtz. “Whereas in the past our scouts generated a paper trail, now everything is scouted and identified electronically.”

According to Ahrenholtz, ScoutPro allows for a more precise scouting process. “The unique thing (with ScoutPro) is it helps us micro manage the field and find where our heavier disease and insect pressures are.”

A West Central Coop agronomist shows off the company's UAV.
A West Central Coop agronomist shows off the company’s UAV.

Like West Central, at SDWG all sales agronomists are issued an iPad right off the bat. “The iPads tie into our field maps and it’s just a really nice piece of technology to have out in the field with you,” says Ruden.

SDWG utilizes the soil mapping program MZB on its iPads, according to Ruden. “Rather than traditional grid sampling, MZB is management zone based, so we can drill down further and break a field into management zones for making variable rate fertilizer and planting decisions.”

Ahrenholtz confirmed his outfit’s purchase of a DMZ Aerial AIMQ Series quadcopter UAS for experimentation and research heading into 2015, when FAA is expected to sign off on the commercial use of UAVs. “UAVs are going to be an excellent tool to gain a better scouting perspective over a field, it’s more efficient than having scouts out walking fields,” he says. “However, we are well-aware and currently complying with all state and federal regulations surrounding small UAVS.”

After a couple years of tinkering, West Central has unearthed a couple challenges with the technology. “Wind has been a huge issue for us. The quadcopter is pretty small and it can really get blown around in high winds, making for some less-than-ideal images,” he says. “We’re also looking at trying to figure out the most efficient way to fly a field and get the images our agronomists need.”

“The thing about this year is, we know prices aren’t where growers would like them to be,” concludes SDWG’s Ruden. “Now is the opportunity for us to really focus on agronomics. That’s going to be absolutely critical because tight management and being sure we’re putting the right input on the right acre is going to be crucial in keeping profit margins where our growers want them to be. As margins get tighter, it’s going to take more management, and working with a trained, trusted agronomist can really pay off for the grower.”

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Scouting 2014: New Season, New Concerns

Management Stories

Crop InputsEPA: Let’s Talk Imidacloprid, Bees On February 18
February 11, 2016
EPA will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on Feb. Read More
ManagementThe latest on Syngenta-ChemChina Deal
February 11, 2016
Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf invites Jackie Pucci and Dave Frabotta from sister publication AgriBusiness Global to discuss the latest developments Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop Protection Products in storage
Crop InputsNewsweek: World Is ‘Awash In Glyphosate’
February 11, 2016
The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become Read More
Crop InputsEPA: Let’s Talk Imidacloprid, Bees On February 18
February 11, 2016
EPA will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on Feb. Read More
ManagementThe latest on Syngenta-ChemChina Deal
February 11, 2016
Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf invites Jackie Pucci and Dave Frabotta from sister publication AgriBusiness Global to discuss the latest developments Read More
AdjuvantsUniversity of Illinois Confirms Adjuvant’s Perfor…
February 11, 2016
An independent University of Illinois study has shown that WETCIT adjuvant, now with TransPhloem technology, provides greater herbicide uptake and Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta’s Acuron Flexi Receives EPA Approval
February 11, 2016
Growers looking to control their toughest weeds with flexibility will have access to Acuron Flexi corn herbicide from Syngenta, now Read More
EquipmentAGCO Showcases White Planters 9800VE Series Planters AT…
February 11, 2016
AGCO unveiled the new White Planters 9800VE Series planter during the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The Read More
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More