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

ManagementSouth Africa Update and the New New Leader G5
February 24, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the recent visit to South Africa by sister magazine AgriBusiness Global and the Read More
Fall Creek Watershed
StewardshipUpdate: Nutrient Stewardship In Indiana Requires Cool, Clean Collaboration
February 24, 2017
Update: The application deadline for NCRS funding has been extended to March 17, 2017. Green leaves sparkle in the sunlight. Trees Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts Supporting Agriculture
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
ManagementSouth Africa Update and the New New Leader G5
February 24, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the recent visit to South Africa by sister magazine AgriBusiness Global and the Read More
Fall Creek Watershed
StewardshipUpdate: Nutrient Stewardship In Indiana Requires Cool, …
February 24, 2017
Update: The application deadline for NCRS funding has been extended to March 17, 2017. Green leaves sparkle in the sunlight. Trees Read More
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With Vapor…
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Hires Manitoba And Eastern Canada Account Man…
February 22, 2017
Tiger-Sul, a global leader in sulphur fertilizers and crop performance products, has announced that sales veteran Trevor Loewen has joined Read More
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More