7 Keys To Delivering Effective Fertility Programs: #5 In-Season Scouting

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A solid integrated pest management (ipm) program wouldn’t be nearly as valuable without a consistent in-season scouting program at its core. In-season scouting helps growers identify and correct problems before they reach epidemic and costly proportions. Scouring fields for debilitating pests, noxious weeds and crippling diseases is undisputedly a big part of in-season scouting, rooting out fertility issues is another preventive measure that can save big bucks in the long run.

A field scout is the watchperson responsible for alerting growers to potential dangers both seen and unseen. Similar to a ticking time bomb, nutrient deficiencies are a hidden danger that scouts must help growers detect and defuse early on, before they wreak havoc in the field.

Oftentimes, a scout’s eyes are one of their best assets for spotting problems. That’s not always the case with fertility issues, according to Izaak Rathke, sales manager and agronomist for Allied Cooperative in Adams, Wisconsin. “The problem with visually scouting for nutrient deficiencies is by the time signs become visible the damage has been done and yields are affected,” says Rathke. “A big part of our in-season scouting program is taking tissue samples to get a snapshot of what is going on in the crop at various growth stages. When we sample crops in their early stages, we can build up fertility and stay ahead of deficiency problems.”

Micronutrient deficiencies can be difficult to detect when scouting without the aid of tissue samples says Rathke. Many of the micronutrients are very leachable, so it is a challenge to build them up in the soil. Rathke says tissue sample results for crops like alfalfa, corn and soybeans often show boron, manganese and other micronutrient shortages that need correction.

Rathke advises growers to scout early and scout often to prevent problems. Those who put off scouting run the risk of having to play catch-up all season. It becomes a challenge to provide enough nutrients for crops like corn, which pull hardest at ear fill. “Once you have a serious nutrient issue, it is nearly impossible to get ahead of the problem,” says Rathke. “Taking preventive measures when problems are in their early stages will give you a better chance at success.”

Why Go to Your Retailer for Help with In-Season Scouting?

Extensive knowledge: Expertise in pest, weed and disease identification, nutrient issues, crop development and more are essential for successful in-season scouting. Retail agronomists keep up with the latest training and certifications in these areas.

Company backing: Scouts with company backing have a whole team of experts at their disposal. When growers have a problem, the company is a one-stop-shop for everything from fertilizer and pesticides to equipment and supplies.

Technology: Retailers keep apprised of the latest technology for scouting that will benefit the grower. They equip their scouts with the tools they need to get information from field to farmer quickly and efficiently.

Home-field advantage: Retailers have a greater awareness of what pest, weed, disease and fertility issues are plaguing farmers in their area. They are a good source of information for growers dealing with similar issues.

Sponsored by PotashCorp

About The Series

The fertility program is at the heart of a comprehensive cropping plan, and at the center of influence in the relationship between ag retailers and grower-customers.

To highlight the important aspects of fertilizer management programs, CropLife® magazine and sponsor PotashCorp are pleased to present the Seven Keys to Delivering Effective Fertility Programs.

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