The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily altered nearly every aspect of life.
Yet still, our Minnesota growing season goes on. Soil is sampled. Crops are growing. Plant tissue will be tested. Nutrients and crop protection products will be applied. Crops will be harvested. Fortunately, we can rely on a fair number of absolutes in farming.
Even in uncertain times with tight budgets, there are agronomic actions you can take to keep your actions focused and avoid sacrificing return on investment and yield potential.
1. Prioritize your goals and execute your plan. Take time now to rank your goals, just in case finances tighten or you find yourself strapped for time. Know what you absolutely need to do to accomplish your goals and fulfill your plan. Use the nature of the season and the quality of your crop to help make decisions about where you can be aggressive and where you may consider scaling back without causing financial pain.
2. Be conscientious about scouting. Protect yield and return on investment potential by scouting your fields. Call on your local agronomist to help. Ask them about crop monitoring technology that can help you stay on top of weed, insect and disease stresses throughout the season.
Be sure that applications of crop protection products are made strategically, and that any pressure your plants are experiencing has reached the threshold where an application is the only means of control.
3. Use your tissue samples to optimize nutrition. Tissue sampling is something that shouldn’t be eliminated from your priority list. It’s essential that you know if your crops have a nutrient deficiency. If they do, obtain the data needed to remedy that in a timely manner.
You may also want to compare your tissue sample results with your soil samples or yield map. Making decisions based on quality samples or yield zones will help you apply only the nutrients that are needed.
4. Get applications “right.” Ensure that any applications of nutrients or crop protection products are made at the right time, at the right rate and in the right place. More strategic applications can help you reduce expenditures and optimize return on investment potential. Applying at recommended rates helps you not over- or under-apply.
This is a prime opportunity to pair your plan with technology by using crop modeling and insect or disease forecasts to optimize crop timing against pests.
Get applications right the first time so you don’t have to do them again. You might not have the chance to re-do them, and even if you can it will cost you money and is not sustainable to keep re-doing them.
5. Keep applications on target. Adding an adjuvant to the spray tank can help improve the coverage of crop protection products, help them move deeper into the plant canopy and help reduce the potential for drift. The right adjuvant pairing can be an economical way to optimize product performance today while helping reduce weed, insect and disease issues down the road.
There are different types of adjuvants, so ask your agronomist if you’re not sure which one to include.
Above all, make sure your sprayer boom height is adjusted for optimal spray efficacy and that you’ve selected the right nozzle type, size, GPA and pressure for the job.
By prioritizing goals and keeping a good handle on in-season activities, you can keep your plan on track.
My advice: Consult with your agronomist and use their experience and expertise to enhance your in-season decision-making power.
Zuk is a regional agronomist with WinField United in southern Minnesota. Contact him at email@example.com.