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Soil Optix Soil Scanning Technology

Gaining Insights Beyond the Obvious 

We often may not think of soil sampling as a very high technology activity. The results from a soil report do check the all the boxes on what a technology should do. The results are predictive, descriptive, and prescriptive. The predictive nature of a soil report is based on the values measured. For example, when the soil pH is too low most row crops will grow poorly or when the essential nutrients are deficient or low, we know crop growth will be limited and yields will suffer. A combination of pH, soil organic matter (SOM) and cation exchange capacity (CEC) offers a descriptive insight into soil properties and indicate how essential nutrients may move in the root surface soil interface. This information offers insight on nutrient mobility and timing of nutrient applications. Finally with the predictive capacity from the soil test values we can amend soils in very precise ways to optimize crop growth with the right nutrients and increase the probability of greater returns from the right application in the right place.

What enhances this activity even more is to scan your fields using our Soil Optix Sensor Service when it is time to resample your fields. The sensor is mounted on our ATV and as we travel over the field this sensor picks up the natural gamma radiation emanating from the soil. When the scanning is completed the on- board software program determines where the soil samples should be taken. We are also collecting RTK quality topography map. We submit the soil samples to the lab as we would normally do and submit the scanning data to Soil Optix for interpretation. When the soil results are ready, we submit those to Soil Optix for merging with the scanned data. The result is a unique set of maps for each nutrient in addition to a water infiltration map, plant available water, a percent sand, silt, clay layer and a topography map. It does take longer to receive the final result one should be prepared for 10 day to two week turnaround time. It is an investment in a deeper level of field knowledge.

We now have additional information to support a more insightful nutrient and crop production program.

This service augments our composite, grid and zone sampling services. If you want more details on your field and go to the next level of nutrient and crop management just reach out to your AGRIS Crop Sales Specialist to learn more.


An example of Normalized yield, % sand, soil organic matterand plant available water map



Article by Dale Cowan


Cover Crop Opportunities After Wheat Harvest 

As winter wheat harvest comes to a close in southwestern Ontario, many growers turn their attention to what comes next on those fields. Depending on your rotation, most will find this to be a good time to make any sort of improvement on those acres, whether it may be drainage corrections, soil sampling and fertility adjustments and some form of tillage pass to help incorporate residue and nutrients. Planting a cover crop has become a very popular practice throughout Ontario following wheat harvest. As we know or find out into the Fall and into next season, these species can both have big benefits and also pose some challenges.

If you’re looking to plant a cover crop for the first time or maybe try something new, there are many things to consider before hitting the field. Most importantly, what is the goal or purpose for this cover crop? (This could be several things!) How will the selected cover species be planted? When and how do you plan on terminating, as well as what crop is intended for next season?

Cover crops require management from planting until termination. Successful establishment will come with right timing, planting methods and adequate soil moisture. If done properly, these species can be an important tool in reducing soil erosion and nutrient losses. Some species are better than others in scavenging left over soluble nutrients from the previous crop and then releasing them back into the soil after termination. Another big benefit to having a growing crop in most of the late summer and fall is suppressing winter annuals such as Canada Fleabane, Chickweed and Henbit. With that, the biomass generated will help in improving overall soil health and organic matter.

Sometimes less is more with which cover crop species to start with. Brassicas such as tillage radish are very common because they are quick to establish and produce a large taproot to penetrate the soil. Most times, these are paired with a spring cereal like oats to help scavenge nutrients, establish quickly and produce large amounts of biomass both above and below the soil. These species both winter-kill which allows for decomposition into the following spring. 

After soil sampling results return, growers find it to be a great opportunity to make fertility adjustments and apply cover crop in the same pass and incorporated soon after.

For more information on which cover crop species to try on your farm, keep goals in mind and consult with your closest AGRIS Co-operative branch for assistance on how to make it happen.

Tyler_1.jpgPhotos by: Tyler Sabelli 

Article by Tyler Sabelli 


Cercospora Leafspot Control In Sugarbeets

Cercospora leaf spot (Cercospora beticola) is the most serious foliar disease of sugarbeets in our growing area. With the current wet weather we are incurring, controlling Cercospora leafspot becomes very challenging. An uncontrolled Cercospora field can cause yield losses of 5 or more tons per acre and reduce sugar levels by up to 3 percentage points. Yield and quality losses can be significant when leaves have as few as 1 spot per square inch.


Disease Development

Cercospora leafspot overwinters in the soil on decomposing beet leaves from previous crops and on weed residue. High temperatures and humidity are ideal conditions for spore development. These spores are then blow by winds or splashed by rainfall onto the growing sugarbeet crop and the spores germinate and infect the leaves. The sugarbeets natural defense mechanism limits the damaged tissue to spots of 1/8th inch in diameter. Cercospora leafspots have a dark brown to purple ring around the spot and the grey colored center will have tiny black dots on them. Spores from these “dots” are released which re-infect the plants when daytime temps are between 75- and 90-degrees F with night time temps above 60 degrees, coupled with leaf wetness for 10-12 hours or more. Extreme temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or above slows Cercospora development. Infection will begin to form on leaves within 7 to 10 days. Without control measures in place entire leaves can become covered with spots which merge together killing large sections of leaves or entire leaves.


Management Strategies

Cercospora leafspot control requires multiple an integrated and intensive approach.

  1. Crop Rotation: a longer rotation period will lower the Cercospora leafspot disease pressure.
  2. Weed Control: Pigweed and Lambsquarters host CLS so they need to be controlled in all rotational crops as well
  3. Variety Selection: Grow approved varieties with good Cercospora tolerance. Currently 80% of the Ontario market is planted to Cercospora Resistant varieties.
  4. Fungicides: Triazole fungicides (group 3) are the most effective products against Cercospora. Cevya from BASF is the newest Triazole to this fungicide group which also includes Proline. Strobilurin fungicides (group 11) are another option but due to resistance to CLS they are not a viable option. EBDC (group M3) and Copper (group M1) should be used early in a fungicide program and tank mixed with Triazole fungicides.
  5. Application Timing: Spray early before you see any leafspot because once you have seen infection you have lost yield. June 15 is the targeted date on a normal year. Those following BEETcast 50 DSV’s is a good starting point as well.

Resistance Management

To maintain the effectiveness of the fungicides we depend upon do not spray the same fungicide class back to back. Always add either Copper or a EBDC with your Triazole fungicide tank mix.

As always for more information on Cercospora leafspot control, contact your local AGRIS Co-operative Crop Specialist for a Fungicide spray schedule for your farm.

Article by Mark McKerall

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