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Digital Corner

By Dale Cowan

Technology in all industries continues to develop at rapid rate and agriculture is not immune to change. I have been in the industry for 46 years and I used to say back in the day when I saw a particular piece of technology come to market, “it will be fun to watch what it does over the next 5 to 10 years.” Fast forward to today I now say “the next 3 to 5 months will be fun to watch. “

As AGRIS continues to develop its Digital Ag Strategy we look forward to continue to build off of our foundational piece of Customers>Farms > Fields and Boundaries. I cannot over emphasize enough the importance of this structure in travelling the digital path. It requires every field to have a GPS derived boundary housed in a robust cloud connected GIS Mapping System. Everything we do in the field gets connected back to a boundary. Soil Sampling, product recommendations, observations, variable rate applications, as applied maps, yield maps, satellite, drone images, planter maps, sprayer maps and weather data.

We have made a concerted effort to send yield reports to farmers that have shared their data with us. The report includes for every field: a yield map, moisture map and Crop removal map for phosphorus and potassium. There is lot of information in a yield map that can be useful in supporting crop plans going forward in 2024.

Seldom do yield maps get viewed post-harvest certainly yield monitors are watched during harvest. No doubt some of the digital platform such as Fieldview keep maps viewable at all times.

The next evolution is to use some advanced digital tools to extract valuable insights from collected data.

Imagine if you will you having a planter map of seeding operations with hybrid names, placement locations, recorded dates, rainfall, treatment maps, observations, high resolution satellite or drone images, heat maps of weed populations, every product application map, soil type, soil tests, applied fertility, in season analysis of nitrogen content, yield data at the end. Imagine now the ability for an analytical system to determine what influenced the yield the most was its Hybrid? Rainfall? Nitrogen? Etc. Having the critical data captured from machines, along with all other field data tied to the boundary will facilitate this kind of analysis. We begin a journey of thinking what we know is influencing yields to perhaps getting closer to knowing what is influencing yields on a field by field by crop basis.

This is our next journey and it starts with a humble field boundary with data attached to it.

More to come, …….


Surviving Winter

By Jean Marc

As the deep freeze blows across the province with sub –10 C temperatures you can say winter has officially arrived. With temps fluctuating from 5 C to -15 C within a few days it has growers asking and wondering how this will affect the wheat crop.

Winter wheat’s ability to withstand cold temperatures relies on two key factors, how much the temperature drops and growth stage of the wheat. If a plant has reached its full winter hardiness, wheat can endure temperatures as low as -23 C at the crown root roughly 1” below the soil. Ideally the characteristics of full winter hardiness would be a wheat plants with at least 1-2 tillers and 3-5 leaves as well as a good crown root system development, before heading into dormancy for the winter months. Moist and firm soil as well as at least an inch snow cover will help insulate the crown temperatures on those severe temperature swings we have been experiencing and will increase the chances of winter survival.

A more significant concern then extreme cold temperatures is the potential damage caused by temporary high temperatures leading to the snow melting and field flooding. As warmer winters become a trend, we are experiencing warmer temperatures year after year which has caused a greater chance of sitting water on our wheat field during the winter. When water accumulates in a field and subsequently freezes, winter wheat plants may suffocate, as they require transpiration and oxygen. Under ice or a layer of water, access to oxygen becomes restricted. If there is a layer of snow between the crop and ice, there is usually enough oxygen for the plants. However, when the ice freezes tightly to the ground, breaking the ice becomes necessary to allow water drainage and enable the plants to breathe.


Ultimately, as winter takes hold, the wheat crop confronts dual challenges with extreme cold and the risk of field flooding due to warmer winters. While winter hardiness and snow coverage offers protection, proactive measures, such as breaking ice for drainage, running off sitting water and having a good crown root system will all help to contribute to setting up a successful wheat crop come spring.


Soybean Herbicide Tolerance

By Chris Snip

Choosing an Effective Program

Weed control is a constant battle, in order to stay ahead of weeds including herbicide resistant weeds as well as weed population shifts seed companies are continually developing new herbicide tolerant traits to help farmers stay ahead of weed issues. In today’s soybean seed market growers have many options with each option having its pro’s and con’s when it comes to weed control and profitability.

Usually by this time of year, seed has been order for the up coming season so now is a great time to take a look at your herbicide options for the upcoming year. First consideration, have you changed your soybean seed trait package. Maybe with the attractive IP premiums you are going to grow IP soybeans for the first time or the first time in a while. Or perhaps you have switched from Roundup Ready 2 Xtend to XtendFlex or you have switched to Enlist E3 from another herbicide platform. Understanding which herbicides your seed is tolerant to will make sure you do not have any unwanted applications of a herbicide the seed you have planted might not be tolerant to. Even if you have stayed with the same platform reviewing past herbicide performance is a great place to start your planning for the upcoming season.

Knowing what weed species you need to target the most and what herbicide options are available to be used on the soybeans you are planting is imperative to having a successful weed control program. There is no one herbicide program that is perfect for all weeds and fields, however understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each herbicide allows you to combine different herbicides that can compliment each other. Knowing herbicide resistance is prolific in several weed species like Canada Fleabane, Waterhemp and Giant Ragweed in Ontario making sure you have multiple herbicides that provide good control of these weeds if you have them on your farm will ensure you have a successful weed control program. With all of the details and options to consider, a great resource to consult is Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Publication 75, Guide to Weed Control, or the Ontario Crop Protection Hub These resources can point you in the right direction and with the help of your AGRIS Crop Sales Specialist you will be able to come up with a custom made herbicide program that will fit your needs.

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