MFA agronomists share results of 2018 crop trials
In the 2018 growing season, more than 400 MFA employees, ag industry personnel and growers toured MFA’s Training Camp test plot in Boonville, Mo. The site hosted MFA’s Seventh Annual Training Camp in July as well as small groups of producers who toured the site with their local MFA employees.
Training Camp gives participants an opportunity to get hands-on participation in MFA’s testing and product evaluation process. Participants viewed trials on MorCorn hybrids and MorSoy varieties, corn and soybean seed treatments, foliar nutritionals and fertilizer studies. They also heard presentations from experts on extended-diapause rootworm, understanding dicamba volatility, tools for nitrogen recommendations and potential HT3 soybean opportunities.
Beyond the educational opportunities these field days provided, multiple replicated testing sites across MFA’s trade territory delivered data vital for product improvement and evaluation. This year, MFA conducted 84 large-scale, side-by-side trials to evaluate fertility, fungicides, seed treatments, plant growth regulators and other biologicals. On the following pages are summaries and results of various trials that were conducted at Training
Camp and other research sites in 2018.
MorCorn Hybrid Trials
MorCorn trials were planted April 19 with a total of 38 hybrids tested ranging from 95-day comparative relative maturity (CRM) to 117-day CRM. We tested 14 MorCorn commercial checks against 23 experimental hybrids and one competitor hybrid. The field was fertilized with 300 pounds of actual nitrogen in the form of SuperU. The planting population was 32,500 plants per acre. Despite the drought and lack of moisture, yields were impressive once again at our site.
The top end hit 305 bushels per acre with an experimental hybrid. At the bottom was a MorCorn commercial hybrid at 211 bushels per acre. Results from this year’s MorCorn Training Camp trials, along with 2017’s yield comparison can be seen in Figures 1A and 1B. In addition to Training Camp, these hybrids were tested across multiple environments and geographies in 12 other locations within MFA’s trade territory. Figure 1C compares yield for the hybrids that have been tested multiple times from 2015-2018 at our 12 replicated sites.
MorSoy Variety Trials
In terms of soybeans, the diversity in the MorSoy lineup reflects the diversity of MFA’s trade territory. MorSoy seed products include soybean maturities from 3.0 to 5.0. This line also includes conventional seed as well as RoundUp Ready 2 Yield Technology, RoundUp Ready Xtend and LibertyLink traits. This year’s MorSoy variety trials were planted May 24. There were a total of 42 varieties tested: 28 MorSoy commercial checks against 12 experimental varieties and two competitor varieties. The planting population was 140,000 plants per acre. The soybean varieties were divided into four trials to compare by relative maturity ranges. The trials include all of the herbicide technology traits combined, so weed control is maintained with a sound agronomic conventional herbicide program. Results from this year’s MorSoy Training Camp trials, along with 2017’s yield comparison, can be seen in Figures 2A, 2B, 2C, and 2D. In addition to Training Camp, these varieties were tested across multiple environments and geographies in 12 other locations within MFA’s trade territory. Figure 2E compares yields for the varieties that have been tested multiple times from 2016-2018 at our 12 replicated sites.
Nitrogen loss and its causes are perennial concerns for growers. Are we losing the nitrogen to volatility, denitrification or maybe leaching? What can we do about it? For several years, we have evaluated the use of nitrogen stabilizers on urea. It is important to test these products every year for a couple of reasons. First, new products come out that claim to provide the same protection as proven products against volatility, denitrification, leaching or a combination. Over the past few years, we have seen that products containing nBPT (the active ingredient that combats the urease enzyme and limits volatility) yield higher than products without nBPT.
University research shows that volatilization can result in up to 40 percent of nitrogen loss if it’s not incorporated into the soil within 5-7 days or protected with a nitrogen stabilizer. MFA’s nitrogen stabilizer N-Guard is a proven urease inhibitor (nBPT) to limit nitrogen loss by volatilization, the most common form of nitrogen loss with dry fertilizer products. SuperU provides protection from volatilization as well as denitrification and leaching by providing a nitrification inhibitor (DCD) along with a urease inhibitor.
Second, weather conditions vary year to year, and N application timing can affect how certain products perform. Applying N at the time when the crop is going to best utilize it is not only a good farming practice but also a good nutrient stewardship practice. In pre-plant N applications, nutrient losses will be different than top-dress applications. When you apply nitrogen pre-plant, it is susceptible to losses for a longer period of time before the plant is ready to utilize it. Pre-plant applications benefit more from nitrogen that contains a stabilizer to defend against losses both above and below ground. The inhibitor protects the nitrogen from volatility until the prills are incorporated into the soil and guards against denitrification and leaching once in the soil and before the plant reaches the V5-V6 growth stage. That’s when nitrogen uptake really increases and must be available to the plant. In top-dress situations, having nitrogen stabilized with N-Guard helps to protect nitrogen from volatilization in the warmer, drier conditions of the growing season when it may take longer for the nutrient to become incorporated into the soil.
Nutrient stewardship is important to the landscape of agriculture and its future as well as to MFA. Along with being good nutrient stewards by protecting our nitrogen with proven stabilizers, it is important to follow the 4Rs: right source, right rate, right time and right place.
This past year, we had the opportunity to partner with Bayer Crop Science to grow HT3 soybeans at our research site. These beans are tolerant to three herbicides: glyphosate, dicamba and glufosinate.
HT3 soybeans are still a regulated product and haven’t been approved by the European Union, so the seed is not allowed to enter the grain market. We destroyed our HT3 plot prior to R1, but we were still able to see the value this technology will bring to the table. Overlapping residuals remain key, and issues from the field with PPO, Liberty, dicamba and Roundup technology aren’t likely going away. Technology that would allow the use of Liberty, Roundup and dicamba over the top of traited soybeans is badly needed.
Demand for sulfur fertilizers over the past decade or longer has increased for good reasons. Cleaner air has reduced atmospheric sulfur, and higher yields have led to very favorable crop responses from supplementary sulfur fertilizers. Due to elemental sulfur’s slow breakdown, ammonium sulfate (AMS) has long been the preferred S source in top-dress situations due to its rapid availability. However, ammonium sulfate does pose challenges in terms of acidifying soils and leaching. This year at Training Camp, SymTRX 20S, a sulfur source from Anuvia, was tested against the industry standard of AMS in a top-dress application on corn.
SymTRX 20S is a fertilizer with a guaranteed analysis of 16-1-0-20S. Unlike most commercial fertilizers, it is processed from recycled food wastes, making it a very sustainable nutrient source. Like AMS, it contains a sulfate form of S which is readily available to the plant. However, being derived from food waste, SymTRX also contains some organic matter that Anuvia calls the “Organic MaTRX” containing both positive and negative charged particles that reduce the leaching potential normally associated with sulfate.
Separate treatments containing SuperU and two different rates of either SymTRX 20S or AMS were applied at V6. All treatments received a base rate of 175 pounds of N in the form of SuperU at planting. At V6, the control was top-dressed with an additional 75 pounds of N from SuperU while each subsequent treatment was top-dressed with 75 pounds of N and either 20 or 30 pounds of S from SymTRX 20S or AMS and SuperU. There was no statistical difference in the results. SymTRX performed equally to AMS-based sulfur applications in this trial, giving confidence in the product as a suitable form of S fertilization that can be a sustainable alternative to commercial fertilizers. Limited rainfall after top-dress applications at the Training Camp site likely negated any advantages to reduce sulfate leaching.
Benefits from foliar fungicides have been well documented, both from a disease-control standpoint and from positive effects toward plant growth and development. Two main fungicide groups have provided the base of fungicide treatments: triazoles and strobilurins. A combination of these two broad-spectrum chemistries had been considered the soundest course of action for fungal disease control in corn, soybeans and wheat. However, recently several products have entered the marketplace containing a compound with a third site of action, namely succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors (SDHI). SDHI fungicides are typically narrower in spectrum of disease control, but can be effective in targeting an important disease group. SDHIs may have properties of increased xylem mobility and residual activity not found in other fungicide groups. While having differing sites of action, SDHI and strobilurin fungicides share the same mode of action, which may create synergies in disease control and plant growth benefits such as slowed respiration and fruit ripening, increased stress tolerance and nitrogen metabolism.
While fungicides are often evaluated at the Training Camp site, the benefits are hard to capture in small plot research. We evaluated one of the new SDHI products—Miravis Neo from Syngenta—in two large soybean side-by-side trials. Miravis Neo claims to be an improvement over typical strobilurin and triazole mixes due to Adepidyn, an SDHI compound. Adepidyn is said to have extended residual control and increased leaf uptake and movement as well as increased “plant optimization” effects. Increased control over frogeye leaf spot, a highly problematic disease in soybeans, is also a noted advantage.
These sites were conducted on growers’ fields enrolled in MFA’s Crop-Trak program. Consultants monitored the effects of the treatments weekly and helped capture as-applied information and yield monitor data. At each site, 20 acres were applied with Miravis Neo and compared to a competitive fungicide check. Frogeye leaf spot pressure was noted at each site.
Visual documentation and yield results both showed a notable advantage of Miravis Neo over a competitive check of a strobilurin and triazole premix. Frogeye leaf spot control from visual ratings was superior with Miravis Neo. Staygreen and plant vigor also appeared greater in the Miravis Neo treatment compared to the competitive check. The amount of increased plant vigor from disease control as compared to metabolic and plant growth effects is unknown. The trends in the yield maps below are a better indicator than numeric differences in yield.
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