Laura Schmidt, MSc, PAg, Production Specialist – West, MPSG
EARLY IN 2023, we set a goal of conducting 63 on-farm trials. Usually, we expect to achieve 80 percent of our goal. With some great support from growers we achieved 89 per cent of our goal with 56 trials established and monitored throughout the growing season.
We experimented with new software to keep our team connected throughout the growing season and to better keep track of field visits and what we were finding in the field. Through this enhanced surveillance, we gathered more than 1000 photos and logged more than 235 on-farm trial field visits among our four field staff.
We also added two more trial types to the line-up, pea seed treatment trials and dry bean inoculant trials. And we expanded the information we can gain from these fields by undertaking new initiatives to evaluate seed-borne diseases, fungicide resistance and surveillance for key soybean diseases. Learn more about the results from these new surveillance initiatives by scanning the Bean Report QR code on Page 13.
What did we see for yield results from our trials in 2023? Below is a quick synopsis. More information is available at manitobapulse.ca under the On-Farm Network tab, including how these 2023 results fit into long-term research results over the years.
SOYBEAN SEEDING RATE AND ROW SPACING
Thirteen seeding rate trials in soybeans found no changes in yield with changing seeding rates by 30,000 seeds/ac. Two trials looked into row spacings for soybeans, comparing 7.5 inches versus 15 inches and 15 inches versus 30 inches. Farmers found no yield differences across these contrasting row spacings. This confirms the long-held notion that soybeans have an impressive ability to compensate for spatial arrangement by adjusting the number of branches, pods, and seeds per plant.
Seven trials compared double inoculation (granular in-furrow plus liquid on-seed) versus single inoculation (liquid alone). Four trials compared single inoculation to no inoculant. Among these 11 inoculation trials, there were no significant yield differences. In a field with sufficient soybean history, there is the opportunity to walk back the amount of inoculant used.
SOYBEAN “BIOLOGICAL” CROP INPUT PRODUCTS
Eight trials explored biological products, evaluating Fertiactyl (four trials), Envita (two trials), and humic acid (one trial) in soybeans. There were no improvements in soybean yield with these products in 2023. As a result, losses in profit ranging from $5 to $30/ac were recorded.
PEA SEEDING RATE
Two trials evaluated seeding rates ranging from 160 to 240 lbs/ac. There were no yield differences. Pea seeding rate trials have had us scratching our heads – we’re not seeing yield responses despite testing plant stands as low as 3–4 plants/ft2 on-farm. More investigation is required.
PEA SEED TREATMENTS
The new pea seed treatment trials took two forms – testing fungicide seed treatments to manage root rots and/or testing insecticide seed treatments to manage pea leaf weevil. Both products were compared to untreated seed. At these trials in 2023, root rot pressure was quite low,
so there was no benefit to fungicide seed treatments. Insecticide seed treatment (imidacloprid) was evaluated at a trial near Roblin, which showed that while pea leaf weevil predation was the greater in untreated peas, the seed treatment did not result in a significant yield increase. These trials are in their infancy, and we’re excited to learn more as they continue.
Across nine trials comparing a single application to leaving the field untreated, yield was improved on three occasions by 2.8 to 12.6 bu/ac. Yield responses were related to the amount of Ascochyta/ Mycosphaerella blight recorded in the crop after application, where the fungicides acted to reduce the severity of the disease and the number of plants with stem infections. Where yield increases were observed the fungicide more than paid for itself.
DRY BEAN INOCULANTS AND N-FERTILIZER RATES
In dry beans, contrasting inoculant products were tested at four trials. No yield responses were found. One trial comparing four nitrogen fertilizer rates failed to show a yield response. Importantly, neither the inoculants nor the different fertilizer rates had any effect on root nodulation.
It’s clear farmers facing decisions on crop inputs and other agronomic practices can lean on on-farm tests to guide their thinking. MPSG continues to hone its abilities help farmers carry out these important tests. For more details on these trials including long-term summaries, visit manitobapulse.ca and check out the 2023 On-Farm Network Results Summary.