Be Aware of “Snake Oils” on the Farm

There is a lot of money to be made in agricultural inputs these days and some companies do so by marketing products that offer little benefit agronomically to help your operation or bottom line.

When attempting to try out some of these new products that include foliar sprays, seed primers and canola pod seal be sure to know exactly what the product is supposed to do, how/when to apply it, what’s in it and be aware of the product price. While many of these products work perfectly fine, some do not do what they claim or only work under specific conditions. The best way to stay on top of these are to talk to your neighbours and local agronomists, and do your own research to be sure you do not end up spending money that is not adding anything economically to your operation. Many of these products are tested under conditions in different parts of the world that have complete opposite conditions, so that is something to be aware of as well. Simply throwing a product in because you are going over the already field is not the best approach to take.

If you do decide to pull the trigger and test out one of these products it is best to do so in small acreage increments to see if they offer a yield advantage the first year and if they do you can do it on a field scale size the following year. Spending $5/ac on your whole farm on a mystery product that isnt effective may mean money out of your bottom line. The second thing that you MUST do is leave a test strip in an average spot on the field, do not leave the test strip on a headland or lower yielding or higher yielding area as this does nothing to show the true effectiveness of the product. The only way to truly see if a product works is to leave a test strip and compare the yield monitor in this area to the rest of the field. Even one year may not be enough to draw hard conclusions on if a product works, it may take two or three years to truly find out if the product is effective and you want to incorporate it on a consistent basis in your input arsenal.

 

 

Shane Thomas

Shane Thomas is an agronomist with G-Mac’s AgTeam in West Central Saskatchewan. He grew up in Kindersley, Sask and went on to obtain his Diploma in Plant and Soil Science from Lethbridge College and a Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Lethbridge in 2012. Shane enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends, keeping up with the economy and reading in his spare time. Find him on Twitter: @ShaneAgronomy and his blog at: http://shaneagronomy.blogspot.ca/

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2 Comments

Andy

Good post, Shane.

The check strip is most important!

I often hear the argument “I can’t afford to lose any money and so I won’t leave a check.”

To which I say “How can you know if you ARE making any extra money unless you leave a check!!!”

Also, yield is only king in coffee shops! Net $ per acre is what lets you do it all over again next year.

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George Lubberts

Hi Shaun,

Good article. One piece of advice that I always give my clients is to ask the seller of the “new” product for the 3 Rs. Independent Research, local Results and a Return to the person trying the product. And then check PMRA website if the product has a PCP number. If the supplier cannot supply these 3 Rs, then its best to make a deal with the supplier that they will give you product to try on your farm. Whether you pay for it with cash or data, after it proves of value to your operation, is up to you.

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