Soybean School: How good is your weed control, really?

Ontario ministry of agriculture weed specialist Mike Cowbrough says it’s easy to pick on a herbicide when it doesn’t meet your weed control expectations.

Unfortunately, he says, most growers don’t often have an opportunity to compare herbicide programs in their own field using check strips or unsprayed areas to test performance. But Cowbrough does have that luxury at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affair’s Elora Research Station. The results are very revealing.

In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, we catch up with Cowbrough at Elora where he shows an example of just how good herbicides can be and discusses why sometimes they don’t get the credit they deserve.

Mike Cowbrough demonstrates how soybean herbicide treatments compare to unsprayed check strips. Story continues after the video.

Standing in a soybean test plot in the middle of an unsprayed check, Cowbrough demonstrates the effectiveness of a herbicide treatment with three modes of action. He admits there are weed escapes – ragweed and some crabgrass – but he points out that these are late-germinating weed plants that are not going to impact yield. He adds that they likely germinated well beyond the residual capability of the herbicide. “Keep in mind that we can’t expect a herbicide to give us full-season control, especially when we have late-emerging species.”

Cowbrough also discusses options for growers on how to ensure late-emergers don’t contribute to next year’s weed seedbank. So far, he likes what he sees from the Harrington Seed Destructor, an Australian invention that destroys weed seeds as they go through the combine, effectively stopping them from being spread across the field.

Click here for more Soybean School episodes


Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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