The Agronomists, Ep 40: Jason Voogt and Jack Payne on the value of soil sampling and post-harvest scouting


Only about one of every four farm fields is soil tested each year. If that sounds accurate for your situation, this may be the year to change that statistic.

For this episode of The Agronomists, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Jason Voogt of Field 2 Field Agronomy, and Jack Payne of South Country Co-op, to discuss why soil testing post-drought could save farmers significant money, how variable soil nutrient residuals can be, and how to tackle some of those items on the post-harvest scouting to-do lists.

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  • Where’s the west at, with harvest?
  • Clip #1: Why fall is a great time to soil test
  • Soil testing in the fall. Representative soil samples matter. Logistics also matters. There’s no way that the volume of soil tests, if everybody tested, could get through lab systems. Mid-September isn’t the ideal time to sample for nutrients (the best time is a week to two weeks before seeding, good luck chuck), but anytime you can get a sample, is a good time.
  • You could go back to sample a post-harvest soil sample, if there was a lot of moisture.
  • Why are soil tests going to be so valuable, particularly this year? As nutrients become more valuable, more precious, management is key.
  • If you don’t do every field every year, or even a third of fields every year, soil doesn’t change rapidly, but it still needs to be done.
  • A random, composite style of soil sampling takes a bit of variability out of soil sampling. E.g. how much of that N can we actually rely on for next year, in order to set fertilizer targets?
  • Stick to the same soil testing lab if possible. Labs might use different extraction methods, which will affect your results.
  • What factors are used to apply the “art” of nutrient credits?
  • The effects of drought on soil chemical properties. In a drought year, soil pH is lower. Check out the slides, and Payne’s explanation.
  • Ok! Onto other post-harvest concerns like reflowering canola, weed control
  • A lot of fields in Manitoba have been untouched, late rains in August and September cause volunteer growth of canola and wheat, as well as regrowth of canola and weeds
  • Falling back on using straight glyphosate highlights the resistance (in kochia) to Group 9s. There’s a lot less leaf area, a lot more seed head, so logistically it’s hard to get product on the plant too. Use a tank mix partner, long story short.
  • Wind erosion was a huge concern this past year in Southern Alberta. Another “art and the science” question. Weeds rob moisture. Established weeds will have big root systems. They tie up nutrients.
  • Clip #2: Canola School: Clubroot symptoms, scouting & sanitation
  • Resistant varieties are certainly not the silver bullet, because multiple races of clubroot exists, it’s an ongoing battle
  • Blackleg is another disease to scout for, as is verticillium stripe
  • Have the best biosecurity possible, while still being efficient
  • Clip #3, even though it wasn’t played on the show: Soybean School: What fall scouting can teach you, plus row width vs. solid seeding decisions
  • Touching on Payne’s 4R Stewardship, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Multiple depths should be sampled, if they aren’t already
  • Having nutrients in the soil bank, really is money in the actual bank
  • Thoughts on variable rate? Every piece of equipment can put VR into practice, but one thing that hasn’t changed: what’s the percentage of fields that are soil sampled?

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