Plot trials measure value of seed treatments

A planter provides slightly higher canola emergence compared to an air drill but the difference may be erased by a seed treatment, based on initial results of demonstration plot trials near Langham, Sask.

The Field of Excellence trial plot is a 380-acre space dedicated to field-scale and small-scale demonstration plots. It is a place where life sciences and equipment companies can demonstrate their technology in a high-profile environment.

The space is owned by Glacier Farm Media (GFM) and located adjacent to the Ag In Motion farm show site, but Saskatchewan Polytechnic and GFM jointly manage it.

Agrologist Blake Weiseth supervises the Field of Excellence and he said its purpose is to help farmers decide which technologies or growing techniques will fit their farm.

“We’re looking to investigate questions that farmers might have on their own operation that they may not be in a position to test it out in their own field,” Weiseth said.

“We try to test it out at a field-scale that’s relevant for farmers and if they are interested in the results that we’re seeing, we encourage them to do a test at their own farm to validate it in their own conditions.”

There are also replicated small plot research trials being conducted by third parties on the site.

One of the field-scale demonstration trials underway this year is an oilseed agronomy trial that has 140 acres of canola and 80 acres of soybeans with low and high seeding-rate treatments, as well as performance trials of two nutritional products, Radiate and Atlas.

Half of the canola trial was seeded with a Morris Quantum air seeder and the other half was seeded with a Horsch planter. The entire soybean crop was seeded with the Quantum.

For the canola crop, the low seeding rate with the air seeder was 220,000 seeds per acre, and the high seeding rate was 435,000 seeds per acre.

The low canola-seeding rate with the Horsch planter was 190,000 seeds per acre and the high rate was 220,000 seeds per acre.

The high rate of the planter and the low rate of the air drill were equivalent at 220,000 seeds per acre, making it a side-by-side comparison of the two planting systems.

When all of the canola plot treatments were compiled, there was a better emergence from the planter versus the air drill in terms of plants per square foot.

“But it was interesting to see that at that side-by-side comparison (same seeding rate) there was no measurable difference (in plant emergence) when that Atlas (treatment) was applied,” Weiseth said.

“So it seems that the performance of Atlas improved germination and perhaps buffered slightly against that difference in soil moisture conservation.”

He said under the dry conditions this spring the Horsch planter created less soil disturbance and was likely better at conserving soil moisture.

“When there was no Atlas applied the planter did have slightly higher emergence, so it seemed that the addition of the Atlas did seem to help improve emergence in the canola regardless of the type of seeding equipment used,” Weiseth said.

Atlas is a product added to dry fertilizer blends applied during seeding and is meant to improve nutrient uptake and availability, particular with phosphorus, he said.

For the soybean trial, the low seeding rate was 180,000 seeds per acre and the high rate was 220,000 seeds per acre, and both rates had treatments with and without Atlas.

“The greatest effect was with the difference in seeding rate where we saw much higher emergence at the higher seeding rate compared to the lower seeding rate. Regardless of whether or not Atlas was applied,” Weiseth said.

“So it seemed that perhaps the higher seed rate had a greater ability to buffer against the sub optimal soil moisture conditions compared to the lower seeding rate.”

He said he wasn’t surprised Atlas didn’t have a large effect on soybean emergence because the crop is an efficient scavenger of soil phosphorus.

The other product under evaluation, Radiate, is a foliar product applied at herbicide timing and will be evaluated as the year progresses, including with a METOS real-time field monitoring system that has crop-view cameras that take images of the field throughout the growing season, a temperature and humidity sensor, and a rain gauge.

There are also insect traps and soil probes to help staff understand what they’re observing in the demonstration plots.

Further information from the demonstration trials will be available during the Farm Forum Event, planned for Dec. 3-5 in Saskatoon and in future editions of The Western Producer.

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