Sunday, 3 July 2011

Answer Plots, Ontario's outdoor agriculture laboratories

Got Questions? Get answers at Ontario Outdoor field laboratories

To say that it has been a challenging spring would be an understatement. How will crops respond to this adverse weather? Some companies are discounting the validity of any test plots that are planted late but most of us want to see how the crops will respond under actual conditions each year. WinFeild Solutions have this type research set up in outdoor field laboratories in over 170 sites around North America called Answer Plots.
Each year brings its own unique challenges. We learn something new each year. We can grow better crops and improve the bottom line by taking every opportunity to learn. The agriculture industry provides many opportunities to see what the cutting edge technologies are at field days during the growing season.
The Ontario Forage Expo is run by the Ontario forage council which this year is being held at the Elora research farm On June 13th 2011. The Forage focus has teamed up with the local soil and crop improvement association to ensure a high level of practicality in the presentation topics. The annual crop diagnostic days are held at Ridgetown College the first week in July at the campus in Ridgetown. Another event is the farm smart field days at the University of Guelph research station in Elora. The farm smart expo scheduled for July 14th is very similar to the Ridgetown crop diagnostic days but is featuring earlier day crops. They feature the popular herbicide injury demonstrations as well as other crop production issues.
When I worked for Huron Bay Co-op I was impressed by the plot day organized by Ken Schiestel. Ken and His Brother Don ensure the land beside the crop center near Walkerton gets rotated and planted each year. Later in August Huron Bay Co-op will host their annual plot days at this site. This event is quite an extensive yield plot for both corn and soys and the suppliers use this venue to talk about programs for the upcoming year. It is always held the third week of August on a Thursday.
Many chemical companies and equipment dealers have field days for dealers and producers.
All my experience made me appreciate the agronomic and research focus that Winfield Solutions puts into their Answer plots. Each site is a major expenditure for the company costing thousands of dollars. Winfield started out doing these sites for agronomic training for their own agronomists as part of their Crop Expert Seller program. The company’s product position technique recquires having highly trained and knowledgeable partners representing their Croplan Genetics seed and Agrisolutions spray products to farmers. The Answer plots have grown into larger events open to all growers.
This Year there are even sites in Mexico for the first time. There are 4 in Canada 2 in Ontario and 2 in Quebec. The Ontario sites are at Canada’s Outdoor Farm show and next to Setterington’s fertilizer near Leamington. People who have attended these events have given high praise for the quality and usefulness of the information presented. At these answer plots growers will have a chance to get right to the root of all cropping technologies. Some of the things being looked at are corn's response to nitrogen. Not all varieties are going to respond to increased Nitrogen so it is important to know which ones will profit from higher applications. There has been a lot of interest in increased populations especially after BASF had Dr. Fred Below at their field day in Bryanston last year. The same can be said for response to population increases. Some corn varieties will maintain a larger root system to support a larger cob while others suffer from the crowding. These are just 2 of the 30,000 data points that is generated at each answer plot.
This year there are some great videos explaining the event on YouTube. You can easily view these by going to the web site. The website is update with weather and agronomy concerns and observations weekly. It is a great way to check out what is happening in the field across North America at the various sites. The next Answer plot events will be July 6th in Woodstock just west of the outdoor farm show from 4-6 p.m followed by dinner and the next morning in Leamington right beside the Setterington's fertilizer plant near Blytheswood. the next events are august 3oth at Leamington and august 31st at Woodstock. The events run from 9 a.m. till lunchtime. If you can’t make these events you can always arrange for a personal tour with me or the staff from your Local Agromart.
Whether you come to the answer plots or not I hope you will scan the events page of theRrural Voice and make time to take in some of the field days I have talked about. Your farm is sure to benefit.

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