SW Ontario Corn Growers Wanted for Corn Planter Dust/Bee Study

We are looking for growers who are interested in participating in our study this spring/summer.  Art Schaafsma (UGRC) and myself have received funding to work on some particular questions with regards to corn planter dust and bee incidences.

We are looking for 2 corn growers per county from the following counties: Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Middlesex, Elgin.

Grower Criteria:

  1. Each grower has to have two fields of 80 acres or larger, somewhat near each other and most importantly USING LARGE NEGATIVE vacuum air planters (16 row or bigger).
  2. We are aiming for conventionally or reduced tilled fields (worst case for dust movement) but are willing to go with some no-till ones too (tillage practice MUST be the same for both fields supplied by each grower).
  3. Planting corn treated with neonicotinoid seed treatment (Poncho or Cruiser) and PREFER if they are planting the same hybrid from the same supplier in both fields.
  4. BOTH fields NEED TO BE within about 2 km from a bee yard and perhaps the grower could direct us to who the owner is so we can discuss collecting pollen etc on some of their colonies. If they have no idea if an apiary is nearby, that is fine..we can do the searching for the bee yards and owners too.
  5. Be willing to coordinate their planting plans with us (ie. contact us in advance before they plant these fields and be willing to wait for our arrival the day of, to plant the field) so that we can take measurements before, during and after planting.  It is vital that we are present during the planting so we can capture the data and samples we need for analysis.
  6. Bayer will supply the new seed lubricant for one field per grower.  The grower will supply his own standard lubricant for the other field.
  7. We will need regular access to both fields in the spring, early summer and again during pollination to collect soil, dust, weed and pollen samples.

Brief synopsis of the project

  • We plan to take soil samples from each field for composition, moisture and residue analysis.
  • We want to survey what flowering resources and pollinators are present along the fields edge weekly, before, during and after planting.  A field history for each field, including previous crops and tillage practices etc. will be gathered.
  • We will be locating a beekeeper that is within 2 km of these fields that are also willing to participate, so that we can put pollen traps and dead bee traps on a few of their colonies.  We want to collect pollen to determine what the honey bees have been foraging on during the corn planting season, and count any dead bees that are present in the hives.
  • The corn grower would then plant one of the two fields.  The first field would be planting using a neonicotinoid seed treatment with TALC or GRAPHITE as the lubricant.  We will be placing dust capturing devices in and outside the field at various distances while the field is being planted to determine how far the dust is traveling downwind.  We will also be taking wind measurements and capture other meteorological data at the time.  The grower would then need to clean out his planter to remove any talc or graphite dust and plant the second field using a new lubricant from Bayer.  We would again be placing dust capturing devices at various distances etc. as we have done in the first field.

Please contact me (@tracey.baute@ontario.ca or 519-674-1696) if you are a grower who fits the above criteria and are interested in participating in our study this year.  Thanks.