Simcoe Ag Breakfast Meeting Notes – April 6, 2016

Meetings are held every 2nd Wednesday 7:30 – 9 am: Shire restaurant (Travelodge) 385 Queensway in Simcoe.  Next meeting is April 20th

To date there has not been a lot of spring activity. Very little nitrogen has been applied on wheat so far.  Early N not needed since in general, wheat went into winter with excellent growth and 3 – 5 tillers per plant.  Traditionally a perfect stand is considered to have 20-21 plants per foot of row; and often 14 plants is good.  Last year stands with 7 plants per ft of row were left, just to have a crop.  The debate about nitrogen timing on heavy soils is more about opportunity cost between nitrogen loss from wet soils vs the opportunity for adequate soil conditions to get back on the field following rain events.  Some clover has been applied.

2016 Early Season Observations/Predictions

  • Last time there was a relatively mild winter, it was a bad year for armyworm (adults come in from US with spring winds)  or other insects that can survive in mild winters
  • Snow cover on wheat – appears the wheat is greener as the snow melts – snow captures some N near the crop surface? Or psychological contrast between white and green?
  • Fleabane in wheat – some wheat fields were sprayed in the fall, some will need to be treated with Infinity this spring.  Options will be limited for growers that have already seeded red clover

An article in a recent farm publication (Grain Farmer?) led to some discussion about soil organic matter (SOM)and crop rotations.  The article stated that the increase in soybeans in rotation had resulted in a 20% decrease in SOM.  Long-term soybean yields average ~ 35 bu/ac on the heavy textured soils in Haldimand and Niagara.  Heavy textured soils need a higher organic matter level and as SOM decreases in clay the soil has becomes more dense and compacted.  Differences in soil moisture holding capacity are obvious on dry years, and provide a good visual for the positive effect of rotations that include forages and cereals with cover crops.  There is a difference between soil conditions today and when a majority of farms in Haldimand had livestock (diary).  Programs such as GLASI (Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative) is good opportunity for focusing on improving soil, but there is a significant portion of area in the Golden Horseshoe region that does not qualify to participate in the funding portion of the program.  Details about GLASI program can be found at

Less livestock operations also have reduced soil fertility levels in the area. Haldimand soils used to be in excess of 250 ppm for potash levels but lately are closer to 80 ppm  (change has come over past 20 years).   Phosphorus fertility levels are highest for farms with livestock and those that use biosolids on a regular basis.  Sewage biosolids have almost no potash.

Tim Montague commented that he is doing some IP bean testing for cadmium content (for export markets) and has seen significant differences in uptake between varieties. Questions about the amount of cadmium that is applied with organic amendments such as biosolids (and organic fertilizers such as LysteGro) revealed that MOECC regulates the level of heavy metals (trace elements) allowed for application of NASM on agricultural land and has on-going testing to ensure compliance at the facilities. Organic fertilizer products, registered through CFIA (Nutri-Pel, N-Viro, LysteGro etc)  are sold and treated as fertilizer, and without the requirement of NASM plans.  Following label directions (i.e., follow OMAFRA fertilizer recommendations, or maximum application rates) will ensure that trace elements are within the guidelines.  However, where specialty crops are grown for export or specialty markets, it is important to check the contract provider or confirm the use of CFIA registered organic fertilizer products or unrestricted compost materials with the person purchasing the crop.  For example, processing peas will be rejected for harvest if a green-bin compost has been applied due to harvest equipment almost shaving the soil resulting for increased risk of glass or other contaminants being mixed with the crop.

Several CFIA organic fertilizer materials are on the market and growers have questions about their availability and use. There were some specific questions about one of the newest materials – LysteGro, a processed biosolid with added potassium – application and crop response.  Georgian Region Soil & Crop conducted a field study in 2015 with LysteGro at 5 locations (applied at 2 rates) compared to commercial fertilizer:  In 2015 the 3,000 gallon/acre rate of LysteGro gave the most economic corn yield compared to 4,500 gal/ac and commercial fertilizer equivalent. Grain protein and stalk nitrogen levels were highest with 4,500 gal/ac application.  The LysteGro (4,500 and 3,000 gal/ac results combined) gave an average 16.5 bushel/ac yield advantage compared to commercial fertilizer treatments with nitrogen applied at the N-calculator rate.  However, rainfall events during the summer may have resulted in denitrification of commercial N, while organic N from the lystegro was released to the crop longer into the season. The project will be repeated for the 2016 growing season.  Project details and results for 2015 can be found at:

Yield Results on Corn with LysteGro applied 3,000 and 4,500 gal/ac Compared to Commercial Fertilizer
Yield Results on Corn with LysteGro applied 3,000 and 4,500 gal/ac Compared to Commercial Fertilizer
Residual N (using Stalk Nitrate test) for Corn with LysteGro applied at 3,000 and 4,500 gal/ac Compared to Commercial Fertilizer
Residual N (using Stalk Nitrate test) for Corn with LysteGro applied at 3,000 and 4,500 gal/ac Compared to Commercial Fertilizer

The status of XTend Beans (Monsanto, Syngenta) is still in the “hurry up and wait”. EU meeting was delayed due to terrorist action in Brussels and was rescheduled to April.  Seed is ready for treatment, but waiting for approval.  Monsanto is reluctant to go ahead without EU approval due to StarLink experience in mid 90’s.


  • approximately 75% of growers have taken the training.  Not a popular course.
  • Paperwork is time consuming and made more confusing by periodic changes to the website.  Difficult for consultants or seed dealers to get paid for the extra time it takes
  • Approximately 30-40% of producers will use some neonic treated seed
  • Approximately 10% of producers use neonic treated seed on 100 % or corn/soy acres
  • On heavy clays, neonic treated seed is often more important for soybeans that corn
  • From John H: Local side-by-side comparisons in 2015 showed a 3-5 bu/ac yield increase by using Cruiser-Max, use of fungicide gave a 3 bu/ac yield increase and use of insecticide at R3-R4 stage of soybeans for soybean aphids gave a 5-7 bu/ac yield increase.  Neonic treated seed gives a 60-90 day protection against soybean aphids.

Interest in Field projects this summer?

  • How are we going to maintain viable cover crops without taking them out in the fall?
  • How will crop residue be managed so that prolonged wet soils don’t become an issue that delays spring planting.
  • Inter-seeding cover crops into corn and soybeans
  • Managing the “bluegrass curse” – in 2nd year thin hay, bluegrass gets established and results in poor quality hay because it matures and turns yellow and coarse early.
  • Phosphorus monitoring on crop land (Brant)
  • Nitrogen availability using soil-scan 360