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Crop roundup: disease control

MANA introduces a new fungicide, Enlist advances in the USDA regulatory process, Monsanto releases updates on pipeline projects, DuPont Pioneer brings a large class of new products to the market for 2014, medical imaging is being used to evaluate soil compaction, and ISU's Iowa Nutrient Research Center launches a new website.

MANA introduces Custodia premix fungicide for corn, soybeans, and wheat
Custodia combines the two most complementary systemic fungicide active ingredients available today in an optimized ratio to deliver both preventive and curative disease control. The simultaneous movement of the active ingredients within the plant quickly knocks down diseases and provides a residual barrier that inhibits diseases from developing.
 
The multiple active ingredients in Custodia allow growers to minimize the number of products they need to control various diseases. Plus, Custodia is labeled on several common rotational crops, which provides flexibility in planning disease control strategies.
 
In field corn, Custodia optimizes grain fill by preventing stress during periods where non-optimal photosynthesis periods occur, helping growers increase yield. Custodia can also help soybean growers get to harvest sooner by preventing extended stalk greening.
 
Enlist advances in the USDA regulatory process
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the completion of its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Enlist corn and soybean traits.

University and Dow AgroSciences research trials in 2013 showed weed control across resistant and susceptible species. Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology, a proprietary blend of glyphosate and new 2,4-D choline, will be the herbicide for use with Enlist crops when commercialized. Dow AgroSciences will recommend a program approach to weed management that includes Enlist Duo and a residual herbicide, such as Sonic in soybeans. The research trials, conducted across the Midwest and Mid-South, showed 98 to 100 percent control on waterhemp, velvetleaf, ragweeds, palmer amaranth and morningglory.



USDA recently moved the Enlist corn and soybean traits to the next step in the regulatory process by announcing the availability of the DEIS. According to USDA, on January 10 there will be a notice in the Federal Register announcing the opening of a comment period for the DEIS. The comment period is an opportunity for growers and others to provide input on the Enlist corn and soybean traits as USDA conducts its review. Pending regulatory approvals, Dow AgroSciences expects to launch Enlist corn and soybeans in 2015, with cotton to follow.

Not everyone is pleased with the progress. Scott Faber, executive director for Just Label It, made a statement on the USDA’s DEIS:
“Relying on dangerous weed killers like 2,4-D to combat the growth of super weeds will just keep us the same chemical treadmill. No wonder consumers want the right to know whether their food is from the GE crops that have caused the explosion of super weeds. As today’s USDA study shows, super weeds have now spread to 27 states.”

Monsanto's annual pipeline update
Monsanto announced a record 29 products progressed in its pipeline with five of those headed to the commercial marketplace.  Monsanto’s advancements include products across all of its platforms, including breeding, biotechnology, and new technology areas such as Integrated Farming Systems and agricultural biologicals.

           

Biotechnology Platform

         
Monsanto has a pipeline of biotechnology projects in development, including next-generation insect control and herbicide tolerance agronomic trait projects as well as yield and stress work in collaboration with BASF Plant Science. This year’s nine biotechnology advancements include the launch of Intacta RR2 PRO soybeans and next-generation products like SmartStax PRO corn (formally Corn Rootworm III), Second-Generation Intacta RR2 PRO soybeans, Third-Generation Herbicide Tolerant soybeans, Bollgard III cotton. 



Breeding Platform

         
In addition to annual germplasm improvements, this year’s breeding pipeline advanced seven projects within the industry’s most-advanced disease resistance breeding program. Project highlights include enhanced resistance to Anthracnose Stalk Rot and Gray Leaf Spot in corn and Soybean Cyst Nematode, as well as Phytophthora resistant peppers, Bacterial Wilt resistant tomatoes, and Downy Mildew resistant lettuce.



Biologicals Platform

         
Five products within Monsanto’s agricultural biologicals platform are advancing as researchers carry on their work to increase crop health and productivity. Monsanto and the farmer customers it serves share a need to continuously meet the world’s growing demand in a sustainable way. Investing in the research and development of agricultural biological technologies is another step in that direction. Highlighted advancement in this platform include BioDirect Tospovirus Control, BioDirect Colorado Potato Beetle and BioDirect Bee Health, as well as the addition of Microbials Yield, and Microbials Plant Health to the pipeline’s discovery phase.



Integrated Farming Systems Platform

         
Monsanto featured eight advancements in its Integrated Farming Systems platform. Advancing products include Variable Rate Soy FieldScripts, Multi-Hybrid Corn FieldScripts, and Weather-Enhanced FieldScripts as well as the launch of FieldScripts in corn. Monsanto also highlighted the launch of The Climate Corporation’s Climate Pro, a revolutionary web and mobile service that increases a farmer’s profitability through customized field recommendations that maximize yield and minimize costs.

Higher yield potential highlights newest Pioneer Brand T series soybeans
Defensive traits and seed treatment options help protect strong yield potential. To maximize return from their soybean acres, growers are looking for higher soybean yields, and DuPont Pioneer soybean breeders are delivering with a large class of new products available in 2014. These new varieties continue the Pioneer pursuit of improved yield potential while offering the agronomic and defensive traits needed to protect this potential.

The 2014 lineup contains 44 new T Series varieties, ranging in maturity from Group 00 to Group 5. While the plant breeding emphasis is on high-yield potential, the lineup includes a diverse range of defensive traits growers can tailor to the localized challenges in their individual fields.

An expanded offering of herbicide tolerant traits are available, including products with the original Roundup Ready, Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield, LibertyLink, and DuPont STS technologies.

In addition, Pioneer is introducing four new products that feature the Plenish high oleic trait. This trait allows growers in participating processor areas to contract Plenish soybeans for the high oleic oil market, providing attractive oil alternatives to food and industrial markets. These varieties offer top tier performance and on par with Pioneer soybean varieties plus processor-paid contract premiums for added per acre returns.

“Growers can work with their Pioneer sales professional to identify the right product for each acre,” Trepanier says. “The necessary defensive traits will vary depending on geography and field history. It’s important to choose a variety that will stand up to the in-season challenges each operation faces.”

The new Pioneer T Series products carry resistance or tolerance to key yield-robbing diseases and pests, including Phytophthora root rot, soybean cyst nematode (SCN), sudden death syndrome, brown stem rot, iron chlorosis, and frogeye leaf spot.

“Growers also can take advantage of Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment offerings, to provide an extra level of performance for improved early-season disease and insect protection,” Trepanier says. “This new T Series class adds to an already strong soybean lineup, giving growers even better opportunities to succeed.”

T Series products are the result of a relentless research and testing focus to deliver products with higher yield potential. To learn more about these new T Series varieties and see which fit their fields, growers can contact their Pioneer sales professional.    

Medical imaging helps reveal lasting impacts of soil compaction
The large, air-filled spaces, or “macropores,” in untilled soil often resemble the branching vessels of the human circulatory system. Taking advantage of this similarity, a team of Nordic researchers led by Per Schjønning combined computed tomography (CT) scanning with traditional measurements of air exchange to “diagnose” the long-term impacts of soil compaction on the hidden, but vital, soil pore network.

In farm settings, soil can become compressed and unnaturally dense when heavy farm machinery is driven over it. But what the system of pores looks like in compacted soil hasn’t been well studied.

When the Nordic scientists examined cores of compacted, heavy clay subsoil from a research site in Finland, they found the macropores were greatly affected compared with a non-compacted, control soil. In particular, the compacted soil contained mostly long, vertical “arterial” pores, or pipes, with significantly fewer “marginal” pores branching from them. The findings appeared in the Nov.-Dec. 2013 issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Compaction also reduced the size of the vertical arteries, and just as in the human body, this constriction of the soil’s “circulatory” system can have ill effects. Blocked and narrowed pores likely impede the diffusion of air through bulk soil, the scientists say. The dominance of vertical pipes in the compacted soil also suggests that water flows mostly downward, with relatively little reaching the surrounding soil matrix.

Both of these changes can reduce crop productivity. But most troubling to the researchers was how lasting the impacts of compaction appear to be. In the study, the group examined soil cores taken from a depth of 0.3 to 0.4 meters (0.9 to 1.2 feet) in plots where 30 years earlier a heavy tractor-trailer drove over the ground four times in an experimental treatment. (Only smaller farm equipment was used in subsequent years.)

Despite all the elapsed time, macropores in the compacted subsoil were still highly altered compared with control soils, indicating a poor ability of this heavy clay soil to recover its original structure. What’s more, the damage was done by wheel loads (3.2 Mg per tractor rear wheel and 4.8 Mg per trailer wheel) that are considerably lower than those used in agriculture today.

While subsoil compaction is easy to ignore because it’s hard to see, it definitely deserves more study, say the researchers. And what better to help diagnose this hidden problem than CT—a medical instrument that detects equally stealthy problems in the human body?

ISU's Iowa Nutrient Research Center launches website
A website
for the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University provides
information on research projects underway to improve nutrient
management practices on Iowa farms.

The website, http://www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/center, is part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy website, http://www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/. A link on the website, http://www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/center/projects, provides
summaries of the center’s 10 funded projects, including research on
bioreactors, cover crops, new technology to more accurately predict
movement of nutrients and decision-support tools for farmers.

The
first set of 10 projects, led by teams of scientists at Iowa State, the
University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa, address critical
needs or gaps in nitrogen and phosphorus research identified in the
science assessment that was part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction
Strategy.

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Center was established by
the Iowa Board of Regents in response to legislation passed last spring
by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Governor Terry Branstad. The
center received $1.5 million for 2013-2014 from the legislature for
research in areas that include evaluating the performance of current and
emerging nutrient management practices, providing recommendations on
implementing the practices and developing new practices.

The Iowa
Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based approach
to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf
of Mexico.

Sources: MANA, Monsanto, Iowa State University, DuPont Pioneer, American Society of Agronomy, Just Label It, Dow AgroSciences

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