By Harry Brook
Get your boots out and get into the field and scout your fields on a regular basis. You can do it yourself or hire out agronomists to do it for you.
This year’s crop is off to an amazing start with timely rains and lush growth. With the amount of money invested in the crop, it only makes good sense to be out in the field regularly checking on the crops for possible problems or pests. Find them early to prevent expensive crop losses. Early warning gives you time to assess the problem and decide upon the appropriate control measure and economic threshold. Field scouting is also very useful to see what is going well and what are the results of your seeding and pesticide application.
UAV’s or drones can be useful in scouting a field, but only to the extent of identifying areas that are visually different and where a close look is needed. If something doesn’t look right or looks different from surrounding vegetation, it should be investigated.
Our current cropping systems tend to lack a lot of diversity, with a lot of canola and wheat being grown. This can lead to pests that thrive on that particular crop diet. If you catch a problem soon enough, it may only require a small acreage to be treated.
Of course, not scouting but applying a preventative treatment will work, but it is very wasteful and may be throwing money away on a crop that does not need it. You often see fields being sprayed for fungicide when weather conditions or signs of disease are lacking. Not only is it wasteful of resources, it could shorten the lifetime of the control product by speeding up a pesticide resistance issue.
Good crop health and management starts with the right inputs in the crop and adequate moisture. Good decisions come from getting good information and that comes from timely crop inspections. A regular scouting inspection is just another tool to ensure you’re doing it right and the benefits will be there at harvest.
Harry Brook is Flagstaff County’s Agricultural Fieldman. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at: 780-384-4138.