Minnesota Farmer

Scouting and picking

The advent of the ATV/UTV has greatly changed crop scouting.  It has made one of the most important jobs of crop farming so much easier.  Now an entire field can be covered quickly and easily.

First off, a definition.  Crop scouting is checking on a field to see what kind of problems a field may have.  When scouting, you are looking at crop development for disease and fertility problems.  You are also looking for weed problems and other general field conditions.  Specifically, I’ve been mostly checking for weed problems.  At the same time I am using the box on my UTV to pick up the rocks that are in the filed and may damage harvest equipment.

Weed control is so much more than just throwing some chemicals on a field and going away.  We need to know field history to know what weeds and crops have been there so we can decide what is a problem and how to control it.  What types of tillage have or will be done also need to be taken into account.  My notes from that field will be used to decide what herbicides I use to control weed problems.  My notes from one field read as follows:

S. 80 – field edge some broadleaves – grass on N. side and low spots

My assessment?  Since this is glyphosate tolerant corn I will be spraying the edges, a few extra passes on the north side and the low areas where the grasses are growing.  This entire field does not need to be sprayed.

Past history on this field also helps to determine what I do to control weeds.  This field was soybeans last year and was strip tilled last fall.  After the corn was planted we applied an early post planting product called SureStart to provide early season control of most weeds.  In most cases early season control translates into full season control since crop shading of the soil and summer dryness will keep late season weeds from germinating.  The exceptions are the perennial weeds which come back from the root, and field edges that may not get covered.

Crop scouting and rock picking both take time, but have the potential to save money in the long run.  Using a UTV to scout can allow me to get into the field earlier and with lower impact equipment.  If I’m leaving tracks with that light weight UTV, it is for sure that a heavier tractor will be leaving ruts or even getting stuck.  Times have changed and equipment has changed.  The money-saving and time-saving UTV and ATV are making life easier on the farm.

Both corn and alfalfa are showing signs of stress from lack of rain

My Bobcat UTV in a late summer picture


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