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Research Update for Ag Professionals provides guidance

CROOKSTON, Minn. -- Gary Burath -- a crop consultant, seed salesman and farmer -- knows a lot about agriculture. But Red Lake Falls, Minn., agriculturalist also knows there's even more to learn, and that's why he was at the annual Research Update...

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CROOKSTON, Minn. - Gary Burath - a crop consultant, seed salesman and farmer - knows a lot about agriculture. But Red Lake Falls, Minn., agriculturalist also knows there's even more to learn, and that's why he was at the annual Research Update for Ag Professionals Jan. 12 at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

"There's something you'll learn and take back every year," he said. "It will help guide customers and others who are in farming."

Burath was about one of 50 people who attended the Crookston event. It was the last in a series of six sessions sponsored by the Minnesota Institute for Ag Professionals, which is part of University of Minnesota extension. Past sessions were held in Waseca, Kasson, Lamberton, Willmar and Morris.

The content of some sessions varied, but all six were aimed at agronomists, regional extension educators, government ag agency personnel, farm managers and others who benefit from professional training.

Minnesota extension has worked for two decades to pass on research-based information through the Institute for Ag Professionals. Extension specialists handle all the institute's curriculum and teaching.

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Topics and speakers in Crookston were:

• Small grain weed control update and herbicide resistance management - Beverly Durgan, weed scientist and also dean of U of M extension.

• Managing insects of soybeans: insecticide-resistant aphids and other challenges - Bob Koch, entomologist.

• Four things you should know about the latest research in bacterial leaf streak and Fusarium head blight management - Madeleine Smith, plant pathologist.

• Small grains variety update - Jochum Wiersma, small grains specialist.

• Beyond academics: real-life nitrogen management - Fabian Fernandez, nutrient management specialist.

Minnesota Extension Service has worked for two decades to pass on research-based information through the Institute for Ag Professionals. Extension specialists handle all the institute's curriculum and teaching.

"Agriculture is a constantly changing field. Growers need to be making a decision on many factors, especially now with the way commodity prices are," Durgan said. "Many of our growers are working directly with ag professionals - crop consultants, agronomists at the local co-ops and others - and many of them are relying on those professionals to help make those decisions."

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Weeds and bugs

Durgan's presentation on weed management in small grains looked at, among other things, herbicide resistance and the recent discovery of Palmer amaranth in Minnesota. The weed can grow as high as 7 feet, and one plant can produce as many as 1 million seeds. Even worse, the plant is hard to kill, both with herbicide and by hand.

Koch, the entomologist, talked about regulatory challenges to several insecticides used in soybeans.

He also talked about the brown marmorated stink bug, a pest of many plants, including fruits, vegetables and field crops. It does major damage by sucking the juice from fruits, stems and leaves. It also invades homes, similar to what the boxelder bug does.

The adults are half-inch-long insects that often release an odor when disturbed or crushed. They're brown with a marmorated (marble-patterned) exterior. Native to Asia, the insect is a relative newcomer to Minnesota but has the potential to do considerable harm to Minnesota crops, Koch said.

"We've got 50-plus native stink bug species in Minnesota, but they don't occur in large-enough numbers to really cause economic damage. People see them, but they're really of no consequence." Koch said.

But brown marmorated stink bugs - which in 2016 were found for the first time in a Minnesota soybean field - can hurt both crop yields and quality and "should be on growers' radar screen," he said.

Smith, the plant pathologist, said it's important to "take the information we get from research out to where it will do the most good. It's no good if it sits in the field research plot or the lab. So these research updates are great opportunity to share it."

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Dr. Robert Koch, extension entomologist for the University of Minnesota Extension Service, presents his research findings on insecticide-resistant aphids at the 2017 Research Update for Ag Professionals event held Thursday, January 12, 2017 at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center in Crookston, M.N. (Nick Nelson/Agweek)
Dr. Robert Koch, extension entomologist for the University of Minnesota Extension Service, presents his research findings on insecticide-resistant aphids at the 2017 Research Update for Ag Professionals event held Thursday, January 12, 2017 at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center in Crookston, M.N. (Nick Nelson/Agweek)

Dr. Robert Koch, extension entomologist for the University of Minnesota Extension Service, presents his research findings on insecticide-resistant aphids at the 2017 Research Update for Ag Professionals event held Thursday, January 12, 2017 at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center in Crookston, M.N. (Nick Nelson/Agweek)
Dr. Robert Koch, extension entomologist for the University of Minnesota Extension Service, presents his research findings on insecticide-resistant aphids at the 2017 Research Update for Ag Professionals event held Thursday, January 12, 2017 at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center in Crookston, M.N. (Nick Nelson/Agweek)

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