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April 2013 Archive for Noble News and Views

RSS By: The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Beef Today

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is an independent, nonprofit institute headquartered in Ardmore, Okla. Founded in 1945, the Noble Foundation conducts direct operations, including assisting farmers and ranchers, and conducting plant science research and agricultural programs, to enhance agricultural productivity regionally, nationally and internationally. www.noble.org

Economics, Timing Drive Pesticide Application Decisions

Apr 29, 2013
James Locke

Spring is the season when most begin thinking about controlling weeds and other pests. Producers who choose to control pests (weeds, insects or diseases) with chemicals are faced with deciding whether to hire a commercial custom applicator or to self-apply pesticides to their own property or crops (i.e., be a private applicator). The right choice depends on each producer’s individual circumstances. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each system.

First, determine if a reliable custom applicator is available for hire at a reasonable price. Custom applicators provide advantages of efficiency and convenience. Due to dedicated equipment and specialized personnel, they can treat more acres per day than most private applicators. A reliable custom applicator will apply the requested products, at the requested rate, to the requested pastures or fields in a timely manner. Their equipment should be calibrated and able to apply pesticides without streaking or excessive overspray. They should only spray under acceptable environmental conditions and do everything reasonable to avoid off-target spray drift. Many, if not most, custom applicators can supply the pesticides, thus eliminating the need for producers to maintain their own chemical inventories and dispose of empty pesticide containers. Custom application is not viable if there are no custom applicators available who meet these criteria.

A common disadvantage of relying on custom applicators is incorrect pesticide application timing. The efficacy of any pesticide depends on applying it at the correct time for the target pest; often, that time frame is very short. The same pest problems can develop for many clients at the same time since custom applicators typically serve a particular geographic region and producers in that region frequently grow the same crops. Having a large number of client requests at the same time, coupled with delays due to weather or equipment problems, can result in even the best custom applicators missing the optimum application timing.

Secondly, producers should evaluate their resources and management style prior to deciding to be a private applicator – especially if a reliable custom applicator is available. A major factor is whether or not a suitable sprayer is already owned or must be purchased. Another important and often overlooked factor is whether a producer is willing to commit to spraying in a timely manner. When investigating control failures, producers often say they did not have time to spray when application was needed. If other activities are going to preclude spraying at the right time, it is an easy decision to hire a reliable custom applicator.

There are many advantages to being a private applicator if a producer is willing to commit the necessary time. The greatest advantage is usually improved pest management due to timely application. Private applicators can closely monitor pests and treat at the optimum pest stage and under favorable weather conditions. Another benefit is the ability to treat only the areas of the field that have the target pest problem. This is often an option for post-emergence herbicide applications and can significantly save on pesticide costs. Private applicators can continue their financial savings by shopping around for the best pesticide prices.

If the decision to hire a custom applicator or be a private applicator is purely economic, other factors need to be considered. Economies of scale play a large role in determining if owning a sprayer is economically feasible. This means the more acres allocated to the sprayer decreases fixed costs per acre. However, remember to include all operating costs when comparing custom versus private application. These costs include fuel, oil and lube, maintenance and repairs, operating and tendering labor, and interest on operating expenses.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both custom and private application. Producers must make their own decisions about which system is the right choice for their operations. Custom pesticide application is often an easy decision for many small acreage or absentee landowners due to economies of scale or convenience. However, private application can provide advantages in flexibility of application timing, improved efficacy and reduced pesticide use. Producers should consider the advantages and disadvantages, including economic analyses, of each management system prior to making a decision.

Wheat Research Benefits Producers

Apr 22, 2013
Mark Newell

Stocker cattle producers in the Southern Great Plains grow winter wheat for pasture grazing. However, most available wheat varieties being used in southern Oklahoma today are at least 30 years old. To provide producers with the newest cultivars, the Noble Foundation and Oklahoma State University (OSU) have created a five-year collaboration to expand grazing wheat cultivar research and development.

The ultimate goal of our collaboration is to create a new cultivar for producers to graze in the southern Oklahoma and northern Texas region. Ideally, the cultivar would be dual purpose, producing a high grain yield after grazing.

OSU has a rich legacy of producing quality wheat cultivars for grain production, especially for north and west Oklahoma. However, some of these cultivars would fit well in the southern Oklahoma and northern Texas region as a grazing cultivar, but there has not been an outlet for those lines until now.

Brett Carver, Ph.D., wheat breeding and genetics professor at OSU, explained: "We have access to the latest research and technology to dig deeper into other traits within genetic backgrounds that were previously underexplored. In the long run, we are able to develop and cultivate a better relationship and make better use of our complementary missions. We are better utilizing all of our resources for a better product."

The first set of genetic materials received from OSU consisted of 36 lines and was planted at the end of October 2012. These vary from lines that are primarily grain types and would not be available for release. Some are potential grazing types, and others are varieties that are currently being used by producers in the region. All of the cultivars are being evaluated under grazing conditions.

This first trial will end in late spring 2013, and a new trial year will begin with new experimental lines in the fall of 2013. However, some lines that have potential as grazing releases may be evaluated in further research, such as testing under heavier grazing conditions and experiments that explore animal daily gain.

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