When it is time to make a fungicide decision, D’Arcy Hilgartner weighs several factors. Is the crop at the right stage? What are the current moisture conditions? How has the weather looked throughout the season compared to years past? How much of his crop is likely susceptible to disease? Today, he can access all of that information using the Climate FIeldView application.
“We were beta testers of FieldView back in 2017 and we continue see how it can be used to make better use of our data when looking at disease control,” says the grower from Camrose, Alta. “With margins getting tighter you don’t want to have to blanket a field with product if you don’t have to. With FieldView we are able to target where we need to scout further or map out where we need to focus our disease management using the data from the application.”
The field-health reports on Climate FieldView measure a crop’s growth on a week-by-week basis, tracking biomass and monitoring plant health as the crop matures. Hilgartner was initially drawn to FieldView as he had equipment from several different manufacturers, along with data from a variety of sources. The app was able to pull it all together in a Cloud-based platform that he could read on his own devices.
Climate FieldView was initially launched in Eastern Canada but has since been introduced into Western Canada with expanded features for the larger operations on the Prairies. It has crop-specific tools and two decades of weather information for growers across the country.
“The historical data available in Climate FieldView helps growers making a fungicide application decision because it will show, for example, this year’s rainfall as compared to the long-term average,” says FieldView product specialist Andria Karstens. “You can also compare when you sprayed each year, and look at the response achieved under different conditions.”
She says growers look at the biomass imagery available on the app and if they see a lush, green canopy they know that the crop will have a more difficult time drying if there is any moisture or humidity, increasing the risk for a disease outbreak. Growers can factor in everything from seeding date, to weather after seeding, to conditions leading up to their fungicide decision and weigh it against that historical data. They can then tailor their solution to those particular areas on their farm.
“Throughout this process growers continue to work with their agronomist or field representative to decide what product works best given the information they are presented with,” Karsten says. “We are providing growers with the digital tools that provide layers of information that help make those decisions easier and more precise.”
Imaging the results
It can be simple to see the results of a fungicide application on satellite imagery, especially when growers leave a check strip. Image maps also show biomass levels that indicate a healthy crop, or areas that might not warrant further investment. They also let growers know when a crop is in flower, or what stage the crop is at.
“This does not replace boots-on-the-ground crop scouting, but it helps make the process more efficient,” says Jarrett Jackson, market development agronomist with Bayer. “When you have a lot of fields to be ground-truthing, you need to be efficient about your time. If you see only a few flowers on a canola crop or no heads showing up on a barley image, you know you may not need to be looking for disease, and your focus can be on other fields. A little insight makes the process more efficient.”
Hilgartner says he still scouts his fields, but also tracks the image reports throughout the year. “The information you gather helps you see if you need to take a different approach. We can look at what’s happened in terms of moisture conditions and weather from seven years ago and apply it to what we are seeing today. If some areas are brown when others are green — we then ask, ‘Why?’ Sometimes we know the answer — it could be a hilltop or a poor soil area. Other times we can find the answer in our past data.”
Growers often have good intentions when it comes to tracking the effects of their in-season decisions on their yield — but when it comes to a busy harvest, the effort of bringing out a weigh wagon and recording their yield results is the last thing they want to do. Climate FieldView does it for them.
“Up until very recently, people have primarily been using their data in the heat of the moment, when they need a piece of information right away,” Jackson says. “But what they are now realizing that they can use the data they have been collecting to help with their decision-making processes for the following year.”
Jackson gives an example of a wheat crop that saw four inches of rain in June and then following a Prosaro application had a four-bushel yield bump. Two years earlier on the same field, a wheat crop had only two inches of rain, and with a Prosaro application had a two-bushel increase. Growers can look at their yield data and then measure their return on investment to help make decisions for their next rotation.
“With that kind of background knowledge you can drill down even further on an acre-by-acre basis and look closely at all sorts of in-season factors that can help you make more targeted fungicide application decisions, instead of impromptu decisions based on broad recommendations,” says Jackson.
Hilgartner says he continues to refine how he uses FieldView to get the most from the data he collects. “We took part in canola trials last year to look at the correlation between targeted fungicide application using image maps and yield,” he says. “We do a number of yield trials because it is easy to create reports based on the information gathered throughout the season. We are moving from more information-gathering to more guidance from the data. We’ve been collecting information for many years, and with FieldView we are able to use it to be more economical on our farm.”
This article was originally published in the 2020 Disease & Yield Management Guide, a Country Guide Special supplement sponsored by Bayer Crop Science.