Agriculture is in constant need of new products and technologies to outpace the many evolvements–e.g. herbicide-resistant (HR) weeds, nematodes adapting to current genetic resistance, changing climate that encourages new insect and disease infestations–that plague crop production.
Soybean cropping systems are a prime example of how evolving technology has changed the landscape of production agriculture. For example, early planting in the Midsouthern U.S. is now the norm, HR soybean varieties resulting from transgenic technology allow application of heretofore unallowed herbicides to them, technology to enhance irrigation efficiency has been and is continuing to be developed, and genetic modifications continually provide new avenues for control of pests and for improvement of crop quality.
Following are forthcoming technology developments that have the potential to further improve production efficiency. Some offer greater potential than others, but all are worthy of keeping an eye on for future incorporation into current production systems.
PrecisionKing has developed PumpKing that allows a producer to fully automate an electric pump on an irrigation well. This tool also allows remote monitoring and stop commands for diesel pump units. Additionally, it can monitor flow meters and record data from these meters for a year-end report.
In a FarmProgress article by Ginger Rowsey titled “MSU, farmers evaluate surface irrigation automation” and dated May 6, 2022, highlights of on-farm research in the Miss. Delta with this new technology are provided. According to information in the article, 1) the potential for a gain in water use efficiency is great because of the automation aspect of the process, and 2) the automation aspect reduces the need for manual labor and thus should reduce labor costs associated with irrigation. The increased irrigation efficiency resulting from use of this new tool could potentially result in less water withdrawal from the Miss. River Valley Alluvial Aquifer (main source of irrigation water in the Delta), and the reduced need for labor during irrigation should cut irrigation costs and subsequently increase profitability.
UPL has announced the new herbicide premix Preview 2.1 SC that will be available to all soybean farmers in 2023. Preview 2.1 is a liquid formulation that contains a 2:1 ratio of metribuzin (Group 5) and sulfentrazone (Group 14) active ingredients. This herbicide premix offers residual control of Palmer amaranth and morning glory species, in addition to other weeds that plague Midsouth soybean fields (see label for complete list of weeds that are controlled). It can be applied from 30 days before planting up 3 days after planting, but before planted soybeans germinate. Since this product contains metribuzin, it should not be applied where a soybean variety known to be susceptible to metribuzin injury will be planted (click here for results of variety screenings against metribuzin conducted by Univ. of Arkansas scientists). As with all herbicide formulations that contain metribuzin, the use rate of this product depends on the texture and organic matter content of soil on the site to which it will be applied (see label for this information). This new herbicide premix contains the same active ingredients as Authority MTZ, which is a dry flowable formulation. The ratio of metribuzin and sulfentrazone is slightly different between the two products (2:1 vs. 3:2, respectively), but the list of controlled broadleaf weeds in the labels is the same for both products.
The Weed Seed Destroyer, developed by Global Neighbor, Inc. (GNI), is a combine attachment that uses light-emitting diodes (LED) to render weed seeds nonviable as they pass through the combine. The destroyer is a tubed and augered system that is attached to the rear of the combine to expose seeds to blue LED light as they pass with the chaff through the combine. Information about preliminary testing of the apparatus at various institutions is covered in a Farm Journal AgWeb article titled “Agriculture Invention Harnesses LED Light Inside Combine to Kill Weed Seed” by Chris Bennett. Hopefully, this technology can be perfected to become available as another tool in the battle to control weeds that have become resistant to current herbicides. This is another development in the area of Harvest Weed Seed Control (HWSC), a concept which has promising potential in the battle to control HR weeds.
Another development in the HWSC arena is the Seed Control Unit (SCU) from Redekop. The functioning of this apparatus can be seen in a video here. Additional details about how this unit works can be accessed here. Testing of the apparatus by Drs. Jason Norsworthy and Tom Barber at the Univ. of Arkansas is covered in a Farm Journal AgWeb article titled “Hammer Time: Combine Seed Mills Help Smash Herbicide Resistance” by Chris Bennett. Their preliminary results are very promising.
The above narrative in no way intends to endorse any of the mentioned technologies. Rather, it is an attempt to provide producers with insight into how these new developments might be used to improve production agriculture and/or production efficiency. Also, some or all of the above-cited developments may not accomplish their intended purpose when used in an actual production environment, and thus will not be adopted. However, all of them show that there is an ongoing effort by both the public and private sectors to continue to explore, research, and develop new technologies that can potentially be used to thwart the myriad problems that face producers, or improve the efficiency of their crop production enterprise. At the very least, progress with the above and other forthcoming developments should be followed by producers so that those that are truly worthwhile can be adopted on a wide scale in the Midsouth.
Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, May 2022, firstname.lastname@example.org