When developing your crop rotation strategy, keep in mind that certain pulse crops such as lentils cannot be planted the immediate year after some group-2 grass herbicides and certain broadleaf herbicides have been applied.
Rather than tackling agronomic challenges as they arise, you can benefit from mapping out a crop management strategy before the growing year begins. A crop management strategy should include your goals for the year, the crops you plan to grow and products you plan to use, challenges you anticipate (such as pest infestations and weather concerns), and the methods you plan to implement to run a profitable, productive and sustainable farm operation. Here are the top five reasons your strategic thinking will pay off.
BE CLEAR ON YOUR FARM GOALS (AND INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF ACHIEVING THEM)
What is your priority for the year: To get the best yield? To achieve a certain level of quality? To have a successful go at a new niche crop? Whatever it is, get specific about your goals. For example, if yield is your focus this year, what’s the magic number of bushels per acre you want to attain? Getting clearer on your goals and priorities will help you make decisions and plan ahead. What’s more, it’s been proven that identifying clear, realistic goals actually makes you more likely to achieve those goals. Take some time to write them out and you’ll improve your piece of mind, and possibly even your results.
STRENGTHEN YOUR DEFENSE AGAINST PESTS
You can’t always know what diseases or insects will hit your crop — but some advance planning can help you strengthen your defense. Consider things like expected weather patterns, insect and weed migration trends, and the pests that have damaged nearby fields in previous years. Identify what you think the top challenges will be facing your crop this year and map out your plan of attack before they start. This way, you can take the necessary precautions to prevent the pests, and you’ll be prepared to strike back if needed.
BUILD YOUR BEST TOOL KIT
Think about what you’ll need — seeds, seed treatment, herbicides, and pesticides. All of these things work together, so think of them as a complete tool kit. Don’t forget that knowledge is a key part of your tool kit, too. Are there any areas where it would help to know more? For example, if you want to improve your commodities marketing skills, perhaps you’ll want to take a marketing course earlier in the year, rather than waiting until harvest. Doing this preparation in advance will help you feel more confident as you go into the growing season and make sure you’re on track to get good results from your efforts.
MINIMIZE THE RISK OF HERBICIDE RESISTANCE
A good crop management strategy should consider not just what you’re planting this year, but what you expect to plant in the next two or even three years. Planning your crop rotation, and which types of herbicides will be used, will help you avoid over-using herbicides with the same mode of action. This is key in reducing the risk of resistance in both the long and short term. To ensure you’re doing this effectively, do some research on the different types of herbicides and resistance issues so that you’re on top of the latest information.
IMPLEMENT SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES — SUCCESSFULLY
Good agronomic practices are the foundation of sustainable farming. Whether it’s carefully planning your crop rotation, observing application parameters, or choosing alternatives to tilling, your choices will have a lasting impact. For the best long-term results, think comprehensively. For example, when developing your crop rotation strategy, keep in mind that certain pulse crops such as lentils cannot be planted the immediate year after some group-2 grass herbicides and certain broadleaf herbicides have been applied. Think through your plans for crop selection, planting, in-crop maintenance and harvest, and how all your actions will work together to complement each other not just this year, but in future years. At Syngenta, we call this the “Total Approach.” Taking a considered, comprehensive approach will allow you to avoid issues such as herbicide resistance, and more importantly, will help you maintain a sustainable, productive farm while protecting the primary resource — the land.
Richard Marsh is a technical field manager with Syngenta Crop Protection.