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Disease-free boots and a testing tool

Spotted in the field: homemade ideas that don't cost a lot, but work

They are two separate topics completely, but here are a couple of good ideas that western Canadian field specialists came up with for sanitizing rubber boots to reduce the risk of spreading clubroot (or any soil borne disease), and a handy homemade sample collection tool for measuring spray volumes when calibrating a field sprayer.

Boot sanitizer

If you’re a crop consultant, crop protection sales representative or a farmer checking different fields and want to be sure you’re not picking up and spreading clubroot disease spores between fields, Keith Gabert, Canola Council of Canada agronomist in central Alberta came up with a simple tub and bleach system to sterilize his workboots.

Gabert cut holes in the lid of a smaller rubber tub (bright blue in photo) so the top fits over his standing rubber boots and holds them upright once they are inside the tub. In that tub he mixes a solution of one gallon (3.6 litres) of regular household bleach with an equal (or slightly more) amount of water. That solution is effective in killing the clubroot pathogen.

Gabert places the smaller (bright blue) tub, with boots inside the taller (grey) rubber tub just to keep the water/bleach solution from slopping into the box of his pickup truck. He says if he can find a taller second tub he could even put a lid on it to keep rain from going inside his boots.

“Research has shown that simple water and bleach solution, roughly one-to-one is effective in controlling the clubroot pathogen,” he says. “It probably isn’t something most farmers need to do, but at the same time they need to assess their risk. If they have been walking in new fields they’ve just rented, for example, and they aren’t sure about the disease, it is a good way to make sure they aren’t spreading a pathogen any further.”

Gabert says through his work, he may travel to a dozen fields in five different counties in a day. He doesn’t drive in the fields, but depending on the situation he either wears plastic or paper booties on his boots, or just the rubber boots. He knocks any mud or dirt off his boots in the field and then stands the boots inside the water/bleach solution before travelling to the next field.

He urges producers to pay attention to proper sanitation procedures not just with boots but with all vehicles and field equipment. “Again it is always important for producers to first assess their risk,” he says. It isn’t practical for a producer to completely wash an airseeding system and tractor with water and bleach between fields, but they should do their best. Clean any big clumps of mud and dirt with roots off equipment and tires as best as possible before moving from one field to another.

Citing a general philosophy, “As someone once told me it is okay not to do everything, but it’s not okay to do nothing,” says Gabert. “So do your best to keep equipment, tires and boots clean before moving to another field. Again if you are farming new fields you’re not sure about, perhaps plan to seed them last and then clean everything thoroughly.”

Aside from the boot sanitizer, there is plenty of good information on proper sanitation procedures on the canola council website at: www.canolacouncil.org.

Handy collection pan

Over at the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) in Humboldt, Sask., project manager Nathan Gregg is credited with the great idea of making a collection pan with all necessary components available from a dollar store.

The tool is basically a plastic tub attached to a mop handle providing about four feet of reach if you’re trying to collect the output from a sprayer nozzle or even give yourself a bit of distance if collecting a chaff sample from the back of a combine — a handy little tool anytime you have to reach somewhere to collect a sample of anything.

The main components were a 12″ x 14″ plastic washtub and an inexpensive mop with a foam head. Discard the foam part, measure and make a couple holes in one end of the washtub and bolt the mop handle to the tub. You’re now ready to go collecting.

Need to collect chemical from a sprayer nozzle, or chaff from a combine? Copy this homemade collection pan created by PAMI project manager Nathan Gregg.
photo: Lee Hart

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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