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Seven cool items for your scouting kit

At CanoLAB 3D, Jack Braun demonstrated some items that farmers 
will find handy in the field this summer

The Canola Council of Canada held one of its annual CanoLAB 3D workshops in Brandon, Man. on February 28. These workshops give farmers a chance to take a hands-on look at bugs, new seeding equipment, and canola diseases and deficiencies.

There were several speakers on hand. One was Jack Braun, an instructor at the Assiniboine Community College at Brandon. Braun gave a hands-on demonstration of some handy tools you might want to add to your summer field scouting kit.

1. Square measure

You can weld your own square measure. Braun recommends making one that measures one-tenth of a square metre. That way, you can count what you’re looking for and multiply it by 10 to get a simple “per square metre” count.

This tool could be especially useful for counting flea beetles.

2. Three-sided measure

Again, you can make one otf these at home. It has three sides so you can easily slide it into a plant stand.

This can be useful for counting diamondback moth larvae.

3. A bigger three-sided measure

Braun suggested making yourself a bigger one as well. Since a metre squared is such a large area to count, it would be helpful to make one that measures a quarter metre squared. Just count what you’re looking for in the area, and multiply by four.

This larger size could be useful for counting bertha army worms.

4. A counter

It could be really useful to have a clicker you can hold in one hand. That way you can count bugs or weeds with the click of a button, rather than trying to keep track of numbers in your head.

5. Soil sieve

These come in different screen sizes for different soil types. If you have sandy soil, you’ll need a smaller screen than someone with heavy clay.

Braun told farmers to remember that cutworms will go deeper if it’s dryer.

6. Aspirator

As aspirator is basically a vial with a straw. Use it to trap fast moving insects by holding one end of a tube or straw near the bug, then breathing in to suck the bug into the vial. Once you have the bug in the vial, you can take it home for full identification, or send it on to a lab for analysis.

You can buy an aspirator from a hobby or specialty store. Or, you can make your own. I found directions online at www.evergreen.ca (search for aspirator to get to the “suck-a-bug” page.) Just don’t forget the filter, unless you want a mouthful of bug.

7. Sweep net

A standard sweep net has a diameter of about 15 inches.

Braun recommended holding it like a hockey stick, as if you were about to take a power shot. Sweep the net in front of you, 180 degrees. Then step forward, and sweep the net 180 degrees back.

This can be useful for counting lygus bugs.

And some other things

The Canola Council of Canada has a long list of additional items to include in a complete scouting kit. Find the full article at www.canolawatch.ca (search for “field diagnostics checklist”).

  •  Magnifying glass
  •  Clippers
  •  Hand trowel
  •  Seed depth finder
  •  Containers (paper bags, plastic ziplock bags, and old pill containers)
  •  Sharpie markers (to label the containers)
  •  Flags (to mark problem areas of the field)
  •  Disposable booties (to prevent the spread of noxious weeds or diseases like clubroot from field to field)
  •  Spray bottle of sterilizer (to sterilize your boots or equipment between fields)
  •  Notebook and pen
  •  Smart phone or iPad (so you can take photos, use field scouting apps, or access agronomic information)

You may need a bigger truck.

Happy scouting. †

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