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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Dakota > County Agriculture Educator > Articles > 2015 field day gives inside scoop on local Extension research

2015 field day gives inside scoop on local Extension research

Photos of speakers at field day

Farmington, MN (August 28, 2015)
Neith Little

We had a great field day at the Rosemount Research and Outreach Center this week. The weather was perfect: sunny and breezy with temperatures in the 60s. The over forty guests who attended included local farmers, ag consultants, ag industry representatives, U of MN students, and government agency staff from as close by as the Dakota County SWCD and as far away as the Morocco Department of Agriculture. These guests got a guided tour of four of the many research projects going on at the Research Center. 

Making plants sick to learn how to keep them healthy. Dr. Dean Malvick, Extension plant pathologist, showed us his disease management plots, where he and his team have spent the summer carefully cultivating some very scruffy looking crops. He’s inoculated corn with Goss’s Wilt and kept soybeans damp to induce Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS). Both diseases are relatively new in Minnesota, so what he’s learning from these variety and seed treatment trials will help Minnesota farmers manage these two diseases of emerging concern. To learn more about crop disease management, check out Extension’s crop disease web-resources here.

Spying on soybean aphids. Scouting for pests before making insecticide use decisions is important because spraying will only be worth the cost if pests are present in great enough numbers. But scouting large fields can be time-consuming. That’s why Dr. Robert Koch and colleagues are developing remote sensing technology to give early warning of soybean aphid infestations. At the field day, Dr. Koch and UND grad student Tim Baker showed us the aphid-infested soybean plants they are using to measure how different levels of infestation can change how the sun's light energy is reflected off of the plants’ leaves (measured using visible and infrared energy). Someday soon, you may be able to narrow down your scouting efforts to trouble-spots of stressed plants by sending an autonomous flying camera out to take a first look for you. To learn more about soybean pest management, check out Extension’s soybean insects and mites web-resources here.

Helping cover crops and forages get a leg up on winter. We know all too well how cold Minnesota gets in the winter. Our famed winter deep freeze has made it difficult to integrate cover crops into the grain corn rotation, because there is rarely enough time to get a cover crop established between corn harvest and first frost. But the benefits of cover crops – reducing erosion, building soil organic matter, and scavenging or fixing nitrogen – are attractive enough that Dr. Scott Wells, Extension agronomist, and his Ph.D. student Reagan Noland, are testing equipment and varieties that could squeeze a cover crop in underneath the canopy of growing corn, giving the cover crop an extra lap in the race against winter. At the field day, Mr. Noland showed us an interseeder developed by Pennsylvania State that they’re using to seed several varieties of cover crops into corn at the V8 stage. A modified high-boy air-seeder was being used on other research farms as we spoke to seed cover crops into dent-stage corn. To see this research project for yourself, check out the cover crop learning tour coming up September 15th in Lakefield.

Minnesota’s famous winters can also do some serious damage to alfalfa fields. That’s why Mr. Noland's pet-project is a variety trial comparing emergency forages to be planted into winter-killed alfalfa. As if that’s not enough, he’s also working on remote sensing technology which might someday be used to estimate alfalfa harvest-readiness and quality. To learn more about the latest in forage management, check out Extension’s forage team’s web-resources here.

Little rootworms can cause big problems. Corn rootworms, as you might guess by their name, feed on corn roots, which can cause the corn to fall over during rain or windstorms (lodging), and can reduce the corn’s ability to take up water and nutrients. At the field day, Dr. Kenneth Ostlie, Extension entomologist, gave us a tour of the plots where he and his team are monitoring how quickly corn rootworms are developing resistance to our tools for controlling them. Field day attendees got to see examples of different types and life-stages of corn rootworm, and of the damage they can do to corn roots. Thank-fully, the risk of corn-rootworm damage varies from year to year and field to field. But for farms where corn rootworm is an issue, careful management is required to reduce selection for resistance. For more information on resistance management, see this Michigan State University info-sheet on corn hybrids with Bt traits.

Sponsors. This event was made possible by

Images credit: Jill Trescott, Dakota County, and Neith Little, Dakota County Extension

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