Let’s go back 20 years. Crop protection was simple – or maybe not.
To be fully equipped, all you needed was a pen, a clipboard, a magnifying glass, comfortable boots and two or three reference books. There were no smartphones, not much information on the web, rarely cell phones and no text messages for quick answers. Good old-school crop protection was based on experience gained in the field. If you had two or three good contacts for specific problems, everything was fine!
Today, it is still a challenge to take the first steps in crop protection. Experience is always difficult to replace, but with the tools available in 2022 there is no reason not to jump in. Looking back to what the conditions were for beginners, honestly there are multiple reasons to be jealous of the number of tools or information easily available nowadays. Let’s take a look at the ones that should be in the top list for a grower or an agronomist interested in being more efficient in a crop protection program.
What is the first topic in discussion with a farmer? Weather of course! Weather forecasts, amount of rainfall, maximum heat are examples of data useful for growing. Twenty years ago, finding data about weather was not an easy task. Today, there are multiple sources and one of those, Agweather in Québec, gives free access to it. This website contains information of weather stations covering the agricultural zones of Québec. It is possible to consult each station in almost real time.
Agweather contains three principal sections. First, weather forecast (both, general and agricultural forecast) is available and can be easily consulted. Then, you can extract information from any of the weather stations as max-min rainfall, humidity, degree-days, evapotranspiration rates and more. Finally, by consulting the climatic atlas which contains the recent climate average, it is possible to compare a year’s data with the average.This website is useful to plan crop protection and to go back to the growing season and explain results.
The constant evolution of the internet network and mobile brings us far away from our old reference books to identify an insect, or a weed. Iriis phytoprotection web site is an easy tool to help identify insects, diseases and weeds. It can be easily consulted on smartphones and used directly in the field. The search can be done by crops, by pest or by symptoms. Never again do you need to carry books or paper to help identification.
Irris gives access to high-definition pictures that can be enlarged to a high resolution to facilitate identification. A description of the pest and its life cycle is available too. The damages, symptoms and references are listed for anyone who would like to go farther.
SAgE pesticides allow growers and agronomists to perform easy searches about pesticides. Usually, the first step is finding a treatment for a specific pest in a specific crop. Performing that search gives you a complete list of up-to-date registered treatments for the criteria selected. Then it is possible to have more detail on the treatment as: rate, pre-harvest intervals and re-entry, personal protective equipment, what conditions are necessary to get good results…and precautions.
Health and environmental risks are an important part of SAgE. Québec’s strategy on pesticide reduction is based on those risks. So, growers can choose a treatment with a lower-risk index and, doing so, have a better environment profile. A tool gives access to easily calculate the risks index without doing a complete treatment search.
In regards to long-term efficiency of pesticides, information on pest’s chemical-resistance profile and the risks associated are listed for each product. In search results, it is easy to plan rotation of pesticides’ mode of action to prevent resistance. Of course, users can easily consult and download the pesticide’s label giving SAgE a complete solution about crop protection.
The web contains a lot of data but finding what we are looking for is not always easy. Agri-réseau offers to growers and agronomists a specific source of information about agriculture. Everything is sorted by topics and allows for easier searching. An interesting aspect of Agri-réseau is the possibility for anybody to suggest a document, a video or a presentation to add to the bank of data. A webmaster ensures the appropriateness of a proposed document before posting it.
A specific site in Agri-réseau is dedicated to crop protection. It is possible to find accurate and recent information about crop protection. Presenting the newest results about trials and research is one of the most important aspects of the website. To be continuously up-to-date about all the work in crop protection in Québec, Agri-réseau is a no-brainer for winter reading!
So, today we are more equipped than ever about crop protection but growers are still nervous to jump to a consultant. Experience in crop protection is obtained by going in the field, observing and testing. This was true 20 years ago and it is still true today, but access to information is no more an issue. Thanks to technology, we have a better chance to execute good crop protection programs.