New Norway (Rural Roots Canada) – A farmer from central Alberta says a strong crop rotation can help cut down insect and disease pressures in your crop.

Brett Jans farms with his family in New Norway

He says he convinced everyone to move from a three-year crop rotation to a four year upon returning from a post-secondary school.

“The first four-year cycle, a few things started, a few benefits started to show up we really noticed that in general our protein and our wheat was always quite good. Being that it’s on pea or Faba beans stubble, and we really like what the root structure of the Faba beans do for the soil,” said Jans.

The issue also really helped with the moisture situation.

“Seems like they’re really doing a lot of benefit for the soil in a wet year. In a dry year, there might be some questions about do we actually have a little bit less moisture in the soil after Faba beans compared to peas and then in our malt barley since we started growing malt barley on canola stubble versus malt barley on wheat stubble.”

It’s really helped clean up a lot of issues they had before the four-year rotation.

“The amount of volunteer wheat in there was pretty much nonexistent; with the malt barley, they actually ended up with a lot cleaner sample, not quite a bit more pure, malt barley sample.”

They are now into their eighth year of the four-year rotation; flea beetles are not an issue. The same can be said about Blackleg in canola.

Early leaf disease in cereals is also pretty much non-existent.

READ MORE: Building a weed control strategy for your crop that goes beyond herbicide application

Having an “Active” Tool in the Toolbox Helpful

Jans says one tool that has helped their herbicide management program as they expanded out into the four crop rotation, which included pulses, is Corteva’s Arylex.

“As most people that grow pulses know, it’s generally quite difficult to keep a noncompetitive crop like pulses clean and so utilizing active ingredients that are very effective in your cereal crops is quite crucial to maintaining your weed control so that you can grow a pulse crop that’s not overrun with weeds.”

He says before Arylex, they had relied on other active ingredients, and it worked great on things like Hemp Nettle until they ran into group two resistant Hemp Nettle.

In Jans’ experience, Hemp Nettle can be difficult to manage, and it’s important to find a mix that is not only going to deal with that noxious weed but several others without making multiple passes.

Jans says they were constantly looking at all sorts of combinations, and then Arylex came on to the market in the form of Pixxaro.

“Cleavers, Hemp Nettle, Chickweed like all these weeds that were just starting to accumulate in our fields and the fact that it was so easy to switch to a product like that was that there’s no recropping restriction for our growing area near New Norway.”

He says farmers in other areas should look at their recropping restrictions to help them make decisions with their herbicide management program.

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Backed Into a Corner

Before Arylex, Jans says they and other farmers they know were in a tough spot, having used several different products and were forced to do multiple passes to get all the weeds present, which increases the cost per acre and the amount of time spent on the crop.

“On a time basis, it would be more about the fact that you might have saved an extra pass, and that’s significant time and cost.”

“Otherwise, you’re going to have to go in there with a different active ingredient, or you had to change your crop rotation for the next year in a time management schedule.”

For example:

“We were having to try to start to look at going with separate applications of active ingredients that haven’t been used in a while, like Sencor, which is fantastic on Hemp Nettle, but you can’t tank mix it with anything in cereal crops.”

Jans says it is a time-saver in the current growing season and future years, as it increases the opportunities a farmer has with their rotation, inputs, and crop protection.

He says using Arylex fixed that problem and allowed them to go from ‘backed into a corner’ to dealing with the different weed populations, which had become a problem.

Keeping It Simple

Jans, who is also an agronomist, gets excited when he talks about how Arylex simplifies the application process.

“It was so neat to see a product that we would try to put to the test and figure out where the loopholes are, and it was it’s impressive how phenomenal those that active is on annual weeds that are hard to control with a lot of different active ingredients.

He says other active products control the weeds, but there are recropping issues, or tank mix compatibility issues, or environmental condition issues.

He has also found that Arylex has a flexible application window; it doesn’t need to be a picture-perfect sunny day to go out and spray.