Trigo

Technology advances on wheat production
Source: Aacrea

The control over environmental changes is essential to achieve an efficient nitrogen applications. There is news on weed and illnesses, and on the possibilities that biotechnology will bring for wheat in the years to come. Key data needed for the developing of a campaign that requires specific technology for valuable wheat.

According to Dr. Jorge González Montaner, coordinator of the Agriculture Commission of the Sea and Hills zone of AACREA, "The expected monetary margins for wheat production has been dropping steadily the last few years. On the southern Buenos Aires principal wheat production zone, the price dropped from $400 pesos per hectare reached during 1994/95 y 1995/96, to $200 this season.

This evolution is associated to prices, which went from U$S200 Dollars per ton during the mid 90’s to U$S100 Dollars during the year 2000.

How can production be accomplished with these expected margins? According to González Montaner, a necessary attribute is the scale, which makes it possible to bring down the fixed cost by working an area of soil of important size without compromising the efficiency of the original plan.

Another important tool is a balanced use of technology, which brings down the cost by the quintal, by increasing the results and it does this keeping the package that is going to use within the campaign’s financial reality.

Fertilization

The two most important nutrients for wheat are phosphor and nitrogen. With respect to the first one, González Montaner recommended at least enough to make up for what is lost during cultivation, about 0,36kg per quintal.
This is the equivalent to 72-75kg of phosphor per hectare, which is enough for 40 quintals.

González Montaner proposed to pay much attention to the level of precision of the sample for the analysis of phosphor on soils that are use for direct sowing. "We have to walk the field, because normally phosphor is left behind from the last cultivations."

With relationship to the fertilization with nitrogen, Dr. González Montaner said that it generates increments on wheat’s efficiency up to a determined level of production, after which every application turns into a money-eating machine.

González Montaner also considered another factor that establishes the answer to nitrogen fertilization in the province of Buenos Aires: gravel’s deepness.

"Experience shows that soil in which gravel lies 40cm deep and it has about 50kg of nitrogen per hectare, it would make good economical sense to use about 130kg of urea fertilizer per hectare only during very humid years" Dr. González Montaner explained.

"On the other hand, during mild humidity, the use of nitrogen should be around 110kg per hectare and during dry years the best thing to do is to keep your money in your pocket" He went on to explain. The simulation models like the STRIN allow for an evaluation of different weather conditions scenarios and possible correlated prices.

"This shows that a great interaction exists between nitrogen’s efficiency and gravel deepness, although sadly this profundity fluctuates a lot at times.

In any case, it is very imperative to keep these variables on mind because the economical margins of cultivation are not wide enough to waste fertilizer where the returns from it mat not be worthy" said the technician.

It is also important to consider that nitrogen’s availability in the soil will vary as well.
"This means that having 80Kg of nitrogen per hectare does not necessarily guaranties that it will shown evenly over the field. This has to be kept in mind because then the amounts of nitrogen on the ground will vary," he explained.

González Montaner said about the different ways of applying nitrogen: "in humid environments there are no effects by using nitrogen, but in dryer environments the usage of fertilizers such as NAM, UAM or UREA, make a big difference.

Herbicides

During the last few years, there has been a tendency to apply pesticides to wheat ahead of time. Because of such a reason, there has been some experimenting comparing the pesticides MISIL and PEAK PACK during pre-emergency applications.

"We found that MISIL applications in pre-emergency had higher levels of toxicity than on PEAK PACK. What is surprising is that this effect was associated to micro-depressions of the ground: heavily affected plants were located where the ground was irregular"

"For now we don’t know why this happens, we think that the plant does not purifies the herbicide well enough when is suffering a condition of water excess. The truth is that the METSULFURON is offensive in the soil.

For this reason, on pre-emergency treatments it is convenient to use products similar to the PEAK PACK, while the MISIL would be recommended to use during the earlier stages of cultivation.

Illnesses

The "Yellow Spot" is an illness of growing diffusion in wheat areas. "When a 10%-15% of the plants are affected, we have to make the decision of applying fungicide or not. However, if the decision of not applying fungicide is made because of a heat stroke is approaching, for example, we cannot change our minds a week later and start fumigation because it is too late".

"For this reason it is very important to make the decision to pulverize early on. Like when the illness starts to develop on the third leaf, taking as leaf number one, the "flag leaf", because during this stage is when the fungicide performs best", he said.

On another order, we have to keep in mind that wheat’s protection against FUSARIUM is practically obligatory because there is great risk that the buyer will not accept the grain because he/she detects the fungus. On wheat for bread, making the treatment is more complicated, and to make the best decision there are tools we can use to follow the relative humidity conditions and temperatures.

Montaner also projected that in the future, transgenic wheat with anti-fungus proteins and resistance to IMIDAZOLINONAS or GLIFOSATO, will be introduce in the market. What kind of impact will this have on the market? "All this surely will generate a greater volume of production; thus, the new technological incorporations will lessen the cost of production but they could also lessen the price on cereals due to the augmentation of availability".

"However, we also have to think that the introduction of better wheat for particular use of the industries –like grains with greater gluten force- will generate a positive impact on the margins of cultivation, because we are going to be dealing with grains of superior quality" he concluded.

 

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