“It’s exciting to be on the ground floor working with Trace,” says Michael Dunn, a Precision Agronomist at Anez Consulting, LLC. Michael started his career in horticulture in Northern California before moving to Minnesota to work with broad acre crops, where he has worked out of Anez Consulting’s head branch in Little Falls for the last 10 years. Anez Consulting’s team of agronomists covers 20 counties between central Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.
“SDS is not a very common disease for our region, but in recent years we’ve seen it more and more,” says Michael. When his Trace results came back, every zone in one of the fields he manages was above Trace Genomics’ SDS threshold. Knowing the risk for soybeans is high, he plans to work with his grower to identify the best path forward and compare the expenses of managing soybeans with SDS to those of planting corn or small grains. “Once we start adding everything up, I think it’ll be an easy decision; even after the additional expenses of treatments, nothing will be 100% effective against SDS.”
Through Trace Genomics’ soil analysis, agronomists and growers can confirm if, and at what level, a disease is present and spatially delineate the distribution throughout a field. With the ability to quantify pathogen levels through Trace’ testing, agronomists can assist growers to select a different crop rotation, fungicide application, seeding population rate or seed treatment application to help combat yield robbing pathogens. In fields like Michael’s, where all zones indicated high levels of SDS, a different crop can be planted. “It’s really important to know that the disease is there, because certain seed treatments are very expensive.”
“Proactively identifying and quantifying pathogens is a leg of the disease triangle we have never had before.”
Last year, this field had patches of SDS, and the grower experienced 40% yield loss where the disease was most severe. “We knew we had the disease out there, but in 2018 it seemed to be restricted to certain zones. Trace’s test showed us that SDS isn’t just everywhere, but that it is at extremely high concentrations in all zones. My concern with adhering to the grower’s normal rotation in 2020, even with seed treatments and resistant varieties, is that we may still suffer significant losses if we have weather that is conducive to disease development. Coupled with the increased costs of production, it may be difficult to justify planting soybeans on this field,” Michael explained.
Now with Trace Genomics’ data, Michael can make site specific recommendations that help prevent yield loss. He says that “proactively identifying and quantifying pathogens is a leg of the disease triangle we have never had before.”
Trace Genomics is also providing Michael and the agronomists at Anez Consulting with other key findings. A result for one field showed Anthracnose in soybeans, which indicates that next year Michael and his grower will likely have to consider a late season fungicide application. Another result showed extremely poor Soil Health Indicator levels on two flood prone zones. “Historically, we’ve only had respiration tests, but those don’t go in depth on the population of microbes and their functions in nutrient cycling.”
Michael is excited to continue working with Trace Genomics to profile soil and sees Trace as a particularly good fit for growers with new ground. “Where the farmer doesn’t have that history, he can utilize the results to understand his risks and not be surprised on what he’s getting into.”
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