Research HighlightsMissouri Strip Trials Can Help Farmers Find Fungicide Effectiveness
By Carol Brown
Finding answers to whether something is better than something else, one needs to do some comparisons. From something simple as a taste test (remember New Coke vs. Classic Coke?) to more complicated issues such as whether a certain fungicide is more effective than another in a crop field.
Missouri farmers have ample chances to conduct side-by-side comparisons through the University of Missouri Certified Strip Trial Program. With funding support from the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, strip trials can be done for nutrient management, cover crops, seed treatments for soybean cyst nematodes, and fungicides.
University of Missouri Extension Specialists Drs. Kaitlyn Bissonnette and John Lory co-direct the strip trial program.
“Dr. Lory handles the overall management of the projects, also focusing on nutrient management and cover crops. I worked on the crop protection trials. In the coming season, Dr. Mandy Bish will be replacing me, overseeing the crop protection strip trials,” Bissonnette says. “We have a good set of farmers who participate every year. Some do multiple trials on their farms. They may be testing different cover crops and they may also be exploring fungicides, but the trials are done in different fields.”
Bissonnette has been overseeing the fungicide and disease management strip trial since it began four years ago. The goals are to find how well certain fungicides control disease and how the fungicides effect soybean yield. Because these are farmer-driven trials, Bissonnette says, growers can choose the fungicide they want to have in their comparison and sometimes they ask for suggestions on a different fungicide to try.
“For the first two years of this trial, we looked at fungicide efficacy at individual locations,” she explains. “After the third year of data collection, we began to look at the impact across the state of the different modes of action on disease control as well as yield impacts.”
She has collected 44 site years of data and will add more with this upcoming crop season.
The hope, after all the data analyzation, is to find recommendations for farmers on which fungicides work better in their region of the state. As more growers participate and more locations are added to the dataset, Bissonnette says they will be able to get better resolution of the data.
“We are recruiting new farmers who are interested in these side-by-side comparisons,” she says. “We can work with all types of growers and equipment. They just need to contact their regional Extension specialist and we can get a trial going.”
Farmers can learn more about these agronomic issues and the strip trials by attending a Scouting School, led by Bissonnette and Lory. The schools are half-day sessions usually held at four or five different locations in the state in late July or early August. The sites are different each year and are often in conjunction with the growers who are participating in a strip trial.
“I think it is important that we are in contact with the growers beyond our research farms. We are bringing the Scouting Schools to the growers and getting them into the field,” Bissonnette says. “I like to show them what’s happening in that field. It could be a combination of disease management strategies, emerging disease issues and other topics of interest.”
The Scouting Schools have been taking place each summer since 2018 and have covered topics including weeds, nutrient management, insects and integrated pest management, along with the technologies associated with the strip trial program. The schools are free and hosted by Missouri Extension. Attendance is open to anyone, and farmers, Extension specialists, ag retailers and service providers are encouraged to participate.
This project was funded by the soybean checkoff. To find research related to this research highlight or to see other checkoff research projects, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.