In addition to offering the latest cotton market, production, and policy updates, the Beltwide Cotton Conferences also provide a showcase for new products and services. At this year’s event at New Orleans, attendees got the latest information on new cotton varieties (to be covered in a later issue), new chemistries, equipment innovations, and new smart phone apps for cotton management.
Todd Carpenter, Verdesian Life Sciences, Weatherford, Texas, discussed Take Off Technology, a new product designed to protect farmers’ fertilizer investments by boosting crop growth and increasing yield.
Testing in 2015 was hampered by weather, which destroyed test sites in Texas and Tennessee. “Location had a significant impact on results,” he says. But, research did show numerical advantages from Take Off, with lint yield improvement. Results were not considered statistically significant from the check; however, Carpenter says the increases would have been enough to improve farmer profitability. Key advantages include faster emergence, increased early growth, and more biomass.
“Further work needs to be done to insure the best use recommendations for growers,” he says.
For the latest on southwest agriculture, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.
Brake herbicide, from SePRO, offers cotton farmers a new mode of action to control herbicide-resistant pigweed. “Researchers looked at this herbicide — fluridone — for cotton back in the 1970s and 1980, but it wasn’t registered. It was used for aquatic weed control,” says Kyle Briscoe, SeePRO, Whitakers, N.C.
The herbicide is getting a new look as glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth creates new challenges for cotton weed control. Briscoe says Brake is a “bleaching” herbicide, and notes “Cotton is very tolerant.”
Brake is labeled for preplant and preemergent application and features two modes of action. “It offers a broad spectrum of weed control, including excellent control of Palmer amaranth,” he says. “It shows excellent residual control under wet conditions, and is easy to place into an integrated weed management program.”
Another innovation that could find more widespread use because of herbicide resistance is an improved three-point, broadcast hooded sprayer from Willmar Fabrication, Willmar, Minn.
The 642E over-centerfold hooded sprayer is a “new, simple design that limits spray drift around sensitive crops and vulnerable areas,” says Willmar spokesman Steve Claussen, who notes that the new design may be an important tool when new dicamba and 2,4-D formulations are available to the cotton industry. “It is an ideal tool to use near borders and buffer zones.”
He says the unit is durable and provides more consistent coverage. A triple-rinse tank that mounts on the sprayer features a separate pump, with improved cleanout of the system when changing chemistry or moving to new fields.
“We still recommend pressure washing under the hood,” Claussen says. The $3,000 annual operating cost for the 642E will pay for itself through improved efficiency and durability, he says.
Farmers across the cotton belt are rapidly adopting smart phone technology to utilize information on-the-go for improved decision-making. George Vellidis, University of Georgia, Tifton, says a smart phone app being tested in Georgia and Florida will help cotton farmers schedule irrigation applications.
“It’s easy to use,” he says, “and the app sends information to the producer when he needs to take action. Otherwise, it runs in the background.”
To determine irrigation needs, he says, producers need good weather data, including evapotranspiration rates, and a good crop coefficient. “We use a crop coefficient instead of days after planting because relying on days after planting doesn’t consider crop conditions.”
The app would use data from the nearest weather station. Growers would need to add crop and field information, including limited soil types (ranging from sand to clay). Other variables include irrigation system type and efficiency.
“The app shows moisture deficiency percentage,” Vellidis says. “When it shows 50 percent deficient, it’s time to start thinking about irrigating.’
He credits Cotton Incorporated for funding, and expects to see the app made available across the Cotton Belt soon. Alabama will be the next addition.
Arkansas Extension Specialist Bill Robertson is using a smart phone app to determine cotton cutout and establish termination guidelines. “We want to establish the effective boll population that will make money,” he says.
The app uses nodes above white flower (NAWF) and the necessary heat units to determine appropriate termination date. Other termination factors in the app include potential damage from specific insect pests. “The app relies on user-defined thresholds,” he says, “to determine a time to terminate the crop”
The app would include a nearby weather station, with the recommendation that users add two other nearby stations to improve accuracy.
The first app was designed for an android smart phone, Robertson says. “We will write it into an Apple app for 2016,” he says. “We think we will see widespread use. We want to stop spending money on the cotton crop when there is no chance of a significant yield increase.”