Aphanomyces root rot (ARR) is a soil-borne disease that’s wreaking havoc in legume and pea fields across the Canadian prairies, primarily in the dark brown and brown soil regions. 

First identified in Saskatchewan in 2012 and Alberta in 2013, ARR is easy to spot in fields by  the pattern of symptomatic plants that correspond to areas with poor soil drainage resulting from soils with a high clay content, excessive irrigation, and primarily, high compaction.

Aphanomyces is becoming more prevalent, particularly in wet growing seasons, and farmers and agrologists alike have been trying to address the issue through additional (and cost-intensive) chemical applications, seed treatment and testing or lengthy crop rotation periods (with intervals of up to 8 years suggested between legume crops). 

However, it is becoming increasingly clear that decreasing compaction, and therefore improving soil drainage, can make massive strides in combating, and even eliminating, ARR from reducing lentil and pea yields. 

According to a joint study from the University of Alberta, and Agri-Food Canada, soil compaction can exacerbate the development of ARR, causing pea yield losses of up to 60%. The study also noted that excessive compaction related to tillage and traffic management could impair internal drainage and reduce the effectiveness in controlling the disease.

 

Eliminating Root Rot with Path Planning

Driving down any road in the major pulse crop regions in Western Canada, you’ll see the tell-tale signs of Aphanomyces impacting lentil and pea fields, often in a “stripe” pattern following the equipment traffic patterns. Repeated travel by equipment following the same path, hardening the soil and clay, and thereby reducing drainage and oxygen capacity, allows ARR to set in much easier and faster.

At Verge, we offer a solution in the fight against Aphanomyces that is an alternative or supplement to costly chemical applications or nearly decade-long crop rotations. By utilizing our First Pass and Launch Pad tools, you have the ability to adjust your in-field travel routes year by year, while still maintaining maximum efficiency. By using Verge’s technology, you have the ability to precisely change where your machinery is moving, significantly reducing the number of times your tires would be rolling on your soil in the same pattern. 

 

The Verge Advantage 

Coutts Agro is winning the war against ARR using Verge tools for more than 3 years. Aphanomyces has become a significant issue in West Central Saskatchewan where their operation is farming 35,000 acres of lentils each year. The heavy soil and clay deposits throughout the region are prime for root rot, however the Coutts Agro fields have little to no impact by ARR, even in instances where they sit adjacent to other crops that have heavy Aphanomyces damage. 

The picture below shows a lentil field showing major signs of ARR in repeated traffic patterns resulting from a lack of year over year management of equipment traffic.

Below is an image of one of a Coutts Agro lentil field in the same region of West Central Saskatchewan, without any signs of ARR. 

The yield impacts in affected fields are being significantly increased, and while so many in the industry are focused on expensive chemical-based solutions for root rot (that is only showing marginal returns), path planning with First Pass and Launch Pad offers real remediation that is not only a long term solution, but also offers so many additional benefits to farm operations through reduced fixed costs, increased profitability and increased equipment productivity. 

Before you make your next order for expensive inoculants to combat Aphanomyces, consider the benefits of using First Pass and Launch Pad to manage your equipment paths. They offer a viable sustainable solution with superior results that will make long term impacts to your soil and ultimately your farm’s bottom line.