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Posted 27 March 2012. PMN Crop News.

Poncho/VOTiVO Yields Benefits for No-Till Farmers with Nematode Infestations

Bayer cropscience’s Poncho/Votivo seed treatment protects roots from nematode damage

Source: Bayer CropScience Press Release.

Raleigh, North Carolina (March 2, 2012)--Rex Mellencamp began farming corn and soybeans 34 years ago on his 500-acre farm in Southern Indiana. For the last eight years, Mellencamp has practiced no-till farming, primarily because of the vastly different types of soil found on his land. And, unfortunately in recent years, Mellencamp has had to learn about the importance of nematode control the hard way.


“I’ve got high sand all the way to heavy bottom soil,” said Mellencamp. “I have yet to find anything tillage wise that will do what I need it to do, and no-till farming saves time, fuel and labor, as well as prevents erosion.”

However, the combination of irrigation and no-till farming presented another challenge for Mellencamp – nematodes. Nematodes are known to contribute to yield losses, and according to Jamal Faghihi, a Purdue University Nematologist, the annual loss estimate in Indiana from Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) in soybeans is $50 million.

As Mellencamp started noticing a decrease in yields, he looked at a variety of potential causes, including nutrient deficiencies and chemical damage, and even changed the way he applied fertilizer. He met with an agronomist, who had just moved into the area and evaluated Mellencamp’s soil for nematodes. The agronomist discovered that Mellencamp’s soil was highly infested with root-knot nematodes, which cause approximately 5 percent of global crop loss and can cause problems in a wide range of hosts, including corn, soybeans and melons.

“The reason our yields were decreasing was the combination of irrigation and no-till farming that was actually causing the nematodes to thrive,” said Mellencamp.

With conventional farming, growers work the ground turning up the soil which is detrimental to nematodes’ lives because of exposure to the drier and warmer conditions of turned-over soil.

Within four years of when Mellencamp began practicing no-till farming, the nematode population increased tremendously in his field. His yields dropped from 200 bushels per acre to 115-to-120 bushels per acre.

Mellencamp started using a granular insecticide to combat the nematode problem. “There are a lot of EPA restrictions and guidelines to keep in mind while using a granular insecticide – it’s really a nightmare. Not to mention, the calibration and the mess associated with the granular insecticide presented problems. But, I was always looking for something new to help me control the nematodes from attacking my crops.”

Nearly four years ago, Mellencamp was approached to use a portion of his land for a test plot comparing corn seed treated with Poncho®/VOTiVO® to non-treated corn seed.

Poncho/VOTiVO is a seed treatment that combines the most trusted seed-applied insecticide in corn with the most revolutionary, complete nematode protection on the seed. The result is a powerful seed treatment for corn, cotton and soybeans that protects early-season seedlings and roots from numerous insect and nematode pests, both above and below ground. It contains a unique strain of bacteria that, upon seed germination, begins to grow and multiply. The bacteria continue to increase with the developing plant, blocking nematodes from reaching the root surface, thereby protecting the plant’s roots from damage. The insecticide component of Poncho/VOTiVO also provides fast-acting, long-lasting insect control.

“From the row you could see where the Poncho/VOTiVO seeds were planted compared to the non-Poncho/VOTiVO,” Mellencamp said. “We were experiencing significant increases in the test plot – anywhere from 25-to-30 bushels per acre. And, last year we tested Poncho/VOTiVO on soybeans and saw increases of approximately 10-to-12 bushels per acre. But, specifically with the soybeans, the visual aspect of the health and vigor of the treated plants was enough to make you want to try Poncho/VOTiVO.”

Mellencamp saw many benefits to using Poncho/VOTiVO, including its ease of use, as opposed to the previous insecticide that he used – which required a granular attachment to the planter, calibration and safety guidelines in handling and tracking the granular insecticide. He found that with Poncho/VOTiVO, because the treatment was already on the seed, protecting from nematodes became much easier.

“With Poncho/VOTiVO, you know your plants are protected, and you aren’t sitting there trying to read up on new literature or new ways of doing things because you know Poncho/VOTiVO is doing what is supposed to do – protecting your plants from insects and nematodes,” Mellencamp said. “What also amazes me is that Poncho/VOTiVO hangs in there so well and provides protection throughout the whole season.”

After three years of using Poncho/VOTiVO, Mellencamp’s corn yield is back to the 200 bushels per acre range he experienced before the nematode infestation problem. This is a 30 bushels per acre yield increase more than when he was only using insecticide to manage nematodes.

“If I had gone straight to using Poncho/VOTiVO from the time my nematode problem was diagnosed, I guarantee it would have increased my yields by 60 to 70 bushels per acre,” said Mellencamp. “Where a farmer has heavy infestations of nematodes, I assure you’re going to see a large increase in yield if he uses Poncho/VOTiVO.”

“I’ve recommended Poncho/VOTiVO to all my neighbors, because we are all facing the same problems and I want to see their crops succeed and thrive as mine are starting to do again,” stated Mellencamp.

Beth Roden