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Villa Answer Plot® - Data driven crop research, education and training

The optimal performance of agricultural inputs relies as much on precision decision making as on quality products. The average grain farmer makes around 40 key decisions during any crop-growing season.

These would typically include decisions around crop rotation, seed variety selections, crop nutrient requirements, equipment use or maintenance, financial modelling and budgets, cost benefit analysis, labour relations, application of crop protection products, which crop chemicals to use and many more. Wrong and uninformed decisions can be disastrous. A successful farmer typically surrounds themselves with partners that assist in making these decisions.
Crop protection is a vital part of growing quality and ensuring good yields in any crop. At Villa we aim to provide farmers with products, experience and insights into solving the challenges faced in crop protection and plant health management. These insights would typically include the “right product or program” applied with the “right equipment” at the “right timing” considering the cost to benefit ratio at all times.
Villa agronomists have embarked on a program called “Answer Plot®”, a collection of trials sites across the country where we aim to demonstrate our solutions to local weed, pests or disease problems. In collaboration with our USA partner, Winfield United we aim to bring up to date innovation and technology, training and education to our customers using these Answer Plots®.
Answer Plot® sessions are unique in the industry. Think of these as living laboratories, where we plant and test different crop varieties and then evaluate crop protection and plant nutrition technologies by collecting a multitude of data each year.  The Answer Plot team gathers data and insights to help enhance agronomic expertise and provide credible facts for farmers using similar conditions.
An Answer Plot event is designed around technology and innovation themes.
Providing even more value, Answer Plot® events are held at different points throughout the growing season to serve as a “show and tell" experience for retailers and farmers. Whether it's digging and analysing roots, looking for insects or diseases, or standing back and noticing an overall different appearance between two treatments, these demonstrations provide an outdoor classroom opportunity to gain your trust with Villa and Winfield United products and insights.
More than 600 farmers, agronomists, consultants and partners attended Answer plots during the previous summer season. In the Southern region, we hosted a session at Oakdale Landbouskool in Riversdal, followed by a session at Boland Landbouskool in the Swartland on wheat, barley and canola. In the Northern regions of the country we hosted Answer Plot® events in the Winterton area in the Kwa-Zulu Natal, followed by an Answer Plot® event in the Eastern Highveld in Morgenzon and finally a session in Lichtenburg in the North West on maize and soybeans.
Farmers had the opportunity to interact with skilled agronomists, other farmers and specialists.
An Answer Plot event is designed around technology and innovation themes. A clear challenge in South Africa relates to the development of super-weeds. At the Southern regional Answer Plot® events one of the areas we focussed on was the development of weed resistance to a specific herbicide.
It was emphasised that weed resistance forms a continuum from completely susceptible weeds to completely resistant weeds, when applied at the labelled dosage rate. Weed size and plant stress (moisture and heat) at the time of application plays a major role in effective control and may be incorrectly interpreted as weed resistance. In order to determine whether a weed is truly resistant to a particular herbicide, a detailed scientific study by an acknowledged institute is required.
Measures reviewed to reduce the possibility of weed resistance development included:
1. Maintain the weed population in agricultural fields at as low a level as possible.
2. Prevent seed development and seed dispersal by controlling weeds before flowering.
3. Avoid the repeated use of herbicides from the same HRAC group code and herbicides with a single mode of action.
4. Use alternative methods of weed control wherever possible.
In the Northern regional crops, the themes of the days focussed on weed identification, timing and type of fungicide applications, formulation technology and advances in adjuvants and application technology.
Proper weed identification, timely application of herbicides and the economic impact of weeds on the crop in detail formed the topic of one of the stations.

Weeds are broadly classified as broadleaf weed or a grass weed. A knowledge of their life cycle, propagation, time of emergence and their distribution in the soil profile is important for effective weed management. The proper identification of the weed population as well as the field’s weed history is a vital part of an effective herbicide program.

The time of application of herbicides has an influence on effective weed control. Some weeds such as grasses are best-controlled pre emergence while others can be controlled both pre and post emergence. For post emergence application, one needs to consider the following factors;
Size, growth stage and age of the weed
Physiology of the weed
Environment of the weed

These factors will affect the type of application and chemical to be used in a herbicide program.

Weeds have a significant impact on the yield of the crop being cultivated. They compete for the same resources as the crop. Therefore, the crop does not have exclusive access to the limited resources to yield optimally. The early presence of weeds in corn is more significant than in broadleaf crops such as soybeans. Studies have shown that an early weed presence in corn, especially at V3-V4 stage has an up to 200kg/ha/day influence on yield.

At the disease control station at our Northern Answer Plot® events, we went into detail discussing the importance of understanding the life cycles of different diseases in maize and soybeans. The emergence of certain diseases such as Phaeosphaeria leaf spot in maize, Sclerotinia in sunflowers and soybeans and Botrytis in peanuts under abnormally wet seasons were of particular importance. Understanding the host plant physiology and phenology forms the basis of understanding health in plants. Additionally, the different fungicides available in South Africa; how they work and when to use them optimally was discussed.

Application technology is a vitally important aspect in pest and weed control, but has received little attention in South Africa in the past. The discussion at the Application Technology stations centered around nozzles and nozzle typesused in application, but more importantly also focusing on what types of droplets and droplet sizes, they produce. We demonstated what a driftable particle is and we sprayed by: minimizing driftable particles, maximizing deposition onto target and last getting depth of penetration into the canopy. Using the proper nozzle at the proper pressure with appropriate water volume and the use of new Spray Droplet Modification Technology enables an applicator to be much more precise with application leading to better control and less off site movement of the products sprayed.
From all of the above it is clear that these events create opportunities for farmers and agents to discuss relevant issues facing farming. The Villa Answer plot™ program provided the platform to gain, share and GROW KNOWLEDGE.

Tel: 087 740 3490 / +27 11 396 2233
Fax: 086 677 3175 / 086 677 3134
Villa Crop Protection
65 Botes Avenue
Glen Marais
Kempton Park




Farming Diary


1:00 pm 07.30.2019 - 2:00 pm 07.31.2019


4:00 pm 07.30.2019 - 5:00 pm 07.31.2019


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