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Colorado’s irrigation research grabs Monsanto’s attention

Irrigation Research Foundation Executive Director Charles Corey says the corn root studies at IRF have already encouraged Monsanto to begin researching how different root structures perform, and he hopes other companies follow suit.

“Our hope is that one day the root architecture will be on the label of every corn variety,” Corey says. “We believe this will allow growers to better understand how their corn will perform under different soil, water and fertility scenarios.”

Jeff Tichota, Monsanto’s technology development representative for eastern Colorado, says: “Withdrawal rates from the Ogallala exceed the amount of water going back into this vitally important aquifer. Monsanto is interested in helping farmers find ways to sustain yields with fewer inputs.”

Monsanto last year began a root comparison study at its Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center in Nebraska and started financially supporting the root study at IRF. In addition to Colorado Corn and Monsanto, other companies now contributing to the IRF project are Agri-Inject, Centennial Ag Supply Co., Center Pivot Irrigation LLC, CHS Inc., Crop Production Services, Earthtec Solutions, Orthman Manufacturing and Reinke Manufacturing.

“Helping farmers gain a better perspective of what roots gain from a larger portion of the soil profile can help us meet the potential of crops,” says Orthman’s lead agronomist, Mike Petersen of Lexington, Neb., who began seeing a correlation between root shapes and their genetic background when working as a USDA soil scientist.

“As growers deal with less water from irrigation, hot and dry summers, and weed control issues, a focus on the tremendous importance of root growth and function drives our work at the IRF to be shared,” Petersen says.

This article published in the April, 2013 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2013.