If you knew that investing some time now could save you thousands of dollars later, would you do it?
“Clubroot is a serious disease of canola, particularly in Alberta right now, with the potential to seriously harm crops,” says Canola Council of Canada agronomist Erin Brock. “By taking the time now to properly clean equipment, growers can avoid the potential for major losses in the future.”
Clubroot spreads through resting spores in soil or in plant material containing galls. Resting spores are more likely to spread via contaminated soil carried from field to field by equipment. Studies in fields infected with clubroot have found 90 per cent of detections occured at the most commonly used field entrances.
“It’s important for growers to know that they need to take precautions with their own machinery,” says Brock. “This is especially important at this time of year when the soil is moist and sticks more easily to machinery. Tillage and seeding equipment are especially prone to soil sticking.”
Farm equipment sales and delivery are also very common in the spring. “Growers are always pressed for time at seeding, but it is well worth the effort to sanitize and clean high-risk machines such as those purchased off-farm, particularly if their origin is not known.”
At a minimum, says Brock, growers should be knocking off soil lumps and loose soil from seeders, cultivators and sprayers. Ideally, a power washer should be used with either hot water or steam, finished off with a weak disinfectant of one to two per cent active ingredient bleach solution. The solution should remain on the machinery for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Cleaning should include wheel wells, tires, undercarriage and other areas where soil accumulates. An additional strategy is to plant a grassed area near the field entrance where machinery can be cleaned.