Many people who use Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Crop Protection manual - the Blue Book – do so for the comprehensive list of pesticide products for use on major field crops.
“But, how many are aware of the vast amounts of additional information available before the products listed,” asks Harry Brook, co-editor of the Blue Book and crop specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “These pages contain the hidden gems of information that are valuable to producers.”
The manual give attention to herbicide resistance in weeds, especially wild oats and kochia.
“Every year we hear of resistance showing up in new weeds to an increasing list of herbicidal modes of action,” he says. “How do you know if you are actually rotating herbicide modes of action? You will find on pages 42 to 45 a table with all the herbicides in the Blue Book classified and listed by their modes of action.”
“This table is an excellent resource to use to ensure you are varying the modes of action and, hopefully, delaying the presence of herbicide resistance on your farm. It links to the herbicide group numbers listed in the title bars of every pesticide. Page 41 also lists the current weed species where resistance has been found.”
The Blue Book also contains contact information for most of the companies whose products are listed within the manual and a link on the downloadable version to Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s search engine.
“There, you can search for the labels of any pesticide product in Canada,” he explains. “It can be useful if you are looking for control of a particular weed. Searching for mention of that weed will pull up all mentions of the weed in all pertinent labels.”
The manual also includes informative illustrations showing how to number leaf stages for grassy, broadleaf and legume plants. Those help clarify when a herbicide should be safely applied to the crop and weed.
The Blue Book contains a primer on calibrating the sprayer, nozzle selection and mixing amounts for small sprayers.
“For those not that familiar,” adds Brook, “there is a section on tank mixes, definition of adjuvants, surfactants and spreaders as well as the mixing order to follow. Each pesticide requires a certain order of mixing depending on product formulation. It also includes sprayer cleanout procedures needed, which vary and depend on the products being sprayed. Oil based product needs a different clean out process than water soluble or emulsifiable concentrates.”
“The information in the front of the book gives plenty of information on how to properly and safely use pesticides,” he says. It includes a section that looks at environmental issues and what to do if a problem emerges, including cases of spillage, drift or disposal.
The Farmer Pesticide Certificate Program is also explained in the manual.
“It is valuable for those who need access to restricted products to treat grain for stored grain pests and is also required by several producer groups as due diligence in the use of pesticides.”
Pesticide disposal sites are listed across the province to ensure safe disposal of containers after application. First aid, pollinator protection, grazing and haying restrictions, water quality and nitrate poisoning of livestock are all topics mentioned in the front sections.
“Everyone uses the list of pesticides in the Blue Book as well as the selector charts with pests and crops,” adds Brook. “Get the most out of this publication this winter and spend some time in the unknown country before the product lists. It may surprise you.”
The next Blue Book is expected to be out in early spring 2020.