NDSU Extension - Burke County


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Technology in Agriculture (Part 3) & Dying Elm Trees

Technology in Agriculture (Part 3) & Dying Elm Trees

County Agent News
Dan Folske
August 11, 2014

 Technology in Agriculture

             In my last two columns I wrote about some of the changes we’ve seen in agriculture and may see in the future. Many features originally seen purely as comfort and convenience we now think of as necessity. Quiet cabs with good ac and heating were scoffed at; auto steer was the brunt of many jokes. Today’s farmers and ranchers have found that these comforts and conveniences help reduce fatigue and increase productivity (when you don’t let the auto steer guide you into a slough or other obstacle someone forgot to program into it). Saturday afternoon I had a hinge pin on the baler tailgate come out allowing the tailgate to twist out of line when it opened. I was fortunate to be able to get it pulled back down and the pin put back in without damaging the tailgate but it had broken off the switch which tells the computer the tailgate is fully opened. Now instead of dumping the bale, kicking it back, closing the tailgate, returning the kicker to the home position, restarting the baler and telling me to drive, the process stops when the tailgate opens because the computer doesn’t know it is open. After finishing the field by pushing sequential buttons to finish the process I realize how much I appreciate the full auto cycle. I will replace the broken switch this week!

 Dying Elm Trees

             You have probably noticed, as I have, the many elm trees with all or part of the leaves turning yellow and brown the past few weeks. These trees are infected with Dutch Elm Disease. The disease stops the flow of water and nutrients upward into the tree causing the leaves to wilt and die. If the initial disease infection site is on a limb only the leaves above the infection site will die. If the infection is on the main trunk the entire tree will show symptoms. Either way the best response is quick removal and proper disposal of the entire tree.

              Dutch Elm Disease is spread primarily by the movement of elm bark beetles from tree to tree. These beetles will survive the winter under the bark of dead trees so it is important to remove the tree from the area to prevent the beetles form attacking other elms. If you want to keep the diseased tree for firewood it should be completely debarked. Never take wood from a diseased tree for a campfire at another location! This habit is largely responsible for the spread of the disease across hundreds or even thousands of miles. This is how the Emerald Ash Borer will likely arrive in the area. This is another insect which has the potential to devastate our communities where Green Ash are common tree species.

              Dutch Elm disease can also spread from tree to tree where the trees are planted close together and may have roots which have grafted together. I have seen it progress right down a row.

            Once a tree has been infected there is no available treatment. Prevention is difficult and expensive. Sanitation and removal of dead trees is the best prevention method for slowing the spread of the disease. For exceptionally important trees injection of a fungicide directly into the tree may protect it much like the application of a fungicide can prevent apple scab or other diseases. However, the process is expensive and must be repeated at least every other year and the process itself can be injurious to the tree.  

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