Vulcan, Alberta Farm Captain’s Blog — August 1, 2010.

Captain’s Blog from Vulcan Alberta NW 12-18-23 W4

Reported by Lieutenant Milo

Star Date: 2010-08-01

Crew and Captain have seen an interesting growing season for the landing site and surrounding area.  While circling the planet, we have observed very little…too much cloud cover.  Field reports from previous years indicated that the landing site was a semi arid environment that made growing Brassicaceae species challenging at times.  This does not seem to be the case this year, once the cultured plants were established in their new home. 

The cloud cover that obstructed the crew’s view from space also delivered timely precipitation to the landing site.  Moisture has not been an issue and several times when the Lieutenant visited the site, she was required to remove her contaminated footwear and bag them before entering her mode of transportation. 

This is considered good management practice, as the greater area around the landing site (called Alberta) has had an undesirable pathogen identified.  This pathogen is called Plasmodiophora brassicae and is generally transported from site to site via soil infected with spores and can cause significant yield losses.  Native agriculturalists estimate that yield losses equate to roughly ½ of the infection level in a field.  There was no indication of infection at the landing site, but best practices should be followed.

Scouting of the landing site indicates that some of the precipitation may have come in a solidified form.  Damage looks nominal, with a mainly pod bruising and some branch stripping.  The landing site custodian may find it beneficial to make contact with an entity called an “insurance agency” and request a visit from an “adjustor”.

The landing site is still in the late flowering stage and has been flowering for 3 weeks.  Local seaasoned agriculturists use a non-scientific formula called “rule of thumb” or “eyeballing” to estimate that a brassica crop of this variety will yield 1.5 to 2.5 bushels for every day the field is in flowering. Lieutenant Milo, by using the “eyeballing” method estimates the crop shaping up to be at least a 35 bushels/acre crop.

Two events of sweeping the site looking for undesirable insect species delivered a nice spectrum of individuals, and showed insects counts of borderline quantities to be deemed worth an application of control measures.  The site was swept at 30% bloom and again at 85% bloom. 

Results for the 30% bloom stage

A sweeping technique of 10 swipes per pass and 4 passes per site, each swipe covering a 180 degree arc was used.  The passes yielded less than 10 Lygus bugs (L. lineolaris, L. borealis, L. elisus or L. keltoni) per 10 sweeps.  Only three Ceutorhynchus obstrictuswere identified. At early staging this does not equate to an economic threshold.  There was no evidence of Plutella xylostella in any of the sweeps or upon viewing the underside of the leaves.

Result for the 85% bloom stage:

Over 10 lygus were found in the second set of sweepings, which is close to economic thresholds based on a $10/bushel market.  Window for application for seed pod weevil is past and was not considered in the count although there were still 3-6 per set of sweeps.  Still no evidence of diamond back moths. Lieutenant Milo recommends that the crop be swept once more as the pods are beginning to ripen to ascertain whether the lygus numbers necessitate control measures.

Other observations at the landing site showed significant biodiversity even under a monoculture plant system.  The crew observed a small avian fluttering across the ground in a seemingly injured way.  Upon approaching the bird, it was identified as a Sturnella neglecta, which promptly flew away as the team approached too close.  Back-tracking and careful observation yielded her well hidden nesting site in the loose pea straw from the previous growing season.

Other species observed at later scouting trips were an Odocoileus hemionus, only identified by its head and ears as it peered above the canopy, and an Erethizon dorsatum, which moved sedately into the grassy verge of the northeast small ravine.  The crew decided not to approach him any closer, and did not get any photographic evidence due to the tall grass.

Continued scouting of landing site will proceed until harvest.  Current market conditions indicate that the land custodian and AdFarm shareholders may want to investigate some forward contracts on the resulting commodity from the site.