Latest Industry News

Can Soil Health Testing be Used for Making Fertilizer Rec’s?

The Haney test, designed to evaluate soil health indicators like soil respiration, water-soluble carbon and organic nitrogen was evaluated recently by University of Minnesota for generating corn fertilizer recommendations. Read the report here:

Which Nitrogen Rate Prediction Tool is best for Corn?

The Economically Optimum Corn Nitrogen Rate (EONR) is a moving target, every season is a little or lot different and growers are left at doing an ‘educated guess’ at the most profitable rate. A researcher told me recently in reviewing 40 years of N rate research trials, the locally accepted PSNT recommendation could easily be off by +/- 30 lb N/ac in any one year. An article that appeared in Jan/Feb issue of Agronomy Journal shows that some Nitrogen prediction tools are getting closer to the mark. Researchers evaluated eleven Nitrogen fertilizer recommendation tools over 3 year period & 8 midwest US states for their ability to accurately estimate the EONR. None of the tools were able to recommend N within +/- 27 lbs. N of EONR for more than 50% of sites. Two of the most [...]

Getting the message out on Soil Sampling

How is it that with the rapid adoption of new technologies on the farm for tracking everything and everyone, and sophisticated smart data collection, that soil testing, one of the most fundamental principles of good agronomy is still lagging in adoption in some farming areas?  Farmers know that it is something that should be done regularly, but too often gets pushed down the to-do list. Great advancements in testing tools (eg. Wintex, electric conductivity) and lab testing methodologies have made it easier, more precise and with more detailed information.  This blog came to mind when, not for the first time a farmer recently asked me about getting a soil health test, even though they could not remember the last time they had a soil tested for nutrients. Gosh!; have I/we really done that poor a job in communicating [...]

Midwest Cover Crop Decision Tool
Midwestern states and Ontario are included, but we need growers and industry in other areas to push more provinces to join and contribute to make it a resource for everyone.

Great tool; regionally specific: @CoverCropsMCCC

When Does Post Emergent N in Spring Wheat work ?

Historically, split applying N in wheat has not resulted in higher yields. However, some growers intentionally may delay applying part of their nitrogen until they have better idea of yield potential or as way to boost protein. Read more in  this SaskWheat study :

Studies Question Benefit of Late split N in Corn

Results from a multi-state US split N study suggest that in only 24% of sites there was a benefit to split N. Ontario field trials indicated similar results. The greatest potential benefit was seen on soils more prone to N loss (sands & heavy clays). Read the full report from Ontario Grain Farmer:
A multispectral red-edge or NDVI image at 8-12 leaf corn can help decide if a late N application is needed & create N management zones for applicatio

Should you Apply Boron to Flowering Canola
Canola and alfalfa are two field crops with the highest requirement for boron. Canola uptake is 0.3 – 0.5 lb/ac (60 bu/ac yield), alfalfa 0.3 lb/ac (4 t/ac yield) Tissue testing for boron can be useful as soil testing has not proved reliable. Organic matter usually supplies enough boron for most crops, perhaps except very low O.M., or coarse-textured soils. Boron assists in flowering, pollination, and aids in reducing flower blasting due to heat. Limited Ontario studies utilizing foliar boron at fungicide timing, show mixed results and indicate the best opportunity for payback is under dry weather with moderate crop stress.  Read More:
Western Canada studies have generally not shown a response to soil or foliar Boron and caution about widespread use. One of the more recent foliar studies is by Sask Irrigation Crop Diversification Corporation: [...]

Tissue Testing vs Soil Testing

Tissue testing asks the crop ‘ What’s wrong’ and can be money well spent for growers to confirm a deficiency, or as a check if their crop needs more nutrients. In field crops, plant analysis providing a snapshot in time of nutrient uptake and most useful to indicate when nutrient levels are below critical levels.  It can also help with evaluating fertilizer management practices, including potential micronutrient issues. Soil testing complements this information and indicates what is available and should accompany a tissue test. ISU offers updated P & K tissue testing guide for corn & soybeans:

Remember to GPS sampling locations for post-harvest soil testing with your Wintex sampler

Do you have a favourite Plant Deficiency Symptom App ?

Recently we tested out a couple of phone apps for diagnosing crop deficiency symptoms look like, their function, what soils types are prone to this deficiency, and correction recommendations. The two we tested both have some good features, but left us somewhat disappointed. We only need one app.  Ag Phd has a wide selection of crop kinds; Yara’s has a much more extensive image collection of nutrient deficiencies at different crop stages, and more agronomic information.  Both miss the mark, with nothing for lentils, chickpeas, dry beans. Let us know what your favourite app and we’ll share this in our next newsletter.

Rethinking P & K Fertility.

IPNI soil fertility

Soil surveys conducted in a number of provinces across Canada are revealing a general decline in soil P and in potash. This has come as a surprise to many growers that have fertilized based on the ‘replacement approach’ of applying amounts of nutrients removed by the crop. Growers and agronomists also have questioned the sufficiency approach recommended by many government extension services. Rightly so, crop yields are much higher than when many of these fertility research trials were done. Then came the ah-ha moment.

Provincial sufficiency approach does not include an adjustment for current or expected yields. The sufficiency approach is based on many years of university research that produced yield response curves for P & K for various soil test levels (figure 1).  Fertilizer recommendations were then based on the [...]

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