Posts Tagged ‘soil’

Do you know what your Rhizosphere looks like?

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

The Rhizosphere is the zone surrounding the roots of plants in which complex relations exist among the plant, the soil microorganisms and the soil itself. The plant roots and the biofilm associated with them can profoundly, influence the chemistry of the soil including (see more…)

Update on Clubroot in Alberta

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Clubroot first appeared in Alberta in home gardens in the 1970s. In 2003, the disease was found in canola in 12 fields in Sturgeon County, northwest of Edmonton. From that time, a number of surveys have been conducted to monitor this disease. To date, over 6000 canola and vegetable fields have been surveyed, and clubroot has been confirmed in at least 830 fields in the province. Maps showing the affected areas and the spread of the disease over the years have been uploaded to the Alberta Agriculture website.
“Clubroot is an endemic disease, certainly in central Alberta,” says Dr. Ron Howard, plant pathology research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “The disease is spreading by a variety of mechanisms and management is difficult. The number of new cases in 2011 (265 fields), represents the biggest single year increase in clubroot confirmed fields since 2003. The abundant rainfall we received last year was no doubt a contributing factor that favoured infection and disease development. Weather conditions have a huge effect on this disease, so in years, such as last year, where conditions are very wet, the incidence of the disease increases.”

Clubroot is a significant economic threat to the canola industry and was included as a declared pest under the Agricultural Pests Act in 2007. The disease is very difficult to control once it becomes established in a field. It decreases yield in canola and also poses a risk to mustard and cole crop vegetables in the province.

Clubroot management strategies include:

  • removing soil and crop debris from equipment and machinery moving out of infested fields
  • using direct seeding or minimum-tillage cropping methods, which reduces the movement of soil during tillage operations and reduces stirring the soil and the spread of the disease
  • using long rotations between successive crops of canola to allow the pathogen population to decline in the interval
  • avoiding spreading straw, hay, greenfeed, silage crops harvested from clubroot infested fields onto clean fields because of earth tag which can carry the disease
  • NOT spreading manure from cattle fed with clubroot infested crops or forages on non-infested fields, as resting spores can survive passage through the gut of cattle
  • NOT using common, untreated seed harvested from clubroot infested fields because of the possibility of dust and earth tag that may contain clubroot spores, and certainly dirty seed should be avoided
  • regularly scouting canola, mustard and vegetable fields to discern the situation in the field and ensure that the disease isn’t spreading

“The advent of clubroot-resistant hybrids represents a major step forward in clubroot management,” says Howard. “The six products available seem to be standing up fairly well in clubroot infested areas. These varieties, while not completely resistant to clubroot, are not overwhelmed by the disease and yield is not reduced. It is very important to realize that even though a resistant variety is used, crop rotations of three years or more are still necessary to help slow the build-up of this disease in infested fields.”

Research is ongoing. Early on, there was very limited information on how to manage the disease in canola. Control strategies from vegetable growers were not that directly transferable. This prompted a whole line of research to look at disease management practices and to help understand the biology of the disease in canola. In 2009, the Clubroot Risk Mitigation Initiative was created using about $4 million in Growing Forward funding. This collaborative research has focused on pathology, breeding and disease management.

“An integrated approach is needed to manage this disease, including good stewardship of the resistant varieties of canola that are available,” says Howard.

Additional information on clubroot, including AgriFax and factsheets, is available on Alberta’s website at by typing clubroot into the search field.

Micronutrient uses in Canola - Manganese

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Crops require manganese in very early stages of growth. Germination and early emergence are both influenced by the manganese levels of the soil or fertilizer program. Soils should be built up through broadcast application of manganese in order to overcome some of these early season conditions. however in soils low in Manganese the best method of placement is in the planter or starter mix placed beside the seed.

Manganese will convert from the available form in the soil and become unavailable to the plant therefore in some soils deficient in Mn it may be necessary to follow up with a foliar spray as well. Again if a planter mix is not used it is important to foliar feed as soon as there is leaf area to spray.

In soils with extremely low Mn it is necessary to build these levels to 30 ppm. This will take about three years with a broadcast application of 15 pounds of Mn sulfate per acre broadcast for three consecutive years. It takes 10 pounds per acre of Manganese to raise soil levels 5 ppm over 12 months. Once these levels have been reached further application of Mn may not be required.

Micronutrient uses in Canola - Sulfur

Monday, February 6th, 2012

The canola plant has a higher requirement for sulfur than most other crops due to the higher protein content of the seed. Sulfur is a constituent of the amino acids cysteine and methionine and hence of proteins.

A 35 bu/ac crop of canola will contain, in the seed and straw of the plant, approximately 27 lb/ac of sulfur, of which more that 50% is in the seed. In a 35 bu crop approximately 12 pounds of sulfur is contained in the straw and 15 pounds per acre in the seed.

Sulfur is a constituent of protein therefore it is not very mobile in the plant and will not translocate from lower older leaves to younger upper leaves. Therefore, the new leaves. flowers and pods at the top of the plant and growing point will likely exhibit sulfur deficiency before the older leaves however sulfur deficiency can show up on older leaves as well. Slightly deficient plants may not exhibit sulfur deficiency but it will lead to yield and quality reduction. When visual deficiency does occur the crop is severely lacking sulfur. Early season sulfur deficiency will appear as cupping of leaves, stunting and intervienal yellowing. Later season sulfur deficiency in canola appears as cupping of leaves, purpling along leaf margins and bracts, narrow leaf structure. If sulfur is lacking it will likely appear at the bud and flowering growth stages because of the crop’s high need for sulfur at this time. Sulfur deficiency at flowering will exhibit pale yellow to white flowers.

Balancing the plants needs for sulfur include nitrogen as the nitrogen to sulfur ration in the canola plant should be 7-10 to I. In soils with medium (0 low sulfur levels an application of 20 to 30 pounds per acre of sulfur is recommended. Soils test readings of less than 25 ppm require this level of sulfur application. In soils with greater than 25 ppm of sulfur it is still recommended to apply at 10 - 15 pounds of sulfur per acre.

Sulfur used by Canola, Wheat and Barley


Crop Part

Sulfur Ib/ac

Wheat 40 bu/ac







Barley 60 bu/ac







Canola 35 bu/ac







Clubroot management: Equipment sanitation - Part 1

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

From Canola Council of Canada

The most common way to transfer soil from field to field is on farm machinery and vehicle tires. The CCC has a new guide with tips to clean equipment and prevent clubroot’s spread. Click here for the full guide. The following article is a short summary of the guide. Visit for general information on clubroot.

Assess your risk

The following questions will help determine the risk of clubroot spread to your farm, or from field to field within your farm. Your answers will help you decide how much sanitation you need and when to use it.

—Do you already have clubroot in at least one field? If yes, thorough sanitation between each field may be warranted.
—Have you purchased used equipment that may have originated in clubroot infested areas? (Here’s the latest Alberta clubroot map.) If the equipment originates from a clubroot-infested area, make sure the equipment is sanitized before it comes to your farm.
—Has your equipment been used in fields in clubroot-infested areas? If so, it should be cleaned and disinfected before it comes back to your farm.
—Who has access to your land? Custom sprayers and seeders, oil and gas equipment and trucks, earth-moving and excavating machines, soil sampling trucks, fertilizer trucks, hunters, recreational vehicles and even agronomists can carry clubroot-infested soil on tires, machinery and shoes. Make sure they follow clubroot risk mitigation protocols.
—Do you use tillage? Tillage or any other farm practice that involves soil disturbance or results in frequent travel throughout a field will increase the risk of transporting clubroot-infested soil.

3 steps for equipment sanitation

Choosing a worksite. You should clean and disinfect the unit before leaving the field, and leave all contaminated soil in that field. A low-traffic grassed area near the field exit is an ideal place to sanitize equipment .

Step 1: Scraping and blowing can remove 90% of the soil on machinery.

Step 1: Rough cleaning. Use a hand scraper, wire brush or compressed air to remove loose and clinging soil and crop debris from openers, tires and wheels, and the frame. This should remove at least 90% of the soil from the unit. Time required: 1-2 hours for a 40 foot cultivator. Larger pieces of equipment, tractors and double disk units may take longer.

Step 2: Pressure washing can remove another 9% of soil.

Step 2: Fine cleaning. Use a pressure washer at 2,000 to 3,000 psi on all areas where soil can accumulate. Turbo nozzles are generally more effective at removing soil than regular nozzles. An industrial detergent may enhance the degree of soil removal. Steps 1 and 2 in combination should remove 99% of soil from the unit. Time required: 1-2 hours for a 40 foot cultivator. (2-4 hours total for steps 1 and 2.)

GTC Preview - Less is more!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

A higher analysis sulphur source means less product to apply, less fertilizer to store, less cost to you and more productivity.

Taurus will explain why less is more when it comes to Tiger 90CR Sulphur!

What does a fall application of Tiger 90CR® Sulphur mean to you?

No storage and less handling - Take advantage of fall fertilizer pricing without the storage concerns. Put it to work in the field this fall! Higher analysis product reduces spring sulphur bulk in tank by ½.

Increased efficiency and less loss-Sulphur deficiencies appeared in many cases this year due to high rainfall. Tiger 90CR will not leach and will break down slower to provide extended feeding to your plants.

Increased nutrient uptake- Sulphur helps acidify the soil and make nutrients more plant available.

Lower cost- Tiger 90CR Sulphur is a cost-effective way to increase the amount of sulphur applied to achieve higher yields.

More acres seeded per day and lower toxicity - Increase your seeding efficiency and lower salt index.

Low protein in alfalfa?

Friday, September 30th, 2011

One of our growers recently inquired regarding low protein levels in alfalfa in the Rolling Hills area. Here is what we’ve found as possible causes that might apply in your area as well.

Historically the focus on protein levels in hay has not been too critical in the Rolling Hills area as much of the hay was headed for the beef cattle market. If we are to start focusing on both volume and quality we do need to take a closer look at our soil content. For example, many of the local soils will test adequate to high for K (potassium) but will also test extremely high for magnesium. It is well known that magnesium ties up K in the soil which is why our soil tests always list the K/Mg ratio. An ideal K/Mg ratio would be 0.3 or higher, many of our soils are 0.1 or lower with only a few being at the 0.2 level. This means that while our soils have a lot of K in them, it is largely unavailable or at least very difficult to extract by the plant. At 60lbs of K per tonne uptake, that is 300lbs of K per year removed from the soil growing alfalfa and 1500lbs in 5 years. Your crop is unable to extract enough K to fill it’s needs and while it does extract some of the tied up K, chances are very strong that it is a limiting factor to both yield and quality. If you look at high production areas in the USA, they are putting large amounts of potash (potassium) on alfalfa. An easy way to confirm that your quality is being affected by K levels would be to spray part of your field after each cut when some regrowth has occurred with a foliar K product such as “Releaf-K” (several products available) and then test the protein levels in the treated and untreated area. You should see a difference in protein. Foliar K will not fix your soil deficiency but provide potassium for use in that crop that year.

Phosphorous levels may also be an issue. Most growers add good amounts of phosphorous on replanting but it also gets tied up in the soil as well as getting used up. It is important to note that our natural soils contain little or no natural “P”.

While an alfalfa crop will take out about 300 lbs of K per year it only takes about 70 lbs of P per year and because our soils have no P in them naturally we tend to apply P. K on the other hand is in our soils but tied up and the crop can go short and this can affect both yield and quality.

Where is spring?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Check the calendar. It doesn’t look like the 23rd of March outside. The few gophers that have emerged look a bit surprised as well. A month from now in a normal year, seeding would be underway in a few parts of Saskatchewan. It’s hard to believe that’s going to happen this year. A slow melt is generally considered to be good news. There should be less flooding, but at some point it becomes a double-edged sword. A late spring means less drying time. While we’ve lost some of the snowpack, we’ve also seen significant new accumulations in recent days. The forecast for the next week calls for a continuation of below normal temperatures for this time of year. Where soils are completely saturated, the ground never froze very hard because those soaked soils were covered early with a blanket of snow. Some observers believe that’s a good thing, because water has been able to seep and percolate through the winter. However, we’re going to need a lot of help from Mother Nature in the weeks ahead. In the nation’s capital, our politicians are gearing up for a spring election. Out in the countryside, air drills are still buried in snow banks.

I’m Kevin Hursh.

DynAgra, an independent Western Canada-based Company, is dedicated to providing growers with the tools to manage the risk and maximize the profitability of their farm business through the continued innovation of agricultural products and services. We are committed to developing and providing growers with the latest in precision agronomics, variable rate technology, soil fertility, crop protection, fertilizers, custom application and financial solutions.

What is left for 2011?

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

As we grind through one of the toughest harvests in a while there seems to be one thing that keeps coming up and the question is “what is left for nutrients in the soil?”  I have been on combines in the last three weeks and some of the yields are unbelievable and proteins are the same.  So just for a quick idea of nutrient usage here is the following:

70 bushel HRS Wheat removes 126lbs of nitrogen

80 bushel HRS Wheat removes 144lbs of nitrogen

100 bushel HRS Wheat removes 180lbs of nitrogen

100 bushel Barley removes 125lbs of nitrogen

120 bushel Barley removes 150lbs of nitrogen

40 bushel Canola removes 102lbs of nitrogen

50 bushel Canola removes 128lbs of nitrogen

60 bushel Canola removes 153lbs of nitrogen

Now these numbers are what the crop takes to grow and there are different nitrogen usage efficiencies for different areas but this gives you a good idea of what that crop did pull out of the ground to what you applied this spring.  The other factor that most don’t take in consideration is the amount of straw that is put back on the field and that straw needs nitrogen to break it down.

So what can you do?  Well a basic step is to get a soil test done.  This is an economical way of understanding what is in the soil and then you can make some general plans for the spring.  This will give you an idea but is like shooting at a target with a shot gun.  You may hit the target but you will be all over the place with no consistency.  For a more precise look at the fields, you can utilize variable rate technology which gives multiple samples within a field based on the growth of the crop in that field.  Basically you are breaking that quarter section into four or five fields and fertilizing where the crop needs it.

So is just doing the same as last year an option? No!  With proper management and understanding you will put yourself in the driver’s seat to drive towards a good crop in 2011.

Those are my thoughts,

Garth Donald C.C.A.