Latest articles

Understanding soil compaction

Agronomy Management: How to manage each of the three main types of compaction in your fields

In the last issue of Grainews I wrote about the effects of compaction on soil. Now, I’ll discuss the specific types of soil compaction and the ways each type can be managed. 1. Surface soil crusting This type of compaction is caused by a combination of soil tillage and raindrop impact. Causes: Tillage can bury much of […] Read more

The effects of soil compaction

In the first of a two-part series, learn how to diagnose soil compaction in your field

Soil compaction can be a serious form of soil degradation resulting in decreased crop production and increased risk of soil erosion. Soil compaction can reduce water infiltration into soil, crop emergence, root penetration, crop nutrient uptake and water uptake — all of which can reduce crop yields. Compaction concerns Soil compaction is caused by tillage […] Read more

Weeds, disease and insects in mustard

In the final part of a 4-part series on mustard agronomy, Ross McKenzie turns his attention to pests

Weed control is generally my greatest concern when growing mustard. Weed competition can greatly reduce mustard yields by competing for available light, nutrients and moisture. Although mustard seedlings are not very competitive with weeds, there are ways that growers can reduce the early effects of weeds: burndown of weeds in fall and/or early spring before […] Read more

Managing mustard fertilizer

Part 3 of this 4-part series on mustard agronomy covers mustard's fertilizer needs

In the last issue of Grainews, I discussed the nitrogen needs of mustard. Now, let’s turn to the other fertilizers mustard requires. Phosphorus (P) About 80 per cent of brown and dark brown soils are deficient in phosphorus (P). Soil P availability to plants can be assessed by soil sampling and testing to determine plant-available […] Read more

field of flowering mustard

Mustard fertilizer management

In Part 2 of a 4-part series on mustard agronomy, Ross McKenzie talks fertilizer

In the last issue of Grainews, I discussed agronomic management of growing mustard. In this issue we’ll discuss nitrogen requirements; in the next issue, we’ll discuss the other nutrients mustard needs to achieve optimum production. Mustard grown on cereal stubble almost always needs nitrogen fertilizer, frequently needs phosphate fertilizer and occasionally needs sulphur fertilizer. Soil […] Read more

Managing mustard on the Prairies

In Part 1 of a 4-Part series on growing mustard, Ross McKenzie looks at basic agronomy

Mustard is one of my favourite crops to grow on dry land in the drier regions of the Prairies. It is a great oilseed crop to include in a diverse crop rotation, which helps to disrupt pest cycles, increase moisture use efficiency and increase farm income. Canada is a world leader in condiment mustard seed […] Read more

Learn to manage your sodic soils

Got sodic soils on your farm? Here are three options for managing those areas

In the last issue of Grainews I discussed the physical and chemical characteristics of sodic soils. In this issue, I’ll discuss managing those soils. Solonetzic soils in the brown or dark brown soil zones of southern Alberta or southern Saskatchewan, that are in native grassland may be best left in their native condition and used […] Read more

Do you need to hire an agronomist?

Agronomy Management: Your farm may need the assistance of an agronomist or a professional crop advisor?

Crop production has become much more complex and technically challenging over the past 20 years. It is increasingly difficult to balance the many demands of a successful farming operation, including the agronomic management of many different crops, crop scouting, long-term crop planning, input planning and crop marketing. These days, more and more farmers are using […] Read more


Diagnosing your own sodic soils

Do you have sodic soils on your farm? Here's how to find out for sure

Sodic soils have a high level of exchangeable sodium (Na+) which can have a negative effect on soil quality, crop growth and yield. These soils often develop on naturally occurring high-sodium glacial till parent materials. Soil enrichment of sodium by groundwater movement can also cause sodic soil development. Sodic soils often have very poor soil […] Read more


Diagnosing and managing acid soils

Acidic soils can restrict plant growth. Learn how to recognize and manage these soils on your farm

Soils with a pH ranging between 6.0 and 8.0 are suitable for most crops on the Prairies. Soils with a pH range between 6.5 to 7.5 are considered to be near neutral. Soil pH between 6.0 to 5.6, 5.5 to 5.1 and < 5.0 are considered to be moderately acidic, strongly acidic and very strongly […] Read more