GFM Network News


Every nutrient, whether macro or micro, is essential to attain a yield goal of any crop, and soil testing gives you an accurate answer to reach this objective.

No such thing as a free lunch when it comes to crop nutrition

Yields can suffer if soils are deficient in any crop nutrient

When I worked as a plant pathologist for Alberta Agriculture in the 1970s, I was surprised to find only 10 per cent of Prairie farmers have ever had their soil tested for crop nutrients. How could they grow a cereal or canola crop without knowing what plant nutrients — nitrogen (N), phosphate (P), potassium (K) […] Read more

This canola is at the rosette stage. The photo was taken on June 23 near Indian Head, Sask.

Are you limiting your canola’s potential?

First, choose a yield target. Then figure out how you can get your crop there

Fertility is the first thing that usually comes to mind when thinking about canola yield targets, but should it be? Deciding how you’re going to get there when you don’t know where you’re going is like putting the cart before the horse. Warren Ward, agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada, says growers need to […] Read more


Get the best yield response

Q & A with CPS

Q: Which crop nutrients applied generally provide the most yield response in any given year? What considerations should be made? A: Crop yield response to nutrients depends on many factors. While the most important factor is moisture availability, other factors like crop selection, soil type, organic matter, residual soil fertility, previous crop, tillage, type of […] Read more

Simplifying phosphorus

Experts’ opinion on P fertilizer have changed over time, and are still changing now

In the early days of fertilizer use on the Canadian Prairies phosphorus was the only game in town- mostly 11-48-0. “If in doubt use 11-48,” was the chant. Much work was done to find the amounts to use for various crops and soils and the best way to put it on. We thought we knew […] Read more


When it comes to phosphorus and potassium, farmers and researchers speak two different languages.

Make sure you mind your fertilizer Ps and Ks

The fertilizer story — why a pound of phosphorus may not really be a pound of phosphorus

In a recent article I mentioned a classic old Alberta document that talks about managing Gray Wooded soils — low in fertility and organic matter. I pointed out that when the old boys had data about rates of application of phosphorus and potassium, they meant just that, P and K, not P2O5 and K2O — […] Read more

This is a feed barley crop at Spiritwood, Sask., in 1996, on Gray Wooded loam soil. This crop yielded 80 bu./ac. with no fertilizer in the year of seeding.

A convert to long-term experiments

Soil fertility is a long-term prospect that calls for long-term approaches to research

In my younger days I was not a fan of long-term experiments. Almost all were on Federal Research stations with good soils and plot practices that did not always relate to farm fields. But recent information coming from long-term experiments has changed my mind. Worldwide, the longest experiment is the famous Broadbalk field at Rothamsted […] Read more


Forages and grasses for marginal land

Permanent cover crops can increase fertility in "problem soils" over time

Jeff Schoenau has a word for agricultural areas currently in annual production that fail to deliver a return on expensive inputs: “heartache land.” It’s better known as “marginal” land, and it can be defined as land with soil that has limitations including poor water-holding capacity and water availability to roots due to sandy texture or […] 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


The University of Manitoba has been conducting trials on soybean’s phosphorus uptake.

Do soybeans need phosphorus?

Phosphorus fertilizer won’t increase soybean yield, but good strategies can maintain fertility

Soybeans are efficient feeders for soil phosphorus (P) and in most cases growers are not going to see an increase in yield from additional P fertilization, regardless of the soil test P, according to research trials in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Since 2013, Dr. Don Flaten and Gustavo Bardella of the University of Manitoba, together with […] Read more

Future seeds were sown in the past

Consider last year’s crop yields when making plans for next year’s fertility program

This time of year it’s typically a good idea to remind producers that the seeds of our future are sown in the past. Your 2016 crop yields will be influenced by 2015 fertility and removal rates. Basically, we need to look back at the growing season and see how certain factors influenced the current crop, […] Read more