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Soil Testing Ensures Adequate Nitrogen

14 July 2011
University of Manitoba

CANADA - A soil scientist with the University of Manitoba is encouraging farmers to have their soil tested next spring, prior to planting, to ensure they have the right levels of nitrogen to support crop growth.

2011 has been characterised by abnormally wet soil conditions due to saturated soil last fall, followed by a delayed snowmelt and flooding this spring, then ongoing rains.

Dr. Mario Tenuta, a soil scientist with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, and Canada Research Chair in Applied Soil Ecology, urges producers to keep an eye on moisture conditions over the rest of the growing season and through the fall.

Dr. Mario Tenuta said: "If we have excessive moisture, we can be losing nitrogen in the fall, so one of the key things I think that to producers I would recommend is to soil sample for nitrogen--particularly next spring prior to planting--and I'd probably think about considering spring application next year, because you can probably count on pretty wet conditions this fall.

On our loams and sands, leaching is probably going to be a big factor here in terms of losing nitrogen. Related with that, I think that when we sample in the spring of next year, make sure we go at least to two feet in soil sampling depth, because the soil may be pushed away from the first foot and down into the second foot, so at least do a minimum of two feet sampling there from those loams and sands.

The poorly drained soils that are high in soil organic matter, such as in the Red River Valley, I think there's probably going to be a lot of denitrification occurring for the loss of N, and also surface runoff as well if they have surface applied."

Dr. Tenuta concluded that some farmers will have lots of nitrogen left in the soil, while others will find the nitrogen has disappeared, even in cases where there were no crops harvested.

TheCropSite News Desk

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