Saskatchewan Forage Council Investigates Trace Mineral Levels in Pastures

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The Saskatchewan Forage Council (SFC) recently completed a study to investigate the status of trace mineral across the province.

Pastures were sampled in 2012 and 2013, looking at four soil zones and various forage species in spring and fall. In general, the study found copper and zinc decreased from spring to fall, while iron, manganese and molybdenum increased from spring to fall. Selenium remained somewhat consistent over the seasons.

“There may be some benefits to varying your mineral program from spring to fall,” said Leanne Thompson, executive director of the SFC, at the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference, suggesting special attention be paid to regional differences, like soil zones.

Comparing soil zones showed some interesting (and surprising) results. Iron was typically highest in gray soils, with adequate concentrations in all. Copper, on the other hand, tended to be lowest in brown and dark brown during the fall season, and like zinc, was lacking across Saskatchewan in both seasons, across all forage types. Due to concern over interation, the Cu:Mo ratio was looked at extensively, with the ratio lowest in the grazy soil zone during fall. Surprisingly, selenium was adequate in all soil zones, suggesting there may be some interactions we don’t fully understand (as it is generally recommended producers supplement with selenium).

The study provides a good overview of the province’s trace minerals, but don’t be too quick to rely on the results alone, cautions Thompson, who reaffirmed the importance of soil and water quality tests.

For the results of this study, head to saskforage.ca.

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