Wheat Pete's Word, March 8: Winter Wheat Survival, Tillage and OM, and Phos Draw Down


Peter Johnson is back from his agriculture mission in Zambia, and ready to rock and roll with this week’s edition of Wheat Pete’s Word.

From how different organic matter additions can speed up or slow down residue breakdown, to why rotation matters so very much, to a talk on phosphorus as-applied vs. actual, Johnson gets caught up on the questions he missed while away.

In this week’s word, Johnson also talks minimizing crop trampling, liquid vs. dry fertilizer, split-app N reasoning, and more (summary continues below).

Don’t forget to send Peter your questions and comments! Leave a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].


  • How cold is too cold for winter wheat crowns?
  • Tillage reduces organic matter levels. Full stop. Why? Johnson explains how soil microbes “burn through” the carbon
  • Fall tillage on corn stalks — even low disturbance tillage impacts exposed surface area for soil contact, which means more soil bugs at work and equals more or faster breakdown
  • Balancing soil bug population — is there such thing as too much or the wrong kind of organic matter?
  • When we talk phosphorus in Ontario, we’re really talking P205 so be cautious when comparing phosphorus application discussion from Australia (where they talk in actual P applied numbers)
  • Nature Nut Nick at Strathroy is not applying manure anymore because of P levels, working on drawing down P levels. It takes time (sometimes a lot).
  • Dry vs. liquid nitrogen — is one actually better than the other?
  • Split-N: it’s not always about more yield. It reduces losses, manages risk, and can bump protein in wheat. Still worth it.
  • Trampling the crop — yes, you can avoid it by using the same equipment when possible.

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Wheat Pete's Word (view all)Season 3 (2017) Episode 42

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