Creepy wireworms, planning for P, and on-farm trials — LIVE! With Jeremy Boychyn


We’re changing up the scenery here at RealAg LIVE! with Kara Oosterhuis taking over the host’s seat for this late September edition.

Joining Oosterhuis is Jeremy Boychyn, agronomy specialist for the Alberta Wheat & Barley Commissions. Check out the lively Q&A below, where the two overcome just a little technical difficulty to tackle big topics such as fall fertilizer risks, multi-year phosphorus planning, and why sugar on seed is probably not a great idea for wireworm control.

Don’t miss the RealAg LIVE! segment most Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday afternoons at 1 pm Mountain/3 pm Eastern on your favourite social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Twitch!


  • It’s Kara’s first hosting gig for the LIVE!
  • First off, let’s go with a harvest update to begin. It sure isn’t a tough fall, for the southern part of Alberta
  • Moving north in the province, it gets dicier. Yields aren’t super impressive, potentially because of spring conditions
  • An open fall — ? Maybe!
  • (Small glitch here – yeah, technical difficulties)
  • Fall fertilizer for next year’s wheat or barley crop: Nitrogen or phosphorus?
  • Let’s start with phosphorus, fall vs spring. Broadcast in fall, because too much volume in the spring. Before you try that, start with a soil test to gauge P levels. P doesn’t move in the soil, so if levels are low, broadcasting isn’t going to put that P next to or near the seed. Prioritize P with or next to the seed.
  • Don’t leave it on the surface! We don’t want it to move into waterways or be lost (waste of money and time)
  • Sometimes you can do both, not necessarily all one or the other
  • When it comes to N, first ask if you’re at high risk to N losses. If spring saturation is the norm for your farm or for that field, it’s probably best to put it on with the seed and after, but the fall before.
  • Enhanced efficiency fertilizer can fit, in some instances, to protect that N investment
  • If you do put N on the fall, make sure you incorporate it and apply to cold soil when soil microbial activity has slowed
  • Usually excess water is related to higher levels of nutrient loss
  • How much can a tillage pass help “dry out” soil? All depends on soil type, tillage type, and residue management
  • Planning for phosphorus is a multi-year exercise. Look backwards AND forwards, please. Removals and applications — tally up your deficit, and recognize you may not be able to put it all back on in the year ahead
  • Maybe you apply more phosphorus at seeding with a crop that tolerates a little more (it’ll be there for next year)
  • Stick with the macro-type conventional fertilizer or picking up some of the new products? Return on investment still has to be there.
  • “Release” of unavailable phosphorus?
  • i.e. Humic acid, Low salt P fertilizer formulations
  • Low analysis is still low analysis (of a product)
  • Wireworm scouting! Do it in the spring, as the worms are in the top soil. Sometimes it can sneak up on you. Editor’s note: wireworm are icky.
  • Jim Hale has a weird neighbour applying sugar to try and control wireworm. So, there’s that.
  • There really aren’t any decent biological controls of wireworm
  • Now, we learn about Alberta commissions/extension network on research protocols for on-farm trials. Super cool!

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