Wheat Pete's Word, Mar 8: Rock phosphate, base saturation, and beautiful buckwheat


Let’s talk fertility!

There are some great questions coming in to Peter Johnson on phosphate, base saturation being useful, tissue tests, and more, so that’s where Wheat Pete’s Word is focused this week.

Have a question you’d like Johnson to address or some yield results to send in? Disagree with something he’s said? Leave him a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].


  • Start on a somber note. Gerard Cornelis passed away this weekend. A tremendous farmer, a tremendous supporter of soil and crop a community individual, a dear friend who always came to meetings with a smile, and a question and some input of what he’d seen on his own farm
  • Keep that sap flowing! There’s an old adage that says, “How goes the maple syrup season, so goes the year.”
  • Pete says, he’s decided we’re into spring,
  • @climatologist49 tweeted out a great picture of when you look at the data, where the astronomical spring really is the first date of spring March the 21st versus the meteorological which is March 1st.
  • Too early IS too early for nitrogen on the wheat crop
  • Putting that manure out there. Why? Why do you think that is okay? Because you can’t see the damage you’re doing from compaction
  • We get more snow, and then this is where we get into real troubles because that snow melts and that manure, that phosphorus fertilizer moves off in the snow melt, and it ends up in the lakes and that we can’t do that we simply cannot do that
  • Now, on to fear and climate change. Bjorn Lomborg spoke at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference about how we need to put climate change fear into perspective
  • There’s real numbers and historical numbers, and we don’t want to downplay climate change. But man, if the sea level goes up a meter, we’re going to move away from the coast or we’re going to be like Holland, we’re going to build dikes to protect those areas so that they don’t flood!
  • Let’s remember the ability of mankind to adapt!
  • A company called Living Carbon have developed genetically modified poplar trees, which grow 50% faster, and sequester 27% more carbon in lab results
  • Technology has its risks, but there’s a GMO thing that could really help take some of that carbon out of the atmosphere and reduce climate change impacts
  • We now have Group 14 resistant kochia (Eragon, Heat are in that group.) Kochia is more like waterhemp in terms of how many seeds it produces. (Link here for more)
  • As we continue to put herbicide selection pressure, they are going to continue to develop resistance
  • Pete called buckwheat beautiful! Ryan Barrett from the PEI Potato Board presented some data on wireworm and potatoes — wireworm don’t like it!
  • Easier fit in rotation than mustard, which is also a biofumigant
  • Wireworm are a long-term pest, as they have a five t 10-year life cycle. Back in the day, Lindane controlled wireworms. We used enough Lindane that we actually reduced those wireworm populations to really low levels in the soil
  • After Lindane came the neonicotinoids, which don’t kill the worms, and so the numbers probably didn’t increase very quickly, but they have gotten to the level now where many growers are are seeing some issues
  • But if a cover crop of buckwheat after winter wheat could help…hmmm…..that’s a game changer.
  • Caution! Buckwheat can set seed in as little as five weeks and can be a weedy problem
  • Could be a yield bump in corn after buckwhea, the yield increase wasn’t massive
  • Let’s talk fertility! Base saturation is all the rage right now
  • Ontario doesn’t use base saturation in its official recommendations
  • For a farm on heavy clay soil, like quite heavy clay soil, a lot of cool temperatures coming off the lake. And what Mark said is that even though he has incredibly high for potash levels, he’s done the trials that by putting 100 pounds of potash in an eight inch band vs surface applied he gets a four bushel soybean yield increase,
  • We probably need a higher level of phosphorus, of potash in heavy clay soil,
  • In dry years, the clay soil holds on to the potash so tightly, and there’s not enough water filled around the clay for the plant root to get it off of that clay particle
  • Can a tissue test tell you what you need to know?
  • Does applying more phosphorus and a higher tissue test and grain sample phosphorus, get a higher yield?
  • There are different pools of phosphorus, and that phosphorus can be absorbed on the clay, how does rock phosphate

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Other Episodes

Wheat Pete's Word (view all)Season 9 (2023) Episode 42

Please register to read and comment.


Register for a RealAgriculture account to manage your Shortcut menu instead of the default.