Category: Soil

New research shows cover crops support higher yields

Many farmers understand the benefits cover crops can bring to their operation. From reduced soil erosion to improved soil structure, nutrient recycling, moisture retention and much more – the list of benefits is long and impressive. But how do cover crops impact yield? Do all these benefits add up to higher production and a better… Read more »

Soil awareness, new genetic resistance, and why canola is a cool crop, literally — Canola Week wrap-up

Around 375 agronomists, researchers and farmers were in Saskatoon this week for the inaugural “Canola Week.” Organized by the Canola Council of Canada and AgWest Bio, the conference combined the annual Canola Industry Meeting, Canola Innovation Day and the Canola Discovery Forum, with several dozen experts sharing their latest findings in canola agronomy, disease resistance,… Read more »

Corn School: How long does it take to add 1 percent soil organic matter?

You’ve just finished combining a corn field and you want to know how much organic matter all that corn residue will contribute to your soil. RealAgriculture’s agronomist Peter Johnson tackles that question on our latest Corn School episode. Unfortunately, as Johnson explains, all those stalks and cobs won’t have much of an impact. When it… Read more »

Innovative Farmers take action on compaction

What happens when 400 innovative farmers, a team of agronomy and extension specialists, and a leading soil compaction researcher descend on an Ontario farm? You get Compaction Action – likely the most ambitious and insightful ‘hands-on’ farm research day ever attempted in the province. The event, hosted by the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario (IFAO), featured… Read more »

Risk versus reward: thinking critically about cover crops

It’s hard to find a farmer these days who doesn’t see some of the benefits cover crops can bring to their operation. From reduced soil erosion to improved soil structure, nutrient recycling, moisture retention and much more – the list of benefits is long and impressive. But how much is too much? Where and when… Read more »

Corn School: Tool helps eliminate compaction for bigger yields

Are the roots of your corn crop running into a cement pad six inches below the surface? It’s time to find out. In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Corn School, AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan demonstrates how growers can effectively use a soil penetrometer to locate a soil hardpan and help eliminate the compaction so plant… Read more »

Canola School: Confronting the topic of compaction

Soil compaction — as many other topics and issues in agriculture — has no simple solution. Marla Riekman, soil management specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, says in this Canola School episode that soil compaction is “one of the hardest topics to discuss with farmers.” She says this is because the easiest solution is to stay off the field,… Read more »

Tillage ‘Earthquakes’ and What Farmers Can Learn From a Forest

Mike Dorion calls himself ‘the compost kid’ and he believes farmers should think about their fields like he does his garden. The founder of Calgary-based Living Soil Solutions doesn’t suggest cash crop farmers use tea leaves to improve soil health, but he does preach the benefits of reducing tillage, banking organic matter to help increase… Read more »

Pump up Organic Matter — Feed Your Soil Like a Cow

How important is organic matter and how can you add more to your soil? Soil organic matter is farming’s Holy Grail and every farmer should want more, says Peter Johnson, RealAgriculture’s resident agronomist. In this video, Johnson shares some simple strategies on how farmers can pump up organic matter levels to hold more water and… Read more »

Wheat Pete’s Word, March 1: Peanuts (!), Soil Health, and Organic Matter

To the surprise of possibly few, Peter Johnson has officially been named a nut — a ground nut specialist, in fact. As of right now, Johnson is on his way home from a mission to Zambia, where he was named peanut specialist for the two weeks. What did he learn? If wheat is all about… Read more »

Healthy Soil Will Eat Your Underwear

How healthy is your soil? If you want to know all you have to do is bury your underwear, says Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) soil management specialist Adam Hayes. Last summer, Hayes helped members of the Renfrew County Soil and Crop Improvement Association bury underwear in their fields to determine the… Read more »

Chocolate Bars and Bran Cereal for Your Soil Bugs

There’s a concerning trend in Ontario’s soils: organic matter is being depleted. The decrease may seem small — about 0.8% over 12 years — but organic matter is vital to soil’s water holding capacity, nutrient-cycling ability, and compaction resiliency, to name just a few roles. What’s more, replacing lost soil organic matter is a slow,… Read more »

The Most Profitable Corn Grower, Cover Crops, & Accents Galore — SWAC ’17

The Southwest Agricultural Conference marks the official kick-off of the winter conference season, and field editors Bernard Tobin and Lyndsey Smith were there to catch all the best and brightest agronomy minds at work. In RealAgriculture tradition, Bern and Lyndsey took a few minutes at the end of the show to talk about their favourite speakers,… Read more »

Going Shallow? Let’s Talk Tickle Tillage

Two inches. That’s deep enough tillage for Dutton, Ontario, farmer Dave Durham. He uses a Great Plains Turbo-Max vertical tillage unit to “tickle” a wide rage of soils on his farm, including muck, sand and clays. In the latest episode of Real Agriculture’s Tillage Talk, agronomists Peter Johnson and Al McCallum quiz Durham about his… Read more »

How Deep Ripping Can Make A Compaction Problem Worse

If it’s done right, deep ripping can help address a compaction problem in the field, but if you’re not careful, it can also make it worse. As with any kind of tillage, you have the potential of breaking up soil aggregates with a deep ripper or subsoiler, but that’s not all, notes Aaron Daigh, soil… Read more »