Tag: John Heard

Heavy Rains, Nutrient Losses and the Case for “Variable Source” Nitrogen

Excess water after heavy rains in parts of Western Canada is not only impairing plant growth through oxygen deficiency, but it’s also causing significant nitrogen losses. As John Heard, soil fertility specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, explains in this video, N losses depend on soil type, with rain causing leaching in sandier soils and more denitrification… Read more »

Does Lightning Actually Help a Crop Green Up?

A science textbook will tell you the intense energy surrounding a lightning bolt causes a reaction between oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere that results in rain depositing nitric acid on the soil, where it becomes a usable form of nitrogen fertilizer for plants. On Twitter and in coffee shops, farmers sometimes give lightning credit for a field “greening up” after… Read more »

Soil Lessons from Mud Wrestling

Manitoba’s inaugural Canolapalooza was held earlier this week in Portage, a combination of a canola field day and a summer festival, complete with mini-golf, a movie theatre and mud wrestling. Or mud arm wrestling, to be specific. Manitoba Mud Wrestling Federation-sanctioned referee John Heard joined Kelvin Heppner to discuss their soil-themed contribution to the field day… Read more »

Ladies & Gentlemen, Welcome to the 4R Nutrient Casino

Farmers are dealt a hand of cards each year. There are cards of fortune and cards of misfortune. Maybe it’s a wet spring or corn prices below $4/bu or skyrocketing fertilizer costs. Maybe you get all three in the same hand. A farmer can’t always choose what they’re dealt, but they can choose how to respond…. Read more »

Wheat School: Updating N Recommendations for Higher Yielding Wheat

New wheat varieties being grown in parts of Western Canada have made it possible to produce yields that are off the charts, quite literally. Much of the research supporting nitrogen rate recommendations for wheat on the prairies has been based on a top-end yield target of 65 bushels per acre. “That was quite adequate when we were growing Barrie… Read more »

Corn School West: The Greenseeker, N-Rate Ramps & An App for Readings

There’s a difference between new technology that becomes a useful tool and new technology that’s just a toy. The difference is largely in the practical application of what any given technology makes possible. Exhibit A: the smartphone — great and powerful technology, but likely also overwhelmingly used to share silly cat videos and status updates…. Read more »

Wheat School: Nitrogen Application Timing for Winter Wheat

Deciding on rates of nitrogen application for any crop can be a daunting task, but with winter wheat’s unique growing season, the choice is even further challenged by timing. Applying nitrogen in the fall can reduce the need to get in early in the spring, but could be a bit of a gamble dependent on… Read more »

Soybean School West: Why Phosphorus Management for Soybean is Unique

Phosphorus management is and must be a long term proposition. Phosphorus behaves very differently than nitrogen in the soil, as it binds tightly to soil particles and releases slowly over time. This is good and bad — it’s not subject to the same loss risk that N is, but it also means that sometimes the… Read more »

Wheat School: Two Methods for Evaluating Survival of Winter Wheat

As the snow retreats (quickly now, get on with you), it’s time to get out there and take a good look at the winter wheat stand. There is such thing as doing a winterkill evaluation too early, but, depending on the method you use, you could need up to two weeks to get a good… Read more »

Agronomy Geeks, Western Canadian Edition — Ep. 4: How do we lose N? Let me count the ways

Ever had a soil test come back with some surprising nitrogen levels? While it’s typically lower than expected (don’t we all wish N didn’t just disappear?), every now and then a crop may have left some behind due to any number of factors, like water availability, timing of mineralization or some other something that maybe… Read more »