Bringing Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research Results to the Farm
Farmers will soon have some new ‘tools’ in their toolbox to help them increase yields and reduce costs thanks to research from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Keith Reid, a soil scientist and agronomist working out of AAFC’s regional office in Guelph, is working on two projects which will bring important research results closer to application for producers.
“We’re working at transferring AAFC research results to the sector,” says Reid. “In essence, we’re looking for ‘the sweet spot’ where farmers can optimize agricultural production while minimizing environmental impacts and costs. So it’s not just how much nutrient to use, but where, when and how.”
One of Reid’s projects focuses on phosphorus. The project is trying to identify what parts of fields would be at greatest risk for phosphorus loss. For example, areas where a large source of phosphorus intersects with a high runoff potential (like a gully leading to a stream) may be at risk. Current predictive tools are incomplete because they do not address issues such as tile drains which allow faster water drainage, and the effect of winter on nitrogen and phosphorus losses, a topic which has been extensively studied by another AAFC scientist, Dr. Martin Chantigny (of the Soil and Crop Research and Development Centre in Quebec).
The project is a collaboration among AAFC researchers in Harrow, Guelph and Kentville, as well as experts from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Quebec Ministry of the Environment. The project will create new predictive tools which more accurately reflect the processes driving phosphorus losses in eastern Canada. These tools should be available to provincial partners and other stakeholders in 2016.
Another of Reid’s projects deals with nitrogen. Applying the right rate of nitrogen fertilizer is critical to productive crop growth while minimizing environmental impacts.
Over the next three years, Reid will co-lead this project with Dr. Nicolas Tremblay (of AAFC’s Horticulture Research and Development Centre in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec). They’re developing a software tool to help farmers decide on nitrogen recommendations for corn. Eventually wheat, potatoes and canola will also be included.
The project will incorporate different sources of information (weather, soil type, etc.) to help farmers and crop consultants decide the right rate for applying fertilizer. Testing will be complete by 2015 with this tool available for use by 2016.
“Our continued health and prosperity depends on proper management of our soils, but with the diversity of soils in Canada there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution,” says Reid. “Our challenge is to find ways to help farmers put the right management in place for their individual situations.”
For more information, contact:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
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