GHGMP News Releases

Producers across Canada target improved nutrient management

Indian Head, Sask., June 30, 2004

Although their on-farm demonstration projects are nearly 3,000 miles apart, producers in northeast B.C. and central Ontario reflect a national interest among farmers to manage crop nutrients as effectively as possible, says a national manager of environmental and conservation programs.

While one project near Fort St. John, B.C. and another at three Ontario locations, are different in design, they have a common objective says Doug McKell, executive director of Soils Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC).

"Producers are interested in production practices that not only improve yields, but also improve nutrient management," says McKell. "Farmers appreciate the need to optimize yields as cost effectively as possible, and at the same time manage manure and fertilizer in an environmentally sustainable manner."

In B.C.'s Peace River Region, on-farm demonstration projects are looking at how various rates of manure can improve pasture and hayland productivity and stand longevity. In Ontario, producers are looking at a combination of soil testing and various rates of commercial fertilizer in winter wheat as techniques to lower the amount of residual nitrogen in the soil.

More detailed description of the respective projects can be found in recently released features posted on SCCC website at: www.soilcc.ca

The B.C. and Ontario projects are examples of a wide range of projects across the country funded in part by the federal Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program. The soils component of the program is administered by SCCC. "A common objective behind all projects is to evaluate and demonstrate practical techniques that not only benefit production but contribute to Canada's overall goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says McKell.

Near Fort St. John, producers are learning recommended rates of dry manure not only increases forage yields, but can increase longevity of pasture and hayland. Keeping these forage stands productive, longer increases the amount of carbon dioxide removed the atmosphere and stored or sequestered as carbon in the soil.

The first year of a project comparing commercial fertilizer and manure applied to a 10-year-old forage stand, produced a one-tonne per acre increase in forage production and boosted crude protein by three percent.

Fine tuning commercial fertilizer application rates through on-farm demonstration projects near Ottawa, Milton and London is showing Ontario winter wheat growers can use lower than recommended fertilizer rates to maintain top grain yields. This means there's reduced surplus nitrogen in the soil at risk of being leached into groundwater or being lost to atmosphere in the form of nitrous oxide in a process known as denitrification.

While results varied depending on the site, the general indication is that mid-range fertilizer application rates (about 90 pounds of actual nitrogen per acre) produced yields equal to conventional, higher application rates of 125 pounds per acre. Further measurements showed at the mid application rates there was also much lower residual nitrogen in the soil at the end of the growing season.

"No one project or single management change makes a huge difference, but it's a case of every bit helps," says McKell. "If each producer adopts practices that have the dual benefit of improving productivity or reducing costs, and at the same time reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, there can be a significant cumulative effect."

The GHGMP supports a broad range of projects across Canada with the goal to promote awareness of agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) administers the delivery of the soil and nutrient management sector component of the program. For more information on activities, visit the SCCC's Web site at www.soilcc.ca.


For more information, contact:

Jerome Damboise, Co-ordinator
Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre
Phone: (506) 475-4040
Web site: www.soilcc.ca

Harold Rudy, Ontario field co-ordinator
Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program
Phone: (519) 826-4217

Sandra Burton, Northern British Columbia field co-ordinator
Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program
Phone (250) 789-6885