Summit on Canadian Soil Health 2017

Student Scientific Poster Competition

August 22-23, 2017
Delta Hotel, Guelph, Ontario

The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), Ontario Chapter is pleased to be sponsoring a Student Scientific Poster Competition as part of the Summit on Canadian Soil Health 2017, organized by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC). The encouragement of young people to pursue their education and careers in natural resource management has long been an objective of the SWCS Ontario Chapter, in particular through the annual awarding of the Arthur D. Latornell Award of Merit. This poster session provides an opportunity for students to showcase their project work and their interest and concern for soil health specifically.

The Student Scientific Poster Competition is seeking posters that convey scientific theory/hypothesis, methods and results related to a project or thesis a student has personally undertaken. Students are required to register to be part of the poster session and must be present on August 23 to potentially receive their prize. Student poster participants are provided a reduced registration fee ($150 prior to July 7, $175 after July 7) that includes full participation in the Summit on August 23 – a tremendous opportunity to learn about soil conservation issues from renowned experts.


  • The costs and consequences of soil degradation
  • Technical and scientific gaps that contribute to soil degradation
  • Motivators and drivers that encourage soil remediation and care
  • New information, new opportunities


  • Relevancy of poster to Summit themes
  • Ability to clearly communicate scientific question, method and results
  • Ability to convey importance of question/results to public

Prizes will be awarded for winner ($300), first runner up ($200) and second runner up ($100). To enter the competition, students must register for the Summit and be in attendance the day of the Summit (Aug 23, 2017) to receive their award.

Register on-line for the Summit through the link on the SCCC website


  Early Bird (before July 7, 2017)

  • One Day Summit (Wed Aug 23): $150
  • Full Summit (Summit & Tour): $200

  After July 7, 2017

  • One Day Summit (Wed Aug 23): $175
  • Full Summit (Summit & Tour): $225

Posters will be on shared poster boards. Maximum size of poster is 44"x44" (112 cm x 112 cm); please respect size limitations in order to share the board space. Poster space will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Posters can be attached with velcro or push pins. Posters are to be set up between 5 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 22; contact the Poster Session Chair if this will be impossible. Posters that have been or will be submitted to other conferences will be accepted.

Poster entry information is to be emailed to Pamela Joosse, SWCS, Poster Session Chair () or entered on-line at: Entries received by July 31, 2017 are eligible for cancellation fees. Posters will be accepted up to Tuesday, August 22 with registration fees and entry information. Only presenters for which registration and payment has been received will be judged in the competition.

Any questions about the Student Scientific Poster Competition can be directed to the Poster Session Chair Pamela Joosse at .


First place: Pedro Machado, PhD student at University of Guelph

Nitrous oxide emissions in response to adopting best management practices for nitrogen fertilization in corn production

Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are a global concern because N2O is a potent greenhouse gas and also contributes to ozone destruction. Agricultural soils + nitrogen (N) fertilizers contribute to global N2O emissions. Synchronizing N fertilization with plant N demand contributes to mitigating agricultural N2O emissions. Applying N at the right time and using improved N sources, such as fertilizers treated with urease and nitrification inhibitors are ways of achieving this synchronicity. Despite the potential of urease and nitrification inhibitors to mitigate N2O emissions, results from the literature are not consistent. The aim of this study was to compare N2O emission from a corn (Zea mays L.) field in response to four combinations of N fertilization management practices, consisting of (1) urea fertilizer applied at planting (conventional practice) (2) applying urea treated with urease and nitrification inhibitor at planting instead of conventional urea , (3) delaying N fertilization from planting to side-dress stage (UAN application), and (4) combining the use of UAN treated with inhibitors and delayed application. Half hourly N2O fluxes were measured semi-continuously by a micrometeorological method for each of the four management practices. Preliminary results from 2015 showed no difference in daily N2O flux between urea and urea treated with inhibitors applied at planting (p>0.05). Also, no difference in N2O flux was found between the conventional practice and the plot side-dress fertilized with UAN (p>0.05). Notably, the combination of both improved N source and better timing of N fertilization resulted in lower N2O emission compared to UAN applied at side-dress stage, and compared to urea applied at planting (p<0.05). These results clarify some of the questions associated with adoption of best management practices in mitigating N2O emission. This trial will be continued into 2016 to test interannual variability effects on N2O emission.

First place: Pedro Machado, PhD student at University of Guelph

Second place: Jaclyn Clark, MSc student at University of Guelph

Interseeding Cover Crops into Standing Corn to Address Soil Health Concerns in the Corn-Soybean Rotation

Dominant agricultural trends in the Midwestern United States and Southern Ontario involve increasingly simplified crop rotations, with small grains becoming less frequent and corn and soybeans dominating the landscape. This loss of diversification has introduced problems such as soil degradation, increased reliance on agricultural inputs, increased pest pressure and reduced cropping system resiliency. Potential mitigation strategies for these issues include the use of cover crops to improve nutrient cycling, reduce erosion, and improve soil structure and function. A split-plot study was established across three sites in southern Ontario (Elora, Ridgetown, and Trent) to explore a potential soil remediation strategy using cover crops. In this study, red clover and annual ryegrass were drilled singly and in combination into v5 corn using the Penn State Interseeder, and compared to a no cover crop control and a hand broadcast treatment. There was also a layer of harvest treatments, consisting of corn harvested for either silage or grain, and those yields were analysed along with cover crop and weed biomass samples to assess the feasibility of this technique. It was found that in most cases, cover crops could be successfully established without detriment to corn silage or grain yield, or soybean yield in the subsequent season. Cover crop biomass was low and variable, though generally greater in silage corn when compared to grain corn plots. Across the six site years, cover crop treatments varied by species and planting method in their response to different types of stress. The competitive nature of grain corn presents challenges to cover crop biomass accumulation, and more research is needed to ensure that soil health benefits may be captured when interseeding into standing corn.

Second place: Jaclyn Clark, MSc student at University of Guelph

Third place: Mark Libby, MSc student at University of Guelph

Laboratory Simulated Freeze-Thaw Cycle Effects on Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Soils

Agricultural soils are the primary source of global nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. Studies have shown that freezing and thawing of soils leads to increased emissions of N2O; however, the linkage between soil freeze-thaw (FT) cycles and N2O emissions remains poorly understood. Previous studies have concluded that production of N2O during FT cycles is linked to anaerobic denitrification. Denitrifiers are strongly influenced by soil moisture and temperature, and by the availability of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). The aim of this laboratory study was to characterize the relationships between N2O emissions and soil C and N dynamics. A factorial arrangement was used with three treatments: three levels of freezing duration (1000, 3000, and 5000 Freezing Degree Hours), two levels of amendment (+ or - manure), and two levels of crop type (corn, or a perennial crop mix of barley, timothy, and tall fescue). Emissions of N2O were measured with the static chamber method weekly during freezing and daily for two weeks during thaw. C and N analysis of soil sampling was grouped into three important subcategories: beginning of the experiment, freeze and thaw. Sampling of frozen soil core samples was made possible with specially designed sub-cores that could be split in three increments, 0-5, 5-10, and 10-15 cm layers for analysis. Significant fluctuations of C and N contents were observed in soils treated with manure over the duration of the experiment relative to controls in the 0-5 cm layer, particularly following thaw. These results suggest that the 0-5 cm layer of soils have the greatest influence on N2O emissions from agricultural soils.

Third place: Mark Libby, MSc student at University of Guelph

Honourable mention: Inderjot Chahal, PhD student at University of Guelph

Evaluation of Cornell soil health assessment and Haney soil health test using a medium-term cover crop experiment

For quantification of soil health, several indicators such as Cornell soil health assessment (CSHA), Haney soil health test (HSHT) have been used. However, only CSHA has been evaluated in Canada. Therefore, two medium-term (7-yr) cover crop (cc) experiments having (no cover control (no-cc), oat, oilseed radish (OSR), cereal rye, and a mixture of OSR+Rye) and 1-yr winter wheat straw management (retained (+S) and removed (-S)) as split plot arranged as RCBD with 4 replications were used to assess tomato yield, and applicability of HSHT and CSHA to detect soil health differences in 2015 and 2016. A composite soil sample at 0-15 cm depth (?20 cores, 3.5 cm diameter) was collected from each plot at tomato harvest. The center 2m of two rows from each plot were harvested and graded for tomato yield assessment. In 2015, oat had higher marketable yield than rye (91.4 vs. 76.6±3.90 Mg ha-1) (P<0.05); no differences with other cc were detected. The highest value of HSHT score (100±8.21%) was observed for Rye+S. The CSHA score was highest for OSR+Rye (70±1.28%) (P=0.0051) which was not different than rye and OSR individually. In 2016, OSR had the highest marketable yield (125±5.84 Mg ha-1) with the trend of OSR?OSR+Rye>no-cc=oat=rye. The HSHT score was not affected by cc and straw management. The CSHA score was highest for oat (74.2 ±2.04%) and rye (78.6 ± 2.04%) (P=0.0020). These results indicate that HSHT and CSHA are applicable in picking out differences when cc are planted over a medium-term. However, no significant correlations were observed between CSHA and HSHT scores, yield and scores in both years. Therefore, due to the impact of cc on HSHT and CSHA in both years, it is recommended that cc should be integrated into the cropping systems for sustaining soil health on a long-term basis.

Third place: Mark Libby, MSc student at University of Guelph

Group photo of the Summit Student Scientific Poster Competition winners after the poster award session at the 2017 Summit on Canadian Soil Health:

Left to Right: Jaclyn Clark (2nd place), Inderjot Chahal (Honorable mention), Pam Joosse, Pedro Machado (1st place), Mark Libby (3rd place)