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Long Term Fertilizer Use Increases Soil Organic Matter

by 5m Editor
9 February 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1442. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1442

Research being conducted by the University of Saskatchewan shows the long term use of fertilizer at recommended rates contributes to a building of organic matter content in the soil.

A multi-discipline project being conducted by the University of Saskatchewan's Department of Soil Science is evaluating the effects of repeated application of swine manure at various rates for comparison to the use of commercial fertilizer.

The work is being conducted at four sites representing the provinces four climatic zones and has been underway from five to eight years.

Senior Researcher Dr. Jeff Schoenau says, after a number of years, the organic matter content in the soil has been rising and he credits the increased plant growth resulting from using fertilizer.

"I think what we're seeing is a trend toward increases in organic matter content in the surface of the soil.

Even though the swine manure itself doesn't add a lot of organic matter directly, the nutrients in that swine manure do certainly stimulate plant growth.

After a period of years, which is what our plots have been in for place now, the increased additions of crop residue there would be expected to and indeed are starting to show an effect of increasing the amount of humus in that topsoil.

When we look at the effect of that increase in humus, I think that's beneficial because organic matter imparts a lot of beneficial properties in the soil.

It's a storehouse of nutrients, it improves the soil tilth, it allows the water to enter better so, again, it's stimulating that plant growth and adding more residue to the soil".

Dr. Schoenau says the application of swine manure fertilizer and the application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer are producing somewhat similar results in terms of enhancing the organic matter content of the soil.

He says the big factor is the addition of nutrients stimulate crop growth allowing more plant residue to end up in the soil, building its organic matter content.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor