Soil Scientist Calls for Site Specific Soil Tests to Manage Crop Nutrient Applications

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2063. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 16 February 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2063

A former Agriculture Canada soil scientist is calling on the Manitoba government to consider site specific soil testing as a means of managing the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus that end up in the province's waterways.

A draft Water Quality Management Zone Regulation for Nutrients, which categorizes agricultural land into four classifications based on productivity, is currently under public consultation.

The proposed regulation outlines management practices and sets nutrient application limits designed to reduce the migration of nitrogen and phosphorus into waterways.

Dr. Loraine Bailey, who spent 35 years at the Brandon Research Centre before moving to the private sector, says the maps being used to define the water quality management zones raise several concerns.

"First of all they're broad scale maps. They do not and were never intended to look at environmental management because they're too broad a scale. Any one of these farmers in here, they could take you on their land on their farm and they could show you on that farm what they would call class four land. Nothing can produce on it.

They could also show you on that same farm class one land. Consequently I think that what should be done is site specific management. That's what should be done so that you do not have a zone where everybody in that zone has to live with the same criteria.

I know that right now, in some of the world that I do contract, I could go out in one field and that on that one field I could show you levels of phosphorus that range from about sixty to three. We have to go to a unit, I'm not saying let's take a field, I'm saying go to a unit that is manageable."

Dr. Bailey suggests much of the confusion could be eliminated by getting rid of the maps and basing nutrient application rates on the results of site specific soil tests.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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