New Tools Allow Effective Phosphorous Management

CANADA - New and existing tools are providing crop and livestock producers the ability to effectively manage the amount of phosphorous that ends up being applied to the land to fertilizer crops, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 20 February 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

In 2006 the provincial government revised the Manitoba Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management regulation to address the risk to surface water quality from excess phosphorus applications from livestock manure.

University of Manitoba soil science professor Dr. Wole Akinremi says, although, phosphorus is critical to crop development, excess amounts can end up in waterways creating an environmental risk so the maintaining the correct balance is critical.

Dr. Wole Akinremi-University of Manitoba

The tools that farmers have depends upon the type of industry.

For swine producers, for example, one of the important tools is the use of phytase enzyme.

When they use phytase it makes the phosphorous in the diet more available to the animal with less ending up in manure and less phosphorous ending up in the land.

Also the new technology coming out now is highly available barley or highly available wheat lines.

These have less phytate P and so the P is more available to the animal reducing the level in the manure.

For grain farmers one of the important tools would be the soil test.

I think the soil test is the farmer's friend and they should make sure that they know what level of phosphorous they have and, if the phosphorous is in the medium to high range, then there's no point adding a lot of phosphorous.

Just probably add what you think the plant will take up, which would be probably 10 to 20 pounds per acre of P.

The soil test is something that farmers can use to know how much they've got and so to let them know how much they can add.

Dr. Akinremi says, in areas where phosphorus is medium to high, the long term goal is to match the amount applied to the soil to the amount removed by the crop.

He concedes, it may be difficult to strike that balance in areas where soil phosphorous is very low.

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