Richard Haney’s USDA soil tests mimic natural nutrient availability.
|  USDA ARS/Peggy Gred  photo

Soil microbes more important than once assumed

There are more living organisms in one handful of healthy soil than there are humans on Earth. Their impact on soil fertility may soon change soil testing forever. Soil testing already plays an important role in nutrient management decisions. Standard soil tests reveal levels of particular forms of macro and micro nutrients, pH, salinity and […] Read more

A bioreactor is installed in an Iowa Soybean Association project in Iowa’s Hamilton County. Wood chips form the filter in the system. |  Laura Christianson photo

Keeping nitrogen from running away

A bioreactor trench 20 percent the size of a CFL end zone can filter up to 70 percent of the nitrates from an 80 acre tile drained field

Scientists around the globe are on a quest to keep cropland nitrogen out of waterways. A simple bioreactor trench filled with woodchips is one promising idea already being implemented. A great deal of research focuses on vegetated riparian buffer zones to absorb nitrogen and phosphorous, but these zones require a lot of land, which farmers […] Read more

Buffer zones don’t need to be huge

Contrary to what many farmers feel about riparian buffer zones, they do not need to take a lot of acres out of production. Prairie wildlife and conservation agencies have often touted riparian buffer zones as wide as 90 metres, which is maybe why we don’t see more of them. However, a 12-year study in North […] Read more


Manitoba SMAP project measures, collects, tests

CARMAN, Man. — A prairie sunrise is not easily rivalled, but Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield once described the sight of daybreak from space, where sunrises occur every 92 minutes, as a breathtaking display in which the “secret patterns of our planet are revealed.” These secret patterns are precisely what I am seeing after this July […] Read more