Nitrogen most important of crop nutrients

This is the fourth column on macro-nutrients. This is part one of a two-part column on nitrogen. Nitrogen is by far the most important, the most complicated, the most controversial and possibly the least understood nutrient commonly used by farmers. Nitrogen is critical to making crops grow, mature and produce grain. A crop lacking nitrogen […] Read more

Sulfur can hold the limit on a crop’s potential

This week, the “nutrient back to the basics” series will discuss the secondary nutrient — sulfur. For much of the world, sulfur has been considered of secondary interest compared to nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. However, as organic matter was depleted and canola, which is a very heavy user of sulfur, grew in popularity, sulfur deficiencies […] Read more

Early seeded canola can avoid some threats by getting a good start, even in cold soil, but hard frosts in late May can end what would have been a great crop fairly quickly.  | Michael Raine photo

Choosing seeding date can be tricky; early has advantages

Crops can tolerate spring frost better than early fall frost. To offset the cold stress associated with early seeding, follow these best management practices: Seed as early as possible Weather changes at this time of year make it difficult to predict when growers will be on the land. Growers are starting to seed as I […] Read more


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