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Overcoming the Soil Health Challenge

Our Custom Research team is tackling soil health in a new nutrient trial with Replenish Nutrients Ltd.

The three-year rotational study hopes to provide southern Alberta producers with a yield benefit, or a crop health benefit. Our rotation includes canola, wheat, and faba bean – all of which are popular amongst growers.

This study has three locations; one in Lethbridge, Bow Island, and Brooks – all of which are irrigated sites. These sites were selected to give us as much variety as possible, with weather and soil conditions.

Before seeding, each plot was soil sampled twice – one sample was sent to Down to Earth Labs for nutrient analysis, the other received a biological analysis from the CARA Soil Health. This allowed us to create a specific fertilizer recommendation for each crop.

Soil health is a complex system; the more data, the better for our research.

Michaela Gateman (left) and Morgan Hetesy (right) seed faba beans for the Replenish Soil Health trial

Increased soil health affects the big picture

Producers stand to get the most benefit from improved soil health. Soil health can affect crop health, and healthier soils require less inputs. Which, with today’s fertilizer prices, is surely welcomed.

The products being used in this study have a low salt index, which separates it from the usual fertilizers. Having a low salt index may have a reduced impact on the microbial populations in the soil.

We hope to track this, and other factors relating to soil health, in this study. In Year 2 of the study, we will continue with the fertilizer recommendations at each plot and continue into Year 3. Following the harvest in Year 3, we will soil sample each plot again and have the same analyses done to see if the nutrient supplements changed anything.

The low salt index allows us to apply the product in-furrow. Replenish products have a more complete blend of nutrients compared to Urea or MAP. However, for this study, we supplemented nitrogen with side banded urea.

Custom Research Manager Trevor Deering (center) steers the seeder for the Replenish Soil Health trial.

Our goal is to determine the benefits of this product, or at least discover the trade-offs, to give producers in southern Alberta the security they deserve when planning their growing season.

Stay tuned for future updates on this study and ensure you have the best products for your field!