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Replenishing Soil Health

Our Custom Research team finished their first of three years in working towards improving soil health.

Together, with Replenish Nutrients, we hope to find new opportunities for growers to improve their soil health. The benefit of our work with the Rebuilder 0-17-0-12(S) and HESO 0-9-20-20(S) Replenish products is the chance to study effects on yields and crop quality along with influences on soil health! Each product contains fertilizer with proprietary activated compost, which provides the key microorganisms needed to get the mineral nutrients into a plant available form.

Summer staff Michaela Gateman & Morgan Hetesy
enjoy seeding the Lethbridge site
for the Replenish study

Additionally, these products have a low salt index – neither product contains nitrogen in their compounds, with allow them to be added in furrow with the seed. The lack of nitrogen lowers the possibility of seed injury in furrow, especially if side-banded with a product to supplement nitrogen. Adding too much nitrogen during seeding risks lowering the pH level of the soil. This soil acidification leads to seed toxicity, which terminates the seed. Removing this stress on the emerging seedlings will hopefully give crops a better chance in the important early stages.

“Our hope with this project is to see if it will have lesser impact on the soil, while still providing the seed with proper nutrients,” says Trevor Deering, Custom Research Team Lead at Farming Smarter.

To test these products and collect the most results possible, a full-scale soil health regime was completed before seeding. This provided us with a baseline understanding of the soil’s condition and allowed us to make treatment plans for each crop at each of our three locations.

In order to understand an effective range of application rates for the two products, we included two rates for each crop – one at 100% of the recommended rate and another at 70% of the recommended rate (low rate). The two Replenish products will be compared against a no fertilizer (control) and standard fertilizer program (synthetic).

“We wanted to give the crop what it needs, but we also wanted to see what happens to soil health and yields if we reduced on-farm inputs,” adds Deering.

With background nutrients in mind, we selected our rates based on what we thought an average yield for each crop in the area would be. The chosen rates will remain constant throughout all three years of the study.

Replenishing Rotations

Trevor Deering, Custom Research Lead at Farming Smarter, gives the Replenish trial two thumbs up!

In addition to the rates remaining constant, our site locations will remain constant throughout the study. We have sites in Lethbridge, Brooks, and Bow Island. These locations were chosen to provide us with a variety of soil types and environmental conditions to aid in our research.

While Brooks and Lethbridge have similar environments and soil properties, Brooks receives more rain and less wind per year than Lethbridge. Additionally, Bow Island’s soil is comprised of roughly 70% sand, while the other two sites sit around 40% sand.

For this study, we’ve randomized blocks within the reps based on the crop, across all reps, to create a randomized complete block. The crops we are rotating are wheat, canola, and faba bean. Depending on which crop was first planted in a rep, it will follow this rotation throughout the next two years of the project. Randomizing this rotation will allow us to see if there is any noticeable effect on the soil health when we return for the second soil health sampling regime as the study concludes

Learn more about the project with our Replenish Nutrient Trial Plot Shot!