Don Lobb testifies at the Senate committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

Senate committee hears that soils need new priority

Soil experts testify that the federal government should take a greater role in soil research and data management

The Senate committee on Agriculture and Forestry recently heard that agricultural soil is declining, and the issue needs more attention from the federal government. Five presenters, including several from Ontario, told the committee that trends to less tillage have declined as crop prices have generally been strong and farms have grown larger. Why it matters: […] Read more

Researchers found a biosynthetic network that shapes root microbiota.

A plant’s roots tailor its soil environment

Science Notes: Plants maintain the metabolites around them, which helps explain why plants grow in so many places

The small mustard plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) produces specialized metabolites capable of selectively altering the microbial communities of the soil surrounding its roots to suit its own purposes. While the findings may be useful in engineering beneficial root microbiota for sustainable agriculture, they may also, in part, explain why plants have evolved such vast metabolic diversification. […] Read more

This image shows how AAFC is using machine learning to design sampling locations, based on predictive soil maps. This is on the Upper Medway Watershed within the Thames River basin.

Information from above

The quest is on to obtain more detailed soil type and topography data on Ontario croplands from satellites

If farm agencies in Ontario were to make an information wish list, it would likely include detailed and up-to-date soil and topographical data. This information would, among other things, help farmers to achieve higher yields through better crop management, says Ontario Federation of Agriculture President Keith Currie. Why it matters: Ontario’s soil maps are many […] Read more

More diverse crop rotations are one area being targeting by food companies.

General Mills project could set standard for farm-level regulations

The company aims to influence a million acres of farmland by 2030

Large food companies are increasingly worried about the broad impact they have on the environment. Now their programs are reaching down to the farm level, although those influences are mostly in early stages. American farmers are at the vanguard of this trend, with companies like General Mills aiming to influence a million acres by 2030. Why […] Read more

The Veris iScan-plus harnesses four different sensing technologies, including an electrical conductivity array, red and infrared optical sensors, a capacitance moisture sensor and a thermopile sensor for soil temperature.

Sensor system logs four soil factors at once

The iScan can help farmers make decisions on adjustment of implements

Tillage and seeding implement manufacturers are giving farmers more working tool adjustment features. But how do you know what to adjust and which way to adjust it? Simply guessing is counter to the intent of these adjustments, said Veris Technologies manager Tyler Lund in a interview. He says Veris has just introduced a new system […] Read more


Cover crops can help keep soil from getting too hot and too cool too quickly in the fall.

Keeping cool under cover a benefit of cover crops

American farmers use cover crops to moderate soil temperature

Cover crops can positively affect a wide range of soil health characteristics. According to some American farmers, the ability of cover crops to moderate soil temperature is also important but less visually noticeable. Why it matters: Extreme soil temperatures limit biological activity. Keeping the ground covered helps moderate those swings, benefitting crops. According to Adam […] Read more

Deep ripping to eliminate a compaction layer should only be done after doing some work to find out exactly how deep that layer goes down in the soil profile.

Farmers should focus on reducing soil compaction

Digging holes can show how deep the problem of compaction lies below the surface

To till or not to till, that is the question. The question is simple but the answer isn’t. Ask different people for their opinions and you’ll get a variety of answers. The real answer might be “maybe. But if you do, do it properly.” Tillage specialists from Case IH said during an Arizona field tour […] Read more

Getting out of the tractor cab to check soil conditions is important to getting 
the crop off to a strong start.

Patience pays off to ensure the best soil planting conditions

Temperature and moisture are the main components to analyze when planting

Spring 2019 will arrive soon and the planting season is quickly approaching. Farmers spend most of their work time in a tractor during planting, but some of the most valuable time is off the tractor, checking soil conditions. “Boots in the field pays for itself every single time, getting out of the cab and double-checking, […] Read more


Variable rate fertilizer still has some detractors, but it has its place where fertility is variable.

Variable land good place to start with variable rate fertilizer

Best strategies, hiring custom operators or DIY

Farmers on land that’s variable in soil type, such as southwest of London, are likely already thinking about variable rate fertilizer application. Darryl Boersma, who farms a large number of acres in Mt. Brydges southwest of London, has been doing variable rate for 17 years. “This whole area is pretty variable, one of the more […] Read more

Soybean planting date can have significant effects on yield.

Soil management can boost soybean yield to full potential

A big data project in the U.S. has yielded precise information on soil zones and crop management decisions

Farmers in Ontario grow soybeans that yield about 50 bushels per acre. Sean Conley, Wisconsin’s state soybean extension specialist, says the yield potential is 120 bushels. The differences are about the same in the United States and Conley set out to use some large data sets to figure out why. The answer? Not every field, […] Read more