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Nitrogen Levels In The Soil Expected To Skyrocket

Farmers gathered some key information during Alberta's Agronomy Update this week.

The virtual event brought together over 500 participants throughout the two days.

One of the featured speakers was retired Soil Scientist Rigas Karamanos who cautioned producers about the impact the drought can have on the nutrient situation in the soils.

"Dry means that if you were to do a soil test lab you will realize there is a tremendous variability in the nutrients and especially when it comes to nitrogen. The nitrogen variability in the soil increases dramatically. Poor crops, of course, do not use nitrogen. And of course there is no nitrogen movement, so expect to have stranding of the nitrogen in the top inch or two of the soil."

Producers are encouraged to get a soil test done this spring so they know exactly what they are working with in the soil.

He says another thing that people should be aware of is that when you have a drought, there is a decrease in the soil pH.

"That decrease is also followed by an increase in the electrical conductivity, or the salts. They're more concentrated and of course, you will see some of the nutrients will be higher, such as phosphorus."

He says research following the 1988 drought showed pH levels were at 6.8, and when things went back to normal about five years later it was at 7.8 with
phosphorus, showing a difference of 12 pounds between the dry year and the wet year.

Overall, he notes it's very important to make sure that you get that soil test done.

He adds that if you did a soil test in the fall, and you're in an area that has seen some moisture, then you'll want to run the test again.

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