Developing a soil health assessment protocol for Saskatchewan producers
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Maintaining and building soil health is an essential component of long-term sustainable agriculture. Soil health can be defined as the capacity of a soil to function, which reflects sustained biological productivity, environmental quality, and plant health. Farmers need appropriate tools or methods for assessing and interpreting the soil health status of their soils, however, there is no standardized and prairie-based soil health test available. Thus, research is needed to address this gap. We currently have a project underway to assess soil health across Saskatchewan, which will contribute to developing a Saskatchewan Soil Health Assessment Protocol (SSHAP). Soil samples from the 0-15, 15-30, and 30-60 cm depth were collected from 56 fields across 26 sites in Sept and Oct 2018. The selected sites represented various Agri-Arm sites, producer fields, and AAFC long-term sites. The selected sites were representative of Saskatchewan agriculture as most sites were previously cropped with wheat or canola; other sites had barley, chickpea, lentil, field pea, soybean, potato, and green manure. Native prairie samples were also collected. Soil samples were air dried and sieved (2mm) prior to analyses. Lab-work in currently underway to characterize soil health attributes, such as wet aggregate stability, active carbon, texture, pH, EC, organic matter, nutrient composition, mineralizable nitrogen, etc. The dataset will enable descriptive statistics for each soil health attribute, form which soil health scoring functions will be explored (similar to the Cornell Soil Health Assessment, but based on Saskatchewan soils). Maintaining soil health is an essential constituent of sustainable agriculture and having an appropriate and standardized method for quantifying and interpreting soil health status a logical first-step.
Part OfSoils and Crops Workshop
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