The Nature and Management of Salt-Affected Land in Saskatchewan

salts-in-soilsExcerpt taken from Saskatchewan Agriculture Soils and Crops Branch

Effects of Salt on Plant Growth

The primary effect of salts in soils is to deprive plants of water. Plants need both the water and the nutrients dissolved in it for proper growth. The sap in plant roots contains salt which attracts water into the plant via osmotic pressure. Dissolved salts in the soil increase the osmotic pressure of the soil solution. This decreases the rate at which water from the soil will enter the roots. If the soil solution becomes too concentrated the plants slowly starve, though the supply of water and dissolved nutrients in the soil may be more than adequate. Simply put, the salts prevent the water and nutrients from entering the plant.

Learn more about soil salinity.

Contact BioAgronics to discuss with our experts the effect of salinity on your crops or other underlying factors that may be affecting your yield.

Tillage Time?

I think we can all agree that the minimum- and no-till production systems much of the Prairies have adopted are a good thing.

It holds the soil down, preventing wind and water erosion, it’s generally an environmental winner and perhaps even more importantly it was an economic home run for growers, dramatically reducing expense and effort by eliminating multiple spring field operations.

At the same time I think it’s important we all acknowledge that it’s a new system. For roughly 12,000 years the human species raised annual grain crops using regular tillage, constantly refining our practices over time. Now that we’ve settled on a new and we think better system of raising our sustenance, is there any reason to think that evolutionary process as we learn more about what we’re doing, and the ins-and-outs of it, should stop?

Continue reading

Information Overload

It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another soil issue or fertility question you need to be aware of.

It might be salinity, or fertility or how a certain crop reacts to any number of other variables. You’ll find these discussions popping up in farm newspapers, magazines, extension reports and even blog postings like this one.

It’s just too much, and more importantly, in my opinion, they’re all just a broad brush that look at individual issues, taken out of the context of a larger biological system that needs to be nourished and protected.

For example a recent article in a farm newspaper took a long look at whether or not soybeans need phosphorous fertilizer. It’s a fair question and the writer spent a lot of time talking to a whole lot of smart people about this question. In the end the answer appeared to be ‘yes, but it won’t respond to it.’ Continue reading

Look Up Occasionally

When’s the last time you looked up from the task at hand?

I ask this question because farmers have a lot of small details to manage every day, from getting a hired hand organized to deciding if this is the day for optimal fungicide application timing, and everything in between.

There are very few other industries where business owners work as long and tirelessly, over a very short production season. And of course even after the actual work of growing the crop is done, there’s still plenty of issues to manage like successfully marketing that crop.

I’m sure at times it can feel like a treadmill, where all you get to do is run constantly in an effort to stay in the same place. That’s not only an exhausting reality, it can also be harmful for your agronomic management of your operation. Continue reading

Big Bushels

Are bushels really king?

That might seem like a provocative question, but increasingly I hear my farm customers expressing some variation on the same sentiment. What these farmers are concluding – correctly in my opinion – is that maximizing production at all costs isn’t always the best strategy for a farm.

For a farm, cost effective bushels are really what’s most important. By raising the most cost-effective bushel of wheat, canola or soybeans, these farmers know they’re making their farm more economically sustainable, and at the same time they’re finding that when they make these choices in their farm management, they’re finding other benefits.

Their crops are more resilient to less-than-ideal conditions and produce better than the neighbours’. They may find they get equal or better production from a more cost-effective nutrient package, that overall weed pressure is lower and that soil-related issues like salinity occur less often. It even pays some nice environmental benefits like less nutrient runoff. Continue reading

Contributions to Sustainable Agriculture

We recently had the opportunity to attend the World Congress on the use of biostimulants in agriculture in Italy. As part of The European Biostimulants Industry Council (EBIC) literature they presented an excellent roundup on five contributions this sector makes to sustainable agriculture.

  1. More quality and yields
    Feeding a growing population requires yield increases and enhanced crop quality. Both are fostered by biostimulants.
  2. Boosting crop resilience
    Stressful growing conditions related to climate change require resilient crops. Biostimulants increase plant tolerance to, and recovery from, abiotic stresses.
  3. Reducing nutrient losses
    By facilitating nutrient assimilation, translocation and use, biostimulants help keep nutrients from leaching into neighbouring ecosystems.
  4. Helping the food chain
    Biostimulants can enhance the quality of produce, which improves farmer incomes, storage longevity and nutritional values of food
  5. Better Water Conservation
    Biostimulants help nurture soil micro organisms and increase root growth, which improves water retention and resistance to erosion and drought.

Crop checking: what you may not be seeing

For the past 30 years I have been working with farmers who are trying to improve their production and profit by using different seeding equipment, new seed varieties, and different fertilizer and soil improvement programs. We have found that some farmers who try something different or using something new on their fields do not take the time or effort to properly evaluate the results. For most farmers everything is always relative to something they think is a standard. For some a quick drive by visual observation is all that is done and for some their only point of reference to production performance is coffee shop talk.

In reality there are some things a farmer can see and many which he cannot. For example, what can a farmer see?

The typical farmer plants his crop when he feels it’s right. He may be guided by the weather, the trees coming into leaf, the neighbors, or the weeds. He can then watch for emergence or check for germination in the field. He can also see rainfall, weed growth, stooling and some other obvious things relating to physical growth. If he sprays he can check for weed kill, or visual crop damage. He can visually see the colour changes as the crop matures,etc. An experienced eye can see the more obvious visual effects of disease, insect infestation, salinity, drought, excess water, etc. all of which limits crop production. Continue reading

Crop Production Planning

Old-time farmers knew things “in their bones”, and relied on some dubious information, in the absence of today’s scientific data when planning for their growing season.

In order to remain competitive, and to make sure that this year’s growing season produces maximum yield without compromising future yields by unduly stressing your soil, you need strong science.  For 30 years, BioAgronics have been helping prairie farmers manage their crop planning, and have developed industry-leading solutions to the problems farmers face every year. Continue reading

Good soil is a smart investment

To most people, it’s just dirt.

But to a hard-working prairie farmer, the soil under your feet represents the future of your farm.  Good soil means good crops, which is security for your farm.  Generations of food producers have spent their whole lives working to figure out the secrets of soil management – which crops to grow, when to grow them and when to stop, what equipment to use and what additives will help to improve the ability of the land to improve yields.

Today’s farmers have an advantage. The science of Agronomics is the study of soil management and the production of field crops, and it’s been the focus of our work here at BioAgronics since 1979.  We provide consultation service to farmers regarding the conditions specific to their soil and situation, and manufacture specialized soil and crop products designed to maximize the health and productivity of your farm’s most valuable asset – your soil. Continue reading

Welcome to our website!

BioAgronics develops solutions for the modern farmer to increase soil health and get more yield from their farm.  We provide customized solutions that will reduce the risk in crop production and help maintain the quality of soil. Let BioAgronics help you preserve and restore the fertility of your land. We are dedicated to being soil smart and help prairie farmers get better results.

We value your feedback and if there are any questions or concerns we would appreciate hearing them. Also, please revisit our News section as we will be posting regular updates.