Field Trials


Muskoka Lime Trial Report

Muskoka SCIA Major Project (Interm Report)


The objectives of the trial were to examine 1) whether higher than recommended rates could maintain target soil pH levels longer; 2) effects of levels of lime on soil nutrients, organic matter, crop yields and quality and; 3) effects of applying limestone at lower than recommended rates. This document reports the results after 5 years. The trial will continue for another 2 years to determine long term effects.

Across most of the Laurentian Shield, and particularly in Muskoka, agricultural soils are acidic and must be limed on a regular basis to achieve optimum crop growth and yields. While recommended lime rates have been generally effective in raising the soil pH to target levels, farmers have found that the effect of lime is short- ived, and repeat applications are needed after a few years. Others were concerned that recommended rates were too high and wished to test the effectiveness of lower rates.

A long term trial was set up in 2005 in which different time rates were applied in replicated trials on 6 farms in Muskoka. A Major Grant in 2005 funded part of the costs for limestone, trucking and soil analyses, with all Grant funds accounted for in the 2006 report to OSCIA. Initial results are found in Crop Advances: Field Project Reports, Vol 2, Feb 2006. OMAFRA/OSCIA. Pp 105-107


Farmers’ field plots ranged from 0.2 to 1ha. A baseline soil test was made in 2005 before lime was applied. Samples were analyzed at Agri-food Laboratories, using a Basic III set of tests before lime was applied, and again in 2009, with Basic I test in the other years.

Four farmers applied lime at recommended, 1.5 times and 2 times recommended rates. Two farmers applied lime at lower than recommended rates, ranging from 15% to 100% of recommended lime.

Although, for ethical reasons, farmers were not asked to include a zero lime control, two farmers did include a zero control in their trials. Calcitic limestone with an Ag index of 70 was applied in fall 2005 or spring 2006 at all sites, using lime spreaders (3 sites) or with the lime evenly placed over manure in manure spreaders (3 sites). Lime was immediately incorporated using discs at all sites.

Effect of Lime on Yield and Quality

Yield was assessed by visual comparison and counting bales of hay from each plot. Final yield figures from some sites are not yet available. At Brooklands farm a large reduction in strawberry yield and quality was noted visually on the unlimed plot in 2009, when pH had dropped to 5.8. The yields of square bales of hay from Spring field farms are shown in figure 15.

While increased yields in each successive year are found, this effect may be due to favourable weather in later years, rather than tothe application of lime.


Soil test lime recommendation best at all sites, except site 6 (clay with high CEC), where lower rates (50-75% of recommended) are best. Recommended rate can maintain target pH for at least 4 years (at 5 of the 6 sites). Higher than recommended rates resulted in excessive Ca saturation, possibly displacing other soil nutrients. Marginally reduced nutrient levels with lime were found at the sandy soil (low CEC) site. Dolomitic lime with higher Mg content would be more effective to correct both low soil pH and low Mg. Alternative soils amendments, manure or fertilizer may be needed to improve available nutrients. As locally produced wood ash is available in Muskoka, the use of wood ash to correct both soil pH and low nutrient levels should be explored. A final soil test, to be taken 6 years after liming is planned, to examine long term liming effects on Muskoka soils. If funds permit tissue tests for micronutrient changes will be included.


The project expresses appreciation to the cooperating Farmers: Clarence and Pat Holinshead, Ken and Katya Riley, Gary and Annie Bliss, Diane Kretchmar, Ken and Peggy Pearcey, Howard and Raymond Quinton

Project Contacts:

K. W. Riley, Muskoka Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

A complete report can be found at

WINTER 2009/2010


MSCIA and Brian Bell– OMAFRA

Rationale for plots:

Manitoulin District is the driest region in Ontario, based on Environment Canada and AgriCorp historical weather data. The 30 year precipitation norm for the growing period May 1-Sept 30 is less than 300 mm of rain. Spring cereals grow very well on Manitoulin when planted into early season moisture. An oat trial was undertaken to evaluate varieties that offer good silage yields and quality, coupled with good grain yields. Manitoulin producers occasionally require mid summer pasture and often use annual crops for forage. These plots will help producers make that selection decision.

General field details:

The oat plots were grown on the farm of Jim Gilpin, 8500Hwy 542, located east of Spring Bay. The soil type is EAS (Earlton silt loam). The field does not contain any systematic tile drainage. The field had been pasture for close to 20 years, and contained less then 1/3 legume when plowed in early October 2008. 20 tonnes of solid beef manure was applied per acre in late September 2008. Roundup was applied at a rate of 1.5 litres per acre, 14 days before the field was plowed. The field is 19.3 acres in size. The field was sown with Prescott oats at 104 pounds per acre, and field/plots underseeded at 11.5 pound per acre to the following mixture (Super Nova alfalfa 20%, Affinity alfalfa 20%, Wellington trefoil 25%, E Brand timothy 20%, Bella red clover 10% and Huia white clover 5%), plus 4 pounds common brome and 1 pound perennial rye per acre. The field was cultivated once and disked twice before planting.

Weather details:

Farm zone, forecast zone 82, May 1-Sept 30 data. CHU- 2504,GDD-1530, and precipitation- 266 mm. Interestingly 90 mm of rain fell on May 26th, the day after the plots were sown. That represented a 1/3 of the seasonal rainfall!

Soil fertility:

AgriFood Labs test, taken fall of 2008: pH 6.8, P 8 HR, K 87 MR,Mg 366 LR. AgriFood fertilizer recommendations in pounds per acre: 15-85-30. 114 pounds per acre of 2.7-12.9-46 starter was broadcast May 24. 114 pounds per acre of 30-10-10 was broadcast July 2nd. The total plant food provided per acre, including manure and two fertilizer applications, was 110-188-300. The N was probably high as some lodging occurred.

Oat plot details:

5 oat varieties were selected, based on suitability for growing area II. These are: Lachute, A.C. Aylmer, Prescott, Sherwood and Rigodon. All seed was certified with the exception of Rigodon; due to lack of availability common seed was used. Each oat plot was .53 acres in size, with Prescott as the check variety. All oat varieties were sown at 104 pounds per acre. The oats plots were sown May 25, 2009. In season observations were taken including plant counts and digital photography at key stages of plant development. The silage samples were collected on August 4th, 71 days after planting, in the very early dough stage. Silage samples were sent to AgriFood laboratories for nutritional analysis. The oat plots were combined with an L2 Gleaner on September 18th. Grain yield, moisture content and bushel weight were collected for each variety. All grain samples were 14% or less in moisture at harvest. The average yield of the check variety Prescott was 85 bushels per acre, with a test weight of 37 pounds per bushel.There was less than a 3% variance in Prescott grain yield across the plot, so no yield corrections were made.

Grain yield of oat varieties

•All varieties had some lodging, worst were Sherwood and Rigodon

• Plots were .53 acres per variety

• Grain yield listed in both standardized bushel weight (34 lb SW-standard weight) and measured bushel weight (Actual MW-measured weight)

Silage yield of oat varieties

• DM Tonnes/Acre

• + Denotes straw height

• 2 replicates of 3-1 foot square clippings were averaged per variety

• Manitoba oat plot silage trials indicate 3.5-4.2 tonnes DM per acre

• Silage samples take at Zadok’s scale 83-late milk very early dough

TDN and CP yield of oat varieties

• TDN- total digestible nutrients

• CP- crude protein

• CP at this stage of plant growth is approximately .8%-1% higher than average. This trend is seen on most cereal silage grown on Manitoulin

The MSCIA/MCA extends their appreciation to the cooperators and seed suppliers for their hard work and effort with these plots in 2009- Jim Gilpin, Dave McDermid and Northland AgroMart.

WINTER 2009/2010

Temiskaming Crop Coalition Annual Report–


Daniel Tasse–OMAFRA

Funded by a 3-year “Regional Grant” from OSCIA, and assisted by Dan Tasse and Mike Cowbrough of OMAFRA, (as well as summer student placement Chandel Gambles), an effective control for the pasture weed “Bedstraw” may have been found. As the pictures show, the thriving weed was virtually eliminated from the New Liskeard test plots after spraying with the herbicide “Milestone”. The grasses survived. Tests will continue to evaluate the longevity of the treatment over the next 2 years in both Temiskaming and Algoma.

Herbicide evaluation:


• 1st year evaluation visual control is good with Milestone

• No benefits in adding 2,4-D

• Need to assess weed population in spring of 2010

• 2010: treat another section with early application i.e. vegetative stage

• do a cost analysis of herbicide program

• Located on golf course road under hydro line

• 3 year project

• evaluation”Milestone”

• low rate .10L/ac

• Higher rate .20L/ac

• with and withour 2,4-D

• Application June 23rd

WINTER 2008/2009

An Evaluation of Potential Longer Term Effects of

One Time Applications of Spanish River Carbonatite

on Soil Quality and Crop Growth in Sudbury

Tamara Posadowski, Amanda Bromley, Graeme Spiers

Concern for the potential detrimental effects of the excessive use of chemical fertilizers on agricultural lands andthe environment has encouraged many farmers to investigate alternative methods to managing and/or improving the fertility of their soils. Spanish River Carbonatite (SRC), an agromineral fertilizer, has been evaluated as one of the alternatives. In the current study, the effects of SRC on both soil quality and longer term crop yield were assessed, with examination of soil chemical properties such as pH, organic matter content, cation exchange capacity and available nutrients. The effects on crop growth parameters such as crop yield and plant nutrient content were also evaluated. Plots on four farms across the Sudbury area were monitored, with six, one-acre plots on each farm. Three plots had SRC applied in the fall and spring of 2001 and 2002 respectively. In summer of 2007 the soil and crop samples were collected and analyzed. The soil chemistry data allowed comparison of control and SRC applied plots sampled both before (2001) and post-SRC application (2007), and between control and treatment plots in 2007, several years after the initial application. The different crop samples (hay and barley depending on the individual farm) were only compared between control and test plots for the 2007 crop year. Examination of the soil chemistry results indicated no consistent long-term effect from SRC application at 1 ton per acre for any measured soil chemical property, perhaps a reflection of the only one-time application of the agromineral product. A slight improvement in crop yield of forage and alfalfa was observed on two farms. However, no significant improvement for crop yield was measured for the other two farm sites, and no significant differences in plant nutrient content were measured in the crops from any of the four farm plot sites. Further work is required to investigate the effectiveness of SRC as a soil amendment, perhaps including varied applications rates with annual monitoring, and admixtures of SRC with organic residual materials such as compost or manure to enhance the solubility of the minerals and nutrients within the SRC.

WINTER 2008/2009

Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station

Dr. Tarlok Singh Sahota CCA

Spring barley: Oceanic (6,057 kg/ha), Cyane (5,984 kg/ha) and Synabelle (5,979 kg/ha) in the OCCC performance trial. Both Oceanic and Synabelle are marketed by Semico Inc. and yielded lower than Cyane last year. Grain yield of Chapais (4,550 kg/ha) was below expectation and 1,434 kg/ha lower than that of Cyane. It is time to say Good Bye to Chapais!

In another trial, comparing eastern and western barley varieties, Cyane produced the highest grain yield of 8,344kg/ha. Binscarth, a silage barley variety from Manitoba, was the second best at 6,721 kg grains/ha. Brucefield had the highest (8,087 kg/ha) silage yield followed by CDC Coalition (7,060 kg/ha) and Millhouse (6987 kg/ha) – a hulless two row food barley that equaled Chapais in grain yield.

• Hard Red Spring wheat: Batiscan (5,563 kg/ha), Waskada (5,265 kg/ha) and Sable (5,237 kg/ha) in the OCCC performance trial. Batiscan is distributed by Semican Inc. and Waskada by SeCan Association.

• Durum Wheat: Strongfield (4,268 kg/ha), western durum variety, was statistically at par in grain yield with Ontario’s durum (Hallmark: 4,203 kg/ha) or hard red Sable (4,466 kg/ha).

• Winter wheat: Unlike previous years, a couple of hard red winter wheat varieties from Ontario (AC Sampson: 7,312 kg/ha and AC Morley: 6,384 kg/ha) left CDC Falcon (5,958 kg/ha) behind in grain yield this year!

• Winter rye: Dakota registered the highest grain (8,724 kg/ha; ~2,000 kg/ha higher than Ontario’s Common No. 1) and biomass (~21,000 kg/ha) yield. Grain yields from AC Hazlet, AC Remington and Prima were close to/or higher than 8,000 kg/ha.

• Oats : Three new oat varieties, AC Morgan, AC Jordan (6,794 kg/ha) and AC Ronald, from the west, surpassed our standard variety (AC Rigodon that gave the highest grain yield, 5,080 kg/ha, in the OCCC oat performance trial) in grain yield.

• Soybean: RR Rosco (1,822 kg/ha) followed closely by T54002R (1,683 kg/ha). Considering both the forage yield at green pod stage and the protein content, 90M01 could be the best variety for soybean forage production (~7 tonne dry matter yield/ha with 15-16% protein)!

• Field pea: Polstead produced the highest grain yield (6,000 kg/ha) followed by Sorento (5,887 kg/ha). CDC Tucker and Fusion had nearly 5,500 kg/ha grain yield. Field pea could be a good addition to the cropping systems in the Thunder Bay district!

• Galega: improved its yield over time and equaled 95% of alfalfa yield this year.

More information will be available in the TBARS Annual Report 2008! Become a member to get a free copy of the report and also a couple of other publications!!!

FALL 2008

Proposed NEOSCIA Regional Project (Smooth


In the spring of 2009, OSCIA will make available $6000 (over 3 years) for each Regional organization to undertake a significant research project that will support the regions farmers. The last project that NEOSCIA undertook was the evaluation of Sulphur fertilizer in Canola production. The results have been a great help to the cash crop industry.

For this round, we are looking at developing chemical (or other) management techniques for the control of Smooth Bedstraw. It is common on pasture and hay farms where common grade trefoil seed may have been applied in the last couple of decades. Bedstraw does not seem to be associated with alfalfa fields, or where annual cash crops are dominent. It has been seen on beef farms, as well as roadsides and ditches in Algoma, Manitoulin, Temiskaming and Cochrane districts, and can be expected to be seen throughout the north if we seriously look for it. We are aware of some fields that are completely over-run with the weed, and right now there is no chemical control for it. (It is not considered serious in southern Ontario.)

Please examine the enclosed photo of Bedstraw and determine if you have it on your farm, and how serious the invasion is. The colour of the plant is bright green with small white flowers that bloom from June through August. It spreads by roots and seed. When growing vigorously, the section of the field will appear “matted”. It will be ignored by pasture animals as the weed is not palatable.

To undertake this research project, NEOSCIA is looking for farm partners who have a known bedstraw infestation this fall and can commit a field to three years of control research starting next spring. We need participants from ALL districts! Contact your Ag Rep, or call NEOSCIA rep Graham Gambles at 705-672-3105.


North- Eastern Ontario Regional Canola Trials-

2006/2007 (Interm Report)


An initial 2005 study into “Canola Opportunities for N.E. Ontario” indicated a common factor across four districts. Under dry & hot conditions, plant tissue analysis appears to point out a sulphur deficiency in Canola (in many locations) during the blooming period. This was similar to complementary soil tests taken at the same time. Unconfirmed canola yields suggested that yield could be improved if Sulphur was added to the fertilizer.

The 2006 trials were designed for 2 purposes. First, confirm that increased Canola yields could be attained with the addition of Sulphur to fertilizer. Second, as recommended by John Rowsell of NLARS, determine the extent of Sulphur deficiency across the North-East and prove whether it is (or is not) a regional issue.


Four co-operators in the Temiskaming and Nipissing Districts agreed to test the value of added Sulphur on Canola crops. A test of 10# of actual S was to be added to the test plots in replication across the field.

Twenty-seven individual canola fields (from 19 farmers across the Districts) would have one acre each evaluated for sulphur content of plant tissue (during the blooming period). This would be matched with soil tests from the same site. A 24” soil profile would be broken into samples representing the top 6”, the 6” to 24” depth, and a 18” to 24” subsection.

These 27 sites represented a cross-section of soil types within the region.

Note that in a supporting financial agreement with Agri-Food Laboratories, we were able to measure much more than just the Sulphur content of the Tissue and the Soil. We also measured N, P, K, Mg, Ca, Zn, Mn, Cu, Fe, & B. Also measured was the September levels of Nitrate Nitrogen and Ammonium Nitrogen in 7 soil profiles (3 levels per profile).


Out of the four cooperator trials, one was lost due to errors in fertilization. Two were lost to extreame damage by flea beetles in May and June, despite the fact that the seed had been coated in “Helix”. The fourth site was a major success.

This operator planted the whole field with a broadcast fertilization program of 80# actual N, plus 10# of S. The exception was three widely spaced strips of over 2 acres each, where no sulphur was placed, but the soil still received the full ration of N. Although the yield varied considerably between the sulphur-free strips, it was always lower than the yield obtained to each side of these strips where the sulphur had been added. The co-operator was very pleased with the results, and calculated that he had earned an additional $25 to $30/acre yield to balance against an increased fertilizer and application cost for sulphur of $4 to $5 per acre.

The weather in 2006 was the direct opposite of 2005. The cool and wet conditions seemed to be ideal for sulphur to be drawn out of the atmospere and deposited into the fields throughout the Region. This was suggested by the results of the mid-season top-soil tests in MOST (but not all) fields, where sulphur was at least marginally adequate.  However, Sulphur was deficient in the lower levels of the profile in many of the test locations, much to our surprise as it was expected that these lower regions would be the storage area for Sulphur.

In contradiction to the apparent sufficiency of Sulphur in the soil, every last one of the Tissue Tests indicated that Sulphur was deficient in the plant during the blooming period, the time when the plant needs sulphur most in order to maximize yields. (Note that even in the “successfull” strip test area, sulphur in the plant remained deficient, although the content was considerably higher in these tissue tests than in those where no Sulphur was added to the soil.) Also note that the 7 soil tests obtained in September ALL showed sufficient Sulphur accumulation throughout the 24” profile. This compares to the fact that many soils showed deficient sulphur in lower parts of the soil profile in mid summer. (Does this indicate that fall soil tests for sulphur may not show the actual availability of soil Sulphur during the growing season?)


In 2007, the project will continue with many more side by side comparisons of growth and yieldunder the influence of added Sulphur, with extensive evaluations of sulphur in the plant tissue and in the soil profile.


The NEOSCIA would like to thank OSCIA for the initial funding of the Laboratory analysis section of this project, and to Agri-Food Laboratories for providing a matching grant to the OSCIA funding. We also wish to thank the Temiskaming Agricultural Development Agency for taking the initiative to aquire matching funds from the Northern Ontario Heritage Grant program. And finally, a big thank-you to the 19 farmers who allowed us to use their fields as a research area.


For more data on this project, contact Graham Gambles , Regional Communication Co-ordinator for the NEOSCIA at 705-647-3105 (e-mail Alternativly, contact Daniel Tasse at OMAFRA, New Liskeard, Ontario.


Available from the above contacts.


Muskoka Limestone Study


The Study aims to establish whether productivity and management of the highly acid agricultural soils on the Canadian Shield, and particularly in Muskoka, can be effectively sustained through higher that recommended rates of agricultural limestone.

Specifically, this study will examine:

If there is long term economic benefits to spreading lime at higher rates than recommended and, if there are related environmental benefits including retention and availability of soil nutrients, particularly micronutrients and organic matter buildup through increased rates of lime.

A minimum study period of three years is required to determine trends following limestone application. This study is also expected to increase awareness of the importance of using agricultural limestone on Muskoka soils.

Several generations of Muskoka farmers have applied agricultural limestone. These applications have generally produced some effect in reducing soil acidity, improving nutrient availability and increasing crop, hay and pasture yields. Yet, there are numerous anecdotal reports that lime applied at recommended levels is not an effective in increasing pH levels as expected, or that the beneficial effect from lime transitory, and lost after only two or three years. The effects of limestone have been well researched. Yet evidence from several published sources indicates that increased lime levels may be needed to achieve sustained benefits.

Soils on the Canadian Shield are generally poorly buffered. This is partly attributed to the number of years of exposure to acidic rainfall and the igneous rock found below the shallow soils. This differs from southern Ontario where the limestone base provides some buffer to the overlying soils.


Each farmer is to mark out the study area into approximately equal plots in two replications. Treatments are randomized in each rep, and include application at the recommended rate, and application at double rate. Some farmers have applied a third treatment of 150% the recommended rate. Farmers were not asked to include zero rate treatment. However two farmers, who will apply lime next spring, plan to include a zero rate treatment. All lime comes from the same quarry (Georgian Aggregates with an Ag index of 66). Farmers use their own methods to estimate weights and apply the lime (detailed below). Crop growth data is obtained through visual estimation and counting number of bales / estimating bushels / crop weights. A soil test taken after harvest each year monitors changes in pH and nutrient status.


Six Muskoka farmers have agreed to participate in this study for three years. Each of the 6 farmers has taken a soil test representative of the trial area on their farms. A special arrangement has been set up with Agri-Food Laboratories in Guelph, to analyze each sample using AFL complete test to obtain initial status of macro and micro nutrient availability, CEC, OM as well as pH.

Site 1-GB

Location area has been growing long term timothy/trefoil hay. Last limed 12 years ago. Received manure at 20t/ac every other year. Field plowed in the fall 2004. Lime applied May 29, 2005 using a belt feed broadcaster. Lime was delivered wet, so the application rate was approximately 20% less that desired. (approx. 6/ha and 12t/ha applied in 2 reps. Lime incorporated to 2” then barley/oats/rye and grass/legume hay mixture seeded. Good initial germination, but rather poor crop because of hot dry summer. Field is irregular shaped but all plots approx equal in size (1ha). The plots receiving the double rate were somewhat shaded, which could influence growth. Cereal crop cut green and baled (large 4×5’ rounds). The recommended rate plots produced 5 bales/ha, while the double limed area yielded 5.5 bales/ha. The post-harvest soil test results are awaited.

Site 2-KP.

Study area was last cultivated 15 years ago. No known application of limestone. Lime applied Oct. 18, 2005 with manure spreader by placing lime on top of well composted manure in the spreader. This method resulted in even application of lime. Because of field shape, 6 plots varying in width from 70 to 125 feet and 281 to 459 feet long. Ranging in area from .750 to 1.107 acres. Lime amount was successfully adjusted to provide targeted amount for each plot. Lime rates were 7t/ha, 10.5t/ha and 14t/ha in two reps. lime incorporated. Planting will be carried out in the spring. The soil test recommended magnesium, which will be applied as Kmag in the spring. Only organic inputs are applied on this farm.

Site 3-CH.

Although the soil test (pH 6.4) did not call for lime, Keith Reid recommended a rate of 3t/ha. Trial field had grown a crop of oats in 2005; with hay grown the previous 5 years. Over the past 22 years, the field had received 4 applications of lime of 3t/ha and 4 applications of manure. In the fall of 2005, the field was plowed and disced. Limestone was applied using an E_Z flow drop type 10’ wide lime spreader. Rates were 3, 4.5 and 6t/ha. Lime was then incorporated to a depth of 5”. The trial area will be seeded to mixed grain, underseeded with hay seed in the spring.

Site 4-HQ.

Study area has reportedly never received lime. Soil test recommended a very high rate of 15t/ha. Farmer feels that a double rate (30t/ha will be too high. Instead he plans to apply 4 rates (0, 7.5, 15 and 22.5t/ha) in the spring.

Site 5-DK.

Plans to use a 1 ha market garden area for the lime study in spring 2006. The plots will be planted to green and yellow beans. This is an organic operation. The A recommended basal rate of 7 tons/ha will be applied.

Site 6-KR.

Plan to use a .4 ha area for the study in spring 2006. The area has received annual applications of manure and fertilizer. Rep 1 will be planted to peas and rep 2 to beans. Will be used for a pick-your own operation.


During 2005 season, all 6 participating farmers have identified their study areas, and collected initial soil samples and identified the lime recommended rates for their study areas. One farmer has applied lime treatments, planted and harvested the crop, compared differences from the plot yields, and has taken soil samples from each plot. Two more farmers have applied the different lime rates, and will plant in the spring. The other 3 farmers will apply the lime and plant in the spring. The trial is attracting considerable interest among farmers.

Next Steps:

By spring 2006, all 6 farmers will have applied lime and planted the trial areas. Yield differences will be estimated through both visual ratings and yield comparisons. Soil tests, taken at harvest from all plots will indicate any changes in pH and nutrient status. This study is to be continued during 2007 and 2008 to obtain longer term effects of the lime applications. In the final year, tissue samples taken from the different plots will be analyzed to asses effects limestone rates on micronutrient status.


Thanks to John Roswell, U of G, New Liskeard Station and Keith Reid OMAFRA at Stratford for their guidance. The participation of the cooperators in the project is greatly appreciated. This project was supported by an OSCIA Major Project Grant.

Project Contacts:

K and K Rileys, 705-764-1695


Regional Canola Research Project

A Field Demonstration by the North Eastern Soil and Crop Improvement Association

This project was conducted in what turned out to be the hottest, driest growing season since 1988. All results are therefore compromised in terms of what might be expected in a “normal” cooler, wetter summer that is typical of Northern Ontario. However, the results do provide a definitive evaluation of what can happen to Canola in an extreme environment, where virtually all of the crop was subject to the “brown seed”/tainted oil syndrome.

Extensive soil sampling combined with tissue sampling, (as recommended by Agri©Food Laboratories) identified the majority of Canola fields to require additional sulphur to promote ideal growth, and that ALL tissue tests indicated the plants to be DEFICIENT in sulphur. These results oppose traditional thinking that sufficient sulphur for ideal Canola growth comes from atmospheric pollution, and enforces modern scientific thinking that the reduction in American air pollution will require farmers to add sulphur as a starter fertilizer for optimum Canola yields. One unreplicated test on Manitoulin Island identified a 20%+ yield increase when sulphur was added to the soil before planting. This demonstration requires additional testing in a more “normal” year.

Similarly, most tissue tests indicated that Nitrogen uptake was at an “Excessive” level in the Canola crop. Again, this may relate to the weather limitations, and needs more demonstration. Excessive use of nitrogen is both uneconomic and a pollution hazard.

Sclerotinia control with fungicides has been identified by northern farmers as a possible way of improving yields. Three Temiskaming farms undertook extensive tests on three fungicides, using replicate side by side tests. Due to the hot & dry weather, no disease was observed in any field. However, the disease was widely observed in Nipissing, where it had NOT been previously identified. Another demonstration, involving both districts, is essential to determine the value of these fungicides on the Canola crop.

Row spacing was extensively tested in replicates at Temiskaming and Sudbury, but only the Temiskaming site produced conclusive results. Under the “restricted” water regime, 12 inch spacing was marginally better than 6 inch spacing. This indicates a possible saving in seed cost if it could be positively demonstrated in a “normal” year.

This demonstration project was undertaken by Graham Gambles of the North Eastern Soil & Crop Improvement Association. The goal was to provide insight into opportunities for economic expansion of the regional Canola crop, with the long term view that Canola could be developed as a future source of oil for the BIODIESEL industry. More work will be required.

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