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Fertilizer Canada and RDAR invest in 4R soil health project

A multi-year soil health research project will study the longer-term effects of S and N fertilizer management, nutrient cycling and its impact on soil health, forage and grain productivity and quality.


December 16, 2021
By RDAR

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On Dec. 2, Fertilizer Canada and Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR), Alberta’s government-funded research organization, announced matching investments of $257,272 towards a soil health project aimed at Alberta grain, forage and crop producers. Of RDAR’s funding of $257,272, $120,751 comes from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).

A multi-year soil health research project, led by Miles Dyck at the University of Alberta, can contribute to Alberta’s efforts to fight climate change and promote responsible nutrient management. This project will study the longer-term effects of sulphur and nitrogen fertilizer management, nutrient cycling and its impact on soil health, forage and grain productivity and quality.

This project supports 4R Nutrient Stewardship, a science-based approach to nutrient management that applies the Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place. By using 4R best management practices, Alberta and Canadian producers can optimize plant nutrient uptake and increase yields while achieving quantifiable reductions in emissions.

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Outcomes from this study will support producers’ combined sulphur and nitrogen fertilizer management decisions for increased crop productivity, grain and forage quality, and improved soil health. Investment into fertilizer management research can increase farm profitability for Alberta producers through increased returns on fertilizer investments and future increased marketability of sustainably produced crops.

This research project is unique in that much of the past soil and fertilizer research has investigated one nutrient at a time. The proposed research is an example of analyzing long-term management effects on soil nutrient stores and soil health to better quantify the effects of short-term fertilizer applications on crop yields and soil health over different periods. Quantifying the link between soil health and crop productivity is essential for Alberta producers because soil health is increasingly essential in farm management and shaping consumers’ purchasing decisions.

“Working in partnership with the University of Alberta and industry leader Fertilizer Canada, we will show how producers can utilize results-driven research alongside existing 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices to optimize fertilizer efficiency, to reduce the environmental impact of fertilizers without compromising the economic competitiveness of their farm operations.”

– Clinton Dobson, RDAR director of research

4R Nutrient Stewardship is one part of a producer’s overall farm management plan that can complement other agronomic and conservation practices, such as no-till farming and the use of cover crops. Understanding and utilizing these sustainable tools will play a valuable role in supporting on-farm emissions reductions.


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