Top Crop Manager

Features Fertility and Nutrients
From the Editor: Feeding for the future

August 18, 2021  By Alex Barnard

Soybean field in Norfolk County, Ont. Photo by Alex Barnard.

“You are what you eat.” We hear this often in regards to human diet and – while I might not look like a donut – it’s true that what we consume can have significant and far-reaching effects on our lives, for good and bad. The same is true for crops. 

Properly managed, crop nutrition can help mitigate stresses caused by weather, disease and insect pests. The right nutrients can turn a good crop into a great one. But with so many different elements, products and considerations to keep in mind, determining what and how to feed your crop can become overwhelming.

These pages don’t hold all the answers, but we hope they serve as a good starting point for those looking to improve their crop’s nutrition.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) feed off plants and in turn help plants better access soil nutrients in a symbiotic relationship. Carolyn King’s story on page 4 describes two different projects examining how AMF communities react to inoculants and how they might be manipulated – or if they should be.

Bruce Barker’s story on page 12 discusses a much-needed update to nitrogen fertilizer recommendations for modern Manitoba corn cultivars. These high-yielding hybrids have outpaced the recommendations from the Manitoba Fertility Guide, so former University of Manitoba professor Don Flaten and MSc student Lanny Gardiner set to work developing new and improved nitrogen fertility guidelines.

As you’ll read on page 18, the body of evidence for silicon’s benefits to stressed crops continues to grow. While not all plants can absorb silicon in a usable way, Richard Bélanger and his research group at Université Laval are trying to add canola to the list of crops that can.

And that’s just a fraction of what you’ll find in this issue. In the world of crop nutrition, there’s something for every crop and most every situation – though you’ll know best what will suit your operation. As we hit this dry growing season’s midpoint, we wish you adequate rain and low pest pressure – and, as always, the best of luck. 


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