Organic No-Till Soybean Production: Making it Work in Ontario

soybean plants with rye mulch below

Growing cover crop-based organic no-till soybeans requires a different system approach than for standard organic production. Three years of extensive research trials in Ontario have guided the development of four key best practices for growing no-till organic soybeans following a cereal rye cover crop. This tip sheet is designed to provide practical advice for Ontario […]

Read More…

Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure

Soil structure is a key indicator of soil health. The Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) provides a simple framework for quantitatively scoring soil structure quality. It requires only a shovel for extracting a block of soil and a scoring sheet for evaluating it and can be performed in about 10 minutes with a little […]

Read More…

New Strip-Till Factsheets for Ontario Farmers

front page of factsheet showing title and field of corn

Did you know that there are two new resources on strip-tillage in Ontario? Earlier this year, OMAFRA released two factsheets on strip-till with information specific to Ontario’s climate, soils, and farmer experiences. The first factsheet, called Strip-Tillage in Ontario: The Basics, provides an overview of strip-till, how it works, crops it’s used for, its benefits […]

Read More…

National Soil Conservation Week, 2022

no-till soybean field with residue and some slope

The week of April 17-23 is National Soil Conservation Week this year. As the Soil Conservation Council of Canada says, soil is a big deal. It’s the foundation of agriculture. It’s a precious resource and, as I’ve written before, can easily be lost and degraded. To mark this week, I wanted to share some resources […]

Read More…

What’s Next in The Strategy to Reduce Soil Compaction: Observations on the Value of CTIS

This article was written by Alex Barrie, OMAFRA Soil Management Engineer, and Ian McDonald, OMAFRA Crop Innovations Specialist As discussed in the previous article (available here), as long as we are putting heavy implements on farm fields, soil compaction is a significant possibility. Lots of factors impact the severity of threat, like load, tire configurations […]

Read More…

Building Resilient Soils

  For many Ontario farmers, the 2021 season has been a weather roller coaster. Throughout much of the province, the season started out extremely dry, with some regions receiving less than 20% of normal precipitation for the month of May (Figure 1). Late June brought relief for many parts of Southern Ontario, with regular rainfall […]

Read More…

Getting to Know Your Knolls Part 1: Understanding and Managing High pH Knolls

Jake Munroe, Soil Management Specialist – Field Crops, OMAFRA We’ve all seen them. Hilltops. Whitecaps. High spots where the crop struggles year after year. Eroded knolls are common to Ontario agriculture and cost farmers in lost productivity each season. However, not all eroded knolls are alike. In this two-part series, we will explore knolls: how […]

Read More…

Unraveling the Mystery of Soil: Manure’s Contribution

Christine Brown, Sustainability Specialist – Field Crops, OMAFRA “A radical new way of thinking about soil has partially solved the mystery of why adding manure improves resilience, climate control, and crop yields.” – Dr. Andy Neal, Rothamsted Research. Have you ever wondered why forests can establish and thrive without being fertilized? Or, why grasslands, pastures, […]

Read More…

Erosion Assessment Goes Geospatial

While managing soil microbes might be the newest frontier to improving soil health, one thing has not changed: you cannot improve soil you no longer have! Minimizing erosion is the first step in a soil health management plan. The old adage says: “you can only manage what you measure”, but actually measuring soil erosion is very complicated, even for experts in this field. There’s no need to measure Cesium isotopes along that slope in your field. What needs to be managed is the risk of erosion. […]

Read More…

Introducing PLATO, the Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool for Ontario

rill erosion on a steeply sloped field

Keeping soil covered and minimizing erosion is a key principle of soil health. Maximizing the efficiency of crop nutrient uptake and minimizing losses are the foundation of 4R Nutrient Stewardship. When combined, these principles form the basis of a new online tool from OMAFRA called PLATO (Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool for Ontario). PLATO is a calculator that you can use to estimate the risk of phosphorus loss on your farm. It’s part of the newly re-vamped AgriSuite and uses your specific soil, crop and nutrient application information to provide a risk rating and options to improve your score. […]

Read More…