Entries by John Lee

2021 Drought: High residual soil nitrate-nitrogen across the region

This article originally appeared in the AGVISE Laboratories Winter 2022 Newsletter The 2021 drought rivals the 1988 drought, and it covered much of the northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. From previous experience with droughts, we expected that residual soil nitrate-N following crops would be higher than normal, caused by the drought and reduced crop […]

Fall-applied Nitrogen Fertilizer: A Couple Simple Rules

The beginning to mid-October is when soil temperatures across the northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies typically drop below 50 °F (10 °C). This is the soil temperature threshold that we wait to reach before applying fall-applied nitrogen fertilizer. It is important to wait until soil temperatures are cold enough (<50 °F) to help reduce […]

Tips for Soil Sampling in Dry Conditions

Soil sampling in dry conditions can be difficult. The ground is hard, fields are dry, and getting a consistent soil core depth can take more time than usual. To help you take the best soil samples this fall, we’ve put together some tips and tricks for sampling in dry soil conditions that, when implemented, will help […]

Lessons (Ghosts) of Droughts Past

From Alberta to Iowa, the region has experienced everything from abnormally dry soil conditions to exceptional drought. In some places, the drought started in 2020 and has continued through 2021. Considering lower than expected crop yields, we expect that residual soil nitrate-nitrogen levels will be much higher than normal in many wheat, canola, and corn […]

Livestock Manure Sampling and Analysis

As you develop crop nutrition plans for the upcoming year, it is important to include spring manure application in the crop nutrition budget. Manure is an excellent source of plant-available nutrients and offers nice economic savings, especially with high fertilizer prices. When manure is applied properly, you can maximize the nutrient value, reduce nutrient losses, […]

Starter Fertilizer: Choosing the Right Rate

Starter fertilizer placed with or near the seed is essential for vigorous early season growth in grass crops such as corn and wheat. We plant these crops early because we know vigorous early season growth is important to achieving high crop yields. Early planting also means cold soils, and starter fertilizer is necessary to get […]

Preparing for Spring Soil Sampling

Even when fall soil sampling weather cooperates, there is always some soil sampling to do each spring. No matter the spring conditions, the soil sampling window is tight if you are planning to collect soil samples and get the soil test results back in time for spring fertilizer decisions. You will want to pull soil […]

Adjusting high soil pH and salinity with sugar beet-processing spent lime

The sugar beet processing industry uses large quantities of fine-ground, high-grade calcium carbonate (lime) to purify sucrose in the sugar extraction process. The by-product spent lime retains high reactivity and purity, making it an attractive liming material for acidic soils. Application of spent lime is a common practice through the sugar beet producing areas of […]

Uffda, that’s a lot of potash!

Question: Can you really change the %K base cation saturation ratio? This winter, we have gotten more questions from farmers asking about the base cation saturation ratio (BSCR) concept. The farmers had attended a series of meetings where the speakers encouraged farmers increase the %K saturation in their soils and apply high potassium fertilizer rates […]