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Boosting soil carbon, boosting potato yields

Louis-Pierre Comeau is adding the soil carbon piece to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) research efforts in the Maritimes. His studies will be contributing to the development of practical, profitable agricultural practices that increase soil organic matter for improved potato yields. Carbon is part of all plants and animals, and the key element in soil organic matter. “In turn, soil organic matter is essential for a variety of needs like food, fibre…

Solving Eastern Canada’s Yield Woes

As a large-scale soil rejuvenation study in New Brunswick draws to a close, lead researcher and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada potato scientist Bernie Zebarth says solutions to lagging potato yield in Eastern Canada are anything but simple. For decades, potatoes have held top position as Maritime Canada’s most important cash crop. In 2015-2016, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia produced 1.84 million tonnes of potatoes for a value of $256…

Improving Soil, Improving Potatoes

Innovative growers and an agronomist recently teamed up to look at ways to improve the potato crop and the soil. For three years, Bruce and Hunter Wilson gave agronomist John Lightle the go ahead to try some cover crop combinations on their 6,000 acre farm in the Dufferin Highlands of Ontario. The acres are in a prime potato producing area and the growers wanted to maximize their yield while considering other cropping…

PEI Potato Producers Building Soil Health Through Crop Rotation

An area of increased attention for agricultural research and changes in production practices globally is soil health. Through new technology and a better understanding of the microbial communities in soil, farmers are making changes in crop rotation, tillage, and nutrient management to foster the health of their soil. Prince Edward Island potato producers are also making changes to their production practices to improve soil health, encompassing the biological, chemical and physical qualities…

Webinar: Soil Health

Potato production can disrupt the soil in a very aggressive way, but there are a number of agronomic measures farmers can follow to bolster soil health. In this FREE live webinar, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 23, 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT., we will talk about practices to help increase the soil’s capacity for potato production, including: Why organic matter is important for soil structure. How biodiversity in the soil can help suppress soil-borne disease and…

Managing Soil Health in Potatoes

Soil health can be seen as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. This definition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) speaks to the importance of managing the soil so it can continue to sustain life for future generations. According to the USDA-NRCS, there are a number of agronomic measures farmers can follow to…

Soil Testing Accuracy Important

The phrase that advises us never to compare apples to oranges should be taken very seriously in relation to soil tests according to Pat Toner, a soil management specialist with New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture (NBAFA). “A standard test will measure water pH, buffer pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur, but you need to ensure a couple of things are in place for the results to be accurate and useful,” Toner explains….

Soil Health Key for Long-Term Potato Production

Across North America, most potato crop yields have been on the rise in the past few decades. In parts of Canada though, data has revealed that yields in some areas have either decreased or remained stagnant, especially in New Brunswick. Soil scientists attribute this to waning soil health due in part to short rotations and soil erosion. As a result, improving soil health is top of mind for many producers. The Importance…

Conservation Measures Outperform Conventional Yields

Conventional potato production appears ultimately to produce the highest net return per acre. But you have to weigh that against “conservation” potato production practices that not only grow potatoes, but also do more to improve overall soil quality and health. What is that worth to a producer? That conclusion comes following a 12-year Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) field study comparing conventional irrigated potato production practices and conservation practices that included no…

Fall Bedding

Fall bedding in potato fields allows for soil preparation work to be done when growers typically have more time and labour available to them. In this system, growers usually irrigate, broadcast fertilizer as needed, plow, and then form beds into which they plant the following spring. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart asked the following five experts to weigh in on their experiences with fall bedding. Louis Claassen, a potato producer…

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