Countering Herbicide Resistance (minus tillage)

Herbicide Resistance Basics The principles of herbicide resistance are straightforward – as the same herbicides are used year after year, there is intense selection pressure in weed populations for resistance traits. Once these traits are developed, they can be passed freely amongst weed populations of the same species. It is well understood that resistance traitsContinue reading “Countering Herbicide Resistance (minus tillage)”

Hybrid Versus Open-pollinated Corn Varieties

Hybrid Corn VarietiesHybrid corn varieties were widely adopted across North America during the 1950s thanks to the higher yields they offered in comparison to open-pollinated varieties. By the 1970s, high-yielding hybrids led to corn becoming the dominant grain crop in regions with adequate precipitation (or irrigation) and longer growing seasons. By the early 2000s, theContinue reading “Hybrid Versus Open-pollinated Corn Varieties”

Diversity and Flexibility for Winter Cash Crops

The majority of annual grain, oilseeds, and pulses grown in Canada and the United States are planted in spring ahead of the summer season or from early to mid-summer in order to ensure sufficient crop maturity ahead of the first frost. However, a small number of annual cash crops can be seeded in fall andContinue reading “Diversity and Flexibility for Winter Cash Crops”

Cover Crops: Frost Termination

Frost termination can be a viable (and cost-free) method of cover crop termination provided it does not interfere with cash crop production during the primary growing season and sufficient soil moisture is available following harvest. Ideally, a cover crop planted for frost termination in the Fall would be able to produce significant biomass growth andContinue reading “Cover Crops: Frost Termination”

Tracking Soil Health With Practical and Cost-effective Soil Testing

Farm operations implementing soil health practices can readily observe improvements to soil structure, water infiltration rates, and water-holding capacity. However, farms wishing to closely monitor changes to the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of their soils as a result of soil health practices should ensure that soil testing remains simple, practical, and cost-effective. The firstContinue reading “Tracking Soil Health With Practical and Cost-effective Soil Testing”

Tracking Soil Health With Precise and Consistent Soil Sampling

Tracking changes to soil characteristics over time can be labor intensive and expensive. However, soil health practitioners often find soil testing to be worth the investment because it provides a systematic way of evaluating the impact of soil health practices. Basic soil measurements like pH, organic matter, and water infiltration rates can help to quantifyContinue reading “Tracking Soil Health With Precise and Consistent Soil Sampling”

Cover Crops and Carbon Cycling

Cover crops have a long history of use in annual cropping systems worldwide thanks to benefits they can provide (such as reducing soil erosion, improving soil function, suppressing weed growth, breaking pest and disease cycles, and providing livestock fodder). Despite these benefits, cover crops fell out of favor amongst non-organic grain/oilseed/pulse commodity growers in NorthContinue reading “Cover Crops and Carbon Cycling”

Soil Health Management in Colder and Drier Climates

In Canada and the United States, cover crops are heavily promoted as an essential component of soil health in grain/oilseed/pulse production systems. Ideally, cover crops are grown before or after the main cash cropping season so that a growing season is not devoted solely to cover crops. Under the right conditions, cover crops can helpContinue reading “Soil Health Management in Colder and Drier Climates”

Can Anthrosols Inform Soil Health Practices?

Anthrosols are a soil group with properties that have been modified by human agricultural activity. Some anthrosols have been intentionally “engineered” over time to improve their function for agricultural production. Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE) are good examples of anthrosols that have been created by Indigenous peoples to boost agricultural productivity. ADE have significantly different physical,Continue reading “Can Anthrosols Inform Soil Health Practices?”

Are Perennial Grains, Oilseeds, and Pulses Ready for Production Ag. Systems?

The Land Institute (TLI) is a Salina, Kansas-based not-for-profit organization which is working to develop perennial varieties of grains, oilseeds, and pulses through the domestication of wild perennial species and through the perennialization long-domesticated annual crops like wheat, rice, and sorghum. TLI has the ambitious goal of building grain, oilseed, and pulse production systems aroundContinue reading “Are Perennial Grains, Oilseeds, and Pulses Ready for Production Ag. Systems?”