The yield potential of crops is limited by the climate as well as by the intrinsic nature of the soils, their level of land improvement and their state of health. The importance of soil health is sometimes underestimated by agricultural companies, which can lead to fertilization being carried out beyond the needs of crops or fertilization grids. Cultivation practices and fertilization normally improve crop yield, but fertilization does not always affect crop yield according to the predicted recommendation patterns. Some fertilization trials also show that crops do not respond to fertilizer inputs according to the prescribed average recommendations. It can be hypothesized that the physical condition of the soil and the microbial and biological activity that depend on it influence the response of crops to fertilizers. In fact, the response of crops to nitrogen fertilizers has been linked to indicators of nitrogen sufficiency in the soil or the plant, as well as to the biophysical properties of the soil that make this nitrogen available. Conversely, it seems important to verify whether the response of crops to fertilizers can serve as an indicator for detecting soil health problems and for raising awareness among producers to assess the state of health or condition of their soils.
The project should investigate how the health or physical condition of the soil and its profile influence the response of crops to nitrogen fertilizers, when routine soil tests indicate no problems, in order to contribute to the development of an indicator soil health based on crop response to fertilizers. It also aims to demonstrate to agricultural businesses:
From 2019 to 2023
Soil health, Soil Information, Water protection
12 agri-environment advice clubs
Belisle Agricultural Analysis Laboratory
This project looks to develop decision-support tools informed by observations of “bellwether” plots and use these tools to disseminate relevant information to irrigators.
Researcher: Carl Boivin
The Rivière de la Roche sub-watershed has one of the highest phosphorus and sediment export rates of the entire Missisquoi Bay watershed—a particularly challenging situation for the local agricultural sector.
Researchers: Aubert Michaud, retraité Luc Belzile
This project aims to improve our understanding of the evolution and spatial variability of soil health indicators as barometers of climate change.