Long-term no-till improves early N availability

November 13, 2015

KEY PRACTICE: With longer periods under no-till management, soil organic matter may attain a new equilibrium level, and nitrogen (N) mineralization may increase. This can result in lower N requirements.

PROJECT TITLE, LEAD RESEARCHER: “Quantifying the economic and soil quality benefits of long-term no-till using a canola-spring wheat rotation,” 2012-14, Christiane Catellier and Chris Holzapfel, Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation

GROWER ORGANIZATION FUNDER: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola


This study found no difference in yield for canola or wheat on short-term no-till (ST) versus long-term no-till (LT), but LT was better at meeting crop nitrogen needs early in the season.

This finding was demonstrated in wheat in particular, in which flag leaf nitrogen (N) was higher overall in LT plots than in ST plots. This was true for all N rates applied, which suggests that LT soils have a greater ability than ST soils to provide early growing season N requirements. Thus, ST fields would require a higher rate of applied N to maintain an equivalent level of uptake in the crop early in the growing season.

Open the PDF to read the entire research summary from the 2015 Science Issue of Canola Digest

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