North America

Specialists urge Canadian potato growers to mind soil management

Soil advocates want potato growers to bump soil management up their priority list. Marla Riekman, soil management specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, pitched soil management principles to growers and agronomists at Carberry’s Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre potato tour in the province of Manitoba, Aug. 14. The root crop, by its nature, involves disturbing soil, something that soil health advocates are quick to argue against in other crops, pointing to detrimental impacts on soil microbe activity, soil structure and increased risk of erosion. Potato producers, however, have little choice but to dig under the surface, and any management plan must work around that reality. University of Manitoba’s David Lobb told the Manitoba Co-operator that “root crop harvesting, like potatoes, will cause as much tillage erosion as all other forms of tillage combined.” Riekman and Manitoba Agriculture crop nutrition expert, John Heard, urged producers to consider cover crops after harvest to minimize the risk of blowing. Read more