Managing crop residue carbon for soil health in wheat-based cropping systems

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $70,295
Commodity: Soil
Organization: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Lethbridge
Investigator: Benjamin Ellert

The flows of C to harvested commodities are crucial for profitability, competitiveness, and economic sustainability, while flows to the soil in the form of crop residues are crucial to maintain soil health and to drawn down atmospheric CO2.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Farmers are in the business of managing carbon (C). The flows of C to harvested commodities are crucial for profitability, competitiveness, and economic sustainability, while flows to the soil in the form of crop residues are crucial to maintain soil health and to drawn down atmospheric CO2.

Traditionally, crop residues have been returned to the soil in dryland cropping systems. However, crop residues may also be a feasible and profitable bio-resource.

This research will assess if there may be an opportunity to extend the crop harvest beyond the grain to include some portion of the crop residues, without appreciably impairing soil health.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This research will enable the construction of long-term C and nitrogen (N) budgets indicating inputs to and outputs from contrasting treatment, which will be used to further the development of the greenhouse gas calculator, Holos.

This research will study the effects of residues and fertilization on available plant N, which is a critical determinant of yield and profitability. Findings will help growers decide whether its best to harvest residues or to leave them on the land.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Information on crop residue management will be communicated through existing and evolving Holos channels.

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