Trial Report Summary

Does balanced fertility program increases yield of new winter wheat varieties?

Crop Type(s):
Cereals, Winter Wheat

1. Ducks Unlimited Canada
2. Western Ag Lab


To compare historical /standard “Producer Practice” (100% spring) fertility program to a balanced, “High Yield Practice” as determined by Western Ag Soil analysis and recommendations.

Project Findings:

Please see the attached report.


Following decades of extensive work in winter wheat production in North America, many researchers and producers have begun to implement best management practices to obtain higher grain yield and improve profitability in the crop. Management practices presently being implemented to improve winter wheat production include; increasing seeding rate, application of starter fertilizer by banding during seeding, variety selection, pest control (Anderson, 2008) and split application, during planting in fall and at tillering or stem elongation in spring (Schulz et al., 2015). Fertility management, in particular nitrogen and phosphorus, remains an integral part of the overall management package aimed at achieving higher yields in winter wheat (Halvorson et al. 1987). Recommended fertilizer management, particularly nitrogen management, differs widely in winter wheat production, but the crop’s nitrogen demand is correlated to yield potential and availability of moisture in dryland production systems (Beres et al., 2018). Compared to spring wheat, winter wheat presents more challenges in development as a result of its higher nitrogen demand during the long vegetative phase, hence the reason why it requires 25 to 50% more N than spring wheat in the Prairies (Fowler et al., 1989). The ideal fertility management package would help counteract the escalating cost of winter wheat production per unit area, which is the main goal that producers aim to achieve. There is still a knowledge gap on the rates and timing of nitrogen fertilizer application, particularly in Western Canada, that result in improved yield without compromising grain quality and economic returns. Morris et al. (2018) suggested the implementation of adaptive use of nitrogen to help augment and improve nitrogen application rate decision making by farmers. Therefore, there is a great need to continue with research on the best management practices that can be availed to producers to improve economic returns in winter wheat production. Nitrogen is most often the focus of crop fertility in field studies. However, having a balanced approach and considering other essential nutrients, such as, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur and micronutrients available in the soil, offers great yield potential when nitrogen needs of the crop are met. Perhaps more efficient returns on investment potential can be achieved as fertility management is optimized.


Entire findings are available by downloading the report PDF.

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