Agronomy Update – April 22

Hi everyone,

Sun is poking out again today.  Folks are starting to get on the land in a few parts of the province and lots of folks are grading and moving seed.  Planting season will be upon us soon.

I hope to be out and about a bit over the next two weeks to visit before most people start planting.  Morgan and I will also be starting soil sampling on trial fields as soon as it’s fit to do so.

For farms that are permitting us to visit your fields for trial work:  Morgan and I will both always have cleaning and disinfection kits for our footwear and sampling tools in the car, and we will commit to ensuring that all footwear and tools are clean before entering your fields.  We take biosecurity seriously and we hope that you do too.

Getting lots of questions about fertility as folks start finalizing field plans.  I’ve covered fertility topics quite a bit in the last few agronomy updates.  If you’ve missed any of those, they are always available on the Agronomy website under News.


Value of Hay & Straw:

 There has been lots of discussion over the years on what the value of hay and straw should be.  Of course, lots goes into this decision.  Does the person wanting the hay/straw rent land to you (or from you)?  Is there a trade of manure?  Are there other arrangements (ie. paying for lime, spraying, tillage, etc)?

Putting those things aside…it’s a good time to take a look at how much forages and straw is worth on a very base level in terms of the nutrients leaving the field.  So, I built a quick Excel spreadsheet to help make this calculation easy for you.  It can be downloaded by clicking here.

At the most simple level, all you have to do is select what type of forage or straw you are interested from the drop-down list and then input your yield in bales per acre.  This calculator is currently formatted to 4 x 5 foot round bales, but this can be edited elsewhere if needed.  This will then calculate the dollars per acre and dollars per bale for both the combination of N, P and K or just P and K.

I have included both options for consideration.  There would be some that would argue that for legume crops, you fix more soil N than you export with the crop so you should pay more attention to the P and K.  That’s a pretty fair argument.  For straw, the N levels are much lower, but that N value may partly account for the “organic matter” value of the straw that is being taken off and sold.  Nonetheless, I present both for you to consider and play with.

From this calculator, a 750 lbs bale of barley straw is worth $16.25 just in P + K.  A 1000 lb bale of red clover hay is worth $22.92 in P+K, while a 1750 lb bale of alfalfa haylage (50% moisture) is worth $26.53.

The beauty of this calculator is that all input values can be changed depending on your specific circumstances.  Current fertilizer prices are used for urea, DAP and KCl, but these can be easily changed.  Same with the weight of your bale and the dry matter percentage for forages.  If you have larger or smaller bales or you bale them a bit heavier than I have in the calculator, that is again easily changed.

Feel free to play around with it and let me know if you have questions or suggestions for improvements.


Potato Expo Presentations – Videos Online

Didn’t make it to Potato Expo, or missed a presentation you wanted to see?  I’ve uploaded videos from the two morning conferences to YouTube, with permanent links on the Agronomy site under “Seminar/Workshop Presentations”

Day 1:

  • Michele Konschuh – Irrigation Management
  • Jay Hao – Blackleg/Soft Rot Genetic Diversity
  • Lance Stockbrugger – Increasing Profits through Management


Day 2:

  • John Cranfield  – Growing in a Post-Pandemic World
  • Aaron Mills – Effect of Crop Diversity in Potato Rotations
  • Christine Noronha – Scouting for Wireworms
  • Kyra Stiles and Tobin Stetson – Soil Health Improvement Plans (SHIP)


Survey – Willows and Riparian Buffer Zones

A research team with Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture and UPEI are conducting a survey of potato growers to better understand the opportunities and barriers to growing shrub willow on potato farms on PEI.

Recent research done by the East Prince Agri-Environmental Association found that growing 30 foot wide shrub willow buffers just outside of existing riparian areas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fertilizers, increase the protection of streams from fertilizers and pesticides, while simultaneously sequestering carbon and producing a willow biomass crop. However, this removes an additional 30 feet of agricultural land from potato production.

Survey Link:

The survey is anonymous.  There is a draw for a $200 gift card to Tim Hortons among the survey participants.  To enter the draw, please email your name and farm name to after you’ve completed the survey.


Reminder – UPEI Survey

Researchers at UPEI have put together a short survey that is designed to acquire the firsthand information on the potato management practices from potato growers in Prince Edward Island (PEI). The data collected through this form will be used in a research project which focuses on assessing the climate change impacts on potato yields in PEI. This research project will be conducted by Toyin Adekanmbi, a MSc student in the School of Climate Change and Adaptation at UPEI.

To complete the survey:  CLICK HERE

The form will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and IP addresses for submitted on-line surveys will not be collected. Please understand that your participation in this survey is voluntary and you are free to withdraw at any time or to not answer any of the questions without giving any reasons.

Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to complete the online survey by April 30, 2022. Participants will have a chance to enter a draw for two $50 gift cards


Final Reminder:  Operation Pollinator

I have room for a few more farms to participate in Operation Pollinator for this year.  If you haven’t already spoken with either Morgan or myself, please email/text/call me ASAP to get your farm on the list.

Have a great weekend, everyone