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New Tools Allow Effective Management of Phosphorus in the Soil
Dr. Wole Akinremi - University of Manitoba

University News for February 9, 2009

New and existing tools are allowing crop and livestock producers to effectively manage the amount of phosphorus that ends up being applied to the land to fertilizer crops.

In 2006 the province revised the Manitoba Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management regulation to address the risk to surface water quality from excess phosphorus applications from manure.

Dr. Wole Akinremi, a soil science professor with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, says phosphorus is critical to crop development but excess accumulations can end up in waterways so the maintaining a correct balance is important.

Clip-Dr. Wole Akinremi-University of Manitoba
The tools that farmers have depends upon the type of industry.

For swine producers, for example, one of the important tools is the use of phytase enzyme.

When they use phytase it makes the phosphorus in the diet more available to the animal with less ending up in manure and less phosphorus ending up in the land.

Also the new technology coming out now is highly available barley or highly available wheat lines.

These have less phytate P and so the P is more available to the animal reducing the level in the manure.

For grain farmers one of the important tools would be the soil test.

I think the soil test is the farmer's friend and they should make sure that they know what level of phosphorus they have and, if the phosphorus is in the medium to high range, then there's no point adding a lot of phosphorus.

Just probably add what you think the plant will take up, which would be probably 10 to 20 pounds per acre of P.

The soil test is something that farmers can use to know how much they've got and so to let them know how much they can add.

Dr. Akinremi says the long term goal in areas where phosphorus is medium, to high, is to match the amount applied to the soil to the amount removed by the crop.

He notes, it may be difficult to strike that balance in areas where soil phosphorus is very low.

For UniversityNews.Org, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

*University News is a presentation of the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences

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