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18 April 2019 Fertigation of wheat and canola in southern Alberta
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An irrigation study in southern Alberta compared spring-banded nitrogen (N) to spring-banded N plus fertigation at three plant growth stages for spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and canola (Brassica napus L.). Yield and quality impacts were quantified when N fertigation was applied to (i) wheat at the early tillering, flag leaf, and anthesis stages and (ii) canola at the four-leaf rosette, bolting, and early flowering stages. For both crops, fertigation could replace some spring-banded N without an effect on yield. However, the results revealed that for canola grown with a large amount of N, applying it all in the spring often generated higher yields than if an equivalent amount of N was delivered at later stages by fertigation. Canola oil concentration declined marginally (about 1%) from no applied N to the high rate of applied N. The application of more than 60 kg N ha-1 and delayed application each increased wheat protein content. Comparing revenues to costs, fertigation did not improve profit margins for canola growers. When growers applied 90 or 120 kg N ha-1 in the spring, fertigation was financially counter-productive. In contrast, the main benefit to wheat growers from fertigation was higher grain protein, especially with N applied at later growth stages. When protein premiums increase during the growing season, fertigation would facilitate growers to obtain higher net returns than they would otherwise.

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Elwin G. Smith, Danny G. Le Roy, Daniel Donkersgoed, Doon Pauly, Ross H. McKenzie, and Eric Bremer "Fertigation of wheat and canola in southern Alberta," Canadian Journal of Plant Science 99(4), 536-545, (18 April 2019).
Received: 13 November 2018; Accepted: 4 March 2019; Published: 18 April 2019

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