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Sulphur could improve wheat yields and quality
Increasingly strict emissions standards in Ontario and globally over the past 20 years have successfully reduced acid rainfall…but it has also resulted in less sulphur available to crops. Sulphur is needed to maintain quality and yield of wheat and other crops.
In response, University of Guelph Food Science Prof. Koushik Seetharaman and Dr. Jayne Bock, along with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Cereals Specialist Peter Johnson, are conducting trials to help determine the optimal sulphur fertilizer applications for wheat production.
Bock has found that applying 20 lbs. of sulphur fertilizer per acre resulted in wheat with better mixing attributes, protein functionality and dough structure. This improved wheat quality could also mean more marketing opportunities for producers, she says.
Additionally, trials by Johnson found sulphur fertilizer improved wheat yields by five bushels per acre on average, and up to 10 bushels per acre when sulphur was significantly deficient. Johnson says added sulphur could boost producers’ revenues by $25 to $50 per acre.
More trials are underway to develop a predictive test for sulphur and hone in on required application rates.
Funding for this research is provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Council. •
Environmentally stable nitrogen improves production profits
A new nitrogen fertilizer is promising better yields, quality and environmental impact for corn producers, with the possibility for additional profits of $200 per hectare.
Environmentally Stable Nitrogen (ESN) is being tested at the University of Guelph’s Kemptville Campus in a three-year study headed by agronomy Prof. Ashraf Tubeileh.
They have found that ESN slows down the release of nitrogen into the soil, thanks to its unique polymer coating.
“That means more nitrogen is available when the plants need it throughout the entire growing season,” says Tubeileh. “Producers save money, as they don’t lose nitrogen to leaching and de-nitrification.”
ESN can be combined with conventional urea nitrogen to increase corn yield and quality. So far, Tubeileh has found that an application of 150 kg N/ha (at a ratio of 25 percent ESN and 75 percent urea) increases corn yield by 12 per cent, as compared to using only urea. On spring wheat, only a marginal increase in protein content was observed as a result to using ESN-urea blend, with no effect on yield or other parameters.
Collaborating on this project is Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Emerging Crop Specialist Scott Banks. Funding is provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario. •
Improving wheat to resist Fusarium and pre-harve
Careful trait selection is helping to stem premature sprouting and Fusarium infection in soft wheat. Both of these problems lead to low-quality grain that fetches lower prices for producers and is unsuitable for many end uses.
With this in mind, Prof. Lily Tamburic-Ilincic, a research scientist and wheat breeder at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus, is working with technician Satinder Chopra to select more resistant winter wheat cultivars.
Tamburic-Ilincic and Chopra used plants derived from two cultivars to select for low Fusarium susceptibility and high pre-harvest sprouting resistance. They also looked for important morphological characteristics like angled wheat heads, the presence of awns, and spike shape.
The new variety of soft white winter wheat created by this project should be available to producers in 2017.
Tamburic-Ilincic says careful selection for beneficial traits is fundamental to reducing the impact of premature sprouting.
“We need to utilize every available resource we have to develop wheat that better ensures kernel quality and consumer safety,” says Tamburic-Ilincic.
Funding is provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario. •
Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.