Monitoring SOC on commercial direct-seeded fields across Saskatchewan - Phase 4

  • Term: 2 years, beginning in 2018

  • Funding Amount: $41,055

  • Lead Researcher(s): Gerry Burgess (Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association)

  • Funding Partners: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture - Agriculture Development Fund (ADF), Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission (SCDC), Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA), Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission (SaskBarley), Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission (SaskFlax)

Project Description

This project aim is to measure and analyse the change in soil organic carbon (SOC) using the Prairie Soil Carbon Balance Project network (PSCB) sites samples.

There is increasing scientific criticism that conservation agriculture with no-till is not providing important SOC increases. PSCB has a network of 136 benchmarks on commercial farm fields scattered across the agricultural portion of Saskatchewan. There is no prescribed management for these fields other than that they were converted to direct seeding and diverse rotations in 1997. Consequently, the network provides a unique and powerful means to investigate the SOC change on actual farm fields. The network has now reached year 20 since the management change and the duration has traditionally been assumed to be the end of C sequestration. Thus, this is the ideal point to add measures of soil organic carbon quality to improve our understanding of the stability and future sequestration potential capacity.

The project will compare the field-derived results with those on conventional small plot experiments and with modelled results using sophisticated models of carbon and nitrogen dynamics. Collectively, the results of the project will enable Saskatchewan producers to position themselves confidently and appropriately in the public policy debate over how crop production should be treated in carbon tax schemes and/or within trading schemes for greenhouse gas emission offsets produced through SOC sequestration. This project will also provide new knowledge of how carbon sequestration is occurring that is necessary to make more reliable estimates of future sequestration potential and the future stability of sequestered SOC.