Entries by blueclinic

Watch out for weeds

Watch out for weeds ‘A weed is but an unloved flower’ – that’s according to popular author and poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox. I guess she’s right…especially the ‘unloved’ part. They may be flowers, but as long as they are growing where they should not, they are weeds and we don’t love them. We don’t love […]

What do plants need during a dry spell?

The current dry conditions across many parts of the Prairies have farmers keeping one eye on the sky and the other on their crop. Although it is heartwarming to know that dry soils in spring are not a sure sign of crop failure, it is important to be aware of a few things that happen […]

Early season fertility: Beware of ‘hidden hunger’

Plants need 17 essential elements for growth and reproduction. The main criterion used in designating an element as essential is that it must be required for a plant to complete its life cycle. Elements were accepted into the ‘essentiality’ clique at different times based on when somebody proved they had met the aforementioned criterion. For […]

Dealing with insect pests of seedlings

A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Where is the bar tender?” This joke right here is a witty reminder that insects love tender plant parts. Seedlings fit the profile perfectly. They are tender, succulent, close to the ground and are easy pickings for a host of insect pests. If left unchecked, these insects […]

Soil temperature and its implications for seeding

In many office settings, a request to adjust the temperature of the shared office space can be met with anything from a cold shoulder, to a lukewarm acknowledgement, or a heated argument. Out in the field, however, nature holds the thermostat and we do not get to make that request. So, when late April or […]

Minimizing Nitrogen Losses

If there was a throne meant for the king of plant nutrients, I bet nitrogen will be sitting on it, unopposed. The nutrient is by far the most important in crop production. It’s also the most studied, and the most talked about. I’ve even found several songs dedicated to it, from pop to rap…that’s quite […]

When weeds refuse to die – Herbicide resistance and how to manage it

Since the 1940s when herbicides were commercially released, their use has revolutionized agricultural productivity. Without them, weed control in large-scale farming will neither be economical nor practical, and yield losses will be massive. But the innovation was unfortunately accompanied by the increase in the dominance of resistant weeds. One of the earliest recorded cases of […]

How water quality affects herbicide efficiency

Recently, I read a chemistry quote that said, “You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the precipitate”. Now, I know that’s a play on Eldridge Cleaver’s famous words (You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem), […]

Digging up the truth about soil health

When the Soil Conservation Council of Canada challenged everybody to ‘soil your undies’, the move sparked a lot of interest as farmers and gardeners buried clean underwear in the soil and then dug them up 2 months later to assess soil health. Those whose soils were healthy dug up little else besides elastic waistbands, while […]

The rise and rise of biological seed treatment

When treating seeds with biological organisms was first suggested many years ago, the idea seemed like something out of a sci-fi comic book. But today, just like how these organisms proliferate in plant systems, the idea has proliferated in the R&D departments of top agricultural companies as research scientists join the race to find the […]