NPARA Projects

Search projects


The Canola Council of Canada advises that canola should be sown with high seeding densities and preferably using larger seed size (up to 2.2mm). Moreover, seeding later in the season should be considered rather than seeding on earlier dates. Briefly, greater plant densities produced by high seeding rates compensate for flea beetle leaf damage. More tolerant seedlings to flea beetles have been observed to be affected by seed size and canola sown mid-May to early-June. Late sown less affected by flea beetle damage than canola seeded in late-April to early-May. Currently, there is limited research showing how all these recommendations, acting in conjunction, affect canola production. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the impact of seeding rate, seed size, and seeding date on flea beetle damage and populations. Furthermore, a split-plot factor analysis will also allow us to examine interaction effects between seeding rate, seed size and seeding date. Further insight on interactions effects will allow us to measure the true flea beetle response to these recommendations, and provide new recommendations based on these possible interactions.

The objective is to evaluate the impact on flea beetle leaf damage and flea beetle population of seeding date (late-April to early-May and second to third week of May), seed size (small, large and unsorted), and seeding rate (112,56 and 168 plant m-2)


Allelopathy is the influence, usually detrimental, of one plant on another, where toxic substances are released when a plant dies or produced through decaying tissue. These secondary metabolites may establish direct or indirect impacts on populations of their own or different species. Allelopathy can a) affect the growth and yield of another crop (Batish et al. 2001) or b) develop autotoxicity, meaning chemicals expelled from plant residues of a species can hinder the growth of seedlings of the same species. Thus, if managed properly, allelopathy can be a great alternative in weed management.

Many of the cover crops seeded to protect the ground have allelopathic properties. Crops such as rye (Secale cereale L.), annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa L.) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L) have been shown to limit or reduce the growth of other plant species. Therefore, residues of these cover crops not only provide benefits to the soil but also help to reduce weed populations through allelopathy for the cash crops seeded in the season thereafter. In this experiment weeds were surveyed every two weeks after cover crop mix seeding to observe if allelopathic effects changed according to cover crop species or cover crop mixes. At the end of the season, plots were either roller-crimped or incorporated. The following growing season, canola, field pea and wheat will be sown perpendicular to the direction of these plots to observe if weed populations are still suppressed by the allelopathic effects of the cover crops and their mixes. Further, it will be assessed whether roller-crimping and incorporation impact weed suppression along with allelopathy.


Field pea is a poor competitor crop. As a temporal solution to control faster growing weeds and alleviate competition, fields are sprayed with Group 2 herbicides which have shown to cause herbicide weed resistance. It is hypothesized that if the seeding rate is increased, yield will be compensated despite weed competition. In addition, if field pea is intersown with cover crops, there is greater weed suppression. This is an economic advantage as it removes the necessity for herbicide application and inclusion of cover crops supply additional organic matter to the soil. This two-year split block experiment consisted of a Group 2 herbicide (in this case REFINE SG) application to spring wheat. Plots were either sprayed with the herbicide at 12 g ac-1 or left untreated. The following year, field pea was sown at three different seeding rates (90, 180 and 270 lb ac-1). Each of these rates were either sown alone or intersown with either annual rye, barley, oat and rye at 5, 35, 35, and 17 lb ac-1. Weeds were counted using 25 cm quadrats every two weeks and grouped as either broadleaf or grass.


Is it possible to seed wheat earlier in the season? If so, can you seed at temperatures between 0 and 10°C? Would cold air and soil temperatures affect yield, test weight, thousand kernel weight and emergence? This experiment aims to answer all of these questions. Two hard red spring wheat varieties (AAC Brandon and AAC Connery) were selected to be seeded as soon as ground temperature was above 0°C (May 6 for the 2021 growing season) at 56.6, 84.9 and 113.2 plants ft-2. Seeding of the same varieties at the same seeding rates also took place later in the season when ground temperatures were above 10°C (May 20).


Most of the soil organic matter is composed of humic substances (Nardi et al. 2002). Humic substances nurture plant cell membrane functions and encourage nutrient uptake. In the past ten years, there has been a growing body of evidence supporting the use of bio-stimulants in agriculture for both horticultural and field crop production systems, where they have been shown to increase root growth, enhanced nutrient uptake, and increase stress tolerance. du Jardin (2015) defined plant bio-stimulants in five categories: 1) microbial inoculants, 2) humic acids, 3) fulvic acids, 4) protein hydrolysates, and 5) amino acids, and seaweed extracts.

Fulvic acid, is of particular interest, as it is a natural chelator and thus helps facilitate migration of metal ions and nutrients across tissue membranes (Sun et al, 2012). It also retains many properties that make it ideal for foliar tank mixes, such as: (a) high solubility under different pH conditions (b) high cation exchange capacity, and (c) recorded absence of antagonistic effects with nutrients or pesticides. Owing to its low molecular weight (a few hundred Daltons), it can easily cross plant tissue membranes, and remains in solution even at high salt concentrations. All of which are considered ideal for foliar nutrient applications.

At the North Peace Applied Research Association, an experiment was designed to determine if foliar applications of Nitrogen with or without additions of fulvic acid have an effect on yield and leaf nitrogen content in canola, field pea and wheat. For field pea, only one treatment was conducted where foliar application of fulvic acid at 0.65 L ac-1 was applied at the 6th node and at the 12th node stage. This treatment was compared against a control where peas were sown in furrow with 13-33-0-15S at 120 lb ac-1. Above ground biomass was collected one week after foliar applications on each crop. For canola and wheat, the experiment was designed as a complete randomized block design with four treatments: (1) Dry urea at 150-175 lb ac-1 treated with fulvic acid at 0.3 L ac-1 applied at seeding, (2) Dry urea at seeding at 80-105 lb ac-1 followed by two foliar applications of liquid urea at 20 L ac-1, (3) Dry urea at 80-105 lb ac-1 treated with fulvic acid at 0.3 L ac-1 at seeding and two foliar applications of liquid urea with fulvic acid at 20 L ac-1 and 0.65 L ac-1, respectively and (4) seeding application of dry urea at 80-105 lb ac-1 treated with fulvic acid at 0.3 L ac-1 followed by two foliar applications of fulvic acid with a nitrogen, calcium and magnesium supplement (Nitro 18) at 0.65 L ac-1 and 20 L ac-1, respectively. In addition, a control treatment was included consisting of a sole application of dry urea at seeding at 150-175 lb ac-1.


Percentage of moisture content was greater in the Fabelle faba bean variety compared to that found in Snowbird (P=0.0010). There was no difference in number of emergent plants per squared foot (P=0.4491) and yield (P=0.3564). From all results it can be suggested that all varieties will provide similar yield and there is no statistical difference in its productivity.


To combat the effects of flea beetle damage, the Canola Council of Canada advises that canola be sown at higher seeding densities, larger seed size, and later in the season. Research has shown the benefits of each practice independently, but there exists limited literature on how all these recommendations, acting in conjunction, affect canola production. Through this experiment, by assessing interaction effects we may be capable of measuring the true flea beetle response to these recommendations and provide new recommendations based on these possible interactions. 2020 was the first year of this three-year study, and canola growth was greatly limited at NPARA due to weather-induced stress. Through the years to come, however, the accumulation of data across multiple sites will provide for a robust assessment of these cultural practices.

The experiment was carried out at three sites across northern Alberta: NPARA, Mackenzie Applied Research Association, and Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association, and set up as a four-replicate, split plot analysis. The objective of the flea beetle canola trial was to evaluate the impact of seeding date, seed size, and seeding rate on flea beetle leaf damage and flea beetle population:

Along with total flea beetle counts, counts of each particular species was recorded. Other dependent factors assessed include percent damage of seedlings up to two leaf stage, percent of planted canola to reach maturity, and harvest yield.


Seeding spring wheat early has the potential to increase yield, improve grain quality, and result in earlier maturity. Early seeding may allow wheat to avoid/miss the damage caused by wheat midge and Fusarium head blight; be better suited to defend against weed competition, allowing for less pesticide usage; and be harvested earlier and at a higher grade due to the reduced risk of late season frost events and damp weather at harvest.

Performed across seven sites throughout Alberta, the ultra-early wheat trial was designed to assess whether there is an advantage to seeding spring wheat ahead of schedule. By seeding wheat early when soil temperatures range 2-6 Celsius, rather than the norm of 10-12 Celsius, might yield increase? Further, are test weight and protein values at all affected? This experiment compares wheat growth subject to three levels of differentiation: date planted, crop variety, and seeding rate. On two dates, early and normal (where normal refers to when local farmers will commonly seed their spring wheat), two varieties of wheat, AAC Brandon and AAC Connery, were sown at rates of 19, 28, and 37 seed/sq. ft., respectively. The experiment followed a complete randomized block design having treatments replicated four times.


Knowing the levels of nitrogen in your soil provides a base in which one can confidently decide on the amount of fertilizer that must be applied to achieve a desired yield. Similarly, being conscious of carbon levels in soil provides an indication of amendments required, such as manure or green manure (cover crops). To know how much N is available to the plant, a standard soil chemical test exposes soil samples from the field to a salt solution. The cations from the salt solution compete with cations on clay mineral surface exchange sites, thereby releasing N ions in solution. Extraction of nitrogen and/or carbon can also be achieved by combustion, where the soil samples are burned, and the emanating smoke is tested for C and N content. Soil chemical analyses will provide results for C as percentage of organic matter (%OM) and N as either ammonium (NH4+) and/or nitrate (NO3-) ions. The Haney soil analysis test, developed by Rick Haney at United States Department of Agriculture research station in Temple, Texas, is an alternative test to the standard soil chemical analyses for carbon and nitrogen. The Haney soil test replaces a salt solution with water as the extraction medium.

This project investigates methods to lower input costs and maximize profit, not necessarily yield. The rate of fertilizer applied to a crop should influence its growth and the amount of C and N readily available for the season. Cash crops such as canola, pea, and wheat were selected and sown under three different fertility levels (no fertilizer, 30%, and a 100% of the nitrogen rates recommended by the Haney soil test). This experiment was treated as a randomized complete block design and replicated four times. This trial will be conducted again in 2021.


There was no significant difference in canola yield when subject to either 0%, 30%, or 100% of the Haney soil test recommended fertilization levels (P=0.13). Applying 0% of the recommended nitrogen led to the lowest yield of 6.8 bu/ac; applying 100% led to the highest, 8.3 bu/ac. The C.V. is 54.8, too high for results to be accepted as reliable. As with other experiments, this is likely due to weather-induced stress.

Field Pea

Treatment yields all fell within the range of 6-9 bu/acre. There was no significant difference in pea yields when subject to either 0%, 30%, or 100% of the Haney soil test nitrogen recommendations (P=0.4). As with canola, the coefficient of variation coinciding with the pea yield analysis was high at 28.4. Consequently, the results are unlikely to be indicative of true treatment effects.

Spring Wheat

The mean weight yields from each of the three treatments spanned two bushels/acre (50 bu/ac to 52 bu/acre). Similarly, test weight values for each treatment were nearly the same, 63-64 lb/bu. There was no significant difference in wheat yield regardless of the level of nitrogen applied (P=0.98). Likewise, test weight values were not significantly different (P=0.47), nor were protein contents (P=0.85). 


This trial compares wheat subject to differing combinations of in-furrow and foliar applied nitrogen (N) and fulvic acid (FA). Yield, test weight, and protein content was assessed. The trial will be repeated in 2021 and 2022.

There were no significant differences between the measured yields (P=0.04). Similarly, all treatments (control; soil applied nitrogen + fulvic acid; soil applied nitrogen + fulvic acid AND foliar applied nitrogen + fulvic acid) exhibited test weights too similar to be regarded as different by the statistical analysis. Test weight (P=0.52) values ranged only one lb/bu, that is, between 63.5-64 lb/bu. No significant differences were found in protein content (P=0.09). 


In-Furrow Amendments

Four different in-furrow Alpine fertilizers were applied to CS 2000 RR canola plots and the yields analyzed. In-furrow applications coincided with seeding, treatments included: G22 – 20 L/ac, F18 Max – 0.5 L/ac, K20-S – 4 L/ac, K24 – 4 L/ac, and urea in furrow – 32.61 lb/ac.

F18 Max in-furrow fertilizer led to the greatest canola yield relative to the other products used in the trial (P=0.002). For said treatment, yield was 4.7 bu/acre. Untreated, K20-S, and G22 treatments led to similar yields, all between 2.4-3.3 bu/acre. The lowest yielding canola was that subject to K24 fertilizer, producing 2.1 bu/acre.

Foliar Amendments

Five foliar Alpine fertilizers were applied to CS 2000 RR canola plots and the yields measured. Foliar applications were carried out on June 5. Fertilizer treatments in this experiment were: F18 Max – 2 L/ac, 6-20-3-1S – 20 L/ac, 6-20-3 – 20 L/ac, 7-21-3-1S – 20 L/ac., and Microbolt (Mo) – 18 g/ac.

There were no significant differences in canola yield regardless of the foliar-applied fertilizer used (P=0.16). The yield values ranged from 1.25 bu/acre to 5 bu/acre. The coefficient of variation is 60.5, indicating that values contributing to the means were highly dispersed, likely due to weather-induced stress throughout this wet season.