A pressing issue for farmers right now is nutrient availability and potential nitrogen losses from flooded soils and how this will impact fertilizer decisions.
John Heard is a soil fertility specialist with Manitoba Agriculture.
"With the drought in a lot of the area last year, it left a lot of excess nitrogen in the soil and we were counting on that as being money in the bank," he said. "There was a lot of soil sampling being done and we usually anticipate that that is going to be there, ready for use this next year and farmers were planning to adjust their fertilizer rates accordingly. Now with this amount of rain and potential flooding, people are starting to get a bit antsy about that. That was money in the bank, and now they're a little worried about how much of that might have been withdrawn."
Heard commented on the importance of soil sampling.
"I think there's a number of agronomists who have worked very closely with the farmers to establish these levels last fall. They're going to be doing some targeted sampling...Just checking to see what was there last fall, how much is still there, does it warrant me changing my plans or not."
He noted nitrogen management is likely not the first thing on farmers' minds at this point.
"They're looking at seeding dates and getting in the fields. The advantage with nitrogen often is that there's great flexibility for the farmers. If seeding is ready to go there are options for partial rates of nitrogen before or at seeding and then following up later. That can work usually as a Plan B, not as a Plan A, but that can work...They may be encumbered a bit this year because of nitrogen supplies they've maybe already taken possession of what they have so they'll be working with what they've got in store. It may reduce their flexibility a bit. I think that front and foremost now is, how are we going to get in to the field and do some timely planting and then there's ways to meet the nitrogen needs around planting dates."