Soil sometimes receives less emphasis, attention, and recognition than it deserves for its role in crop production. Products such as fertilizers and crop protection products, which work well and contribute to growing a healthy crop, have been given the majority of attention when it comes to crop production. The soil however is the medium for growth what makes plant growth possible, Crop inputs such as fertilizer and crop protection products help to enhance yields. A good knowledge of soils is very important when making agronomic decisions on your farm.
Saskatchewan has many different soils often within a small geographic area. Medium textured soils include: silt, silty loam, loam, sandy clay loam, clay loam, and silty clay loam. Heavy textured soils include: sandy clay, silty clay, clay and heavy clay. The terms sand, silt, and clay are the different particles that make up a soil texture and a term such as a loam soil, give or take, has equal parts of sand, silt, and clay. Each soil type has physical and agronomic characteristics that influence plant growth such as nutrient supplying capability, water infiltration and holding capacity, compaction etc. It is important to know the soil type and characteristics on your farm to make the best agronomic choices to enhance net return and to conserve the soil resource.
The Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) has soil reports from all of the surveyed land in the province. You can search by legal land location or using their map and entering the assessment ID number. The beauty about the soil survey is that the land has really not changed and the texture and soil association are the same today as they were back when the land was surveyed and later when it was assessed by SAMA. I would encourage every producer and land owner to go on the website and to see how their land is rated. The SAMA report will tell the type of soil association, texture, profile and topsoil depth.
Soil association is typical of the name of the given soil association, so a Weyburn soil association can be thought of as the soil around Weyburn, however this soil can be found anywhere throughout the province. Soil profile is what we refer to as the soil order. The most common soil orders include Chernozemic, which are a very common soil in Saskatchewan which has a good soil structure, drainage and organic matter levels. Solonetzic soils, contain salts high in sodium content, which inhibit crop production. Gleysolic soils are poorly drained and tend to be water saturated for most of the year. Finally, Vertosolic soils, which are indicative of clay soils due to their shrink-swell characteristics. Top soil depth refers to the depth of the A horizon, the deeper, the better.
This information is a brief overview of soil and how to interpret SAMA reports.
For more information on crop production please contact me at 306-946-3216 or the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377
Cory Jacob, Regional Crops Specialist,
Watrous, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture