Soil & Water
Soil Survey Informaion
BC Ministry of Agriculture
Physical and Chemical Tests
BC Ministry of Agriculture
- Soil Testing & Nutrients: How to collect a soil sample, soil sample labs and soil nutrient management.
- Interpretations for Soil Test Phosphorus and Potassium: Guidelines for Southern British Columbia to produce maximum economic yields for the crop groups tested including barley, grasses, pumpkins, carrots and many more.
Soil Foodweb Inc.
- Soil Foodweb Inc (SFI), founded by Elaine Ingham, tests soil for biological indicators of health (e.g. fungi, bacteria, protozoa, etc.) and offers recommendations to increase beneficial soil life. Ingham-trained SFI consultants Vivian Kaloxilos (Montreal) and Jo Tobias (Vancouver) are connected with KBFA.
- Digging Deep into Soil Knowledge: Soil scientist Wayne Blashill led us through a soil identification exercise by looking at deep soil pits. We also discussed new land mapping tools.
- Irrigation & Soil Management Symposium: This event offered an opportunity to learn about results from field research on irrigation and soil management relevant to Kootenay-Boundary farming conditions.
- “What’s in Your Soil’s Bank Account?”: Norm Dueck of Heartland Soil and Crop Solutions and A & L Canada Laboratories discussed essential nutrients for crop productivity and how to make sense of your soil tests.
- Soil Biology Identification with Jo Tobias: Regenerative Soil Consultant, Jo Tobias, walks through soil and compost samples to identify soil organisms on farms.
- On-Farm Trials, Soil Health and Cover Crops: Participants toured silage and grazing corn fields at the Fossen Ranch along with clover cover crops that were interplanted with corn for soil protection and fall grazing.
- Regenerating Soil Life and Health with Nicole Masters: Nicole Masters of Integrity Soils, New Zealand, gave a two-day workshop at Waikikahei Ranch on soil health and regenerative agriculture. Topics included soil management, enhancing soil biology to increase productivity, water management, grazing and compost systems. See also: Soil Health with Nicole Masters.
- Dryland Forage: Tillage Radish & Water Infiltration: This field day demonstrated an annual dryland forage crop planted with tillage radish to improve water infiltration and soil quality.
- Organic Soil Management Webinar: Ruth Knight, Organic Soils Consultant, discussed organic soil management including: how soil health relates to crop productivity and water infiltration as an indicator of soil health including examples from a project in Ontario.
- Introduction to Agricultural Soils: Knowing the chemical, physical and biological components of a soil and how they interact with each other is key to creating a healthy soil environment for productive crop growth.
- Cover Crops for Soil Health: Participants viewed over 17 cover crop mixes in small plots, planted for a variety of different purposes at Blewett Mountain Gardens and Bent Plow Farm. A demonstration on flail mowing to incorporate cover crops in the soil.
- BC Soil Information Finder Tool: Watch the webinar to demonstrate how to use the free, online Soil Information Finder Tool (SIFT) to assess soil survey data, reports and maps.
Front Counter BC
Works In and About Streams
BC Ministry of Environment
KBFA Video Series
Irrigate Better is a multi-part webinar series produced by Andrew Bennett in association with the Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors and the Climate & Agriculture Initiative to help farms use water more effectively to save time and money and grow more.
- Part 1: Irrigation Anatomy with Bruce Naka: Bruce Naka, CID, presents “Irrigation Anatomy” introducing the irrigation A to Z from intakes and wells through the maze of components for ideal pressure, flow, and water quality, out to headers, laterals, and emission systems.
- Part 2: Pipe Design with Bruce Naka: Bruce Naka, CID, presents “Pipe Design”, walking us through pipe sizing, friction loss calculations, and lateral layout strategies to get ideal pressure and flow across the entire farm.
- Part 3: Emission Design: Bruce Naka, CID, presents “Emission Design” walking us through application rates to avoid runoff, the efficiencies of different equipment, and how to space sprinklers and drip emitters to get uniform distributions that avoid over-watering some areas and under-watering others. Bruce discusses drip, spray, microsprinkler, sprinkler and gun setups, and the catch-can method to test your uniformity.
- Part 4: Scheduling & Watering: Bruce Naka, CID, shows how much and how often crops need water in different soils and weather. Identify soil textures, estimate soil water storage, get evapotranspiration data from weather stations, adjust it for your crop, and then make a schedule. Adjust this guesswork by observations or measurements of soil moisture, and finally dial it into a controller with a “seasonal adjust” feature to save you time and money!
Farm Water Fix
Farm Water Fix is a 12-part video series designed to make irrigation concepts as clear as possible to help you tune up your systems and schedules to get the right amount of water to your crops at the right time. Filmed in 2020 and 2021 when irrigation designers Andrew Bennett and Bruce Naka toured farms across the Kootenay and Boundary region, this video series and the related 4-part webinar series, “Irrigate Better” looks for ways to save farms time, money, and grow better crops that are more resilient to extreme weather conditions.
- 1. A Leg Up on Climate Change: Across British Columbia in the summer of 2021, heat waves severely punished many farms, but farms with well-tuned irrigation were more resilient. Here we visit some farms whose experiences show how it’s more important now than ever before to go into the season with roots fully watered, and to pay close attention to the soil and the weather as we irrigate.
- 2. BC Agriculture Water Calculator & the Climate Crunch: The BC Agriculture Water Calculator is used to allocate water licenses in BC, but you shouldn’t use it to decide how much to water. As climate change ramps up, crops get thirstier, and water sources dry up, irrigation needs to be based on current weather. Here, we’ll walk through how to use the calculator to check your license. Then, we’ll look at some current weather data to motivate you to tune up your irrigation efficiencies.
- 3. Professional Irrigation Advice: Professional irrigation advice can save you time and money. In this video, we’ll look at a few ways farms in BC can get input from a certified irrigation designer, sometimes for free.
- 4. BC’s Best Irrigation & Drought Resources: We’re fortunate in British Columbia to have easy access to great irrigation advice and information, almost all of it for free. As the climate heats up and more droughts loom, it’s more important than ever to take a look and apply what we learn to our farms. Here, we’ll review the major design guides, factsheets, and online maps and calculators that can help everyone irrigate better in BC.
- 5. Hazards of Too Much Water: Watering too much will leach your fertility, erode your profits, and might just run you off the farm. Here we’ll explain why, and how a good irrigation schedule can help you avoid these pitfalls.
- 6. The $300,000 Tear Drop: The $300,000 mystery of Danny Turner’s dead and dying cherry trees is solved by a green tear drop shed in a hot, dry orchard, but the underground leak was discovered too late. Moral of the story: Know your flow, and design irrigation systems and schedules to give just the right amount of water at just the right time. Produced in 2020.
- 7. Irrigation Scheduling from A to Z: Here we review all the steps behind a good irrigation schedule that will get your crops the right amount of water at the right time.
- 8. Hazards of Too Much Water: The soil layers and textures on your farm have a big impact on irrigation decisions. Here we’ll review three ways you can learn about your soils: 1) Use a “hand-feel” test, 2) send samples to a lab, and 3) look up BC’s soil surveys.
- 9. Soil Water Storage: You can make a good guess at how much water your soil can store by just knowing the soil texture and how much is gravel and rock. Here, we walk through the basic rules of thumb.
- 10. Crop Water Use & The Weather: Evapotranspiration — the speed the soil dries out — is a crucial number to track through the season if you want to irrigate for the best yields. Here we’ll find a weather station near your farm and use it to estimate how much water your crop needs, depending on its type and stage.
- 11. Rain & Irrigation: When it rains, sometimes we have to adjust how much we irrigate so we don’t flood the soil, which leaches nutrients and reduces yields, but other times we want to irrigate right through the storm. Here we’ll describe “effective rain” (a.k.a. effective precipitation) and show you how to go about making rainy day decision.
- 12. Irrigation Efficiency versus Waste: Even well-tuned irrigation systems don’t get all the water to the roots of the crop, and we have to account for these inefficiencies when we decide how much to irrigate. But these expected losses are very different from “wasted water” due to leaks, run-off, leaching, and excessive unevenness. Here we’ll describe how to check if your system is well-tuned, and how to calculate irrigation amounts based on your expected “application efficiency.”
BC Agriculture Water Calculator
BC Ministry of Agriculture
- BC Agriculture Water Calculator can estimate your farm’s annual and peak water requirements based on irrigation method, soils, crops, and climate data. Livestock watering requirements can also be estimated.
Irrigation Industry Association of BC (IIABC)
- The IIABC have developed best practices and guides for the irrigation industry and their membership include certified agricultural irrigation designers, schedulers, and technicians.
Water Quality Guidelines
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME)
- The CCME have developed factsheets on acceptable levels of contaminants in potable and irrigation water supplies. These have usually been adopted by provincial environmental ministries.
- Water Quality: Information on water quality testing and processes.
Soils at Work
Compost Council of Canada
- Soils at Work – Become a Soil Builder: Free soil course for soil building in Canada.
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